Great to be here, this is my first post in Permies!
I'm working on an urban agriculture project called AKER, and was hoping for some feedback on an idea. At AKER, we design and fabricate small growing kits using digital tools, and share the designs online for free (everything is open source).
I'm developing a micro-growing system for taking plants/veggies from seeds to produce in small interior / exterior spaces. The idea is build around the concept of Soil Blocks (you may be familiar with them) which we are calling Soil Cubes (why not?). I've attached a simple visual diagram that shows the concept, but I'll go into some more detail by referencing the numbers in the diagram below.
I would like to know what you guys think of this system, because if we move ahead with it, it will become the foundational concept upon which we build a bunch of new designs this year.
Is it practical for urban dwellers who only have interior space (perhaps balconies)? Is it efficient and likely to succeed in your opinion? Is soil valid for urbanites in the face of aquaponic and hydroponic systems?
Here are the numbers on the diagram outlined in more detail:
2. The idea here is that the propagator sticks to any window with a couple suction pads. This helps heat the cubes and keeps the air around them moist (if we can achieve a tight seal against the glass). We have a Soil Cube Propagator design that needs work, but is almost ready. The final version will be made from clear acrylic, not the material you see here. Feedback welcomed: http://community.aker.me/t/design-soil-cube-propagator).
3. Haven't started work on the 100mm Soil Cube Maker yet, but this would be similar to no. 1, but larger. Also, I would like to add wick feed, so when you press a 100mm Cube, the wick is stamped into it.
4. I want to design a little holder that a mason jar cap can screw through onto the jar. The 100mm Soil Cube would slot onto this, and the wick would drape into the jar with water inside.
5. The mounting system can be modular, and hang onto a wall near an interior window or on an exterior.
6. The cubes can be placed into the soil using the Square Foot Gardening method, allowing users to plan and anticipate how much produce they can create. 1 Square Foot is roughly the same as 300mm x 300mm, so 3 x 100mm cubes by 3 x 100mm soil cubes (depending on space needed by plant) can piggyback on this same methodology.
7. This is not necessarily representative of how we would add a Vermicomposter, but conceptually the idea is we could add different module to the Wicking Raised Bed. Also things like a "Greenhouse Cover" and a structural matrix to stack these beds vertically.
Please let me know what you guys think of this concept and if you have any questions! We would love you to visit our forum and introduce yourselves (http://community.aker.me/t/introduce-yourself/) if you're interested in what we're doing -- there are many opportunities to collaborate and all our designs are freely available to everyone.