The Container Gardening Ambassadors (the Fresh Food Home Guards)

All we need is your free moral support to make this world better

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)

Become a member of our container gardening group by clicking the ‘JOIN’ button at https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/  

(today almost 43.000 members).

Here are some of your trumps

Bottle towers with vegetables and herbs - Photo WVC P 1070455 - Video https://youtu.be/HuykRRspWOY.
Bottle towers with vegetables and herbs – Photo WVC P 1070455 – Video https://youtu.be/HuykRRspWOY.

1. If we show how to build a bottle tower <http://youtu.be/-uDbjZ9roEQ> to all the schoolchildren of this world and teach them how to grow some vegetables and herbs at school, they will enjoy building more towers for their family at home.

Riser with vegetables and herbs growing in recycled bottles - Photo Jojo ROM (The Philippines)  56269_1483085875405_1181604134_31159685_1301366_o.jpg
Riser with vegetables and herbs growing in recycled bottles – Photo Jojo ROM (The Philippines) 56269_1483085875405_1181604134_31159685_1301366_o.jpg

2. If we alleviate child malnutrition in our countries by teaching them container gardening at school, recycling all discarded containers in school gardens, e.g. on risers (see

video https://youtu.be/l7o_5UKIKTo

and <http://www.facebook.com/willemvancotthem>),

there will be sufficient food for decent daily meals and a cleaner environment.

And soon there will be fresh food galore everywhere.

Dwarf orange fruit trees grown in pots - Photo Container Growing - .jpg
Dwarf orange fruit trees grown in pots – Photo Container Growing – .jpg

3. If we convince all young mothers to plant only one fruit tree for every newborn baby and if we plant a fruit tree for every dear family member passing away, we will soon have orchards protecting us against global warming and climate change.

Barrels  cab easily be transformed in vertical gardens with a lot of fresh food - Photo Grow Food, Not Lawns - 542232_449799711742313_474788682_n.jpg
Barrels can easily be transformed in vertical gardens with a lot of fresh food – Photo Grow Food, Not Lawns – 542232_449799711742313_474788682_n.jpg

4. If we pass this message to the world leaders and publish all our photos to show them our green container gardens, it will be a giant convincing step towards a global food revolution.

And soon there will be less hunger because container gardening means solving these major problems at the lowest cost.  People in developing countries have been inventive to grow fresh food in a panoply of containers (pots, buckets, bags, sacks, barrels, …).  There is a lot of indigenous knowledge about best practices and success stories in food production. It is our moral duty to follow their examples and invest in large-scale application of their methods and techniques.  International organizations should reach hands with NGOs to ban hunger and malnutrition without any delay.  They should start in all the schools.

Let us put an important step towards a better future today:

JOIN THE GROUP OF CONTAINER GARDENING AMBASSADORS.  They are the Fresh Food Home Guards !

IT IS TOTALLY FREE : https://www.facebook.com/groups/221343224576801/ 

Improve survival rate when planting tree saplings

Photo credit: WVC 2010

2010-08 Avocado sapling planted with bottle

 

Plant seedlings with their plastic bottle

A video on growing seedlings (saplings) in plastic bottles and planting the saplings with their bottle.

https://youtu.be/fcv7j5r3oJk

2010-08 Avocado sapling after planting it with bottle (Photo WVC 2010)
2010-08 Avocado sapling after planting it with bottle (Photo WVC 2010)

In most cases, the rootball of seedlings is severely damaged at transplantation.  Grown in more or less ideal conditions in classical plastic bags in a nursery, they are transported to the field, where the bags are cut open and the rootball roughly handled, whereby almost all the fine absorbing roots are broken.  When seedlings are grown in plastic bottles or pots, this damage is avoided.  Young saplings show a survival rate of almost 100 %.  A few examples to show details of this method.

It would be nice if you could give it a try !

 

Easy and cheap pots for successful plantation of saplings (Google / Mother Earth News)

Make biodegradable newspaper pots in a minimum of time. You can plant your seedlings (saplings) directly in the soil. Maximal survival in reforestation projects. Brilliant idea.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/blogs/blog.aspx?blogid=2147484338&tag=newspaper+pots

Easy Newspaper Pots

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 8:28 AM

By Angela Blackerby

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/blogs/blog.aspx?blogid=2147484338&tag=newspaper pots#ixzz1g54dV78E

Combating desertification and food insecurity with container gardening (N. ROTH / Willem)

Today, I received an interesting comment of Nancy ROTH on my former posting :

Great ideas for container gardening (Willem) August 14, 2007

I’m having a hard time imagining how this containerized approach, nifty as is appears, could be helpful at the scale needed to reverse desertification or to feed a major population. Isn’t it rather labor-intensive to create a separate container for each plant? Don’t the seedlings rather rapidly outgrow their containers? Then where do you plant them in the desert, which cannot sustain them?

Combating desertification and food insecurity with container gardening

Let us try to link different aspects of container gardening, desertification, desert gardening, food production, education and ecology.

Knowing that millions of plastic bottles and plastic shopping bags are littered every year all over the world, in particular in the desertified areas, it seems indicated to find incentives to get the local people aware these pollution problems.  Learning people, especially children, how these bottles and bags can be used to produce vegetables and young tree, seems to be a valuable (and acceptable) way to motivate the population to take care of the environment.  Less littering means less pollution, a form of desertification.

Motivating children to grow vegetables and young fruit trees in self-watering containers at school contributes directly to solve two major problems : pollution of the environment (less plastic flying around) and malnutrition (daily fresh food at school).  Moreover, the young fruits trees can be taken home at the end of the school year, planted around the house and thus contribute to reforestation (or afforestation) and provision of healthy fruits, not to forget the fact that the plastic bottles or bags should be buried at plantation time.

Considering desert gardening : it is quite difficult to improve the soil qualities in the desert, in particular its water holding and nutrients retaining capacities (too much leaching).  Let us imagine that in  small family garden a series of self-watering containers, e.g. plastic bottles and bags, are buried in the garden soil.  These containers can be filled with “improved soil” (for instance treated with manure).  As more water will be retained in the containers (less infiltration), more biomass can be produced with a smaller quantity of water and less fertilizer (less leaching).  This higher water use efficiency leads to higher food production and less influence of drought on crops (more food security).

Around the gardens, living hedges can also be grown in containers buried in the soil.  There is a significant enhancement in survival rate of the shrubs and trees in the hedges an those plants are growing quicker with less water.

From the educational point of view, container gardening is a fantastic tool for the teachers at school.  Less difficulties for the pupils to keep the school garden in good shape, closer contact with the growing plants in or around the classroom, opportunities to teach the kids a lot of things about differences in plant development from seed to vegetable or tree, are but a few benefits of this container gardening method.

You are most certainly right that it is hard  “imagining how this containerized approach, nifty as is appears, could be helpful at the scale needed to reverse desertification or to feed a major population”.

We are not claiming that container gardening itself can reverse desertification or feed  major population.  However, should every family apply container gardening, should every child at school take care of its own containers, it would create a new attitude, more awareness, less fatalism and neglect, more hope for a better future.

Of course, one needs a lot of support to introduce these ideas.  It will take a lot of time to convince people.  But the fact is quite clear : where container gardening is accepted people eat more fresh food and the environment is gradually cleaner.

It’s a simple as putting our shoes on !

Willem

Brazilian rhapsody in PET blue (J.C. Guimaraes)

Today, I received a very interesting comment from Brazil.  Thanks to Joao Carlos GUIMARAES we can now set up some experiments with PET bottles to limit irrigation.  Should this system work well, a lot of water can be saved.  Please read his suggestion to keep the rootball of young trees moistened :

Dear Sir

Since 2 months ago, I  have experimented to use 2 liters PET bottles to make irrigation of baby trees. Where we live, in Brazilian Amazonia, it is now summer season, meaning 6 months dry with high temperatures, until next December.         

It is very simple:

* Just perforate a little hole –  2 mm – at bottom of the bottle.

* Excavate a hole in the soil with the diameter of the bottle,  more or less 20 cm deep, near the roots.

* Put bottle in the hole. Cover side with soil.

* Fill bottle with water before putting it in the hole.

* Close well the  bottle cap. (If you keep bottle open or badly closed, water will infiltrate quickly in the soil).

* When soil is dry, it pulls water from the bottle (via capilarity,  or percolation, or vacuum,  I don’t know  very well).

* When soil is humid, the level of water in the bottle stays almost intact.

* Depending on soil and sun, I  completed the water level once to 3 times a week.

It’s interesting to see that some bottles get deformated, crushed,  because of the vacuum force of soil suction.

Now I’m going to set up an experiment with 2 or 4 bottles per tree. Then, I don’t need to wait for the rain season to plant more trees.

As I said before, this is a new experiment. Maybe others could share it and upgrade it.  If you want some photos of it, I will be glad to send them to you.

Best regards

João Carlos Guimaraes
Paragominas
State of Pará
Brasil

————————-

Isn’t this a marvelous idea ?  I know that, when planting trees in urban areas, perforated tubes are put in the plant pit close to the stem to facilitate watering.  But this quite simple technique to use PET bottles was unknown to me.  Should you know more about it from literature,could you please send me a comment ?

I intend to set up some experiments with this “system for water use efficiency” for our UNICEF project in the Sahara desert.

Looking forward for your reactions.

Kids gardening at school or at home (Willem)

Already published on my desertification blog on March 17, 2007

Nice comment Hans STROCK (Great Big Plants) March 17, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in success stories – best practices, horticulture/gardening, food / food security, hunger / famine, capacity building, desertification, water, forestry, rural development, ecology – environment, poverty. trackback , edit post

I received this nice comment from Hans STROCK:

http://greatbigplantsblog.com/

greatbigplants@buzzoodle.com

Thanks Willem! I’m glad you had a chance to check out the site! Sorry about the delay in response, things have been hectic lately. It’s good to see other people who agree with keeping kids involved with gardening. It’s always important to give children some culture and experience they can take with them when they get older. I think all children should have something fun and creative they can do. It helps them feel good about themselves. Keep up the good work!”

Well said, Hans ! In the western countries, so many people are complaining about the fact that young people are only interested in TV-programs. Why don’t we offer them a chance to do something useful and fun, instead of leaving them hanging (or laying) around in front of the TV-set? Impossible to change their attitude ? Yes, if you start early enough (e.g. with pubers). And what if you start even earlier, let’s say in primary school? I am sure kids love to do practical gardening in a very simple way. As a biology teacher I always got fantastic reactions when my pupils (12-18 years old) got an individual project to grow different plant species from seeds. They did it in plastic bottles at the window sills in my classroom ! They learned how to grow things with a strict minimum of water ! And they loved to write their personal report with observations and drawings. That is: EDUCATION WITH A PRACTICAL SENSE.

I am currently working out a similar project for the kids in the refugee camps in Algeria. Those children will most certainly be happy to have a “useful task” to grow vegetables in plastic bottles. There is not only the educational aspect of learning something about gardening, but one can also imagine how proud the kids will be to bring from time to time some vegetable (lettuce, parsley, onion, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, etc.) home. An later on they can always use these new skills (capacity building) to start gardening for their families. Wherever they are or will be! Continue reading Kids gardening at school or at home (Willem)