FAO report on greener cities in Latin America, including urban and peri-urban agriculture

FAO report on greener cities in Latin America, including urban and peri-urban agriculture http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/greenercities/.

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What urban farming could look like in the future

Here’s a good listing of tech for vertical indoor gardens: http://www.hortidaily.com/article/5922/If-urban-farming-took-off,-what-would-Boston-look-like

of course, they will soon have to add UFO’s suspended indoor garden!

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a garden in your condo

How Plant Pods can be used to create an indoor vertical garden in the city, in this blogpost by the Canadian Association of Decorators.

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What to plant in the Suspended Garden

Plant Pods by UFO are idea for growing edible plants, in small vertical spaces. Regardles of what you plant, don’t water beyond the water fill line, which is 1″ (2.5 cm) from the bottom of the see-through pod.  If the Plant Pods are hanging in front of a window, you can grow edible plants that thrive in the sun , and don’t require vertical support. These include thyme, mint, green onion, basil, cilantro, chives, rosemary.

If Plant Pods are hanging in a shaded indoor area, you can grow edible plants in them, such as mint, parsley,  lettuce, spinach, aloe, chives, cilantro. Some of these plants grow well in both sunny and shaded areas.

Here’s a post on essential herbs you could plant in your home garden, which also works for a window garden made of Plant Pods.

Solid Rain, or potassium polyacrylate can also be added to the potting mix when starting a set of Plant Pods. This can reduce the watering frequency by half.

Plants that don’t overgrow or need vertical support work great in the Plant Pods. You can choose edible or air-purifying plants:

Air-purifying house plants are another option. All plants remove carbon dioxide during the day (some at night), and some remove formaldehyde, mold spores and other toxins. These include Areca Palm, Bamboo Palm, Spider Plant, Snake Plant, Peace Lily and Gerbera Daisy.

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Earthworm Pods

The Earthworm Pods by UFO differ from other earthworm equipment. They’re a hanging string of small devices. These are designed to properly moisten and aerate the earthworm environment. No bedding or cardboard is used. These hang inside the smalles of kitchens, even a boat cabin, and turn some of your food scraps into earthworm casts, a prime fertilizer. These 23 oz, modular pod mean you can ease into using earthworms in the home, and expand your string of pods gradually. It’s like owning a one fish mini aquarium, and stacking many of these instead of one large expensive aquarium.

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Electric Earthworm Separator

At UFO, my intern and I built and tested an electric earthworm separator. This is an electric appliance developed by UFO, but yet commercialized.

Fig. 1. Testing the electric separation of earthworms

The project was funded by a Carrot Cache grant and the experiment conducted at the Thing Tank lab. I designed the separator and selected the electric current level and type based on the design model I published in Biosystems EngineeringThe tests showed that the separator can drive 50% of the earthworm in a soil or organic medium, without harming them, by using low AC voltages (see Fig. 1).


Fig. 2. Prototype and designed version of the electric earthworm separator

 The electric earthworm separator is essentially an array of semi-cylindrical channels, with soil electrodes running parallel to the two opposite edges of the channel (see Fig. 2). Soil containing earthworms is poured over the array of channels, and the separator has a mechanism to discard excess soil so that soil is only found on the inside of the channels. An electric circuit is then turned on for 2 minutes, and earthworms exit the perforated channels filled with soil, onto a platform underneath the channels.  From there earthworm earthworm are simply collected, typically to be sold. Here is a video of the separator in action (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3. Video of earthworms exiting the soil under the effect of electric current

UFO’s industrial designer created a designed, digital model of the electric separator (Fig 2). After prototyping this idea, I actually realized that vibrations, from low-frequency radio-waves (like a loud speaker playing base) would be more pratical for driving earthworms out of the soil. This was a useful prototyping experience none-the-less. I hope to follow up soon with a sound-based method from driving earthworms out of the soil, or processed waste.

thanks for reading!


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Sources of earthworms for the Earthworm Pods

The Earthworm Pods, which differ from typical Earthworms devices, require 100 earthworms each. That’s the equivalent of 20 grams, and achieves the published optimal stocking density (150 earthworms per litre). 2 oz of earthworms equip 3 pods, and I think that this is the smallest quantity earthworm suppliers sell. Most sell worms by the lb or 1/2 lb. If you end up with excess worms, you can always place them in your garden, or try to resell them on craigslist. You’re welcome to include a link to earthworms for sale (and your location on the planet) in a comment below. Below is also a list of the suppliers I know of. Let me know in a comment if you know of others I should add. The smaller the quantities they sell, the better (but no fishing bait-prices please!).

List if earthworm suppliers:

Toronto: Cathy’s Crawlers

Massachusetts: Cape Cod Worm Farm

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