Rooftop SIP Garden in LA

Got to visit John Zapf’s vertiginous LA compound yesterday. He’s got an amazing rooftop vegetable garden using self irrigating pots. John has little sun in the yard so the roof is only option for veggies.

He uses drip line to refill the reservoirs. Reminds me of the Green Roof Growers of Chicago (minus the extreme weather).

His two cents on what to grow: chard good, zucchini good, corn in pots not so good.

For more info on self irrigating pots on Root Simple click on the label for this post below.

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  1. I clicked on “here” at the end of the June 17 post and it came back to the June 17 post. It appeared there are other posts on the self-watering idea, but none showed up.

  2. I use SWCs because I have crappy soil and not a lot of sun and let me tell you… they are awesome!

    Although my bestest crop ever is tomatoes (make sure to get a smaller variety). Cucumbers are a close second. Not so good: winter squash (needed more space) and okra (matured irregularly).

    Yeah, I have to agree looking at the corn in the picture, it looks really sad and kinda wilty.

  3. If they are using drip lines, they might as well go to drain-to-waste hydroponics, which would make the crop quality and yields higher.

  4. Hi there,

    Thanks for the good gardening wishes Kristina.

    H2 I’m not really familar with drain-to-waste hydroponics so I’ll have to look that up.

    I’ll have to try some cucumbers Sara and the tomatoes look like they’re coming along nicely.

    The drip line was kind of an experiment. So was putting all that weight up on a roof structure from 1923. The roof drains to my collection of 55 gal water barrels which then drains to a lower lot that I plan to be irrigated by the runoff.

    One problem with the drip line is that it really can’t handle high pressure and I routinely blow a fitting when I try to fill things up too quickly. If I had something growing downstream the runoff wouldn’t bother me so much and I could just let them all fill up over an hour or so, knowing that the overflow would go to use. The roof also dips a bit and water pools so I try not to fill them more than they’re needed. I pretty much was trying to not have to put a separate fill tube running all the way up and to use only one bucket in this design. I’ll have to post my interpretation of the plans that Eric linked to sometime.

    The SWC’s are a great learning experience for me. You really get to know how much water different plants use at different times in their cycle, how deep a plant’s roots need to be, if they work well with constantly moist soil that is the hallmark of a SWC.

    Nifty stuff, my thanks to Kelly and Eric for writing the book that I stumbled on when I first set off on this compound building journey.

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