Category Archives: Urban gardening

Pop-up gardening in Christchurch

Christchurch, the third-biggest city in New Zealand, has had a terrible time the last years. They got hit with a huge earthquake in 2010, an even more traumatic one in 2011, and then the quakes and uncertainty just kept coming. The city centre has long been razed but the go-ahead for new building hasn’t really come until recently.

Meanwhile, life goes on. A tough call, but it does.

We were in Christchurch recently visiting our colleagues at EMNZ and ZingBokashi, they’re doing a great work and have been for many years. (And when the earthquake damage was at it’s worst they were out there with truckloads of EM, spraying against smell and potential disease).

They tipped us about the great Agropolis community garden right in the heart of town. It’s a true pop-up affair, the signs are up for the current property to be sold, then I assume they’ll move on to a new spot yet again.

It’s a great little garden. Truly inspiring to see the spirit behind it, hanging in even when it’s tough, and creating a little spot of beauty and good health in the midst of what is, honestly, a traumatized city centre with a lot of building ahead of it.

The garden is sponsored in part by our EM colleagues. Bokashi and EM are used in the garden beds. Everything is very pragmatic here, they’ve made a great soil factory out of an old pallet-based water tank. (I’m sure these things have a name, just not sure what it is!)

There’s a productive greenhouse (plastic tunnel style) on site, information about when the next work session is, a practical watering system round the boxes and a great design on the garden beds. Lots of wooden shipping pallets here!

Anyhow, enjoy the pictures! Hope you’ll be inspired to pass them on to a community garden you know of.

You don’t need an earthquake to get this to happen!



Fresh and healthy herbs and veggies. You quickly forget what once was…


…until you look up at the backdrop.


Smart use of shipping pallets.


Yep. It works!


Coffee sacks. Not an idea I’d ever thought of. But then again, there’s a coffee roasters across the street…


Giant size bokashi bin.


Which is mixed with soil in this highly-pragmatic soil factory.


Fresh and healthy all right.


Smart use of stacked plastic crates with bokashi soil.


The for sale sign is up. The nature of the best for pop-up community gardens.


Just a practical detail from the watering system.




Gardening guru Alys Fowler on Bokashi.

I guess everyone has heard about Alys Fowler except me.

I came across this article she wrote for the Guardian a few weeks ago and it seemed to me a pretty good endorsement by someone who really knows what they’re talking about when it comes to gardening. She has quite an interesting life story — urban gardening in Manhattan, tv gardener for the BBC and into all sorts of projects and books on sustainable gardening and self-sufficient living.

Here’s the article:

And here’s the Wikipedia link with the back story:

Wouldn’t mind a couple of her books! Although that would probably just start me off on more projects than I need right at the moment 🙂

Growing up the wall in Jerusalem

Cool idea isn’t it? Tomatoes growing up the wall. Veggies growing in pyramids.

This high-school in Hod-Ha’Sharon makes research on agriculture which can be done by people in their apartments, balconies, walls or roofs.
They also study how to re-use and recycle water.

They test whether tomatoes can grow in bags on the wall or whether it is possible to cultivate plants in triangle-shaped pyramids, made from soil in plastic foils.
This method advantage is that the ground area can multiply in 3 times the number of plants growing comparing to conventional flat bed.

Given that most people in the world live in dense urban environments this is the way to go. How can we feed a growing world population? My guess is that the first thing is to learn how to “produce” soil and then find a whole lot of creative new ways of using it so we can grow on whatever spaces we have available.

Here we’re testing the idea of producing soil and growing in bread crates. It’s looking promising at this stage! 10 bread crates stacked on a wooden pallet (2 stacks of five shallow crates). Make soil in the lower crates (Bokashi and potting mix) and grow herbs and salad in the top ones. You maybe don’t grow so incredibly much food but it’s looking like a small family could take care of all their own food waste on a space no bigger than a pallet. On asphalt or a sunny corner at the back of an apartment building.

Love to hear your ideas! There are probably many crazy ideas worth testing — who knows, some of them may be what our children’s children end up using to grow their own food. It would be nice to think we’ve helped make it happen.

Read the article here>>

Follow bokashiworld on facebook if you’d rather, I’m posting the blogs there along with a lot of other bits and pieces as they turn up.

Growing fresh herbs and veggies in the shadow of the Berlin wall

Sometimes you see something that makes you REALLY excited. Maybe I’m just a nerd, but this community garden in Berlin is really cool. Community gardens always fascinate me. But this one’s a bit different.

Not just because it’s in the shadow of the Berlin wall. But because they’re growing everything in plastic crates. And sacks. But it’s the crates that are cool.

From what I understand they’re using recycled bread delivery crates. The crates are stacked on top of one another, four stacks to a standard timber EU pallet. The top ones are used for growing and the underneath ones are used for — wait for it – COMPOSTING!

And that’s the genius thing. So simple, so obvious. But I haven’t seen it done like this before on any scale. Saves space obviously, and it’s a smart way to raise the work height of the whole garden. Possibly even above snail height??!

I haven’t picked up any reference to Bokashi in any of this, but it’s the obvious next thought. The combination would work brilliantly I imagine. It would be easy to “dig” cured Bokashi buckets into the lower compost crates, the process would attract worms (I assume? Do cities have worms?), and the compost is self-watering and self-draining.


Has anyone been here and had a look? Berlin is high on my wish list so if they haven’t upped and moved before then I hope I’ll get to see it someday. But meanwhile here’s a couple of pictures (here and here), gives you the idea.

For our Swedish readers, Prinzessinnengarten’s website has a recent film clip from Swedish tv on the Press page (I tried to embed it here and failed…). The current issue of the Swedish garden magazine Hem Trädården (no. 5 2010) has an article on the Prinzessinnengartan project, which is where I picked up the layered compost angle as they don’t refer to it elsewhere.

Needless to say I’m really keen to give it a go myself at home — got the pallets lined up, it’s just a matter of tracking down some crates! And waiting for spring…

In combination with Bokashi this could be just the thing to get a garden going quickly in a kindergarten or school, maybe even at the local senior village. Obviously outside a café, and definitely outside any block of flats with a spare patch of gravel or asfalt.

Get’s you excited just thinking about it!

btw, I found the garden on google maps, it’s quite fun to surf in and see how incredibly urban it all is.