Art Work

I met Andrea Mohr at Motor Cycle week in New Hampshire two years ago. She bought a pine needle basket to support the women that my wife works with in Honduras. She was moving to Maine from New York City.

I think that we talked a little about Square Foot Gardening. She just posted pictures of her new garden design. Truly amazing.

Just think, you could be enjoying something like this in your life.

Preparing the Garden – Charcoal?

My horticulture students in Honduras do it!

Adding charcoal to garden soil has some great benefits:

  1.  It will make the soil more alkaline.  With acid rain this is an important factor.
  2. The soil will be less dense and will allow for more air circulation and better root development.
  3. Charcoal will hold moisture and nutrients
  4. The carbon will be in the soil where we want it.

If you are a traditional gardener you may have your work cut out for you trying to integrate large amounts of charcoal into your garden.  If you do Square Foot Gardening or use raised beds, adding char to the mix is relatively easy.

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Food Security

People talk about food security and I use to say to myself that Americans will never be interested.  Today thousands of people are waiting in line at Food Banks.

Peter Jensen, is a Peace Corp. trainer in Africa.  This is a quote that he sent along today:  “This… right now… is the time to focus on small scale, high yield, nutrition focused, intensive, organic, home gardens. Right now!”

So you are home schooling.  And what are you teaching at home?  What could you be teaching?  I believe that we can best teach children science, math and technology through horticulture.  Teach the children because this pandemic is a hard lesson.  This may not be a one time lesson.

You can grow vegetables in a container.  You can grow a Square Foot Garden on a driveway.  Read Mel Bartholomew’s book on SFG.  Sunlight is important.

Don’t complain on Facebook how the kids are driving you nuts.  Teach the children.  They will love watching things grow.  They will love it and you might learn something about yourself as well.

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Last night Mark Zuckerberg  and his wife Priscilla Chan were on CNN.  Priscilla said that Mark had just come in from gardening.  If a billionaire many times over thinks gardening is good for him and his family, it might just be a skill suited for you and your family.  Priscilla learned about gardening at Quincy High School when preparing for a State Envirothon competition.  The theme for the school’s project was: Food Security.  She and her peers made elevated raised beds for older people who could not bend over to garden. One of the places we visited in preparation for the competition was Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset, Massachusetts.  Holly Hill is a great place to purchase food but also just to visit.

 

Square Foot Gardening / Trump

You could be thinking that nothing might be more distant from Donald Trump’s mind than Organic Farming.  He might be the king of fast food right now as in Kentucky Fried Chicken.

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Just picture in your mind the Obama and Trump news clip when they first met at the White House after the election.  It is obvious from the photograph that Barack is eating vegetables out of Michelle’s White House Garden while Donald is opening up the fried chicken and fries.

Your bottom line as well as mine is that during the Trump administration, big business and industrial farming will have an economic edge over the local organic farmer.  If you want to buy organic it will be expensive.  Get ready to pay high prices.  I might add that I read the magazine Farming.  The articles are full of information about GMO’s, pesticides and herbicides.  Big farmers are tied into the chemical companies for added productivity and improved profitability.

Square Foot Gardening and growing vegetables can be a challenge.  There are seven necessary steps to be successful: composting, germination, planting, watering, weeding, timely harvesting and preparing the food nutritiously.  It is really not easy to complete all the steps and there is some science involved.  There are many helpful sources for information.  Googling topics can provide necessary assistance.

Along the way we can all look better as we bend and lift while watching our vegetables grow.   We can all do this, One Square Foot at a Time.

Raw for Smoothies

Raw herbs and vegetables will provide maximum nutritional value for your diet.  All of the ingredients on the counter have been grown in compost, (mostly worm castings), coconut coir and vermiculite.

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From left to right:  frozen wheatgrass, moringa leaves, celery, spearmint, kale, beet greens and parsley.  Delicious when added to frozen organic blueberries and frozen mango.  I also add ginger, turmeric, flax seed, flax seed oil, unsweetened coconut, cinnamon.  I use almond milk or soy milk and some Trader Joe’s yogurt.  Thinking about adding a little garlic tomorrow. Substitute a smoothie like this for breakfast and watch the pounds disappear.

Like Talking to Bricks

When it comes to organic gardening I often feel that the key for success is our children.  They are open, enthusiastic and have fun growing things.  We are teaching math, science and technology through horticulture in Honduras.

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The two pictures are almost identical.  One picture shows the best pepper crop that I have ever grown.  I use worm casting and the children at our Honduras Hope Dorm use worm castings.  The gardening technique is called Square Foot Gardening.  We are headed back to Honduras in November and our next project at the Dorm will be growing and the distribution organic Moringa.

Moringa – Honduras Hope

“A Path Appears” by Kristof and WuDunn states that “vitamin A deficiency leads to some 670,000 child deaths annually and is also the most common reason for child blindness”. Doris, the young woman in the photo, was instrumental in developing Square Foot Gardens at the dorm in Yoro that supports middle school and high school students. I am confident that Doris will help us grow moringa plants which has four times the vitamin A as milk.

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Arsenic

My neighbor is a construction manager working on mall outside of Boston, Massachusetts.  The mall is being built on a former apple orchard.  The project has had some obstacles.  The amount of arsenic in the soil exceeds acceptable levels by the EPA.  The contaminated soil cannot be removed from the parcel of land which means the construction company must bury the soil under payment or mix it with uncontaminated soil to reduce the percentage of arsenic in the end product.

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When farmers spray pesticides, the unblemished apples, big red peppers or perfect melons all look so good.  Beware the perfect fruits and vegetables because they may not be as perfect as you think.  When the arsenic in the pesticide was sprayed, there was enough to kill small insects.  As the rain fell, contaminates soaked into the soil.  The apple tree’s roots absorb the chemicals.   The accumulative effect has caused big problems for the developer.  What has been the effect of the arsenic on you and especially on young children?

It might be worth considering Square Foot Gardening.  BEWARE: being an organic gardener may take some time to learn.  Mel Bartholomew’s book Square Foot Gardening might be a good place to start.  Warning, don’t just skim the book, read it.

Venezuela -Starvation

Why should you set an example?  The story in this link tells an interesting story.

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That is why we are teaching the children in Honduras to grow organically.  I often tell people that trying to convince adults about scientific gardening is like talking to a brick wall.  We are all vulnerable based on drought, GMOs and conflict.  Where does you food really come from and how far does it need to travel in time?

What Is Wrong? – School Gardens

A farmer who has been involved school gardens in South America, Asia and the United States surprised me with an interesting observation:  School Gardens don’t work.

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My observation has been that the intentions are most always good but: here in the Northeast, if we follow the patterns of farmers and gardeners, the traditional vegetables are harvested in July and August.  The children are gone for vacation.  Who waters and weeds during the summer?

Growing cold weather plants can offer a harvest before kids check out for summer.  The germination process however needs to start on or before January 1st.  These plants can go into the ground as soon as the frost is gone.

Check out these cold weather plants that we are harvesting right now.  Please realize that teachers are overwhelmed and in January most are not thinking of a school garden with snow on the ground.