Pimp my roof, garden of eden edition
January 30, 2012 7:42 AM   Subscribe

Help me turn my new roof terrace into a luxuriant, highly productive garden!

I'm moving into a new 1st floor apartment and, through a fluke of architecture, I now have private use of both my own 4x4 meter (~12.5' x 12.5') terrace and the roof of the adjacent building, which adds another 4x8 meters. So I'm working with around 48 square meters (500 square feet) of empty, contiguous, rectangular-shaped space (more than I have inside the flat!). Assume the roofs are in good shape, capable of bearing alot of weight, and approved for garden construction by the various people in charge. The location is South London, and the roof faces North but receives some sunlight throughout the day (especially in summer).

The question is, how can I use this space to create a garden that is peaceful, welcoming, and productive of a large amount of vegetables, herbs, and flowers? I've seen this, but I'm really looking for more specific info how to make the garden great for hanging out AND for maximizing yields of edible and pretty things. Any advice on design, plant varieties, or resources to check out?

Assume that I'm handy and that I'm willing to commit some money and a lot of elbow grease to this project. I'm also planning on putting some of my big sculptures out there, and possibly incorporating them into the gardening (trellises, that sort of thing).
posted by narcotizingdysfunction to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Edible plant varieties: start by figuring out how long various parts of the prospective garden are in direct sun each day. Vegetables typically require at least 6 hours. Leafy stuff like lettuces and herbs can get away with somewhat less, but no food-producing garden will thrive in shade.
posted by jon1270 at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2012

Best answer: Are you going to be container gardening, or building beds directly on the roofs?

I'd plant several veggies that are cut-and-come-again, like chard or leaf lettuce blends. They also have the benefit of being colorful plants. Also, look for "patio" varieties, such as this zucchini. Smaller plants, but they'll yield as much as the large ones.

Another way to maximize yield is to pick early and often. Even though it seems kind of counterproductive, picking somewhat immature veggies like squash leads to a more productive plant, and higher yields overall.

This article, about growing a garden in small urban spaces, may help you, even if you do have a lot more space than the subject of the article.
posted by ThisKindNepenthe at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2012

Best answer: I used these last year, and had great results.
posted by timsteil at 8:05 AM on January 30, 2012

Best answer: If you're doing a container garden, The Bountiful Container gives really detailed advice on how to grow a bunch of different vegetables.

Self-watering containers are very good, because they often water plants in a way that's more how nature does it - from the bottom up, the roots take up moisture. Watering plants overhead too much can lead to yucky leaves and other bad things, here's a tutorial on making a self watering container:

Taking advantage of vertical space is also a good idea in a small space, here's some ideas for creating vertical gardens:

Instructables.com has a lot of different garden related projects in their "Living" section. I get a lot of inspiration from those, here are a few that might be useful to you:
posted by permiechickie at 8:40 AM on January 30, 2012

Best answer: Check Rosalind Creasy and her Edible Landscaping.
posted by leigh1 at 8:46 AM on January 30, 2012

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