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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Home Studies

Annabella and her Dad are picking up a retrofitted composting container.  They will be composting at home soon.  Classes on horticulture start tomorrow.  Her Dad is taking on the role of teacher.  Annabella is a student at the Foster Elementary School in Hingham, Massachusetts.

The family already has Mel Bartholomew’s book Square Foot Gardening.  Tomorrow home school classes start for Annabella and her younger sister.  The classes will partly focus on horticulture.  I believe that science, technology, engineering, art and math – STEAM can all be taught through horticulture.  You might even want to add reading and writing to the mix.

For me this is very exciting because it means hands on learning and applied STEAM principles.  When school is in session, Foster students get to work with educators / farmers at the Holly Hill Farm in Cohasset.

Cannebella

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?