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How to Grow Food in Wasteland?

Thursday, May 18, 2017 13:04
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I have posted this article last year, but maybe someone is still interested to know how one can grow food almost anywhere. It is better to be a bit self-sufficient, if the earthly crises will get more deeper. Our collective farm is using several methods of growing food on wasteland, where nothing has been growing before – on the place covered with weeds, and broken tiles buried on the soil.

The first method which is the most easy, needs only cutting some grass. One may use even leaves of trees as well with some soft grass on top. Then one needs about 10 litre of soil for planting the seeds. Let us say you want to grow 4 zucchini plants and get about 20-30 kg zucchinis, then you need a piece of land, about 1,5 x 1,5 meters or so. You may have it on your front or back yard, between trees, on cliff area – or may be even in the forest.

Cut and collect first the weeds or grass and pile it into 6 mounds like anthill, about 50 cm high. Tear the top of each mound open and press into bowl form. You may put now a plastic or cartoon edging on the “bowls”, but not on the bottom. Fill the “bowls” each with 1-2 litre of soil. Put now the seeds inside the soil and keep watering regularly in the beginning.

Although you have only little soil, it will be enough for zucchini to grow, because the mound starts to decompose slowly so the roots can eventually grow deeper. You can plant this way early on as the compost keeps the soil warm and if freezing cold comes, you can cover the seedlings easily with some pot or plastic bag. This way you can grow zucchinis, pumpkins, beans and flowers. I have not grown others, but you may do some experiments.

Another method is to cover all over the wasteland area with 20-30 cm hay, leaves etc layer, better to do it in the autumn already. Voles love it and will mess up the soil and hay soft already during winter, but they don’t seem to disturb much when the actual plants are growing. In the springtime you cover the area with black canvass which the rain can go through (buy from garden shop, you can use it many years). Make holes on the canvas according the size of the plant.

Pumpkin needs about 25 cm diameter hole. The distance between each pumpkin should be about 1,5 metre, for zucchinis less and for beans 50 cm, but plant 2-3 in the same hole. Dig a bit hay out from the hole, so that you can put about 2-3 litre soil on it and the seeds. The soil top should be little bit below the hole on the canvas.

This way the plants grow even better than with the first method. The canvas keeps the soil more warm and the hay becomes composted fast. Zucchini hardly needs any watering, pumpkin needs more. We have got this way really a lot of zucchinis and pumpkins. Each plant tend to grow many more zucchinis than in any other place. One had even about ten zucchinis at the same time. And I never before have got so many huge beans growing from each plant. Tomatoes would probably grow as well.

It is better if the area is part time in shade, although depends on the weather. The plants might not be able to tolerate constant sunshine and heat created by the black canvas and composting in the beginning state.

The third method is kind of hay bale garden. One may put about 10 hay bales side by side or in lines. The bales is better to be touching each other, so the moist is vaporizing less. Now you dig a hole or two, in the middle of each hay bale, depending what you want to grow. Fill the hole with some good soil, put the seeds and keep on watering the hay bales all over. You can grow this way even cabbages, cucumbers, spinach, flowers, etc. The hay bales will eventually also decompose, but it is quite slow process and needs rainy summer to keep the bales moist. We tried this method only once, as we had to do much more work and keep on watering every day, while the other methods needed much less water.

You don’t need any fertilizers for your plants, but if you want to experiment you can collect nettles and put into a water bucket. Covet and let it stand in a sunny place for couple of weeks. When using take couple litre of the liquid and add into bucket of water and give to your plants. The composted nettle leaves and stems you may put on top of the soil around your plants.

If there is near by stone factory or stone cutting place, and if you can get some of the left over powdered stone, that is the best fertilizer you can ever get. Homeopathic minerals can also help a lot. Mixed planting, for example beans help other plants to grow nicely. Collect the worms out from cabbage plants. Your plants have also feelings. They appreciate a lot of your loving thoughts – sing them, kiss them or play soft music, meditate in your garden.

Now how do you get water for your wasteland garden? If you have some roof to collect rain water and store into plastic covered bond, which you can make yourself. In some empty area, dig about 50 cm deep pond, cover it all over with plastic. Kitchen and bath water can be also collected for gardening.

Other hints for gardening;

I find parsnip easy to grow, you may put the seeds already in the autumn on soil. Most of the people seem to like parsnip juice. In the autumn I take many plants (kale, celery, fennel, swiss chard etc) from garden with roots and soil into buckets and keep over the winter in the woodshed, where there is window, for next year to plant.

If you let the last zucchinis and pumpkins to grow old enough, they will stay just like that in warm place even for one year. If you make them slices it is easy to make them dry. Keshe Foundation is teaching methods how to grow more food. I use nanocoated pipe for watering and sometimes gans.

You may also grow indoors; http://greatist.com/health/best-plants-to-grow-indoors

And easy to grow; http://www.thompson-morgan.com/top-10-easy-to-grow-vegetables

Plotters turn wasteland into a garden; http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/21/how-set-up-a-community-garden

Urban farming in Helsinki, Growing food in containers; http://www.cityfarmer.info/2010/07/16/urban-farming-in-helsinki-finland/

Didi Annapurna, you may share this article, link it here, thanks!

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Total 4 comments
  • Didianna

    This year also our pumpkins, beans and zucchinis are growing on wasteland. Besides we use mixed cropping. Many root vegetables grow better together with beans etc.

  • Didianna

    My old fashioned mobile doesn’t take photos and I don’t know also how to post my or others photos. The photos in article are from net, but we have also lots of orange hokkaido pumpkins. Last year our garden was incredible, everything growing so huge that at the end it was full like jungle.

  • Didianna

    I think the title should be actually; on wasteland, as the plants are growing on top of wasteland!

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