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In the garden: Pollinator wall at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

(Here is their site. They're in Boothbay Harbor, and open through October 31.) Now here is truly neat idea that I would like very much to steal:

As you can see, this is a wall of flowers; there is a vertical wood frame that supports stacked green metal cages that in their turn enclose and support soil, into which plants have rooted themselves; it's as if somebody grew flowers in flats, and then just positioned the flats vertically, but on a grander scale. (I think the rootballs hold the soil in place so it doesn't spill out). You can also see that the Botanical Gardens have a budget, what with the fancy wood frame, the metal cages, and the nylon cordage holding the cages in place.

Above is the sunny side of the wall; here's a shot of the shady side:

And the rationale for sunny and shady is on the signage:

Sunny side for butterflies, shady side for caterpillars! That is so awesome. Here's another shot of the shady side, just because I don't know what these cute fuzzy pink flowers are:

* * *

I think this is a neat idea for several reasons:

  • Beautiful in itself, since beauty is adaptive in flowers;
  • Attracts more pollinators, especially butterflies;
  • Wall when placed provides additional functionality, like privacy or protection from (blight-bearing) wind;

I'm trying, however, to think about how to do this more cheaply. I don't want to build a frame, and the metal racks are expensive. I'd prefer to do something with T-bars and U-hoops and string, if I can.

I have a vague thought of putting a cloth down on the ground, covering it with soil, sowing it with flowers, and then hanging the cloth vertically when the flowers have rooted. But I don't think that's going to work, because the root balls won't be thick enough, and I picture the soil sliding off when I shift the cloth. Perhaps flats might be the best option; I could fasten them to black netting between T-Bars. That would be expensive, though. And starting plants indoors in my house doesn't work well because of the wild temperature variations, and I'm not going to pay for the electricity of a grow lamp. Then again, if I could start flats from seed in late April, after the heating season is over, would the seeded flats have time to set enough roots so they wouldn't fall out of the flats when I moved them to the vertical on or near, say, Memorial Day?

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Submitted by Dromaius on

Side note: Electricity and grow lighting. You may think you need 600W Metal Halide lighting or something?

The real electricity cost of starting a small garden worth of plants indoors is CHEAP, less probably than buying the plants.

Much of what you're talking about would require somewhere between 2 and 4 2-lamp T8 fixtures. The cost range for running this lighting would be between $10-20 for April and May (this is total cost, not per month cost). Also, our weather is cool during that time. Our indoor temp fluctuates between about 55 and 65 degrees. We don't heat unless it gets VERY cold.

Source: I work in the Energy industry. I start 25 tomato plants every year with this method. It works FANTASTICALLY well and is cost effective.

Submitted by lambert on

My temperatures swing far more wildly than that. 60° to well over 80° at least in my own area, as the wood stove cycles.

However, if I could start them when the heating season ends, say April 15, that might work a lot better.