Paul Nickerson

The Pita Pit: Vertical Grow

In Aquaponics on February 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm

Pita Pit Vertical Grow System

I spent this past weekend in Philadelphia for my birthday. Saturday night, my girlfriend and I went out to dinner at a small restaurant call “The Pita Pit,” located on Sansom St. Aside from the wonderful food (the ‘Greek God’ and ‘Fajita Pita’ are amazing!), I was very excited to see a Vertical Grow system on the wall next to the fountain drinks. The system was a simple, waterfall, system that utilized what appeared to be a pocketed, rockwool sheet, into which the plants were placed. A pump moved water up from a bucket, to the top of the system. I then trickled down into a section of gutter, and returned to the sump tank.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the photo, all of the plants were dead. While the system is functioning properly, there are a couple problems that need to be addressed. The seedlings were placed into the system with the soil still around the roots. Regular water, mixed with a fertilizer (not hydroponics solution) was pumped through the system. Firstly, the soil should be removed from seedlings when they are being grown in any ‘hydroponic-style’ system. Especially in a continuous flow system, the soil will store water against the roots, promoting rot, and eventually killing the plant.

Secondly, in such a system, you cannot simply use standard fertilizer to supply the nutrients needed for plant growth. The nutrients from the small amount of soil around the plants found is this system will quickly become depleted, and another source is needed. To properly sustain the volume of plants in the system at Pita Pit. Hydroponics, or Aquaponics would be necessary.

Hydroponics would entail properly mixing, and maintaining hydroponic solution in the sump take, which would be difficult for anyone without a background in the field.

The easiest, and most customer-friendly, solution to the problem would be to remove the bucket from the system, and install a lovely fish tank with a few large gold-fish. The waste secreted from the gold-fish would be more than sufficient for the plants, and would provide them with all of the needed nutrients for healthy growth. In turn, the plants would filter out all of the waste in the fish tank, and would maintain a clean, healthy environment for the fish. It would also provide a wonderful conversation piece, and a beautiful addition to Pita Pit’s environmentally friendly restaurant!

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