Bottle gardening – some experiments (Willem)

Already published on my desertification weblog on March 25, 2007

Bottle gardening – some experiments

March 25, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in fertilizer – nutrients, sustainability, horticulture/gardening, food / food security, hunger / famine, desertification, ecology – environment, water, poverty, agriculture, soil, rural development, research. trackback , edit post

In Februari 2007 I started some small experiments with what I call “bottle gardening“. I try to show that plastic bottles can be used as containers (see also “container gardening” informer messages on this blog). The main objective is to use plastic bottles for vegetable production in the drylands in order to save a maximum of water for irrigation. Within the framework of the combat of desertification, it is important to get a maximum of agricultural or horticultural production with a minimum of irrigation water. Moreover, enhancement of food production should also be realized in the drylands and on relatively poor soils.

Should these experiments be successful, a myriad of bottles, otherwise littered and dramatically degrading the environment, could play a very interesting role in sustainable food production for the rural people. Continue reading Bottle gardening – some experiments (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

Benefits and advantages of container gardening (Willem)

Already published on my desertification weblog on March 22, 2007

Benefits and advantages of container gardening

March 22, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in horticulture/gardening, food / food security, ecology – environment, water, technologies, research. trackback , edit post

Thanks to a very nice comment of “thimethief” on my posting of yesterday, I like to add a paragraph to my summary on container gardening. It enumerates some benefits and advantages of this type of gardening. Anyway, there will be more things to be mentioned and possibly you will send me some comments to complete the list. Continue reading Benefits and advantages of container gardening (Willem)

Container gardening – A summary (Willem)

Already published on my desertification weblog on March 21, 2007

Container gardening – A summary

March 21, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in horticulture/gardening, hunger / famine, desertification, agriculture, technologies, research. trackback , edit post

As I am currently studying possibilities to grow vegetables in plastic bottles and plastic bags, dwelling around all over the surface of the Earth, I felt the need of summarizing some data on container gardening.

The title of this message says clearly what it is : A SUMMARY, not more, not less. But maybe it will be useful for some “starters” in container gardening. Instead of searching the Internet, they will find a number of general guidelines, which may be useful before getting their hands dirty.

2007-02 bottle gardening
Click on the picture to enlarge it.

2007-02 – First steps in a small study on growing vegetables in plastic bottles : a lettuce seedling in a decapitated coca-cola bottle with a perforated bottom, and a cauliflower plant in a mineral water bottle. These plants grow well !

2007-02 – Les premiers pas dans une petite étude de la culture de légumes dans des bouteilles en plastique : une petite laitue dans une bouteille de coca-cola décapitée avec le fond de bouteille perforé, et une plante de chou-fleur dans une bouteille d’eau minérale. Ces plantes poussent bien ! Continue reading Container gardening – A summary (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)

Best way to keep container soils moist? (Willem)

Already published at my desertification blog on March 9, 2007

Best way to keep container soils moist?

March 9, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in fertilizer – nutrients, success stories – best practices, soil, water, technologies. trackback , edit post

Working for more than 20 years already with water absorbing polymers (also called “crystals” in gardening circles !) and having developed the soil conditioning method TerraCottem (see http://www.terracottem.com), I was very much intrigued when I encountered on the internet a discussion forum on “the best way to keep container soils moist“.

Let me take you through some nice and sometimes amusing contributions about several topics related to moist soils (!): Continue reading Best way to keep container soils moist? (Willem)

Bottle, bag and cup gardening progress (Tolledot)

Published before on my desertification blog :

TOLLEDOT : bottle, bag and cup gardening progress

June 7, 2007

Posted by willem van cotthem in container/bottle gardening, horticulture/gardening, success stories – best practices. add a comment , edit post

Today, I received a very encouraging email from Joseph TOLLEDOT, with a series of new photos of his successful container gardening (in plastic bottles, bags and cups).

Some of his pictures can be seen on the Flickr page :

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8511374@N06/

Here are the pictures with comments he has sent to me :

Peppers
2007-06 Four peppers in one bottle (double click to enlarge the picture)

Peppers
2007-06 “Four peppers in one bottle could have been too much, but they are now flowering and one pepper is visible.

Lettuce
2007-06 Lettuce in tray covered with a plastic sheet : the outer leaves were harvested twice and they kept growing well.

Tomatoes
2007-06 Tomatoes in party cups (first row) and plastic bottles (second row), all growing well.

Strawberries, tomatoes and peppers
2007-06 Strawberries (first row) , peppers and tomatoes (second row) developing in different kinds of plastic containers (recycling plastic !).

Tomatoes 2007-06
2007-06 Joseph says : “First attempt at a self-watering container. It’s working very well so far – I can definitely notice a marked acceleration in the growing rate and stem thickness in just 3 days. The water wicks up very well and I have filled up twice is these 3 days