Hi Michele- I'm looking forward to working with you in a few days!
I was just following up on Ricardo's post on vertical plant walls.
I've just gotten in touch with Matt Kent, a professor in the Hort department who's a hydroponics expert. He forwarded me this schematic for one we could possibly make from items we could get here:
I don't know how much time we have to experiment with the basic seed post design, but we could probably accommodate larger plants and maybe a larger-scale lace pattern if we used an array of plastic holders (plastic electrical enclosures at home depot? Cheap plastic pots? Scavenged plastic plant trays? maybe something even simpler and cheaper...any ideas?) radiating from the post.
We could also experiment with inter-post options (arches, plants spilling down the posts to ground level, etc.) by using some kind of plastic scaffold.
Michele, I see from your plans that the water doesn't recirculate in your system and relies on daily manual draining. If we could automate it more, it could be a more sustainable system.
Matt also talked with me about a lot of options as far as nutrient solutions and hydroponic systems are concerned.
http://hydro-gardens.com/10822.htm is a supplier of premixed fertilizer solutions, sold in boxes of 2 25lb bags. (free shipping).
Seeds could possibly be held against the felt layer of the post with germination paper. This is available at seedpaper.com, in stock at 30"x40", or in custom sizes. We could wrap the posts with these to hold the seeds in place until they germinate. Or we could experiment with paper towels.
Matt also informed me that perlite breaks down and eventually becomes an algae-ridden mess. He said that pumice would be a better long term solution.
The hydroponic reservoirs must be light-tight, or else algae will take over the water. As Michael mentioned in his post on hydroponics, the water must be aerated somehow. An aquarium air stone and pump are cheap, easy solutions, but the air stone's lifetime is short. If we're aiming at more permanent installations, we need to find another solution.
One final subject and then I'll stop: here are two great seed sources for native TX seed:
If we order soon, we can use them for this project.