When I chose the title for this blog I was not thinking of gardens. I was thinking of people. Maureen has a beautiful garden to enjoy in her yard. The garden is truly beautiful.
When I fill the Britta water filter at home the chlorine gas fills the air with a foul stink. I think the Town is putting extra chlorine in the water during the pandemic.
We can all filter the water that we drink. However when you spray plants from a hose the chlorine goes into the soil and kills the microorganisms. Those microbes build organic complex structures. Rain barrels are useful for eliminating the chlorine that kills those microbes. If you don’t have a water barrel you can eliminate some of the chlorine and florid chemicals by spraying into a watering can first. The chlorine gas will be released. If your city or town is using a lot of chemicals in the water you will smell them right away. Take just one more step to grow organic healthy plants and spray the chemicals away.
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.
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.
Making compost is a sustainable process. Students at our Honduras Hope Dorm are developing organic gardens. They make compost and are growing food to be used as a nutritional base.
Their next project will be to bring this technique to their mountain village and teach their families to grow without chemicals. The students at the Dorm are champions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
My neighbor Leo Gallivan has valuable experience as an environmentalist / gardener. He and his wife Holly spend six months in Florida. Springtime is when most people are preparing their gardens. Not Leo.
Leo isn’t at home in the spring and he does’t need to be. Because as a smart gardener, he prepares the garden in the fall. He mulches all the green material around the existing plants. The nutrients that he uses come from the existing plants reusing the organic materials. You can be a Smart Gardener too.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been talking to people who question whether a 3 by 3 space can yield them meaningful garden produce.
It is not the square area that you plant in, it is the quality of the soil medium that is used. Big gardens can become overwhelming. You might want to start off with something that is manageable and then expand it. First of all make it enjoyable.
The pictures are of one 3 by 3 Square Foot Garden. Tomatoes, kale, cucumbers and string beans all in one.