Eco-trends to watch
This is an old idea long embraced in Europe that is being adopted in North America, with aesthetic and environmental advantages (see Raising the roof).
Straw bale outbuildings
Another redeployed ancient technique, the straw bale (made of
easily renewable crops such as wheat, oats, barley, rice, rye, hemp or flax) can be used as building material and eliminates the needs for framing lumber, plastic barriers and manufactured insulation in structures such as garden sheds, barns and garages. It has minimal environmental impact both during and after construction.
These can be simple (walls covered in plants rooted in a growing medium) or complex (surfaces connected to a building’s air-conditioning, heat and filtration systems). Indoors or out, these living marvels absorb contaminants and deliver them to the beneficial microbes in the plant roots, where they’re broken down and converted into water and carbon dioxide.
A traditional idea made new, ornamental vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, decorative annuals and perennials are planted together to give pizzazz to the less attractive vegetables they accompany. The result is a practical kitchen garden with élan.