Evaluation of an A-frame Vertical Growing Structure Using: Amaranthus tricolor, Beta vulgaris ‘Detroit Dark Red’, and Ocimum basilicum ‘Cardinal Basil’
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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Vertical gardening systems represent innovative, dynamic, and space efficient methods for producing fresh and nutrient-dense produce within highly populated cities and rural areas in a sustainable and economically efficient manner. The purpose of this work was to evaluate a novel, wood A-frame vertical structure that optimizes greenhouse production space compared to traditional bench-top greenhouse production. Three nutrient rich, herbaceous species were evaluated in this study: Amaranthus tricolor, Ocimum basilicum ‘Cardinal Basil’, and Beta vulgaris ‘Detroit Dark Red’. Experiments were conducted in May and July 2014 comparing the A-frame to traditional, horizontal greenhouse bench-top production methods using Amaranths tricolor and Ocimum basilicum ‘Cardinal Basil’. Amaranthus tricolor plants grown on the south facing panel of the A-frame structure performed best with respect to plant height, growth indices (GI), total leaf area, and total shoot and foliar fresh weights. Similarly, with Ocimum basilicum ‘Cardinal Basil’ plants grown on the south facing vertical panel had higher values for plant height, leaf area index, and total shoot fresh and dry weights when compared to those grown on the horizontal bench-top or north facing panel of the vertical structure. Plants for both species grown on the north facing vertical panel of the A-frame structure yielded larger leaves than those of plants on the south facing panel or horizontal bench-top. Experiments using Beta vulgarism ‘Detroit Dark Red’ were conducted in May 2014 and February 2015 using the same A-frame structures and greenhouse benches. In Experiment 1, Beta vulgaris ‘Detroit Dark Red’, plants grown on the south facing panel of the A-frame structure were greater than or similar to plants grown on the bench-top with respect to plant height, GI, beetroot dry and fresh weights, and root width and circumference. During the second experiment, plants grown on the south facing panel of the A-frame structure had the greatest plant height, GI, total leaf area, foliage and beetroot fresh and dry weights, beetroot width, beetroot length, and beetroot circumference compared to plants grown on the north facing panel of the vertical structure or those on the bench-top. For all species in all experiments, substrate electrical conductivity (EC) readings were higher for containers that were on the A-frame structure, regardless of exposure, compared to bench-top pots. This document also provides the instructions and components required to build the wood A-frame vertical growing structure evaluated in this study. A current cost estimate and comparison to two commercially available vertical structures was completed, and are discussed.