Green Roof Experiential Learning – Fall 2014 Blog 3 by Nicole Forbes

Blog #3 – December 10, 2014

The weather for the last part of the semester has been true to Texas, bipolar and hard to predict. It has varied from being beautiful one week to being unbearably cold the next. Through this roller coaster of weather, we fixed and placed the sensors that collect data on the living walls. In addition, we took plant counts on the living wall that we planted with numerous herbs and strawberries and the green roof module that we planted with food crops and herbs. I am happy to report that most of our plants are alive and well, I just hope to find them the same way once the winter is over!

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I also decided to include some of my own research in this final blog. As I was researching wetland plants for one of our living wall modules, I stumbled upon the idea of a roof pond. I found this idea very intriguing as we live in a place where air conditioning is very important in the summer (aka it gets HOT here). Roof ponds help with decreasing the impact of direct solar heat upon the building and actually help cool the building as when water evaporates, it absorbs heat from the surrounding environment to get enough energy to cause evaporation. Roof ponds would be a beautiful edition to a green roof as you could plant water plants in the pond. I find these ponds very interesting and am going to continue researching them further.

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This is my last blog for this semester, but I will hopefully be returning to the roof and blog next semester as I have thoroughly enjoyed this project!

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Green Roof Experiential Learning – Fall 2014 Blog 2 by Nicole Forbes

Blog 2 – November 18, 2014

We have gotten a lot done in the past two months. After completing inventory on and weeding the green roof modules, we took the best of the plants out of the two rooftop sections and consolidated them to the left side of the roof. Below: the top photo is the process of moving the modules and the bottom photo is the finished product.

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The next weekend, we directed seeded and transplanted numerous food crops, including strawberries, kale, beets, spinach and many more, and watered them. We have not done much else with those modules after planting besides watering them and covering them with blankets when it is cold. Below: the top photo is the section after direct seeding and transplanting and the bottom photo is them covered up in preparation for a cold night.

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Our main focus this portion of the semester has been one of the living walls. We took inventory of the plants, living and dead, and then removed all of them. We transplanted strawberries first, alternating whether we diapered (wrapping the plants roots and soil in a cloth) and undiapered (putting the plant directly into the pocket with the soil) and placing the strawberries in straight lines based on type. Below: the top photo is the cart full of strawberries and the bottom photo is the finished product of our strawberry transplant.

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We then transplanted mint, onion, and garlic, along with direct seeding numerous types of lettuce and other vegetables in the remaining sections of the greenwall. We chose a more random approach to placement this time around as well as deciding to diaper all of the plants. Below: the top photo is a sprout of the lettuce we planted and the bottom photo is the wall in its entirety.

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I look forward to completing the semester and hopefully continuing my work next semester!

Green Roof Experiential Learning – Fall 2014 Blog 1 by Nicole Forbes

Green roof modules at the beginning of the semester, fall 2014

Green roof modules at the beginning of the semester, fall 2014

Weeding and plant counts, fall 2014

Weeding and plant counts, fall 2014

Blog 1 – September 29, 2014

My name is Nicole Forbes and I am a student for the HORT 485 class aka The Green Roof Experiment. The objective for us in this course is to maintain and collect data on two green roof sections that are made up of many smaller modules and the two living walls. We are trying to establish what plants grow best on roofs in Texas, in hopes of being able to further expand this project successfully throughout the state.

The first portion of this course has involved removing and counting invasive weed species that have overtaken some of the modules and then taking inventory on the surviving plants. It has been a grueling process but will be very informative on which plants will thrive on the rooftop environment. We are also preparing to plant numerous crops in about a week. I am very excited to see how the crops fare and am hoping we can find crops that flourish on the roof. One thing is for sure, it is difficult to find plants that can survive on a rooftop in Texas.

Below are a few pictures I have taken of the roof so far. The top picture is of a few of the modules that have recently been weeded and inventory has been taken. The bottom picture shows our set up for when we work complete with our own tent and fan for when we need to cool off. You can also see some of my fellow students weeding and taking inventory.

This has been a very interesting learning experience and I am excited for it to continue!