Now, it is indeed a stunning pool and spa setup, and we love it. But this ended up eating up most of our backyard. That essentially very little grassy area was left didn't bother me, since it eliminated a ton of lawn maintenance. we were able to save some space along the side of the house for a dog run, which we thought we were going to use for garden space as well. We had it covered with mulch, thinking we could use pots with soil to grow various things.
During the construction of the pool and spa, we ended up running into an issue of not having enough pavers because the original design called for a grassy buffer area between the original patio (marble) and the new patio (brick). This ended up being changed to a flush to the house design that you see now. Unfortunately, this meant stealing a bunch of pavers from behind the spa area that was adjoining the back wall that faces the forest preserve.
As you can see, there is a big gap where we have sand covering dirt. The original solution was to landscape this with exotic plants, but a few weeks ago I ran into a fellow at the Palm Beach Gardens Greenmarket named Chuck Frogner who has a business in Delray Beach called Mighty Fine Gardens.
What intrigued me about his business is that he consults with various restaurants and such to build hydroponic "Chef Gardens" which consist of poles that have vegetable planters that are filled with a silica-based growing medium and are topped with coconut husk fibers, and is fed with a electrically pumped drip irrigation system using clean water that is fortified with plant food.
There's a couple of benefits to this, one, you don't use anywhere near as much water for this as you would a traditional garden. Two, The plants go like gangbusters in a controlled, sterile medium (Perlite, a silica-based substance) much as you would on a space mission like they will do when they go to Mars or the Moon and build bases there someday.
In Florida, much of the soil is contaminated with Nematodes (nasty microbial wormy things) that kill plants so growing veggies directly in the mulched area along the side of the house would have been a bad idea.
The third benefit as these are vertical gardens and totally raised off the ground, you don't hurt your back when you are working on them.
Today we completed the first half of the garden. When we are done, there will be 24 poles that will be fed by two drip irrigation pumps which will suck out water and nutrients from two garbage-can sized tanks (which will be wrapped with bamboo mats to improve the aesthetics.)
Here's what the first half looks like. Tomorrow the second side is going to be completed, along with the irrigation and the first seedlings.
I'll be using this thread and my two blogs (offthebroiler.com and techbroiler.com) to give progress reports on the setup and the growing of the vegetables, and to answer any questions anyone might have.
Edited by Jason Perlow, 09 January 2013 - 04:54 PM.