Field of Science

Vertical Gardening at Chelsea & Your Food Supply

Ever been to the Chelsea flower show? The Phactors attended a few years ago as part of our 2nd botanical geek tour. If you do go, save enough time the next day to see the Chelsea Physic Garden only a short distance away; it's worth it. The amazing thing about Chelsea, and what sets it apart from all other flower shows, a lot, is the size and complexity of the garden installations. We found ourselves constantly asking "How did they do that?" The logistics are quite mind boggling like having picture perfect floral displays all week long of 50 different varieties of you name it, and getting them all to flower at once in large enough numbers to produce the display. This year a vertical garden installation will be featured to illustrate how to grow a big garden in a small space. One side of the building is all plants, one side solar cells, and the areas within for composting and propagating. Practical? Probably not, but imaginative, clever. Just think a rectangular building with two sides facing south. Think about it.
Of course the point of this is that cities have a problem. While they put lots of things and people conveniently close together, as they get larger the convenience decreases, and important things like water, sewage, and food must be dealt with at increasingly further distances away. Now some cities have solved the space for food production problem. Detroit now has enough vacant space to probably feed itself, but this wasn't planned. London is supposed to only have four days of food on hand at any one time, and this is probably true for most large cities. It's why the shops empty so fast during disasters. So what kind of person are you? Mostly to suit our busy lifestyle and our make it from scratch approach to food, the Phactors keep a considerable supply of basics on hand: canned goods, pastas, flours, beans, frozen stuff (but only good for a few days if the power goes out), and do not dare overlook the wine cellar. This is sort of a throw back to a rural childhood where winter storms frequently left you marooned for a few days, and a big garden tended to overwhelm if produce wasn't canned or frozen. But you must remain vigilant; just yesterday when fetching a decent bottle of red yours truly pointed out that the entire stock of red wine was down to just 9 bottles. Mrs. Phactor almost fainted. What if a disaster struck? For some reason our on hand wine stock is at its lowest in over 25 years. But that's another story. Although it might get a bit dull & some things would disappear quickly, we wouldn't starve for at least a month (but the squirrels better watch out!).
So what kind of person are you? How long could you hold out? Are you one of those real hard core survivalist with a year's supply? Wow! That's be a lot of wine! Or do you go day by day?

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