By exploiting your limitations
By Karole Lee Johnson
I have been entertaining the idea of taking Seeds of Grace to other countries so that we can help others grow fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. It seems that the only reasonable argument there is against any one country is the political stability of the region or locale.
I thought that issues of climate, proximity to water or availability of fertile soil would all be factors. This turns out to not be the case at all! We all have the ability to create the perfect growing conditions for any number of edible plants. The research that I have been doing shows that there are remedies for nearly every situation that require a bit of ingenuity and a few supplies.
Some of the things we have to assume are that if there are people living in the region, there are resources that will help you to achieve the proper growing environment.
· Water is required
· Light is required
· Nutrients are required
There may not be much of these requirements, but any amount is enough to grow something.
Here are a few scenarios and suggestions to overcome the perceived natural barriers to growing fresh fruits and/ or vegetables.
Arid Climate: there are many ways to grow in an arid climate. One of the best would be a closed system that recycles the water you use to row your vegetables aguaponically. If there is water for you to consume, bathe with or feed your animals with, there are ways to reclaim that waste water and use it for the food you are growing.
Your aguaponic containers can be recycled soda pop bottles, old gutters or tires, any container that holds water. You may not have the most beautiful of systems, but once together, they will save you water, and they will produce healthy food.
There are not too many limits to what you can grow! Maybe root vegetables would be the most difficult – but not impossible! Simply create a system to support your plant as it grows. Trial and error will at the very least get some sort of harvest – AND information to do it better next time.
Short Growing Season: This situation would have you choosing those vegetables that can be harvested quickly after they are planted. These would include your leafy green vegetables, some roots and squash.
You might be surprised to see tree fruits on this list as well. Once established, your trees develop the ability to maintain a storage of those phytochemicals that feed your fruits as they develop. You may not have record sized fruits, and they may not have the flavor you prefer, but they will be able to offer you the nutrition that they create through sun, water and fertilization.
If you are lucky enough to have an indoor system, then artificial light is certainly an option. Of course the most sustainable way to maintain that light is preferred depending on the location, conditions, etc.
Minimal Amount of Space: If you have a window, you have the space to grow a small salad. If you have a porch, or a step to a porch, you can grow strawberries.
Pots are the most space efficient way to grow any plant. Be creative with what you use for a pot! Incorporate your herbs into your décor! Vegetable foliage can easily double for houseplants, and in many ways it is much easier to maintain. I can’t for the life of me grow a ficus, but give me some kale seeds, a sweet potato or some celery and they just won’t stop!
Your climate-controlled environment of growing indoors will also create a longer growing season for your edible houseplants, allowing you to harvest as they grow.
Restricted Sunlight: Plants require a certain spectrum on UV light. This may be difficult for you to achieve for your plants if you live in the nether regions of the north or the south, or if you live in a heavily-wooded area. You are not limited too much by this.
There will be areas where filtered sun reaches the ground throughout the day. The plants you grow should be able to thrive in such conditions. Choose beets, radishes or scallions for the darker shaded areas. Chard, broccoli and rhubarb will do well in the partially shaded areas and if you want to grow those vegetables who love the sun, like tomatoes and peppers, simply place them in a pot on wheels and move them throughout the day into where the sunlight falls.
Basically, what I think the overall point of this article is: That you – yes even YOU can grow organic vegetables and fruits, no matter where you live.
These methods don’t take a lot of money. Most of your supplies and materials can be easily repurposed! Recycle what you can and put the word out for whatever else you might need. People have stuff laying around all the time that they don’t have a use for, they just don’t realize it, until they see your request!
Seeds of Grace will be going to Mexico again, where specialized resources are difficult to come by. We will be utilizing many of the methods outlined here. Would you like to do some hands on work with us, learning more about how to grow by exploiting your limitations? Or maybe you have some skills that we can use! Take a look at the INFO to see if this is something you would like to join in on.
I want to be clear that I have not received any specialized education in gardening, horticulture, aguaculture or farming of any kind. I don't claim to have expertise, but God's vision and my experience is my guide. If you have thoughts about this, I welcome your feedback. Also, if you have questions let me know! If I don’t have the answer, I can certainly help you find it! Click here to contact me directly.