How to conserve moisture around the roots of saplings with cardboard / Conservando la humedad con cartón (Fabio RUIZ)

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Pieces of cardboard can be placed around saplings with the aim to conserve some more moisture between two irrigation rounds. It was noted that sufficient soil moisture was retained for up to 8 days more. Besides conserving moisture, it also keeps out weeds.

The only cost is to get the cardboard, cut it and place it. Used cardboard boxes and egg trays can perfectly serve the purpose.

2010-11-24 - A piece of cardboard placed around a sapling conserves moisture around the roots (Photo Fabio RUIZ)
2010-11-24 - Lower part of the stem of a young papaya plant and an egg tray (Photo Fabio RUIZ)
2010-11-24 - Papaya sapling's roiots kept moistened with an egg tray (Photo Fabio RUIZ)

Conservando la humedad con cartón.

Se puso cartón alrededor de los árboles con la finalidad de que les dure un poco más la humedad al regarlos. Comprobamos que les puede durar hasta 8 días más en este tiempo. Además de conservar la humedad, el cartón impide que salgan hierbas.

El único costo es conseguir el cartón, cortarlo y ponerlo. Se usó cartón de cajas de desecho y cartón que se usa para el huevo, este último es reciclado y aún así alcanzamos a darle otro uso.

Bottoms-up watering may revive heat stressed plants (Seattletimes)

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Bottoms-up watering may revive heat stressed plants

Yard Smart: Horticulturist Maureen Gilmer offers tips on how to get water to the roots of container plants.


Scripps Howard News Service

In August, the once beautifully potted plants sit listlessly on porches, patios, balconies and roof gardens. Greens, herbs, flowers and perennials all seem to give up on life this time of year no matter what we do.

Nine times out of 10, the cause is simply dry roots. Note: I have not said “lack of water” because even in the summertime, plants get watered plenty. The problem is that the water doesn’t go to where it’s needed in the plants.

Look closely at your potted plants to see how the soil shrinks when it begins to dry out. This leaves a gap between the edges of the soil and the pot wall. The water that you apply seeps through that gap and out through the bottom. How much of the water do you actually think gets absorbed into the potting soil or roots?

Slide the plant out of the pot and you will find that the roots are concentrated in a thin but dense layer around the outside of the soil mass known as the root ball. The roots have created this mass around the soil because that’s the only place water can be found, however briefly that may be. This may have been fine in the cool days of late spring, but come late summer with the heat, it’s simply not enough moisture to maintain healthy, beautiful plants.

The best way to revive these plants is to encourage them with a payoff of moisture deep within the dry root ball. Once accomplished, the roots will moisten and grow, where it is dark, cool and wet. So how do you get the root ball thoroughly moistened?


Serlf-Watering Conversion Kits

Read at : Fine Gardening

Make all your pots self-watering

Self-Watering Conversion Kits Create Self-Watering Planters

These Self-Watering Conversion Kits convert your favorite pots into self-watering planters, keeping your plants from drying out and reducing the time you spend watering. Just place this self-contained adjustable reservoir in the bottom of your pot, insert the refill tube and cover with soil. The One-Gallon Conversion Kit holds four quarts and fits pots between 16″ and 20″ in diameter at the rim. The smaller One-Quart Conversion Kit holds one quart and fits pots up to 10-14″ top diameter. Simply fill the reservoir with water through the convenient Fill Tube. The soil will be moistened through evaporative action from the reservoir below.

  • A vacation watering solution!
  • Includes a water level indicator
  • May be used with a liquid or a water-soluble fertilizer
  • To apply container gardening at the largest scale (Willem Van Cotthem)

    My March 23, 2010 comment on a special photo (Manilla Bay):

    Fantastic series of photos, showing all aspects of beauty and problems with water. Pollution, desertification, child malnutrition, hunger and poverty are global problems directly related to drought. Looking for solutions, we have suggested to apply container gardening at the largest scale, both in urban and in rural areas, e.g. with vertical gardening. The Manilla Bay photo supports our point that it would be better to grow fruit tree seedlings in plastic containers or bags before planting, than to litter all that plastic.

    Urban gardening with waste water in Zimbabwe (Willem Van Cotthem)

    When reading a former posting on my desertification blog, I could not resist thinking how easy it could be to help the gardeners in Bulawayo by sending them lots of free seeds of vegetables collected by our action “Seeds for Food”.

    Please read the second paragraph :

    “Using waste water has helped me to grow vegetables for sale,” Maziya told IPS. “I have used money from the sale of these vegetables to put my children through school. The project has made a difference for my family and I. “My wish now is to improve the variety of vegetables I grow here to include carrots, spinach, tomatoes cabbage and onions which will increase my income.” Maziya is one of about a thousand farmers who are part of a project to grow leaf vegetables such as rape, sugar beans and maize using treated waste water. “

    Now suppose that some development aid organization or a NGO wants to help these urban farmers in Bulawayo to seeds.  Probably they would buy them in Zimbabwe (thus helping the local seed producing companies).  Wouldn’t it be wise to save that money for other aid actions and use our free seeds for urban gardening ?

    We can only offer to help gardeners, wherever they need seeds.  Just ask !

    2008 - Allotment gardens Slotenkouter (Ghent City, Belgium) - Successful application of an Indian organic fertilizer (left untreated, right treated).

    Rainwater storage and drip irrigation (Kenny Point – Veggie Gardening Tips)

    Read at : Kenny Point – Veggie Gardening Tips

    Use and Storage of Runoff Rainwater

    One thing that really stood out was the importance that is placed on water conservation in St. Croix despite the fact that the land is situated in the midst of a vast ocean. Fresh water is crucial to survival and a resource that is valued and preserved.

    Every building is required by law to incorporate a design to capture and recycle runoff rain water rather than allow it to simply filter into the ground. Most businesses and residences sit atop cisterns that store thousands of gallons of runoff water for future use.

    At the sustainable farm where I stayed, all of the irrigation water is distributed through drip tape and lines arranged on the soil’s surface to reduce losses through evaporation or spray drifts and to deliver the water precisely where individual plants are growing.

    There are many advantages to the commercial use of drip irrigation systems and emitters but I’m beginning to consider experimenting with some type of drip system for my backyard in the near future.

    Rain Reserve Water Conservation Kit

    Your water supply may not be as dire as what I noted in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but here is a great system for catching roof water runoff and putting that rain water to better uses around your home and garden.

    This kit includes everything that you need except the barrels (which can easily be sourced locally) to convert your homes downspout system into a water saving source of pure, distilled rainwater for irrigation and other non potable uses.

    Best of all, this is a two barrel system that will provide you with twice the water storage capacity that you’ll find elsewhere. I used this kit to convert my downspout this past summer and the process was quick, easy, and painless! Now I always have a reserve of clean rainwater on hand to use in the garden, pond, or patio anytime I need it.


    Allotment gardens and container gardening in the Philippines (R. HOLMER)

    I received an interesting email message from

    Dr. Robert J. Holmer
    Periurban Vegetable Project (PUVeP)
    Xavier University – Research & Social Outreach
    Manresa Farm, Fr. W. F. Masterson SJ Ave
    9000 Cagayan de Oro City

    telling me : “I just came across your great blog on Desertification which I started to read with great interest and joy since you share the same ideas about food security as me. Your comment on allotment gardening reflects exactly my sentiments. …………………………..  and possibly we can convince more people on the benefits of these programs, including container gardening.

    The pictures I added are from two school gardens where we are establishing so-called container gardens to maximize space and to encourage pupils to replicate this at home. We also provided rainwater catchment since even in the tropics freshwater is becoming scarce (and the technology – as simple as it may be – was basically not known).

    2008 Students filling plastic bottles with soil to set up container gardening
    2008 Philippines : Students filling plastic bottles with soil to set up container gardening
    A rack with plastic bottles for succesful container gardening in a small area (vertical gardening)
    2008 - Philippines : A rack with plastic bottles for succesful container gardening in a small area (vertical gardening)
    Efficient rainwater catchment with simple tools
    2008 - Philippines : Efficient rainwater catchment with simple tools

    In addition, one of our former staff members just started his Ph.D. thesis on ‘bio-char’ which you also mentioned on your blog. I added his thesis proposal for your reference.

    Attached also a little brochure we just came out with as well as the link to our 103 “Philippine Allotment Garden Manual“, which may give some useful ideas to people in other countries (”.



    Repotting plants the easy way (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

    Read at : Gardening Tips ‘n’ ideas

    Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas <>

    Repotting plants the easy way

    Repotting plants is certainly not a hard task yet it is one that is often fraught with disaster and an activity where many people lose their favourite plant. The reasons are many but in most cases they can be easily avoided and your plant transplanted with great success. So, let’s start with an example. Here is one of my two cumquat plants that in the past have produced incredible fruit yields. At this time of the year they would normally be well covered in foliage with smallish fruits starting to grow. Alas, the branches are almost bare and any hotspell we receive causes them to wilt immediately. To understand what the cause of the problem is we need to lift the rootball out of the pot. In this case, we can see a distinct band running around the perimeter of the rootball halfway down – marked by the red arrow. The top half is as dry as the Sahara desert in the midday sun while the bottom half is completely water-logged. The cause: there are two reasons really. The first is that the rootball has outgrown this pot and it has become rootbound. The other reason is caused by the pot itself. It is supposed to be one of those self-draining pots that when too much water is added it automatically allows it to drain away. As this plant hasn’t been repotted for more than two years, it has clogged up the drainage holes and acted as its own plug. Continue reading Repotting plants the easy way (Gardening Tips ‘n’ Ideas)

    Seeds for Food, an action for sustainable development and poverty alleviation (Willem)

    h1 Seeds for Food


    Collecting seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables for developing countries

    Let us ban hunger and poverty from the world.

    In 2005, I was invited by UNICEF ALGERIA as an advisor for the project “Family gardens and school gardens in the Saharawi refugee camps in South-East Algeria”.  A preliminary study gave evidence that we were able to show families and schools of these refugees (most of them are nomads or fishermen), who have lived in those Sahara camps for more than 30 years, how to layout small kitchen gardens.  We also showed them how to grow fruits and vegetables with a minimum of water and fertilizers, using a water stocking soil conditioner.

    In this part of the Sahara (the area around the city of Tindouf, S.W. Algeria) there are two seasons:

    (1) the autumn-winter season (from September till January) in which various vegetables can be grown: lettuce, beetroots, carrots, onions, parsley …

    (2) the spring-summer season (from February till August) in which it is too hot for vegetables, but in which one can grow various tropical fruits such as melons, watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, papayas and eggplants (aubergines).

    The planning and layout of family and school gardens is no major problem, since there is plenty of space. If one uses a soil conditioner that can store irrigation water, a very small amount of water will do to create sufficient moisture in the soil for granting a continuous plant growth. Unfortunately, there is lack of seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables. Commercial seeds are much too expensive. Vitally important to these people is not to grow special high quality varieties, but to have at their disposal some juicy food in the hottest period of the year, when nothing else is growing in the desert.

    Therefore we call on you to show your solidarity with those poverty-stricken refugees or with this poor rural population of India.

    We don’t ask you any money.

    Only send, when it suits you, the seeds you find in the fruits you eat yourself: melons, water melons, pumpkins, sweet pepper, avocado, papaya, zucchini, cherimoya, pawpaw, etc.

    Just rinse these seeds in water and dry them on a plate (not on a piece of paper as it would stick to the seeds). As soon as the seeds are thoroughly dried, put them in a paper envelope and put the name of the species on it.  Then send it to one of our members (see addresses).  It will only cost you the stamp.

    The more we gather seeds, the more families we can help.

    One thing we know for sure: this project can turn out to be a world initiative, since we, citizens of the developed countries, young or old, (grand)parents, children and grandchildren, we can work together. However small your contribution, however small the parcel of grains you send us, we can assure you that it will contribute to improve the standard of living of the poor, since YOUR SEEDS GET TO THE PEOPLE without any go-between.

    This way we will contribute together to fight hunger and poverty in the world.

    Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
    Beeweg 36
    B-9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgique)

    You can also group your seeds with friends and send larger packages to the same addresses. Thank you so much!