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admin | Category: Erective Dysfunction 2016 | 18.02.2015
Photos: Alexander GiesemannIndoor composting can seem like a daunting proposition if you're an apartment dweller who's short on space and time. Growing food can insulate you from a food crisis, so I always recommend that my readers learn to grow food, even if the only space is a small balcony or patio.  One of the projects I have always wondered about was whether it is possible to grow potatoes in a bucket. As the last gasps of summer exhaled collar-loosening heat onto LA, it became apparent I needed to get away 120 miles south to temperate San Diego for a weekend getaway (summer here unofficially continues well throughout October).
The Westin Gaslamp Quarter's tastefully renovated lobby introduces a deceptively simple large vertical garden immediately upon entering. The Westin's setup seems less about gardening and more akin to the complex iPad controlled aquarium setup we recently profiled.
Realistically, your best bet for an affordable and smart indoor (or backyard) vertical garden would likely be using vertical mount plant pouches.
Laptop Magazine recently shared this preview of the Kabouchi app from CeBit, offering hope for all of us brown thumbed gardeners out there. Ironically, one ongoing trend in the hospitality sector is infusing public areas with "signature scents". But after reading up about vertical gardens, and the care and expertise involved, I think my best bet will be start off small, manageably small, and just add a plant watering reminder app (or any reminder app will actually do just fine too).

It was while waiting for our hotel room in San Diego that I noticed an impressive vertical indoor garden in the lobby that at first glance seemed composed of fake plants, so vibrant green was the color.
In reality, what looks merely decorative is a carefully planned and balanced system of water, nutrients, power system, pumping, and of course plant-friendly lighting. Westin contracted Ambius, an interior landscaping specialist, to install the whole wall; hidden from view is a structural system supporting a water tank, a UV filter so grey water could be used, and a network of piping only visible when you stick your nose closer (which I did). Westin's Vice President of Design, Erin Hoover, provided a few additional pointers for a DIY version, noting the obvious (pick a spot for your setup with sufficient, but appropriate sunlight or lighting according to your plants) as well as more detailed tips ("'For easy maintenance, choose durable plants that have shallow roots and do not require a lot of water. Wooly Pockets, partnered with a soil monitoring device+app like the Koubachi wi-fi plant sensor> or the EasyBloom 1000, only leaves the act of watering to you (ironically, a great deal of people kill their plants from too much watering, not too little). The Westin Gaslamp's lobby was infused with a pleasant, if not somewhat strong, white tea scent… which quickly sent my better half's allergy-sensitive nose into annoyed mode.
If you're not the DIY type, there are these expensive ($1,100 and up), but beautiful, plug-in, self circulating, all-in-one systems, like these from Plants On Walls, complete with timer, water tank, and pump. I was able to get a few details about the setup and tips for how to make your own vertical garden at home for indoor or outdoor use.
Examples include moss, flowering vine-plants, vegetables like lettuce and fruit such as strawberries").

If you're especially geeky and industrious, there are a few Arduino automated watering systems (growduino) people have pieced together, with moisture, temperature, humidity, and light sensors, but I'll file this under "expert mode". Only while sitting right next to the vertical garden, where the plants were doing their darn best to filter the interior air, was Emily able to find a safe-zone from the scent-ual atmosphere, illustrating how effective indoor plants can be at improving air quality (here are the 13 Top Air Purifying House Plants, just in case you're curious). Like windowfarms, this is definitely a boon for those who have precious little window space to actually grow food or herbs, and a thoughtful design solution for urban gardening in tight and light-poor spaces.For more information, check out Designboom and the websites of Charlotte Dieckmann and Nils Ferber.Inspired but not sure where to start? But getting something as impressively set up as the Westin's polished vertical garden is going to take a little more work and research … and some downsizing in size and expectations as a beginner. But if you're in need of some encouragement or a refresher, our Green Basics on composting can help you get familiarized with terms and techniques, or check out the links below for more composting ideas.Like this?

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