Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply
The Folks at Garden Tower Project are raising money to expand their operation at Kickstarter. I am very happy to see folks moving forward on the idea of growing food by using the direct capture of nutrients and moisture from kitchen scraps. I wrote about my experiences in The Truth About Simple Unhooked Living, excerpted below. The Garden Tower campaign has exceeded (by double) their original funding goal of $28,000. Way to go! It’s great to see people getting together to support this worthy cause. Check out the vertical composing patio farm video.
During the winter of ‘89-‘90, I stumbled on an innovative way to grow plants without watering them. The woman who developed the process sent a video of her experiments to former President Jimmy Carter because she thought he might use the idea in his relief work in impoverished drought-ridden countries.
The video came into my hands as a volunteer at Habitat for Humanity headquarters in Americus, Georgia, where my job was to process letters addressed to the former president in response to a fund raising campaign. The experiments naturally piqued my interest, since I had previously lived without running water for several years.
To prepare this no-water garden, fresh grass clippings were piled about four feet high in long rows and covered with plastic sheets staked to the ground. Plants were placed along the edges of the plastic. As the grass decomposed it released nutrient-rich liquid that condensed into droplets and rolled down the sides of the plastic sheeting. The ground stayed moist and the plants were fed.
The plants looked very hearty, but there are some limits to the practicality of this method of waterless gardening. It requires a lot more space than usual, and unfortunately, grass clippings that aren’t soaked in herbicide are hard to come by. Impoverished people in drought-ridden developing countries don’t have lawns, and transporting mounds of grass clippings into barren Third World nations seems impractical. However, the basic idea of capturing mineral rich moisture inherent in rotting organic matter is a great idea. The American Indian practice of placing one fish under each corn seed they planted comes to mind. Beware, however, that placing raw organic material directly into the ground is against the law in many jurisdictions, especially urban areas.
I thought it would be okay to put fruit and vegetable scraps in coffee cans and bury them in the ground or in large planters. I covered them with soil and transplanted starts over each one. After the roots found the nutrient-rich moisture, no watering was necessary for several weeks. The moisture didn’t last as long as I thought it would, so I still had to water the plants as they matured. After harvesting them, there was a nice bonus. Each tin can contained a batch of black gold—that mineral-rich compost which helps plants thrive.
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