green roof gardens and edible walls

Two good friends shared links on green gardening today.  My immediate question:  how to apply in the local (i.e. tropical) setting?

Apartment Therapy’s How to Start a Green Roof Garden details the step-by-step concerns of any would-be roof gardener:  safety, weight, containers, watering, and plants.  Of note is the list of veggies that worked for New Yorker Jeff Hens’ garden, and those that didn’t:

Worked Worked with Some Caveats Didn’t Work
Bush Beans
Pole Beans
Snow Peas
Bok Choy
Cherry Tomatoes
Mustard Greens
(some wilt problem)Ornamental Squash
(some wilt problem)

(stayed small)


Given the year-round sun here in the Philippines, I don’t see any hitches in planting the same plants that worked for the New York roof setting.

The NY Times on the other hand talks about growing strawberries (!!!) in the middle of a city (I heard Baguio reached 2 degrees C recently– doon pwede!), this time using another urban gardening innovation:  the edible wall,  which is a vertical garden of yes, edible plants, that uses steel frames.  From The Rooftop Garden Climbs Down a Wall:

Like their cousins green roofs and green walls, edible walls produce fruit, vegetables and herbs. But they do not employ complex technology and computerized control, so they can produce food at much lower cost.

The vertical planters are comprised of 24 smaller cells and are manufactured to allow roots to migrate between the cells, strengthening the soil and plants.

Images and text from the NY Times

These are popular gardening alternatives, even sexy because they’re so “green”, but when one has the option to farm on actual land, why go through all the fuss?

AT about $125 a square foot, or $500 per planted panel, plus more for design, delivery and maintenance, edible walls do not make sense for every home, or even cities where there is open land.

The Apartment Therapy article has a good discussion (scroll down to the comments) on weight/load capacity of your roof and all the structural testings and equipment that go with it as the big caveat in roof gardening.

To be honest, I was really just hoping for lightweights on my roof, a simple add-on for insulation, like green grass for cover and possibly nice, comfy lounge chairs for actual sitting and enjoyment of the green view… 🙂

Image of a hotel green roof from

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