Babilon can be set up in two basic ways. There is a downloadable sheet of instructions at the end of this article.
Babilon was designed to be draped over horizontal supports in a greenhouse or polytunnel, that’s why half of the logos are inverted. But just as conveniently, it can be cut easily to desired lengths and fastened to a vertical surface of your choice (as long as it is your vertical surface).
Let’s start with the draping process.
Ideally, the horizontal support should be in a roughly north to south orientation, as this will give the plants growing on either side of Babilon a share of the daylight.
Drape Babilon over the support and make sure both sides are the same length and the ends are around 200 mm off the ground to cater for a method of catching run-off. This may be some guttering, a bucket or another plant in a pot. If you want to use Babilon in shorter lengths than supplied, make sure you select an even number of pockets and then cut it across one of the pocket openings. This ensures an even length on both sides for draining excess water.
With the bottom ends level, staple the two sides of Babilon together about 40 mm below the support. The staples prevent Babilon from slipping off the support when the weight of compost is added. The 40 mm gap is to allow for an irrigation tube should you be adding several Babilon on the support. If you are going to be using an irrigation tube it is advisable to install it before hanging the Babilon.
Hanging Babilon on vertical surfaces
Babilon can be cut easily to lengths that suit whatever wall or fence surface you have available. Babilon is designed to simplify irrigation by guiding water fed into the top pocket down to all the lower ones, so cutting Babilon into very short lengths rather diminishes this advantage. Aim for four pockets or more.
Cut across a pocket opening. This creates a length of tube that is useful at the top to fasten Babilon to the wall, and at the bottom of the next piece to act as a drainpipe.
Either wind the top around a baton and staple it underneath to prevent it slipping and fasten the baton to the wall, or simply screw through Babilon into a wooden fence. The material is strong enough not to rip even when full of medium and plants and being blown about in the wind. Having said that, do put an extra screw in towards the bottom of the column to stop it being blown about on windy days.
Filling Babilon pockets
Open all Babilon’s pockets by inserting a finger into the specially designed slits and pulling gently.
Starting with the top pocket, pull the front of the pocket upwards and outwards slightly and this will cause the area of Babilon above the pocket to form a chute. Put a handful of your chosen growing medium (see here to choose) onto this chute and it will slide into the pocket.
Spread the medium across the bottom of the pocket.
If you are growing from seeds, add more medium to fill the pocket to 5 mm below the rim.
If you are using plug plants add enough medium for the plug to stand on so its soil is 5 mm below the rim. Add medium around the plug to support it.
Repeat this process working down the column of pockets. If you are working on a draped Babilon there is no need to fill pockets on alternate sides to maintain balance, as long as you have stapled the top together.
Capturing excess water
A good practice is to give a plant in a pot 15% more water than it needs. It’s an amount that pretty much guarantees that all the media in it gets activated nutrients.
To take the best advantage of Babilon’s in-built irrigation system water is introduced into the top pocket only and is automatically guided down the column to the other plants.
A suggestion if you only have one or two Babilon is to put a plant in a pot underneath to use the run-off.
For several Babilon, have a length of roof guttering leading to the plant pot.
Babilon pockets are large enough to grow mature plants but are designed to drain excess water quickly to feed down the column. Effective drainage is very good for plants but, consequently, water levels need monitoring, especially on sunny days.
Watering is best done with a dripping system (see here) but flooding gently will work too. Dripping can be automated to look after your crop over weekends away or even holidays if your reservoir holds enough.
A watering can is absolutely fine, just a little more work.
Click here to see a downloadable PDF of these illustrations: Babilon planting instructions