Philippines : Revive backyard gardening (Google / The News Today)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Revive backyard gardening

By Rodolfo P. Gumabong

History really repeats itself. In the early 60s, there was an acute shortage of food and unemployment was high. Then Pres. Diosdado Macapagal opened the employment opportunity by spending millions of pesos in the so-called “Emergency Employment (EE)” in all remote barrios of the country then, many got casual jobs and money flowed like rivers of water. Food was scarce then and rice vanished in the market. Then Chinese philanthropist Chiu Kim She mobilized Iloilo Chinese rice traders and within few days, Ilonggos qeued the long line of human horde just to get cheap rice by several gantas which the Chinese merchants sold at affordable cost. But while rice was literally abundant, vegetables, fish, meat, and root crops were not only scarce but also the price was not right. An appeal was made by city officials that each household cultivates vacant space in their neighborhood and plant vegetables, root crops and even put up tilapia pond. The appeal clicked, soon thereafter housewifes utilized the stuff planted in their garden and eventually, local markets were flooded with green leafy products and even fish. Continue reading Philippines : Revive backyard gardening (Google / The News Today)

New homeowner without a garden (Google / Concrete Gardening)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Tales of a new homeowner without a garden

I realize I’ve been quite slack on the blog front, but I also just bought a house (without a garden) and my days have been spent unpacking, walking around saying “I can’t believe this is ours,” and finding interesting quirks about our new abode. (Such as – after five minutes in the shower the water turns lukewarm. Great for water conservation I guess. Bah Bum.) The first night we took a crash course in garbage disposal design when we learned that our dishwasher wasn’t draining. (It’s amazing what you can do with the help of online forums, a hammer, and a screw driver.)

Now we’re settling in, using the dishwasher (heavenly after three years of hand washing dishes), and it’s really starting to feel like home.  (Even though we have no furniture on the third floor. We might leave it like that for a while – it makes for an awesome yoga room.  Minimal design to the max!)

The street is phenomenal. The neighbors are ridiculously nice. Our next door neighbor said “It’s like a mature college dorm, without the shared bathrooms.” And it really is. Everyone knows everyone. Kids play in the street after work. People hangout their second story windows to chat. Neighbors drink wine on their stoops on Friday nights. It’s what city living is supposed to be about. All the neighbors say the same thing, “You’ve bought on the best block in Philly.”

And most importantly – I’m doing OK without my in-the-ground-garden. We get full sun to our kitchen window, so I have a herb garden growing right on the window sill. (And I’ve used it heaps!) Our tiny alley gets full sun, so I’ve converted an old birdhouse I made with my dad when I was a kid into a petunia basket to hang on the fence. (I love petunias. Yes, they’re everywhere, but they’re so damn cheery!) Our front stoop has been adorned with potted plants. (Once we start to build our finances back up, we hope to put in a more permanent, raised flower bed.)

Another fantastic aspect of this house is that my indoor garden will thrive. In our old apartment we had one tiny window that received sun. I crammed as many houseplants in that window as humanly possible. My friends used to say it looked like a mini-jungle. Now I have a few large windows that get baked with sunlight. My houseplant space has quadrupled. (I’m also going to start making use of indoor hanging houseplants. More on that later.)

The roof deck is blasted by the sun all day.


Spanish Gardening (Google / Round Town News)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Spanish Gardening – Hints & Tips
Written by Clodagh & Dick Handscombe



e read recently in the UK press that the Scout movement has updated it’s range of achievement/skill badges by introducing new ones related to 21st century skills such as karting, quadbiking, parascending and thankfully one related to healthy eating and what we assume is still the motto of the scout movement ‘Be Prepared’. However the listed essential tasks for the latter included making a fruit salad, two different sandwiches, making an omelette and homemade meat balls, listing some unhealthy foods but not – but may have been omitted in the article – experiencing the growing of some organically grown vegetables or fruit and then preparing a meal with them. And how easy their growing would be in a large container even for the Beaver Scouts living in apartments. Un fortunately today’s ethos is too often don’t get your hands dirty. When we suggested during a talk on growing vegetables to the Agronomist students at the Polytechnic University in Valencia that they grow some vegetables in containers on their apartment terraces for healthy eating during their four course  professors informed us that they were educating agronomists who would work in agricultural/food  laboratories or as quality control advisers and not training agriculturalists. Likewise many articles in the newspapers and magazines comment on the need to eat healthier fresh chemical free vegetables and fruit but fail to suggest that one grows ones own. Continue reading Spanish Gardening (Google / Round Town News)

Urban Gardening (Google / Technocrat)

Read at : Google Alert – gardening

Urban Gardening

zogger Thu, 17 Apr 2008

Or what to do when you don’t even have a suburban backyard. Many city dwellers are pleased to find out they can still garden, even in apartments or townhomes with patios or small front yards-even an accessible flat roof.

..””We wanted to reconnect people living in cities with food,” explains Mayfield, a support worker for disabled and dyslexic children. “You don’t have to own acres of countryside in Essex like Jamie Oliver to grow your own vegetables – anyone can do it using pretty much any old space.””..more there and I love this subject, used to do it all the time for myself, and designed and built a lot of smallish “edible landscaping” projects for people who didn’t have much space for the more conventional and sort of plain big plowed up square type of garden. You can grow a decent amount in an earthbox, large pots, cement blocks with the holes showing up and filled with dirt and arranged down the side of the walkway, etc. Just use your imagination, it is quite possible to use all the little nooks and crannies of sunny space you have to get some greens and herbs and tomatoes and peppers going. And don’t forget sprouts! Fastest way to an edible and nutritious crop there is. Continue reading Urban Gardening (Google / Technocrat)

Living roof survives drought (Google / NZ Herald)

Read at : Google Alert – drought

Living roof survives drought, wins awards

By Angela Gregory

A “green roof” on top of the Waitakere City Council has withstood the long dry summer and even picked up a couple of awards for promoting sustainability. The roof of native grasses and other plants was installed in 2006 on the newly-built civic centre in Henderson. The council’s parks planning manager, Renee Davies, said she believed it was the first extensive green roof using native plants to be established on a purpose-built commercial building in New Zealand. A waterproof membrane had been laid over the concrete surface and covered with a root barrier and light substrate.

Mrs Davies said at the time of the planting in the 2006 winter, the vegetation cover was 15 per cent. It had spread to 27 per cent by the end of the year and was now 63 per cent.

The plants had performed well over the unusually dry summer with no irrigation. The native iceplant and the native sand Convolvulus had bewen the species most resistant to drought.

Mrs Davies said the roof supported a surprisingly diverse fauna. Ants and spiders had settled there, which raised the prospect of releasing lizards.

The roof had cost about $190 a metre which was comparable to the price of carpet.

Mayor Bob Harvey said he was delighted the roof had won two awards from the Institute of Landscape Architects, for communication and promotion and excellence for sustainability.


Food production in transparent plastic bottles and cups (C. ASH, J. TOLLEDOT, Willem)

Here is nice additional comment of Charles ASH on :

Recycling plastic bottles and pots (Charlesash / Willem) August 3, 2007

“You don’t really need to cover the transparent plastic because there appears to be no harm or set back to the plant if you don’t. It’s mainly cosmetic. Not only that, seeing the roots creates more interest. When we used them we got many youngsters interested because we could explain easier and show “what grows underground” of a plant. It created huge interest and some of those youngsters went on to a career in horticulture. So my suggestion is, don’t permanently cover them. Enjoy a sight you do not normally see.

We don’t have any problems removing plants, even well established or large plants, from plastic plant pots. They always come out with the root ball intact and unharmed. They may need a gentle tap once or twice but they always come out ok. And we get to use the pot again!


Thanks, Charles !  It encourages me to continue my efforts introducing plastic bottle gardening in schools of developing countries.  I strongly believe that every kid in developing countries should set up its own vegetable garden in plastic bottles and shopping bags, not only at school, but also at home.

At school, they can be helped by the teachers, at home, by their mothers.

The result would be :

1. A remarkable enhancement of fresh food production, particularly in desertified areas.

2. An interesting improvement in the situation of food security, malnutrition or famine.

3. A very profitable improvement in public health (less deficiencies, less diseases.

4. Better environmental  conservation and protection (less littering of plastic).

5. Enormous educational value.


Will this appeal on all stakeholders (decision makers, authorities, donors, NGOs, local people, …) one day be heard ?  I hope it will happen before the end of my days, with all my heart !

Who can resist the beauty of vegetables and fruits growing close to or even in our house or school ?  Look at this beautiful picture of Joseph TOLLEDOT :

Party cup Pepper

Black manaqualana Pepper growing well in a recycled party cup (J. TOLLEDOT, July 25, 2007)

Raised beds combined with containers for inside gardening (Willem)

Today, I received an interesting comment from Anne WALKER on my former posting :

Different aspects of rooftop gardening (Google Alert / Salt Lake Tribune) July 13, 2007

If a garden can be grown on a roof top, how about on the parking lot of an old abandoned strip mall. It is late in the season to start a garden, but we just received funding. We also have donated space in a building located in a strip mall. There is a fenced in area that I’d like to create a few raised beds and perhaps apply lasagne gardening in the beds. What do we do about drainage? How do we keep the soil and water from running out under the beds. Do we line with plastic? Help!!! This is a late summer youth project, funded in part from Community Block Grant and State arts funds.”

Here is my reply to her :

Dear Anne,

Thanks for contacting me and congratulations for your nice ideas.

Raised bed gardening offers a lot of opportunities to embellish our environment or to grow plants in any “difficult” place.

Let us first consider the outside parking lot (or is it inside ?). I see no problem to install raised beds there. Would a bit of water running out be a problem ? Then, I recommend to make the beds a bit higher (1-2 feet), to line the bottom up with a strong plastic sheet forming a shallow reservoir, to fill the bottom part of that reservoir (2-4 inches) with granules of expanded clay (also used in hydroponics) and to cover these granules with a good potting mix to which I would add some water stocking polymers or, even better, a soil conditioner like TerraCottem (see <;).

About the raised beds inside the building : see above, as I cannot foresee any problems with water.

Let me now make another suggestion !

Why don’t you construct a raised bed and fill it up with containers (each of them perforated at its bottom for drainage). I am thinking at the classical plastic flower pots, but also at PET bottles or even big plastic party cups (use your imagination).

The raised bed should be constructed like the one described above : with plastic lining at the bottom, but without clay granules. The containers (pots, bottles or cups) can be put directly on the plastic sheet (in the so-called reservoir) and filled with a good potting mix (mixed with water stocking soil conditioner), then seeded or planted. Now all the containers are covered (mulched) with a thin layer of potting mix, so that one cannot see the containers anymore (only a nice layer of soil under which the containers are hidden). When watering such a raised bed, most of the water will be running into the containers and stocked in the polymers. A surplus of water, running through the containers or through the open spaces between the containers, will run into the plastic sheet reservoir and only a minimum will be kept for a short time on that plastic sheet (from where it will be gradually absorbed by the potting mix in the perforated containers).

I can imagine that after a while one would have to add a thin supplementary mulching layer of potting soil, for the soil will slide partly down into the open spaces between the individual containers.

I never did this before, but I can imagine that this would be quite successful. Worth trying, I think !

Please keep me informed and possibly send me some photos of your realization. I will gladly publish them on my blog.


How to plant a Tree or a Shrub in a tub (selfsufficientish)

Read at :


How to plant a Tree or a Shrub in a tub

You may have been attracted to this site as you are an urbanite and you don’t have that much room to grow things. …………….

My previous article on container gardening may have given you some ideas, but here a few more for those of you with a small yard or who want to grow things on a patio.

Many plants can be grown in Tubs including edible ones such as apple trees like crab or compact dwarfing apple trees. They won’t grow to the same sizes as they would if planted straight into the ground, but they will still crop and if you ain’t got much room that’s ideal.

Choose a large pot or tub with an inside diameter of at least 38cm (15 inches). To ensure that the Tree or shrub does not topple over in high winds (or just from gravity) you should not use a plastic tub, ceramic or clay tubs are ideal.

Place bits of broken crockery, broken clay pots or chipped bark over the drainage hole.

Part fill the tub/pot with loam-based potting soil, do not use any heavyweight alternatives as the weight is required for sustainability.

Get the plant you wish to pot and knock it out from it’s original pot. If the roots are tightly wound around the root ball then it is a good idea to gently tease out a few so that they will readily grow into the surrounding pot.

Stick the plant into the pot and make sure that the root ball is 2-2.5cm below the rim of the pot. This allows for watering.

Lastly firm the compost around the roots, give the plant a liquid feed and a good watering.

Keep well watered in dry weather. For bigger trees and shrubs make sure that the tubs are packed around some other hefty pots to ensure that they don’t blow over.

Container, water, herb and grow-bag gardens (Google Alert / Indystar)

Read at :

Google Alert for gardening


July 21, 2007

Free your inner gardener almost anywhere


Herbs, vegetables and blooming plants can be grown in small spaces; author tells how it’s done.


Associated Press


Years of wearing out the asphalt, plodding between a fluorescent-lit office and a Formica-laden apartment, can make city dwellers feel more than a little removed from nature.

If your last dirt-beneath-the-fingers experience was being splashed by a bus driving too close to the sidewalk, it might be time to remember the therapeutic properties of gardening.

But for urban residents who fear that their minuscule or nonexistent yards rule out gardening, be encouraged: Big ideas can sprout in small spaces. Here are a few suggestions. Continue reading Container, water, herb and grow-bag gardens (Google Alert / Indystar)

Container gardening in the cities against hunger (Africa54 / FAO)

Read at :

Africa54 (see my Blogroll)

FAO Newsroom 


Urban farming against hunger

Safe, fresh food for city dwellers



1 February 2007, Rome – The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has opened a new front in its battle against hunger and malnutrition – in the world’s cities where most of global population growth is set to take place over the next decades.  “Urban agriculture” may seem a contradiction, but that is what FAO is supporting as one element in urban food supply systems in response to the surging size of the cities of the developing world – and to their fast-advancing slums – according to Alison Hodder, senior horticulturist with the Crop and Grassland Service. Continue reading Container gardening in the cities against hunger (Africa54 / FAO)