I am in serious awe right now. Two brothers, ages 17 and 15, have developed a container growing system that uses minimal water and minimal space to grow container gardens for rooftops. These Global Buckets don't require much tending, and you can even automate the watering system..
I'm highly intrigued. I have a brown thumb to the max (through care and devotion, I killed my potted desk bamboo), and not much time, so their appeal is obvious.
These guys have done a lot of experimentation and are constantly playing with new designs. I'm impressed by the way they have considered a lot of problems and how it's designed to work in non-agricultural land. As more people move to cities and growing land turns to a premium, gardens like this are going to be more and more useful. The inventors pitch it as a solution for feeding the poverty-stricken in third world and urban-yet-poor areas like Calcutta. I pitch it to you as the solution to urban agriculture for anyone.
The only part I dislike about their system is their use of chemical fertilizers. While their system is closed and no fertilizers will hit the local water table, chemical fertilizers can become expensive for people who also find a 5-gallon bucket too valuable to punch holes in. When I make a few of my own, I'm going to experiment to see if I can use compost as fertilizer instead of pellets.
Even with this setback, I love the idea, and I'm going to make a couple for my back patio. After all, the urban gardening culture is growing (no pun intended). Urban beekeeping is coming into vogue, especially in France, where the urban hives are thriving more than the rural ones. Grass roofs and edible lawns are actually becoming known. And if you grow it yourself, there's no transit costs, no pesticides, and it's fresh and full of nutrients.
Check back soon! I will post my results and experiments on this front once I have them running.