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)


Some drought advice (Google /

Read at : Google Alert – container gardening

Gardening By way of A Drought Or How To Sprinkle Your Water Properly

Posted by DoxieDagrella710

So you find yourself in the midst of the worst drought inside residing reminiscence and your backyard occupants are beginning to sag, flag and wilt. Which vegetation ought to be watered first and which vegetation should receive the main quantities of the irrigation? You start to really feel like the leader of a third world nation making an attempt to spread your counties meagre price range throughout healthcare, military and education. By no means worry, let me dampen your worries with some drought advice.

First to receive the H2O

Latest plantings are high of the list for normal watering, if water is available. New plantings such as naked-root timber or shrubs planted the earlier autumn / winter, with newly planted perennials also at nice danger from drought damage. You see these new plantings haven’t had a lot time to produce water-searching for roots, the type of roots that journey deep and large for moisture. Because of this, we should complement the plants pure water supply. Throughout a hosepipe ban, recent plantings of annual bedding summer time bedding resembling marigolds, impatiens, Nicotiana etc needs to be considered probable casualties of the water war. If I had a limited supply of water to divide between a Japanese maple and some annual bedding, I’m afraid the maple would obtain the lions share and to hell with the bedding. As a rule of thumb, if the soil 5cm (2 inches) beneath the grounds floor is dry, then it is time to water. The next is short checklist of plants can cope with a brief period of drought, as soon as established. Brachyglottis, Corokia, Gleditsia, Halimiocistus, and Hippophae.

Container crops during a drought

Subsequent on the water-receiving checklist are containerised plants, hanging baskets and window boxes. Primarily a containerised plant is growing above the ground water desk, with simply the soil inside the container to offer the required moisture. If the moisture is not inside the container, then I’m afraid the roots have nowhere else to go to quench the vegetation thirst. Once more, if the compost 5cm (2 inches) below the pots surface is dry, then it is time to water, it is up to the gardener to supply that water when required. Attempt to provide a catch plate or tray beneath containers, these “catchers” will comprise any extra water that can eventually be absorbed in the compost. Remember that terracotta and other porous container supplies soak up a very good amount of water that the plant is then unable to access. The following is a short record of container bedding plants that can deal with a brief period of drought, once established. Arctotis, Lantana, Plectranthus, Portulaca and Zinnia


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

Video seen at :

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 !

TERRACOTTEM soil conditioner : an experiment in Togo (Vicoire de Jésus Olympio / Willem Van Cotthem)




Sister Victoire de Jésus Olympio


L’expérience du TerraCottem a duré un mois. Nous avons utilisé un légume africain (adémè), dont je ne connais pas son nom en Français (WVC: pourpier, Portulaca oleracea). Ce légume sert à préparer la sauce.

L’expérience a été réalisée dans le quartier de Hédzranawoé à Lomé (TOGO). Nous sommes dans un quartier où l’eau est très profond dans le sol. Dans notre centre nous avons un forage, mais l’eau est salée et notre terre est très pauvre selon le résultat d’analyses qui ont été effectué en Italie. Or, nous avons constaté que le TerraCottem peut valablement remédier à notre problème en améliorant notre culture.

La graine semée avec TerraCottem mesure 77 cm dans l’espace d’un mois et celle semée sans TerraCottem (témoin) mesure 15 cm, soit 62 cm de différence. C’est un résultat excellent.

Malheureusement, nous n’avons pas les moyens pour acheter ce produit un peu trop cher pour notre bourse.

Merci à monsieur Willem Van Cotthem pour ce don.


2001-04 : Purslane treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

The experiment with TerraCottem took one month.  We used an african vegetable (adémè), of which I don’t know the French name (WVC : pourpier, Portulaca oleracea , purslane).  This vegetable is used to prepare the sauce.

2001-04 : Purslane treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

The experiment is carried out in the district of Hédezranawoé in Lomé (TOGO).  We are in a district where the water table in the soil is very deep.  In our center, we have a well, but the water is saline and the soil is very poor, according to the analyses done in Italy.  Well, we have observed that the soil conditioner TerraCottem can significantly solve our problem, improving our production.

2001-04 : Purslane not treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem = control plants (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

Seeds treated with TerraCottem grew up to 7 cm within a month and seeds growing in a soil without TerraCottem (control plants) grew up to 15 cm only, on average a difference of 62 cm.

2001-04 : Purslane not treated with soil conditioner TerraCottem = control plants (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

This is an excellent result.

2001-04 : Difference in purslane production with and without soil conditioner TerraCottem (Photo Victoire de Jésus Olympio)

Unfortunately, we do not have the financial resources to buy this soil conditioner, too expensive for our purse.

Thanks to Mr. Willem van Cotthem for this donation.

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) 

Customers planted drought-tolerant landscapes in their front yards (Google / Press-Telegram)

Read at : Google Alert – drought


Incentives for drought resistant front yards called a success


By Pamela Hale-Burns, Staff Writer


LONG BEACH – The Long Beach Water Department presented its 100th Lawn-to-Garden resident Wednesday.

In April, the Beautiful Long Beach Lawn-to-Garden Incentive Program allowed pre-approved water customers to apply for $2.50-per-square-foot rebates, with a set maximum of 1,000 square feet allowed per customer.

Customers then planted drought-tolerant landscapes in their front yards, which, over time, will help conserve water.

“This program, the City’s Beautiful Long Beach Lawn-to-Garden Incentive Program, is a program that’s designed to encourage and reward Long Beach residents and businesses for using less water outside their homes and businesses,” said 2nd District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal, who is also the City’s representative on the Metropolitan Water District Board.

Lowenthal and other officials were touting the success of the incentives at the home of Alan Phair, in the 2100 block of East Sixth Street; Phair used the program to help transform his front lawn with drought-resistant plants over the course of three months.

Although the city had budgeted for 100 residents, there were over 400 applicants, said Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department.

“Congratulations to the City of Long Beach for their leadership on water conservation,” said Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. “You don’t see too often a city take this degree of leadership.”


Drought Tolerant Perennials (Suite101)

Read at :

Plant Drought Tolerant Perennials to Reduce Landscape Maintenance

Low maintenance landscapes looks great despite the weather. To create one, design a garden featuring flowers that thrive in dry soil and hot sun.

A garden that laughs in the face of dry summer days begins with good plant choices. Most drought tolerant perennials grow beautifully in a range of conditions—they’ll thrive in evenly moist, well-drained soil but also tolerate and continue to bloom during droughts.

Fortunately, it’s not hard to find many drought tolerant perennials at garden centers. Start with the list here, but also read plant labels and ask garden personnel for suggestions. Local botanical gardens and Cooperative Extension Service offices also usually have lists of plants that tolerate dry conditions.

Keep in mind that untended spots in garden center display plantings or in parks or other public areas also can be a great source for ideas. Especially in dry weather, if you see perennials that are thriving without much apparent attention, try to identify them. They may make excellent additions to your garden.

Perennials for Dry Soils

Give all of these plants full sun and well-drained soil.

Amsonia (Amsonia spp.) ………………………………

Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis). …………………………..

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). ………………………………..

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia). ……………………………….

Shasta daisies (Chrysanthemum × superbum). ……………………………

Thread-leaved coreopsis (Coreopsis verticillata). ……………………….

Yarrow (Achillea spp.). ………………………………

Read on

Smart plant choices are at the heart of any waterwise landscape. Successful water saving landscapes also use site selection and initial care to make sure plants thrive.

Water Wise Garden Care


Vegetables and fruit trees in containers, a simple way to produce food in arid areas (Willem Van Cotthem)

Container gardening is a gardening type that can be applied at any spot on this world, in all climatic zones, in humid and arid regions, in rural and in urban areas, outside and inside the house.

It can be used for embellishment of the home with ornamental plants or for food production (vegetable and fruit trees), e.g. in the drylands where soil and irrigation cause huge problems.

My friend Geert VAN DAELE has taken some photos of container gardening examples in my house, showing that anybody can grow very diverse plant species in different kinds of containers: bottles, pots, trays, bags etc.

I strongly believe that massive application of container gardening would offer an impressive number of possibilities to grow food in the most adverse conditions in arid or semi-arid regions, thus helping to combat desertification, hunger and child malnutrition.

Please enjoy Geert VAN DAELE’s pictures: