10,000 Gardens in Africa

Photo credit: Food Tank

All community members are given opportunity to learn, and engage with food through Slow Food project, 10,000 Gardens in Africa.
Slow Food London

Let’s Get Growing: 10,000 Gardens in Africa

Approximately three out of every four Africans are 25 years of age or younger. Many of these individuals are also food insecure, with roughly a quarter of the estimated 842 million chronically hungry people in the world living in Africa. The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity has re-launched a project aiming to engage these youth in sustainable food and agriculture systems.

Originally started as one of their main projects in 2012, the project created 1,000 gardens over two years in schools, communities, and urban outskirts in 30 African countries. In 2014, this initiative became the 10,000 Gardens in Africa campaign, with the objective of creating 10,000 gardens across the continent, and the mobilization of a network of young African leaders dedicated to preserving biodiversity, traditional knowledge and food culture, and small-scale agriculture. Here are seven reasons why you should know about the 10,000 Gardens in Africa project.

Read the full article: Food Tank

Drought Tolerant Plants need less water

Photo credit: CJAD

The August long weekend is nearly here and no doubt you have big plans to weed and water your garden with your precious time off.  What a silly idea.  No one plans to stand at the end of a hose applying water to their plants when they can be doing something more useful and/or fun.

Use Less Water: Plant Drought Tolerant Plants

by Mark Cullen

Here is a list of my five favourite plants that require minimal moisture.  Note that you can plant any of these now and you will find a wide assortment of them at full service garden centres everywhere.  Note that everything you plant will require watering for the first few weeks after planting.


  1. Geraniums.  The annual flowering plants that you grow in window boxes and in your garden bloom all summer and basically made the Germans famous as gardeners.  It has been said that if you took all of the geranium-planted window boxes in Germany and put them end to end they would circle the globe 4 times (this has yet to be verified, but it is a good story).  Visit Germany, see for yourself.

While among the most prolific flowering plants on the planet they are also quite tolerant of extended periods of drought.  Not ‘bone dry’ drought but the kind of dryness that occurs when you leave for an extended weekend and return to an otherwise wilted garden.  There are the geraniums, blooming away and standing more or less as they should.  Not so petunias, New Guinea impatiens or a host of other annuals.

  1. The other geraniums.  The above mentioned geraniums are not geraniums at all, they are members of the genus Pelargonium.  Someone thought it would be fun to confuse us by attaching a common name that has nothing to do with the official classification.  Alas, ‘confusing you’ will never happen when you are in my capable hands.

The real geranium (Geranium spp.) is a perennial garden performer and I love it.  When people ask me how to grow grass under their Norway Maple (which is nearly impossible) I ask them if they would consider planting perennial geraniums instead.  It is a great low growing, perennial flowering ground cover or rockery plant and all members of the family tolerate dryness.

  1. Echinacea.  The stuff that you ingest when you feel a cold coming on is derived from the root of a native plant by the same name. The common name is ‘purple cone flower’.  The original species is purple, it produces ‘cones’ while flowering that are loaded with pollen and (later in the season) seeds.  Butterflies forage on the pollen in droves and gold finches harvest the seeds throughout fall and winter.


Read the full article: CJAD


How to make your home a private oasis

Photo credit: Press Banner

The Mountain Gardener: Screen your neighbor with Low Water Use Plants

by Jan Nelson

We all enjoy privacy around our homes. Even if you’re best friends with your neighbor you don’t always want to wave at them each morning in your robe.

Whether you have a property tucked way back in the forest with a next door neighbor that looks right down on your deck or a postage stamp size lot that could be an jewel if you just had a screen between you and the next property, there are techniques designers use to make your home a private oasis.

Narrow spaces can be challenging when you need to screen the house next door. There’s not room for a big, evergreen tree or hedge to solve the problem. One way is to use plants that can be espaliered against a fence or trellis.

Some plants like Azara microphylla naturally grow flat without much coaxing on your part. This small dainty tree is fast growing and reaches 15 to 25-feet tall. The yellow flower clusters will fill your garden with the scent of white chocolate in late winter. They are ideal between structures. I’ve used the variegated version to screen a shower and it’s working great.

Another small tree, the compact Carolina cherry laurel can be espaliered also in a narrow space if needed. It grows 10-feet tall, but that may be all you need to screen the neighbor. They are drought tolerant once established, deer resistant, and the perfect host for birds, bees, and butterflies. The leaves smell like cherries when crushed, which gives this plant it’s common name.

A dwarf tree that also works nicely in this situation is a Southern magnolia called little gem. Naturally a very compact narrow tree it grows 20 to 30-feet tall, but only 10 to 15-feet wide. It can be trained as an espalier against a wall or fence, and the sweetly scented flowers will fill your garden with fragrance.

Other small trees that make a good screen are purple hopseed and dark shadows leptospermum. Both have beautiful burgundy foliage.

California natives that can be espaliered against a fence include Santa Cruz island ironwood, Western redbud, mountain mahogany, toyon, pink flowering currant, Oregon grape, and spicebush.

Read the full article: Press Banner

Low-maintenance gardens

Photo credit: Diablo Magazine

Drought-tolerant garden by Nico Oved

No Water, No Problem

These three fabulous low-maintenance gardens don’t sacrifice beauty, even if they do slash your water bill.

Garden design by Nico Oved - http://diablomag-images.dashdigital.com/DM1504_098_DIG.jpg?ver=1426628281
Garden design by Nico Oved – http://diablomag-images.dashdigital.com/DM1504_098_DIG.jpg?ver=1426628281

Thyme: a medicinal herb

Photo credit: Permaculture News

photo credit Lucie Bradley, Woodlands Community Gardens, Glasgow UK

Medicinal Plants in Permaculture……A Series of Monographs

by Lucie Bradley


The second in the series ‘Medicinal plants and Permaculture’ is the hardy and highly aromatic Thyme (Thymus vulgaris). Although this time of year in the northern hemisphere is a slow one for plants, this herb is highly useful for winter ailments, for adults and children alike.

Considering stacking functions; as a vigorous perennial this plant also provides year-round ground cover and foliage through the long winter months even in the coldest climates. Whilst during the summer, it is adored bee fodder giving a distinctive flavour to the honey (1), a carpet of pretty delicate flowers and full aroma.

Like permaculture, herbal medicine forms part of a strategy that helps to build resilience and reduce disasters by maintaining a healthy, optimal equilibrium. A variety of herbs can be used through the year in advance of changing seasons to build resistance and immunity within the body.

Thyme is a great herb to use as a pre-cursor to the onset of winter, and through winter to maintain optimal health and well-being (although also highly useful at other times too, depending on the ailment and constitution of the individual).

Read the full article: Permaculture News

Video : BOTTLE TOWER GARDENS – efficient and sustainable (You Tube)

Enjoy my latest video :



This video shows the efficiency and sustainability of a bottle tower garden. They can be installed against the wall of a house or along a hedge or a fence.  The number of bottle towers has to be adapted for providing food security for the family all year long and year after year.  It is a method applicable anywhere on earth, both in rural and in urban areas, e;g. on a balcony.  It can be applied at the lowest cost to alleviate malnutrition and hunger.

Gardening in bottle towers (Willem Van Cotthem)

Here is my newest video :



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.

Seeds to Gozo (Malta) – (Jacques GUEUNING / Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Today, Belgian Jacques GUEUNING received a lot of seeds of vegetables and fruits.  They will soon be taken to the Island of Gozo (Malta), where these new species and varieties will be welcome to enhance the biodiversity on the island and to enrich the food production for local families.

This action was taken within the framework of the “SEEDS FOR FOOD”-initiative.

Seeds collected for the “SEEDS FOR FOOD”-action are free for humanitarian projects. An important load is now taken to Gozo (Malta) – (Photo Jacques GUEUNING)

Jacques GUEUNING will also introduce Prof. VAN COTTHEM’s “container gardening”-method to the smallholder farmers at Gozo.  He will particularly recommend the “bottle tower”-technique to reduce the volume of irrigation water and to promote vertical gardening on poor soils (see :




2011 – Prof. Willem VAN COTTHEM showing his bottle tower-research work (Photo WVC)

2011 – Almost every species of vegetable can be grown with a minimum of water in these towers of bottles or pots (Photo WVC)

The mirror of container gardening and vertical gardening (Willem Van Cotthem)

Please have a look at my latest posting on my desertification blog :


Looking at global food production in the mirror of container gardening and vertical gardening (Willem VAN COTTHEM)