Gardening in bottle towers (Willem Van Cotthem)

Here is my newest video :

http://youtu.be/jBY2NN-T0fc

HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION – USE BOTTLE TOWERS

Building towers of recycled bottles and/or pots offers fantastic opportunities to grow fresh food with a minimum of water and fertilizer. One can grow at home, in cities and villages, all kinds of vegetables and herbs. Bottle towers are a wonderful tool to alleviate hunger and malnutrition. They can be build at the lowest cost by any family everywhere on earth, particularly in drylands and deserts.

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A kitchen garden in the desert: why not in all dry places of the earth ? (Willem Van Cotthem)

Video seen at :

http://youtu.be/T9falbmtqlg

http://www.thesanctuaryatsedona.com

Gardening in the desert of Arizona

Why don’t you start with the same enthusiasm as this young lady ?

Even if you have less means than these Sedona people, you can achieve wonderful things at a smaller scale.  Don’t sit and wait for your  daily ration to be brought to you.  Stand up and just start your own dryland family garden.

Grow your own veggies and make your children happy !

The Not Forgotten International Family Garden Project ( Kate LENZ / Phil HITTEPOLE)

These photos, taken in February-April 2010 in some of the family gardens in the Saharawis refugee camps near Tindouf (S.W. Algeria), show that the former UNICEF-project, nowadays called “The Not Forgotten International Family Garden Project”, is still a remarkable success three years later (sustainability !).  The idea for “Seeds for Food” was born in these refugee camps.

With a minimum of brackish irrigation water an important production of food crops is realized in the Sahara desert soil.  It’s  a nice contribution to the alleviation of child malnutrition in the camps.  These fresh vegetables and fruits are a highly valued supplement to the monthly food basket provided by the World Food Program (WFP), a positive contribution to the general health condition of the refugees.

IMG_0638 – 2010-02-06 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Smara – Greenhouse of Engineer Taleb Brahim with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and fig cuttings (left). (Photographer : Phil Hittepole) 

IMG_0724 – 2010-03-15 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Auserd – Fatimatoo Hanoon tending young watermelons between rows of millet and barley. (Photographer : Phil Hittepole) 

IMG_0732 – 2010-03-15 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Auserd – Selma Khandood Mahmoud tending young watermelons between rows of millet and barley. (Photographer : Phil Hittepole) 

IMG_0733 – 2010-03-15 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Auserd – Engineer Taleb Brahim with Fatimatoo Ahmed Salem Adeed in her garden of watermelons and canary melons between rows of millet and barley. (Photographer : Phil Hittepole) 

IMG_0850 – 2010-04-22 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Auserd – Engineer Taleb Brahim and Mohamed Mas’aoud with Mineto El-Khatat in her garden of watermelons and canary melons between rows of millet and barley. (Photographer : Phil Hittepole) 

DSC03617 – 2010-04-28 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Auserd – Engineer Taleb Brahim posing in the garden of Mariam Mohamed Ali Taleb. Watermelons, Canary Melons, barley, and millet are being grown with fabric wind breaks to help protect the produce. (Photographer : Kate Lenz) 

DSC03663 – 2010-04-28 – Saharawi Refugee Camp Auserd – Watermelons in the garden of R’aba Mohamed Seedy, with her son. (Photographer : Kate Lenz) 

No Green Wall without small-scale gardens for women (Willem Van Cotthem)

My attention was caught by some statements in Mrs. Priscilla ACHAKPA’s interview, referred to a former posting on my desertification blog:

Nigeria: WEP Wants Green Wall Sahara Programme (http://allafrica.com/stories/201002180504.html)

This Executive Director of the Women Environment Programme (WEP) urged the Nigerian Government to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall Sahara programme (GWSP), which she called “an integrated development strategy for combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought and climate change” (see also UNCCD).

Mrs. ACHAKPA observed that the impact of desertification raised security concerns, especially among the vulnerable groups.  She stated that “the impact of climate change is more on women in the rural areas as they have little or no understanding of the issues involved”.  Her NGO, the WEP, intends to conduct a study on gender awareness of climate change issues, because adequate information on climate change is necessary to evolve steps to control it.

Agreeing with some of Mrs. ACHAKPA’s ideas, I want to congratulate her for asking to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall programme.  Indeed, such a nice programme, being a real challenge for all the Sahelian countries involved, merits massive support to speed up its achievement.

On the other hand, I disagree with her that Nigerian and other Sahelian rural women will be better off with “adequate information on climate change necessary to evolve steps to control it“.  Even supposing that there would be a small chance to find adequate information on climate change for rural women, I am not so sure that this will help these vulnerable women to handle their security concerns raised by the impact of desertification.

Even if the Green Wall programme may play a little bit of an interesting role in some aspects of climate change, it will not be tremendously important for the rural families in the northern provinces of Nigeria and in the other countries concerned.  I rather believe that it would be more efficient to invest in awareness building of the local population about the need to combine small-scale agriculture (or gardening) with reforestation in the Green Wall programme (agroforestry).

No doubt, we are all aware of the fact that such an enormous reforestation plan, with billions of trees to be planted in the Sahel belt, can never be achieved without “an army” of labourers for growing seedlings, digging plant pits and planting the seedlings.  These labourers will have to be well fed.  Tons of food will have to be produced at the local level.  By whom ?  By the local women ?  In this case, we would prefer that long time before the activities of the GWSP start all women can get “adequate information on ways and means to cultivate sufficient food for hundreds (thousands ?) of labourers of the GWSP working in their region”.

We can’t imagine that these women would be more interested in climate change issues than in best practices of food production in their dry region.

If well trained in cultivating all necessary species of vegetables and fruits, (dryland farming), they can not only use these skills during the implementation of the GWSP, but also for the rest of their life and that of their children, grandchildren, …

Therefore, just allow me this little piece of advice : start today laying out a small-scale garden for every woman in the northern provinces of Nigeria where the GWSP will be applied, because if there is not sufficient food production in those provinces when the labourers have to start planting trees, there will not be a Green Wall at all. Never, because planting trees with an empty stomach is so extremely difficult.  We all know this, even those strongly interested in climate change.

Collecting seeds of dragonfruit and tree tomato for development projects (Willem Van Cotthem)


Dragonfruits and tree tomatoes can be bought in supermarkets or fruit shops.

Dragonfruit is grown on the cactus Hylocereus :

  • Hylocereus undatus (Red Pitaya) has red-skinned fruit with white flesh, the most common “dragon fruit”.
  • Hylocereus costaricensis (Costa Rica Pitaya, often called H. polyrhizus) has red-skinned fruit with red flesh
  • Hylocereus megalanthus (Yellow Pitaya, formerly in Selenicereus) has yellow-skinned fruit with white flesh.

The fruit contains hundreds of black, shiny little seeds sitting in the pulp.  One can wash out the tender pulp in a fine sieve and dry the seeds on a plate (not on paper).  They usually germinate around two weeks after shallow planting.  Dry seeds can be sent to us (Beeweg 36 – BE9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium).  We offer free seeds to different development projects in the drylands, thus enabling hungry people to grow fresh fruits in a sustainable way.

Dragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing on climbing cacti - * Dragonfruit plantation - Photo Evariza Farms - 423871_101260033362712_1701936709_n.jpg
Dragonfruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing on climbing cacti – * Dragonfruit plantation – Photo Evariza Farms – 423871_101260033362712_1701936709_n.jpg
Dragonfruit - Photo WVC P1030067
Dragonfruit – Photo WVC P1030067
Cross section of dragonfruit with black seeds in white pulp - Photo WVC P1030059
Cross section of dragonfruit with black seeds in white pulp – Photo WVC P1030059
Dragonfruit's shiny black seeds in rests of whitish pulp - Photo WVC - P1030111
Dragonfruit’s shiny black seeds in rests of whitish pulp – Photo WVC – P1030111
Germination of dragonfruit seeds - Photo WVC - P1030133
Germination of dragonfruit seeds – Photo WVC – P1030133
Dragonfruit seedlings on household paper - Photo WVC - P1030129
Dragonfruit seedlings on household paper – Photo WVC – P1030129

The tree tomato grows on a Cyphomandra betacea tree.

Oval fruits only look like tomatoes.  The juicy orange pulp with purply red seeds can be washed out in a fine sieve by squeezing the pulp under running tap water.  The dark colour of the seeds (anthocyanins) disappears gradually until they are brownish.  Seeds can be dried on a plate (not on a paper).  Seedlings develop quite easily in humid potting soil.

Dry seeds sent to us (see address above) are offered for free to development projects in the drylands, where these tree tomatoes bring fresh food full of vitamins to the local people.  Thus, anyone can contribute to alleviate hunger and malnutrition in this world.

Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea), an interesting fruit to be grown at the largest scale in the drylands. The tree should be incorporated in reforestation programs. - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA BETACEA Photo WVC - P1030139.jpg
Tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea), an interesting fruit to be grown at the largest scale in the drylands. The tree should be incorporated in reforestation programs. – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA BETACEA Photo WVC – P1030139.jpg
Cross-section of tree tomato with orange flesh (juicy pulp) and dark red seeds - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA P1030143
Cross-section of tree tomato with orange flesh (juicy pulp) and dark red seeds – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA Photo WVC – P1030143
Seeds of tree tomato sit on their small stalk - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA P1030147
Seeds of tree tomato sit on their small stalk – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA Photo WVC – P1030147
When purplish red anthocyanins are washed out the seeds turn brownish - 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA P1030151
When purplish red anthocyanins are washed out the seeds turn brownish – 2009-12-30 CYPHOMANDRA Photo WVC – P1030151
All contributions of dragonfruit seeds and tree tomato seeds are most welcome.  In the name of all the people affected by drought and desertification, suffering from malnutrition, hunger and poverty : Sincere thanks !

Help us with Navajo Globe Willow cuttings (Willem Van Cotthem)

Cuttings of Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’)

As we are setting up tests with drought-resistant varieties of trees to be introduced in refugee camps in the desert, we are looking for small cuttings (20-25 cm, 8-10 inches) of the Navajo Globe Willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’).  We would be very grateful receiving some cuttings to compare their drought tolerance.

2009-11-08 Cuttings of the Navajo Globe Willow in a plastic bottle and a glass to induce root formation

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‘Navajo’ is a very hardy tree, adapted to high desert climates, round-headed upright and fast-growing, spreading, large, deciduous, long lived tree, medium-sized, 20’ to 70′ tall and wide.

The tree seems to be sheared into a perfect ball. Its branching habit results in a characteristic globe shape: a broad, rounded, perfectly symmetrical crown spread of mostly fifty feet. Young 15’ tall trees start showing the rounded crown.

Slender leaves are bright green, lance-shaped, 2″-4″ long, turning yellow in fall.

Unlike most willows, this variety is popular in high desert and drylands because it is drought-tolerant, adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions

The name of the ‘Navajo’ variety of the Globe Willow is probably synonym with ‘Umbraculifera’.

The Navajo Globe Willow is related to the Corkscrew willow (Salix matsudana ‘Tortuosa’).  Cuttings of this Corkscrew Willow would also be welcome.

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2009-11-23 Two weeks later a lot of roots are developing and the first branches are shooting

Please send some cuttings to:

Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
BEEWEG 36
B 9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium