Friday, April 15, 2011

Substitute Materials for Plantwall...Help!

Ok I need some help. Does anyone have any suggestions as to what are green and locally available substitutes for the following, given that they need to not rust and not rot?
- rigid pvc sheeting
- aluminum (like, square tubes ya3ni)
- synthetic felt

The plantwall is meant to be made from these unfriendly materials, and I'm on the verge of just going with plywood and wood and jute (خيش), but am concerned about rot issues. I can't use scrap metal because of the rust...unless someone knows a way to seal it properly.

I'm mostly aching to use jute instead of felt because a) it's much, much cheaper and b) it is apparently and amazingly made from molokheyya (or the mallow plant in general), and it is one of the few remaining things of which Egypt is a top producer.

Anyway any advice would be great. Are my concerns about rot overblown given that we're in Egypt? What about the rust? What about the substrate for the plant roots, anyone see a problem with using jute? Are their other, better materials I'm unaware of? I may ultimately try it it my way anyway just to see what happens, but it'd be nice to have a heads up if anyone has solid info.


  1. What's the design you are modifying? knowing that may help in thinking of substitute materials..

  2. Aluminum foil trays, the kind for baking you can get them for any super market.. Instead of felt you can use a mixture of sand and gravel (they are nonreactive) the substrate can be anything as long as its not reactive.. Check out some of the last tweets on freegyfood for a link to some websites

  3. I just discovered your blog by way of links from the Al Masry al youm article. I might have ideas to share with you but I'm unclear what you meant by a "plant wall". Can you give a better description of your project?
    ~ Ruth

  4. I suggest you use plywood and jute and just replace them when they start decaying. They'll be food for the plants anyway. Using biodegradable materials is always a good thing. Replacing them as they decay in a few years is no big deal.

  5. Hello,
    I found your blog when I was reading about the Egyptian Food Sovereignty Project. I've been paying a lot of attention to Egypt since January and in the process learning more about other aspects of the country, including the EFSP.

    How is your garden growing now?

    I am in rural Ontario Canada with ample place to grow food, which we used to do along with the goats and horses my late mother used to raise. We only have a feral cow now, so I'm trying to encourage a more eco-friendly environment on the property. We have a diverse ecosystem going here, with lots of insects, frogs, toads, snakes, birds, and even waterfowl. When we were farming we didn't see this because the fields were cut down and animals grazed. Now that the fields are being left to nature, this ecosystem has emerged.

    I am very interested in following your process, as I think it is the sort of project that could be globally useful, and relatively easy to do with sufficient water available.

    Will keep watching. Happy gardening! :)

  6. HI Mariam, Its great to see this idea here in Maadi just when I am trying to do something similar myself! Any updates on your blog? I would also like to chat to see what difficulties to expect in making my own roof garden.