Joseph TOLLEDOT’s successes with container gardening

Here is some good news about Joseph TOLLEDOT’s experiments with container gardening (bottles, buckets, etc.) :

I saw your bottle garden and it’s looks like it’s going well. Mine were doing excellently, but we had very strong winds one night and the terrace looked like a tornado had been through!  I patched up the plants as best as I could and they are now doing well again.  Some I have transplanted into large buckets made into self-watering containers – in my opinion, definitely THE way to grow and use up all the water efficiently!  Nearly every weekend I can pick several tomatoes, peppers and radishes to eat. The lettuce has finished now and it’s far too hot to plant more.  I’ll wait till it starts to get cooler. Loads of different hot peppers (I got the seeds from a free offering from GardenWeb) are now starting to produce pods.  I never realised how beautiful and different they can be!

I’ll let you know when I get some new photos up in my Flickr page.

Thanks, Joseph !  This sounds fantastic and very promising for application of bottle (or bucket) gardening in very dry areas, like for instance our UNICEF project in the refugee camps of Algeria (Sahara desert).  Over there, the Sahrawi people only have a very limited amount of drinking water.  Although everyone accepts the importance of local production of fresh vegetables, it still sounds difficult to convince the authorities to provide some more water to irrigate their family gardens and school gardens.

different species
All kinds of bottles can be used for growing all kinds of plants (vegetables, herbs, trees) with a minimum of water (less infiltration in poor sandy soil, less evaporation in desertlike circumstances). (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

Therefore, I believe that container gardening would offer interesting possibilities to limit irrigation water to the strict minimum.

Could you, Joseph, send me a detailed description of your self-watering buckets, for I think it may contribute to food security for these people in the desert ?  Sincere thanks for your humanitarian contribution.

Hydroponics in soda bottles (Kidsgardening)

Read at :

kidsgardening

http://www.kidsgardening.com/HYDROPONICSGUIDE/hydro7-3.asp 

Floating Gardens and Soda Bottles

Sixth Graders Build Better Bottles

“After exploring soil and basic chemistry with my sixth grade team, we talk about plant needs,” reports Los Angeles, CA, teacher W. Alden Wright. Even in this urban school, it’s common knowledge that plants and soil go hand in hand. “So when I tell the students that, well, we’re not going to use dirt, they are absolutely disbelieving,” explains Alden. Water power, he tells them, will be the name of their game. Continue reading Hydroponics in soda bottles (Kidsgardening)

Cheap grow bags (Willem)

More and more advertisements on grow bags are found on the internet. These are plastic bags, used as containers, filled with a quality substrate (potting soil with a good mineral and organic content). One recommends to purchase these grow bags in a green center or nursery. Of course, there is always a price tag on each of these grow bags.

However, we all know that numerous simple plastic bags (white, blue, black, etc.), used everywhere on all continents as shopping bags, constitute a heavy burden on the environment. Generally, these bags are thrown in the garbage bins, but in many developing countries they are simply littered and fly around in the streets. You will find many of them hanging in the trees as if it were huge blue, white and black flowers.

Here is my idea : why don’t we use them as cheap grow bags? We can easily fill them up with soil (possibly improved with some animal manure), close them tightly and cut some small holes (slits) for drainage in the bottom part. Seedlings or seeds can be put in small holes on top of the bag (number to be decided in function of the adult plant’s dimensions).

For climbing plants (like tomatoes, peas or beans) a cage or deepee can be put over the bag.

All kinds of vegetables, or even young trees can be grown on such cheap plastic bags. One can even imagine that school children use this system in the school yard, creating a school garden even on a concrete surface, thus helping to get rid of all that plastic in the streets or the environment. The kids would thus help to keep the environment cleaner, growing vegetables at school to supplement their lunches with vitamins and mineral elements.

Therefore, cheap plastic grow bags can be used as a simple didactic tool to create a sort of school garden in the school yard or along the wall of the classrooms. Millions of plastic bags all over the world would not be littered anymore, but taken to school to create productive gardens. Vegetables and young trees can thus be grown with a minimum of water, because the soil in the grow bags will be kept moistened for a longer time (less evaporation).

Young fruit trees, grown by the kids at school in those cheap grow bags, could be taken home at the end of the school year and planted close to their house. It suffices to dig a plant pit, put the plastic grow bag with the young tree in the pit, cut the bag open at 4 sides, bend the plastic completely open and fold the plastic under the rootball, fill up the plant pit with local soil, water the plant pit thoroughly and let the roots grow out.

The young fruit tree will continue its growth and we get rid of the buried plastic. Isn’t that nice ?

I wonder if you will set up an experiment with a couple of plastic grow bags. I am looking forward to read your comments and, hopefully, nice results (with some pictures?).

Gardening in containers at school (Kidsgardening)

Already published on my desertification weblog on May 25, 2007

Gardening in containers at school (Kidsgardening)

May 25, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in container/bottle gardening, gardening kids, horticulture/gardening, school gardens. trackback , edit post

Read at :

Kidsgardening

http://www.kidsgardening.com/growingideas/projects/feb03/pg1.html

Gardening in Containers
Growing in Small and Soilless Spaces

So, you have more asphalt than soil in your schoolyard; students who, because of physical challenges, cannot easily access your outdoor garden; or simply little growing space. Consider what cool containers filled with vibrant colors, living lunches, or ethnic plantings can do for school entrances, classroom windows, or a corner of the community — not to mention, the curriculum. Your students certainly wouldn’t be the first to try their hands at confining garden plants. Historically, evidence abounds of plants perched in pots, but perhaps the most famous example is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, built by King Nebuchadnezzar II in the sixth century B.C. near modern-day Baghdad. These immense gardens were not actually hanging, but consisted of a daunting number of container gardens cascading from a terraced hillside. We’re not suggesting anything nearly so elaborate. Even the smallest outdoor nook can sport a thriving crop of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in containers. With some creative thinking and recycled materials from baskets to old shoes, your students can design special theme plantings, entice butterflies and other insect visitors, or create products such as hanging fragrance gardens or “patriotic” baskets to sell or donate.

Unlike conventional gardens where plants are, well, rooted in place, containers offer flexibility; you can move them to meet your students’ needs or the plants’ needs. And b
ecause plants in containers depend, in large part, on the gardener to meet their needs, they can inspire a variety of student-designed growing investigations. Here we share the essentials for growing in containers. The Curriculum Connections section features some sample container projects and offers ideas for making container culture an investigative learning experience. The Resources section describes Web sites, books, and container gardening tools to help you dig deeper.

(continued)

Go to :

http://www.kidsgardening.com/growingideas/projects/feb03/pg1.html

Gardening in a bottlerack (Willem)

 Already published on my desertification weblog on May 12, 2007

Gardening in a bottlerack

May 12, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in gardening kids, horticulture/gardening, desert/desert gardening, container/bottle gardening, family gardens, school gardens, success stories – best practices, water, soil, desertification, sustainability, technologies. trackback , edit post Being convinced there is a nice future for growing vegetables or other plants in plastic bottles, filled with a mix of potting soil and a soil conditioner like TerraCottem, I am continuously thinking about variants to enlarge application possibilities.

As in the drylands extreme drought, and thus extreme evaporation, is one of the main problems for agriculture and gardening, I suggest to limit this evaporation by using a plastic bottle to obtain a higher water use efficiency. Indeed, water can be stocked in a volume of potting soil, wherein a water absorbing soil conditioner can play its supplementary water stocking role. Please have a look at my former posting on this blog:

Mon potager dans des bouteilles en plastique / My vegetable garden in plastic bottles

May 10, 2007

This message contains info on how to transform a normal plastic bottle into an efficient container for growing all kinds of plants, even young trees (to be transplanted when reaching sufficient height).

Today, I present you an idea on a “bottlerack“, useful under different conditions : Continue reading Gardening in a bottlerack (Willem)

Promoting container gardening (Willem)

Already published on my desertification weblog on March 22, 2007

Promoting container gardening

March 22, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in food / food security, hunger / famine, horticulture/gardening, success stories – best practices, water, capacity building, technologies. trackback , edit post

Here is the very nice comment of “timethief” on my message “Container gardening – A summary” of yesterday. It shows how many people can be interested in this type of gardening, wherever they live :

“I live on an island that suffers drought every year usually from the end of May to November. About 425 householders here have wells that go dry every year, although it pours buckets of rain from the sky every winter.

I became a container gardener years ago due to water conservation and I have found that there are other benefits to gardening in any container I can get my hands on as opposed to tilling soil, pulling weeds and hosing.

I find interesting containers to use as planters at garage sales and recycling depots and I also put dibs on containers from friends when I see they are running low on whatever is in them.

Thanks for writing this article and for all the good advice on soil preparation in it. Happy gardening. 🙂

The first benefit is that as I’m gardening on a second floor deck I don’t have to compete with wildlife for the food I plant. The second my container gardens don’t require much weeding. The third is that they are close to the kitchen which is great when you cook with fresh homegrown herbs. The fourth is that I can intersperse containers of food and flowers on my deck as in companion planting to keep down insects. The fifth benefit is that my deck looks fabulous and all my friends prefer to be there rather than visiting in my house.”

Thanks, “timethief”; it reinforces my conviction that we should also work with school children (in particular in developing countries), offering them a chance to learn a multitude of practical and useful things at school. The food they would produce at school, can contribute to make their lunches healthier (they would be less hungry). The techniques they would learn, will be always applicable later on at the family level. Nothing but good things to be expected !

2003-03 Escola Pretoria
Click on the picture to enlarge it.

2003-03 : School garden of Escola Pretoria (Isla do Sal, Cabo Verde), constructed thanks to the initiatives of Etienne VAN STEENBERGHE – Belgium (sponsor) and the TC-Dialogue Foundation (Belgium). Vegetables and fruits, produced with TerraCottem in the schoolyard, were a significant contribution to the quality of the lunches at school. See the happy kids ?

2003-03 : Jardin scolaire à l’Escola Pretoria (Isla do Sal, Cabo Verde), construit grâce aux initiatives d’Etienne VAN STEENBERGHE – Belgique (sponsor) et la Fondation TC-DIALOGUE (Belgique). Des légumes et des fruits, produits avec du TerraCottem dans la cour de l’école, formaient une contribution de valeur dans les repas de midi à l’école. Vous voyez combien les enfants sont contents ?

Any remarks ?

Willem

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)