The Hanging Fruit-Baskets of Babylon

terrarium(diy terrarium with lovely photies)

It’s a well-known fact that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon weren’t an expression of Babylonian Imperial Grandeur but rather came about because The Babylonian economy had crashed so people began to grow their own food… and there wasn’t a lot of space, so it tended to be up walls etc. And they couldn’t be arsed weeding so it was like… weedy.

And so it is at the dawn of the 21st Century.

There have been a lot of hopeful twitterings (I mean that in the brand-agnostic sense) about Urban Agriculture… especially in Detroit… in the ruins of the unsustainable.

And some are trying to paint it as a political thing… and maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t…

… because as I’ve said previously, the biggest vampire-pipe draining blood out of you and your family’s jugulars isn’t to do with food… it’s the FIRE industries… Finance, Insurance, Real-Estate… and if you’re American, you can add Military to that as well. Until these get sorted (and by that I mean radically localised), growing your own food is just a gesture.

But gestures are good. Statements of possibility and intent. You’ve got to start somewhere… and the difference between 0 and 1 is far greater than that between 1 and 2.

I must confess a huge fascination with this stuff because I’m a geek, and geek’s love self-contained life-support systems… hence the photo at the top… and inspired by the Swedish box thing… I’ve grown my own high-rise strawberry farm.


See, it’s got a crafty drip-feed mechanism that requires endless fiddling to get an even distribution. There’s got to be an easier way.

So far it’s blown down once, and I think I’m going to have to make white or silver inserts… because the sun does get most ferocious hot in these parts and the bin-lining will act like an oven. It was inspired in part by the Rube Goldberg Garden I was on about earlier

In an urban context, space is the thing, so the errr… Internet, has a fascination for things grown vertically. This next one is a double win because it’s a closed (nearly) system AND it’s vertical:

Aquaponics. Marvelous… although the one doing all the talking says the word “poop” (pron “Pee-oop”) about 4 times more than is strictly necessary IMHO.

The greeny blogs love vertical farms to the extent that they’ll publish drawings of them and rave about them, pretending they’re real. This one does seem to be real… and isn’t from a greeny blog.


And it does look fairly cool, granted. A bit better than my strawberry farm.

But these things need constant care, attention and luck…


Things don’t always work out.

About a year ago I came across this article in an NZ magazine… where a school in Scary South Auckland (Once Were Warriors-land) was having huge success growing vegetables… and the transformational effect it had on the kids… and the entire neighbourhood in fact. One of the most inspiring pieces I’ve read… especially the bit that goes:

“I was told it couldn’t work, because people would steal, but I don’t call it stealing or raiding, I call it helping themselves, and that’s great because that’s what it’s for. Those gardens belong to everybody at the school and in the community. We leave our gates open in the day and people come and go and we’ve never had damage in our garden. One measure of the project’s success is that they value what we’ve done.”

Unfortunately, the same thing was tried in my home town here – and a couple of days ago, vandals turned up and destroyed the lot. You can’t fuckwit-proof the world.

Maybe there’s a genetically-engineered angle on this… because (hearkening back to the Ancient Babylonian’s reluctance to weed)…


Love Spreads


From Detroit again. You can’t stop mother nature etc.

That bottom photo is a classic – a beautiful old house but “someone (ie: a bank) owns it” so no one can live there and eventually it becomes uninhabitable. When I was a kid I once broke into a prospective squat in London (through the front window with a brick. It’s easy when you know how) – it had been empty for 8 years… and it was fucked. There were trees (literally) growing through the floor-boards… on the second floor!

There was nothing we could do… it was too far gone to live in… nature had won. It took 8 years of neglect.

So there you go. There’s no actual point to this blog-post to be honest… just a selection of links and photos etc around a theme… which I suspect may be something to do with vertical farming.

And in case you don’t want to farm plants… someone’s made a vertical bird-farm, which to me looks as scary as hell… the nesting place of Minions of Doom…


Minions of Doom…. brrrr….

4 Comments » for The Hanging Fruit-Baskets of Babylon
  1. crayz says:

    Clearly what is needed to sustain proper water and nutrient levels are tiny sensors and release valves hooked up to a computer. Probably not economical now unless you’re growing for a black market, but give it 5 years or so

    But I’m sure you know this :)

  2. A great post, making loads of smart points.

  3. bob says:

    I couldn’t help but notice how many plants there in such a small space. In regular farming, the plants would die. That’s actually how Mao managed to kill millions of his people. I’m not an expert on farming, but how is it that these plants can grow so near to each other. Is it the aquaponics, the type of plants, or is it simply that the plants just haven’t died yet?

  4. admin says:

    So in regular farming, what causes the plants to die if they are planted close together? Presumably the undersupply of some resource?

    Because as far as I can see, unless you’ve got something like pine-trees that are allelopathic, mother nature (and don’t I just hate that cliche) seems to have a way of packing every last available centimetre with something that’s alive.

    I mean I look out my window at my own garden… it’s a jungle out there.