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: Agriculture

Growing produce in pots has many wonderful benefits

Growing vegetables and herbs in containers can be a very efficient way to add fresh healthy produce to your diet.  This technique can be done where there is not a lot of space for gardening and with people who might have difficulty accessing garden space.  You should start with a good size pot about 18-20 inches tall and wide, with drainage holes.  

Start after all chances of frost, pots can freeze easier than plants in the ground.  A potting mix should be used, over soil from your yard, the potting mix will be lighter and you can cut down on introducing weeds or disease to your soil.  Find a nice accessible location that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day.  Make sure you check the moisture in the pot and water accordingly.  

Potted plants can tend to dry out quickly.  Do not drown the plants but keep the soil evenly moist.  Give each plant enough space, even though they don’t have to meet the space requirements as if you were growing in the ground.  

It is a good idea to plant vegetables and herbs together, and do some research on what are good companion crops.   Growing plants in pots is a good way to practice low intense agriculture, efficiently use space, provides the gardener a healthy harvest, and the ability to improve their agricultural skills for even larger projects down the line.

Easy way to Grow Strawberries in a small space

Even though summer is winding down, we want to get you thinking about growing one of our favorites next year!

Strawberries are a tasty and nutritious late spring and summer fruit.  Fresh strawberries especially, organic can get expensive.  Everyone doesn’t have the space or the time to grow and maintain a strawberry patch, but strawberries can be grown in a variety of containers.  This is a great way to get fruit if you don’t have a lot of space.  It is also not that difficult to do, and since they are a perennial plant, meaning they come back the next year, once you get them established it’s a lot less work the following year.

You can start by choosing what variety of strawberry to grow.   For container grown, it’s best to choose a variety that says it is “ever bearing”; these fruits should bear all summer long.  Once you choose what type of container you are going to use, you are ready to start planting.  There are many examples of different container grown strawberries.

Make sure that you have good clean soil, preferably virgin soil or first time use top soil or potting soil.  Make sure the container has drainage capabilities and cover in drainage holes only allowing water to seep out.

Plant the tallest plants first making sure not to plant the crown of the plant under the soil. You can add compost or organic fertilizer to the soil before you plant.  Continue with the other plants about 8-10 in apart, or 2 -3 plants in a small container.  Once you have finished, water the plants but do not flood them.  Place the containers in an area that gets 6-8hrs of direct sunlight a day.

For care, sufficiently water the plants.  If the first 1-2in of the soil is dry then they need watering.  Try to keep the leaves dry by watering the soil or watering early in the day.  Pick the berries as they turn red, and also pick the rotten fruit and remove any dead leaves.  To keep the plant confined to the container, and to not reproduce, cut back any runner vines and leaves only leaving the main plant.  Now you are ready to enjoy strawberries all summer long!

AAPDEP Organizing Philly Garden Collective

In June of this year the All African Peoples Development and Empowerment project organized a garden collective in Philadelphia.

The garden collective is a group of about 8-10 different families that have agreed to work cooperatively to grow food, teach and learn from each other, and pool resources both material and human.

Following a model that AAPDEP used to organize families in Huntsville Alabama last year, the Philly Garden Collective planted their first seeds this spring.

There were a variety of different growing techniques that the gardeners used, from indoor containers, outside raised beds, and in the ground planting.

There are also a variety of skill levels involved from first time gardeners to those with over 20 years experience growing food.

After 2 organizing meetings at the home of AAPDEP member Dr. Michelle Strong Fields, the collective pooled their resources and purchased seeds, soil and starter plants.

Next, the collective held a work day where they met and planted containers for people to take home, distributed seeds and plants, and planted one in ground garden.

The collective has been sharing progress and tips through a group text line that they set up.  This has been a good first planting season and our Philly forces have already begun discussing how to progress in the future.  One idea is to establish a community garden.

AAPDEP’s goal is to use the Philly Garden Collective as a tool to organize the African community.  We are in the process of recruiting all of the members of the collective who currently aren’t already to become members of AAPDEP.

We are also working to connect the Philly Garden Collective with the other AAPDEP agriculture work in Houston, Texas, Huntsville, Alabama, and soon in Sierra Leone and Oakland, California.

We have no doubt that the Philly Garden Collective will be a great tool to teach and learn skills, provide healthy food, and organize the African community towards our development.

If you or someone you know is interested in joining or supporting the Philly Garden Collective, please contact Jaleel Nash at 443 844 2545 or via email at agriculture@developmentforafrica.org.

Gardening indoors not as hard as it seems

Growing herbs is a great activity for beginner and longtime gardeners. Herbs can greatly improve the taste of food and for thousands of years African and other peoples have used herbs for their healing and health benefits.

The great thing about herbs is they can be grown inside, sometimes in the very kitchen that you cook in. All you need is a location that gets good sun, good soil, a container with good drainage and some of your favorite herbs.

Here are a few common herbs that are great for growing indoors:

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These can be started from seed or you can start from plants. Below are a few instructions to starting an indoor garden.. This is a great first step in taking control of our heath, food supply and eventually our self-determination.

Supplies You’ll Need to start a indoor herb garden:

  • Small to medium sized pot, depending how many herbs you would like to grow (medium depth is ideal, all materials work) *note: ensure that your pot either has drainage holes in the bottom, or create drainage with a layer of small pebbles or stones on the bottom
  • Soil (buy a mixture of potting soil from you local garden store, to ensure proper moisture retention) *note: do not use soil directly from the ground in pots, it dries out extremely fast and plants will not grow
  • Seeds/seedlings (choose a variety of your favorites) *note: some herbs tend to grow better from a seedling than from seed
  • Water

Steps to Plant Your Herb Garden in a Pot:

  1. Choose herbs that you and your family like the most.  A good basic variety could include parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, dill, mint, cilantro, etc.  Seeds are available at some grocery stores, garden stores, or through seed catalogs and online.
  2. Fill your pot with potting soil (and drainage if necessary) and moisten slightly with water.
  3. Plant seeds in your pot, according to package instructions for specific herbs.  Most will simply need to be pushed slightly into the soil and covered with a shallow layer of topsoil.  Water thoroughly.
  4. Place your pot somewhere warm and sunny inside, for the colder months, until frost passes outside.  Then place the pot outside in the warm sun, in late April or early May, depending on where you live and the weather.  Take extra care that the soil is kept moist enough during the first months while inside – not soaked, but not dried out either.

Pretty cool Herb Garden designs:

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