Sub-Saharan Africa’s food security has turned out better than feared. But risks remain

Widespread job losses led to rise in food insecurity, most pronounced in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi

By Wandile Sihlobo


The widespread job losses in the region subsequently led to a rise in food insecurity. This was most pronounced in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda and Malawi, the countries for which data is available.

More than a year since the onset of the pandemic, a great many uncertainties about the economic future of the region linger on. However, sub-Saharan Africa’s food security situation appears to have, thus far, turned out better than some of the more pessimistic expectations.

The increase in staple grain imports in various African countries, by both governments and private sector players, combined with slightly better domestic grain production conditions in some, such as Zambia, South Africa and Tanzania, to name a few, has slightly shielded the region.

Specific interventions

One positive development was that the G20 discouraged major grain-exporting countries from banning exports. Domestic evaluations of supplies by food-exporting countries also provided comfort for sufficient food supplies in the world market. As a result, India, Russia, Cambodia and Vietnam lifted the ban on exports, enabling a smooth flow of grain to the sub-Saharan Africa region.

Various governments also took action. This was primarily through increasing grain imports. The major importers have been Zimbabwe, Zambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and Malawi. Some of these countries also rolled out farmer input support schemes to assist farmers ahead of the 2020/21 production season, which began in October 2020 for most countries. Only South Africa responded with direct income support to vulnerable households, but still household food insecurity rose.

Governments also supported farmers with inputs. This could pay off during the 2021 harvest. There remain concerns though that some of support might have been late in getting to some farmers because of corruption, poor farmer targeting and bureaucratic inefficiencies. This has been the experience with previous farm input subsidies programmes.

That said, another important positive development was that most of the African continent, specifically southern and eastern regions, received higher rainfall during the 2020-21 summer. This allowed for increased plantings and improved crop production conditions. The United States Department of Agriculture estimates already point to prospects of increased maize production in several southern and east Africa countries.

For example:

  • Zambia’s 2020/21 maize production could reach 3.4 million tonnes (up 69 per cent on 2019/20);
  • Malawi’s maize harvest is estimated at 3.8 million tonnes (up 25 per cent y/y),
  • Mozambique’s maize crop is estimated at 2.1 million tonnes (up 8 per cent y/y),
  • Kenya’s maize harvest is forecast at 4.0 million tonnes (up 5 per cent y/y).
  • Tanzania’s maize harvest is estimated at 6.3 million tonnes (up 8 per cent y/y).

There are also prospects of large maize and wheat harvests in Zimbabwe.

These numbers suggest a good harvest, not only for grains but also for other crops and improved livestock conditions in the southern and east Africa region.

These improved agricultural conditions cannot fully compensate for job losses. Nevertheless they might cushion households from severe and long-term food insecurity that the World Bank’s economists had feared the sub-Saharan Africa region would face from 2020. It is plausible that as the harvest begins from May 2021 in some African countries, rural households could be in a slightly better position than in 2020 in terms of staple grains availability.

The big question now is whether insights have been gained to make the agricultural sector more resilient in the future, and if the expected large harvest could be stored in good condition to last for longer or reach the market in good quality. A number of sub-Saharan African countries lag behind in this effort.

One idea that’s been around for decades revolves around strengthening rural economies through supporting agriculture and improving infrastructure to help link farmers to markets. Had efficient roads and storage infrastructure existed in many African countries, the windfall of expected large grains harvest would find a market place, and income from sales would improve household incomes.

From a policy perspective, I would argue that as various governments begin to craft and some implement the economic recovery strategies from the COVID-19 slump, the improvement in rural infrastructure should be prioritised. Such an approach would have long term economic and food security benefits.

Challenges ahead

Nevertheless, the sub-Saharan Africa region still faces major headwinds.

If the pandemic is prolonged it’s plausible that the fear of rising food insecurity could eventually be a reality, especially if the next summers are not as rainy as 2020-21.

In addition, the government-led input support to farmers for the 2021-22 planting season will be constrained by reduced fiscal space that most emerging market governments face. And there’s the lurking risk of increasing global bond yields which will make government bonds in developed countries offer more attractive returns for investors, resulting in money being sucked out of emerging and frontier markets.

Essentially, the rural areas of the sub-Saharan Africa region might experience an improvement in food availability in 2021 compared to 2020. However, this is temporary. It is at the mercy of weather conditions and government support going into 2022. Both are highly uncertain and largely not within each country’s control.

Perhaps, sub-Saharan African governments might want to ensure continued farmer input support again in the 2021-22 summer crop planting period.

Wandile Sihlobo, Visiting Research Fellow, Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


MY COMMENT (Prof. Dr/. Willem Van Cotthem – Ghent University, Belgium)

WHAT IF THE RURAL AREAS “might experience an improvement in food availability” by focusing not only on grains (“always at the mercy of weather conditions and government support“), but on promoting container gardening for production of domestic healthy, vitamin- and mineral-rich vegetables, herbs and fruits.


When transforming the Malawian Food Systems after COVID-19, could one possibly envisage the national promotion of container gardening “enhancing the contribution of the private sector” ?


Malawi Discussion of IFPRI’s 2021 Global Food Policy Report: Transforming Food Systems After COVID-19

In the 2021 Global Food Policy Report, IFPRI researchers and experts explore the impacts of the pandemic and government policy responses to date, particularly for the poor and disadvantaged, and consider what it all means for transforming our food systems to be healthy, resilient, efficient, sustainable, and inclusive.

The chapters in this flagship report explore key requisites for such a transformation in light of the current shock — balancing health and economic policies, promoting healthy diets and nutrition, strengthening social protection policies and inclusion, integrating natural resource protection into food sector policies, and enhancing the contribution of the private sector — and how best to achieve them. Regional sections examine the diverse experiences of the pandemic worldwide, and the impact of varied response measures.

And if not, what could be the reason for the refusal to help “the poor and disadvantaged with such an easy, successful, “healthy, resilient, efficient, sustainable, and inclusive food system” to produce food at home all over Malawi ?

One of the many testimonies about container gardening

Any reason why you wait ? Or do you envy Debra Barton NewlandTyler, Texas

I tried the container method for growing some vegetables this year (first time gardener) and I am very happy with the results! One of my strawberry plants and my very first ripened strawberry!

Follow Debra and make your children happy !

People questioning the possibility to grow food crops in containers ?

Let them have a look at these pictures with vegetables and herbs in bags and tubs. Kenya shows the way !

Shouldn’t they try this themselves ?

A message from Wahome W JosphineNyahururu, Kenya

Don’t wait for development cooperation, start building your own kichen garden.

Why not ? If one can produce food crops this way !

A message from Clive Omweri in SACKS AND CONTAINERS GARDENING TIPS (

For interesting tips about sack gardening, go to :

What would the”Malawi Household Food Security Bulletin ” tell us if the Malawians would grow food like this ?

A message from Vana Keightley

Just getting started and look at these babies! Lettuce, tomatoes, squash and eggplant. Towers are strawberry, herbs and peppers (not shown)

A message from Alpa MalpicaCandelaria, Quezon

Growing food crops in all kinds of containers to feed the family

How to grow Tomato at home has a lot of fruit
Amazing Hanging Garden, How to grow Tomato at home has a lot of fruit

If I would live in Malawi, I would surely have strawberries in containers for my kids … and a lot of them !

A message from Carmen JimenezQueens, New York

Last year’s strawberries. Hoping this year’s crop is just as plentiful and delicious.

See what happens when you grow tomatoes from seed in containers indoors

A message from Nancy WalkerHammond, Indiana

These are 4 tomato plants I am starting on the porch. I plan to put them in self-watering containers soon.

Just give it a try and offer a lot of juicy tomatoes to your children.

Good examples to be copied in Malawi

A message from Avion Francis

My husband and I decided to do a container garden last month. We live in an apartment I am already using fresh seasoning for our garden, tonight we had kale and banana smoothie, the kale was taken from our garden. We had salad too from our garden.

Onions in styrofoam box –
Kale in pails –
Seedlings in trays –
Oregano in a bucket –

We keep it simple. What about you in Malawi ?

A message from Matthew Nirdlinger – New Jersey –

Really nice day in NJ today. Started getting things rolling. Dill, chives, parsley, lavender and strawberries.
Strawberries –

Students in Singapore show the way to their Malawian colleagues. Hope they follow …

A message from Sophia Tay – Singapore

🌿☘️Thumbs up to our students for growing and caring for these healthy and green vegetables(Caixin).🌿☘️

“YES YOU CAN !” Grow vegetables and herbs in bags (a solution for Malawian problems)

What thousands of people can do in the slums of Nairobi (recycling bags and other containers to grow food crops without having a field) should be a piece of cake all over Malawi. Please, stop complaining about droughts.

A message from Jacy Swits – Nairobi, Kenya

My rosemary after a month for the two and three months for the sprouted one of planting and my sukuma and spinach planted today morning. I forgot how to buy spinach and sukuma along time ago. The whole of this year I have never bought this two. Afternoon I’m doing green onions and Friday Dhania.

Grow your own tomatoes from seeds

Don’t spend some money on buying commercial tomato seeds. Buy a couple of different tomato varieties and cut them in slices. Now pick out the seeds, wash them in water and let them dry on a towel or a plate (not on a paper to avoid the seeds sticking to it).

Get the seeds germinating in potting soil in a tray.

Have the seedlings growing up to 3-4 inches (7-10 cm) and then transplant them in small pots (see photos below).

Later on, transplant the taller plants in bigger containers.

Wishing you success !

Photos by Luz Chi SantosSanta Maria, Bulacan – The Philippines

Such a pot should be in every Malawian house

A message from Kee Hamner

My strawberry 🍓 plant survived the winter 🥶 with absolutely no maintenance from me. I thought it was done for. 🤷🏽‍♀️
But look at her now!! Blooming ☺️ I have to fix her home now so she can run and stretch out.

Photo from Molly J Peterson

Get a number of pots or planters and start massive strawberry production, planting, planting, planting and planting the runners you get at your motherplants. It’s good for your kids, it’s nice for getting some money at the market.

Are you hesitating ?

Afraid of droughts or floods ? Grow your food in elevated containers

A message from Tracy Pekar Rogers – Houston Texas, USA

Looks like everything is growing well in my container vegetable and herb garden so far. It’s the first time we’ve grown anything but herbs at this house and the first time I’ve grown many of the vegetable varieties at all.

I’m trying different things in different sizes of containers this season. The only thing not doing well is my basil. None of it. Not the Genovese, Thai, or cinnamon basil. They all have leaf spots from wet leaves. Can’t help it, we often get evening and overnight rain. So the humidity keeps the leaves from drying quickly and they get sick. I planted some more in a sheltered area that gets less rain and lots of morning sun, we’ll see how it does there. Basil may just be something I have to grow indoors in an Aerogarden.

A message from Gary W Davidson

I’ve been gardening since I was a small kid and I’ve been playing around with container gardening about the last 10 years ,Hoping I can learn some helpful tricks from others here.I decided to give the bags a try this year

How to Build a Raised Bed CHEAP and EASY

Raised bed ,Backyard Gardening:

 I love designing and growing them but I also love other practical and convenient ways to grow food that’s what I want to share with you today how to build your own cheap and easy raised bed garden let’s go if you saw my last video.

How to raise bed

 Then you know I recently just took out a Red Delicious apple tree that I had planted in this section the reason I did that is because this hazelnut tree was just doing so well has just gotten so large that it shaded out this area way too much for that apple tree to produce and to do well. That’s the reason I couldn’t graft onto it or anything because it’s just not getting enough light.

 So I took that tree out right here and to replace this tree what I’m going to do is be building a raised bed in this section and there’s a few different reasons why I’m doing one of the main reasons that I want to grow a raised bed in this section here and not just plan how I usually do directly into the ground is because I have this hazelnut tree behind me some of the other trees here and I don’t want to disturb those roots this way by putting a raised bed in I’ll avoid a lot of those issues that’s the same reason people like growing raised beds in sections that are hard clay or if they have really rocky soil you can avoid some of those issues you’re gonna run into by putting a raised bed in let’s start building another reason I’m going to be building a raised bed here is because I’m running out of space to play my annuals with my new food forest and the trees are getting bigger the strawberries are starting to spread so I’m just running out of space to grow annuals and things.

 Because I love planting them I love my tomatoes my peppers my lettuces and everything like that also a good reason to have a raised bed is if you’re planning on growing in a section that you’re renting or you’re not going to be living there for a long time you may not want to waste a lot of time building your soil through mulching and stuff which can take years because you know you’re gonna be out of that section soon so a raised bed it could be a good option for that we have all of our wood here.

Now the dimensions of the bed are gonna be 4 foot by 8 foot as you can see we’re not using pressure-treated wood because we don’t want the option of any of those chemicals or anything that’s in it to mess with what we’re growing and I’ll talk more about the wood that I’m using as I progressed the wood that we’re going to be using are 3 2 by 10s so 10 inches in this height right here at 8 feet long and then three two by fours at 18 feet long as well the only thing is the two by fours are just a little shorter than the 2 by 10 so we’re gonna have to cut the 2 by 10 it’s just a little bit bucks out here.

How to raise bed

Relax and watch me and if don’t feel comfortable cutting the wood yourself or you can do is if you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s just make sure you have your dimensions before you go there and then let them know what they are and they’ll cut the wood for you I had them do that for me before and they do an excellent job because they have a track saw it gets everything Square and perfect so let me just mark this here and then we’re just gonna cut it with a skill saw for the cost of the two by tens you’re looking at just over eleven dollars for the cost of the two by fours they’re just over two dollars and you could do this without the two by fours to make it even cheaper but it’s not gonna be as convenient as I’ll show you we got the two of them cut and now they’re all the same length so we like to say we cut those two two by tens down trim them just a little bit.

And I don’t know why exactly that they they’re not the same length as a two by fours but we’ll deal with it next we’re just gonna cut this piece in half and then one of these will be our top one the bottom and then these two are gonna be our size I got all my wood cut and before I start to build it I wanted to clean out this section here because I don’t want to have to build it then move it it’s gonna be pretty heavy when it’s done so you’re going to want to build it in this section that it’s going to be i..

How to raise bed

I have that section cleaned out now if you have grass here you may want to put down some cardboard or even some contractors paper but if you’re going to go tend to stick like me you should be okay even just leaving it unless you have some strong perennial weeds next I’m going to be screwing this all together after I have it staged in the spot that I want it I’m going to be using three inch deck screws so they work well outside they’re not going to rust or anything I don’t want any rust in the garden and they’re strong and long but first before we get to put those screws in we’re going to want to pre-drill just so we don’t split the wood and we’re gonna have we have a countersink bit on here as well so I’ll show you how to do that this wood right here is an inch and a half so we’re gonna want to go about 3/4 of an inch in halfway we’re gonna put four screws in just make sure it’s strong and then that countersink just makes it so the screws won’t stick out we got this screw started here.

Now we’re gonna do our best to make it as flush on the top and as the back as we can make it okay that’s one of the sides then we’ve got three more to go so let’s keep going [Music] okay that’s the last screw it looks good looks nice and square I’ll check it again at the end but now I want to show you what the idea was with cutting the two by 10s in the same length of these two by fours so I can put these two by fours up here as a rail this isn’t 100% necessary but it’s going to help help hold the whole thing together. It’s also going to be a nice little area for us to sit and reach into the bed so what we’re gonna do is put a few pieces of wood in here to the inside this way.

I have something to screw that screw down to on this side and on this side here for this section here basically making these little cleats I’m just gonna cut this 8-foot piece into one foot sections this way I can get eight of them and you could just use scrap what if you want I just didn’t have any on hand so I had to buy this extra piece [Music] okay I got these cleats all done.Now I’m just gonna put one here up like this one up here as well and then I’m gonna put two at the ends to kind of straighten everything up and make sure I have them flush at the top they’re got the last support in it’s coming out real well I’m happy with the way it looks and there’s not much left to do so this build is almost finish.

How to raise bed

And I can’t wait to start getting a filter then get growing now let’s get this side rail on make sure it’s nice a good length. I checked for square it’s all square which makes it easier and to make sure it’s all square you’re gonna want to make sure you get good wood take the time to select the wood make sure it’s straight make sure it’s not bowed make sure it doesn’t have any cupping in it so what we’re gonna do is first attach one side and then see if we have to bend it bend this at all if this is straight enough this board let’s get this one corner in this first screw is going to go in the board that’s parallel with it this other screw is gonna go in the one that’s perpendicular so it’s gonna lock the whole thing together [Music] I got those two sides in those rails my drill battery started died on me a little bit so I’m skipping a couple spots where the screws are gonna go but I’ll go back and put those in next.

I need to cut a piece just to fill this gap in this section right here so instead of having to measure it I’m just gonna take my piece of wood hold it up and then just mark it I have this bumped up against the side then I’m just gonna mark from over the top then we’ll just cut that to life we got that cut to length should be good it’s good like that now we’re just going to pre-drill there we go I got the final piece cut now we just have to drill it in there we go last screw and it’s looking great tuk-tuks over there looks like.

He dug himself a nice deep hole see what he’s doing he’s hanging out underneath the shiso and all this she said we have so much of it growing here but I didn’t want to take any of it out because the bees have been loving it it looks like tuck likes hanging out underneath there hey boy dug yourself a nice deep hole huh boy he’s really deep down there you must have been getting hot he was getting a little bored I think watching us so he looks like he’s a little bit tired even to what a good guy so relaxed so it doesn’t look like tucks having as much fun with this video as he does with some of the other ones but that’s okay he’s still out there always behind us there were some hearts in the comments and you guys love to see and talk if you like him being a part of the whole garden the channel and everything with it he seems super relaxed right now I just made sure this is all level leveled this way and then level this way also then I check my diagonals it looks good what I did was dig out this section here which was a little high rather than propping any besides up because I wanted to be too basically on the ground and I’m not worried about this rotting that much even though it’s not pressure-treated it should last a good five six maybe seven years.

I don’t have any posts into the ground because that’ll just make the rot happen even quicker and I’m not worried about it bowing out too much because I got these side braces and also I’m only ten inches high and if when I put the soil in that’s gonna really add a lot of weight to this whole bed so I’m not worried about it shifting too much because this is a good sized bed as you can see though if I sit on the rail here I can easily reach into the center so this will be good this was just to check the level.I’m gonna be taking that out now we’re gonna start filling it with soil the first thing that I’m going to add is peat moss and this can be slightly acidic but that’s okay.

How to raise bed

Because the rest of the bed I’m gonna be filling mainly with black leaf mulch which I get for free locally and that’s highly alkaline the only issue is it can’t really retain moisture so am i adding this it’s gonna greatly increase its ability to retain moisture I’m gonna dump this in get some black leaf mulch and mix it all together and then I’m gonna add some my own homemade compost the best stuff you can grow with all right here’s the first load of the black leaf mulch.You can see it’s got a nice dark color to it so we’re just gonna shovel all this in good local free resource that’s another reason I wanted to do the raised bed because I knew I could get this locally for free so what I want to do is shovel all this in and I’m going to mix it up with the peat moss so it’s almost like building our own soil because this mulch is high it’s nutritious it’s alkaline but it’s just like I said it’s not it can’t hold water well it dries out quickly and then once it gets dry it’s really hard to make it absorb water again.I’d say about 10 more wheelbarrows.

I’ll be done what I’m gonna do is after I get some more loads and just come and just mix it up I’m gonna use a pitchfork to do it but we’ll mix it and get a better composition that’s today’s video gross thanks for watching I hope you enjoyed it I hope you got something out of it the raised bed is finished the building of it it looks fantastic. I’m super happy with the way it came out all.

 I have to do is continue to fill it up with some more black leaf mulch mix it all together get a nice composition so we can start growing things then I’m gonna build one more but I’ll show you next video what that all looks like.

Would you like to grow iceberg lettuce from seed ?

A message from Aadil Zaheer Alam

الحمدللّٰہ تقریباً چھ ماہ کے بعد آئس برگ (سلاد)کے بیج تیار ہو گئے اور ابھی کچھ تیاری کے مراحل میں داخل

Praise be to Allah

Iceberg after about six months (salad)

K seeds ready and just entered some preparation stages

Once you get a couple of seeds somewhere and have grown your own iceberg plants, you are good for several years, collecting seeds from your own harvest.

Planters, pots small and big, window boxes, you name it …

In all of them we can grow food crops in Malawi, yes we can, all over the country. Hush hush, hunger and child malnutrition !

A message from Fawn Saicawalo – Albuquerque, New Mexico –
One can even grow a lot of plants inside the house (Photo Alex Billingsley
Cheap plastic pots can do the job (Photo Mary Charts Erb, Arizona –
Even in an old rusty stock tank –

Some of these ideas come from Mary Charts Erb, Arizona –

Mom here, is always planting trees, fruit trees, vegetables, flowers…in different spots on the land. I’m thankful to my husband for bringing me this old rusty stock tank. And thankful for my health to fill it up with dirt, compost etc.

What’s the answer of the Malawian women ? Wouldn’t this be a fantastic solution for the problems of the Malawian girls’ unemployment and the consequent even bigger problems.

Children growing food crops in containers at home can’t be classified under child labor

We recommend the Malawian families to teach their children how to grow vegetables and herbs in containers at home (see all the good examples below on this blog). It goes without saying that such participation of children in the family life would be far more efficient than the child labor described below. It would be a successful initiative to alleviate child malnutrition and hunger.

As sole provider for his family, nine-year-old Gift is exhausted and, despite hopes of being a teacher, gets little chance to study

Gift Phiri makes up to 10 cooking stoves a day after school.
Gift Phiri, nine, makes up to 10 cooking stoves a day after school. All photographs by Amos Gumulira/The Guardian

Global development is supported by

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

About this contentCharles Pensulo in MzuzuMon 19 Apr 2021 06.15 BST

Herbs in containers : every Malawian family should have them close to the kitchen

A message from Shashee Joganah

Rosemary ,mint and Vietnamese mint.

In Bulgaria people are growing tomatoes in recycled bottles. It should be possible in Malawi too.

A photo from Nancy Wright

Simply cut the top of the bottle off and drill 2 opposite drainage holes in the sidewall 3-5 cm (1-2 inches) above the bottom.

Why wouldn’t Malawians try to grow heaps of tolmatoes at home instead of risking difficulties with droughts or floods ?

A kitchen garden in drums( or tanks) cut in half

A message from Angela SullivanBaker, Florida

My veggie garden…and my helper Emma. Using old water well tanks cut in half works great .

I keep wondering how many Malawians are growing tomatoes in containers, just like Rahat Sultana does …

A message from Rahat Sultana – He started from seeds collected from a tomato.

See the container down there ? See the juicy tomatoes ? Would be nice to take these to the market !

This can be a very interesting idea for dry regions !

A photo from Jon Hutton

I watered 22 vegetables with this tree during a drought.

Collecting the daily quantity of water evaporated by the young tree under a plastic sheet and using it for watering vegetables in containers.

All over the world people are growing food crops in containers, even in bags on their balcony. And the hungry in Malawi ?

A message from Lorraine Wolohan

Some herbs veggies and strawberries planted on my little balcony in Ireland.

Yes, simply in bags ! Comes rain, comes drought, we always have something to eat and the children love the strawberries. Yours too ?

Grow some fruit trees in containers to protect them from drought

Amessage from Matahari Houri

My Pineapple, Calamondin and Finger Lime plants enjoying the sunshine.

Small but beautiful and efficient

A message from Robin Breiding

My little garden! Can I add more, or should I leave it alone? 1 tomato, 1 bell pepper, 1 Anaheim pepper and 1 zucchini!

Dora Blossom : Most all these plants: zuch , cucum, and matos grow big and tall and they climb. So this is good. Don’t add anymore.

Peta Graham : and tomatoes really need space to grow properly and fruit. They are big eaters.

Any volunteers in your community ? See what you can do together !

A message from Maria Largacha – Master gardener at Farm City Detroit –

Could this be a nice idea for all Malawian communities, creating possibilities to produce masses of food crops, even in periods of drought ?

Just imagine that groups of youngsters (e.g. young girls) would build such a community garden in their village, grow food crops and take a part of the harvest to the market.

Wouldn’t that be a fantastic way to alleviate a number of social problems, particularly for the girls?

Farm City Detroit

And we keep planting 🌱🌱 cool crops in!! We made it in record time thanks to awesome volunteers who showed up with extra energy 🙏👏👏 we seeded radish spinach mustard greens turnips beets & more! Also many many flowers to attract “good” bugs 🐝! We also added a drip irrigation line for the pumpkin patch 👍We work with volunteers on Saturday mornings, we start 9am, join us, no gardening experience just bring gardening gloves and mask! All harvests are for donation to the community 🌱🌱 we are a Detroit Blight Busters program.

I hope this invites our Malawian friends to give it a try, preparing for a drought or a flood

A message from Daig Romain (Seychelles) –

Rose May Bacaling : What is the purpose of the big plastic bottle in the bottom?

  • Daig Romain : water drips from top and collects at bottom and can be reused when watering.

MY COMMENT (Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem) : Water that is running down through the bottle tops is leaching some nutrients. After that “fertilized” water is collected in the big bottles underneath each “tower”, it can be added again to the top bottle for recycling the nutrients (otherwise lost in the soil).

If you want to see how we are building our own bottle towers, please click

Terrific tomatoes

A message from Mark (Vertical Veg, The Cottage, 11a Side, Newcastle, NE1 3JE, United Kingdom)

Tomatoes are one of the most enjoyable and best tasting crops to grow in containers. A few years ago I made some videos with tomato expert, Nick Chenhall, that you can watch here. I learnt a lot from him and I hope you will pick up lots of useful tips from the videos. One thing he stressed is that tomatoes like lots of air to their roots – so ensuring good drainage and using good quality compost does make a difference.
Cherry tomatoes are one of the tastiest and most productive container crops.

Just imagine that your Malawian boy would help you to harvest your tomatoes grown in containers !

Impossible, you think ? Why wouldn’t you have the same success ? Are people in Pakistan handier than you ?

A message from Muhammad Mohsin Sohail – Lahore, Pakistan

Collect the seeds of a couple of Malawian tomatoes. Let them dry for a while, then let them germinate. Plant them in small pots and, later on, transplant them in bigger pots with a mixture of soil and chicken manure. Keep the soil humid and enjoy the tomato plants growing quickly. Finally, they are blooming and fruiting. That’s when your children are helping you with the harvest.

Take the tomatoes to the market, gain a lot of money and buy some toys for your kids. They deserve it for the work done.

Nice story, isn’t it ? Make it come true.

What people in Malaya are doing, can easily be copied by people in Malawi

Growing food crops in containers -Alleviate child malnutrition.

A message from Chia Siew Ping – Malaya

All in the family. Group photo before impending rain. There’s Mexican mint, basil, pandan, water spinach, Brazilian spinach,and pepper pots. Whatever I can propagate and is edible. Hanging from the fence there is pothos, purple hearts and Moses in the cradle plus syngonium. The more the merrier! –

Wellness Secrets To Growing Food Plants At Home

Gardening grew in popularity during the pandemic, with many Americans having more free time at home, as well as a desire to eat more healthfully to boost their immunity. According to trade publication Greenhouse Product News and Axiom Marketing’s 2021 Garden Survey, 86% of homeowners plan to continue gardening in 2021 and 47% say they will be planting more.

Since not everyone has an expansive outdoor gardening space, indoor gardening (favored by 46%) and container gardening (enjoying 32% popularity) have become accepted ways to grow herbs, greens, vegetables and other food plants.

There are ways to combine both in kitchen or patio gardening, but these can potentially present challenges for cultivators, particularly with maintaining the best soil for nutritious produce.

Importance of Soil

“Soil health and fertility is the necessary foundation for healthy food sources for all of us,” observes chef and culinary consultant Katy Sparks in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. “Soil composition directly affects flavor and nutrition,” she continues, pointing to the presence of minerals and organic matter as key factors in what growers can expect from their produce. Farmers are focusing on soil science, she says, but many home gardeners may not be.

“There’s a common saying that the best farmers raise healthy soil, not vegetables,” shares urban farmer Melanie Lidman of O2 Artisan’s Aggregate in West Oakland, California. “The soil you use is the most important aspect of your home garden, though it’s often the place where people cut the most corners.”

Lidman advises against buying the lowest-price soil bag at the garden center, declaring it the biggest mistake home growers make. “There are 18 essential elements that plants must have in order to grow properly, including things like magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus. These elements help plants grow strong, and are also an integral part of human health and warding off diseases.” We obtain them by eating produce raised in that rich soil.  “As a home gardener, you have complete control over your soil, and can make it as nutritious as possible!” She declares.

“Soil needs air, water, minerals, organic matter, and microbes in sufficient quantities at all times to function well,” explains Dan Kittredge, executive director of the educational nonprofit Bionutrient Food Association. “Everything else is dirt.”

In order to be sure your plants produce the most nutritious produce for your table, he says, “There should always be a large enough amount of soil for a plant to have at least as much mass below ‘ground’ as above.” In other words, your five-foot tomato plant needs more than a six-inch pot on your window ledge to flourish.

Container Gardening

“Container gardens can be wonderful, but better to err on the side of larger than smaller if possible,” Kittredge suggests. The good news is that soil nutrition is not dependent on size, so this approach is  great for people with limited space who want to experience the joys of growing their own vegetables. “Just make sure there is proper drainage,” he recommends.

“Container gardening needs light, airy soil,” notes Lidman. At the end of the growing season, you’re going to replace some of the existing soil with compost if it’s outdoors, she says. That helps keep the microorganisms alive.

The challenges mount when you try cultivating food plants inside, which is increasingly popular, especially among those who want to eat healthfully, but don’t have garden space outdoors.  

Secrets for Successful Indoor Food Plants

Since growing herbs, greens and even small vegetables in the kitchen has been trending even before the pandemic, how do you ensure their success and nutrition? It’s trickier, Lidman admits, particularly since it’s not a space where you’d use fresh compost.

“Indoor plants are a great place to use a bit of liquid organic fertilizer (make sure it is specifically for growing edible vegetables), or – the gold standard,  humus – from worm composting.” This odorless material is “like giving your plants a hug and an ice cream sundae: they will love you forever,” she chuckles.

Another option Lidman suggests is compost tea, allowing some compost you’ve been collecting in a secure container, (perhaps under your sink), to steep in a bucket of water for a few days and then using that water to water your plants. 

Positioning food plants in your home may be the easiest part of the process. There are now indoor grow systems with lights and drainage built into wall cabinetry and islands available through cabinetry makers. There are also plant-growing built-in appliances and countertop models available. Some of the appliance and countertop growers are not soil-based, so they won’t provide the nutrients that thrive in that medium.

Gardening: Container gardens open up veggie opportunities

Nancy Szerlag  |  Special to The Detroit News –

Like a lot of gardeners and gardening wanna-bes, I’ve passed on vegetable gardening  since moving into my condo because of the lack of room to plant.

Container Chard Pot of Gold interests me, because I happen to love chard both raw and cooked.  This easy-to-grow vegetable develops brilliant golden stems as it matures, making it a great choice for containers that grace patios, and they  also make striking additions to mixed beds and borders.

French Mascotte beans

French Mascotte beans  RENEE’S GARDEN

 The website describes container bush beans French Mascotte, a Renee’s garden exclusive, as the first true container green bean variety, developed by expert French breeders. They’re fast growing, compact sturdy plants that are disease resistant and produce heavy yields. They must be great tasting as the French love their beans.

The first one I clicked on was heirloom container tomato Tasmanian Chocolate.  They are described as strong-yielding, short, sturdy vine bearing heavy crops of beautiful, plump, mahogany red faintly striped tomatoes with delicious flavor. A perfect variety to grow in containers or small space gardens. Tasmanian Chocolate tomatoes are heavy for their size, extra juicy and perfect for BLTs, sliced for salads or enjoy in good old-fashioned tomato sandwiches. I never had a home grown mahogany colored tomato I didn’t like and so I can’t turn this one down.

Tasmanian Chocolate Tomatoes

Tasmanian Chocolate Tomatoes  RENEE’S GARDEN

Repurposing containers for growing food crops

A message from Laurie Barrow

We repurpose the large spray containers. These have only had water soluble liquids in them and were flushed and cleaned well. They have made the best planters. I have used them for several years.

I planted lettuces & spinach in the first one in October and with a light plastic cover at night when the temps were below freezing it did pretty well I think!

The bare spots are where the chickens have helped themselves.
Barbara Rowlett Blocker : I had to do a double take when I saw this pic. I drilled drainage holes in some of mine, but my daughter wants to do the rest of them as wicking planters. Have you tried this? Our water here is extremely hard, so to not have to frequently replace the dirt I need to use rainwater.

Malawi: Emergency Agriculture and Food Security Surveillance System (EmA-FSS) Bulletin, Issue 20: 16-28 February 2021


  • The proportion of households relying on food purchase as the main source food increased by 2.3 percent from 72.2 percent in the first half of February to 74.5 percent in the second half of February 2021. The southern region continues to record the highest proportion of households relying on purchase as the main source of food and slightly dropped by 1.3 percent from 83.7 percent in the first half of February to 82.3 percent.
  • Nearly 14.2 percent of the households with livestock reported suspected livestock diseases down from 16.9 percent in the first half of February 2021, representing a 2.7 percent drop. The northern region continues to record the highest proportion of households reporting livestock diseases estimated at 18.7 percent down from 25.9 percent in the first half of February 2021.
  • Nearly 2.0 percent of the households were involved in fishing related livelihood activities, dropping by 0.6 percent from 2.6 percent in the first half of February 2021. The northern region recorded the highest proportion of households involved in fishing related activities estimated at 4.9 percent down from 5.1 percent. 17.1 percent of the households involved in fishing related activities reported some suspected fish diseases, a 4.0 percent increase from 13.1 percent in the first half of February. The northern region continues to record the highest proportion of households reporting fish diseases estimated at 32.3 percent down from 37 percent in the first half of February.
  • The average price of maize per kg dropped by 4.7 percent from MK181.94/kg in the first half of February to MK173.44/kg.
    The southern region continues to record the highest maize prices per kg estimated at MK185.2/kg down from MK197.80/ kg in the first half of February 2021, dropping by 6.4 percent. Average crop prices per kg for selected crops were MK762.43 down from MK775.45 for rice, MK989.35 up from MK962.47 for beans, MK987.23 up from MK907.98 for ground nuts, MK511.65 down from MK547.84 for Irish potatoes, and MK376.46 down from MK378.71for sweet potatoes compared to the first half of February 2021.

From growing food crops in containers towards a productive raised bed with bricks

A message from Heather Lee

It took me only 5 minutes to clean this and… no digging weeds this year because I layed down landscaping fabric last year. The weeds rolled right up with the fabric. The second picture is last year. I just layed down mulch.

Avoid problems with your garden soil : grow potatoes in containers

A message from Kenny CalzoneJacksonville, Florida

I got a little inpatient with my Red Norland Potatoes and ended up dumping one of the pots. One 30 gallon fabric pot yielded a little over 4 lbs. Looks like I should have waited a little longer seeing how there are a bunch of small tubers still growing. I’ll wait a little while longer before I harvest the rest of them. Lesson learned! At least I have about 6 or 7 more pots growing!

How to Grow Potatoes in Bags or Containers in a Small Garden


Growing Potatoes in Bags and Containers

If you only have a small garden, like myself, you can still plant and enjoy a good potato crop. I show you each stage of planting, growing and harvesting potatoes. Step by step instructions with videos and photos. There are three distinct times to plant out your seed potatoes. I have outlined each one below.

Tips for Growing Early Seed Potatoes

Preparation of the seed potatoes a few weeks before you plant them out is essential for a good crop. You can plant early seed potatoes in containers in late February to March. Keep the tender shoots protected from frost by covering the soil with straw or a plastic sheet. These are the potato variety that I planted last year and I got a great crop from them.

Early potatoes grow quickly and you can harvest a nice crop in about eight weeks.
You will know it is nearly time to pick them when the flowers begin to bloom. Wait a couple of weeks and then lift the plants up out of the dirt to expose the new potatoes. Only harvest what you are going to eat for the next couple of days. The remainder left in the containers will still continue to grow.

Second Early Seed Potatoes

These can be planted from March to April. They will take more time to grow. They will be ready to be harvested in about fourteen to sixteen weeks. You will get a better yield from this crop.

Main Crop Seed Potatoes

You can plant these in April or early May. These will take the longest to grow. They take about eighteen to twenty weeks until they can be harvested. The main crop yields the largest amount of potatoes.

What Size Containers Can I Use?

The container should be at least fifteen to twenty inches in depth and a bit wider at least in width. A large bag will be these measurements in depth so the wider the bag, the more you can plant.

Preparing the Seed Potatoes

When you buy seed potatoes, you will notice they have very small sprouts or eyes coming out of them. You want to encourage growth of these shoots before they are planted.

This Process Is Called Chitting

  1. Put them, with the eyes facing up, onto a plate or flat surface.
  2. Place them in a sunny, light, and warm place. If planting in February or March this might be indoors.
  3. It should take about four to six days for the shoots to grow.
  4. Use the best to plant out, those with at least two to three sprouts on them. This gives them a head start in the growing process once they are planted outside.

How to Look After Potato Plants as They Grow

For whatever container you are using, carry out the same steps:

  1. Make sure the containers you are using have good drainage.
  2. Add compost to fill a third of the container.
  3. How many potatoes you plant in each container depends on how large it is. Remember, you need to leave room for them to grow.
  4. Place the seed potato with the shoots facing up.
  5. Cover until only the shoots are above the compost.
  6. Water the pot to settle the plant.
  7. When the shoots are about ten inches high, add more compost.
  8. When they grow bigger, do the same again until there is no more room.
  9. Water when needed.

When is it Time to Harvest Potatoes?

You will know the potatoes are growing successfully when the flowers have been blooming for a couple of weeks. Continue to add soil to the bag and to water.them.

After another few weeks you will see that the flowers die off. Wait until the leaves start to wither as well. You will know the potatoes are ready to harvest when all the leaves have died.

Do you know one can transform a plastic drum into a garden tower instead of buying such an expensive model ? 100 % effective !

A message from Wendy Summerton Silveira

I planted it up yesterday – 50 plants in the 5 growth rings and heirloom carrots at the top. The arrival of the red wiggler worms for the central column will complete it. Angus, my gardening co-pilot, is to the right of the plant. Feeling fortunate and excited, and wow are we going to be eating lettuce soon!

Some vegetable scraps can help to grow some fresh food. Would it help to offer some vitamins to the kids ?

A message from Laura Helen Morris

These are vegetable scrap tops and roots growing in 1\4 inch of water in a metal pan. I will pot some of them in one week. The little green onions were less than a week in water. The rubber band helps them stand they were cut les to less than one inch.

Year-round gardening: ProMedica Farms shares tips for indoor, outdoor gardens at home

Peppers and onions do well in colder weather, while tomatoes, shallots and carrots are among the many veggies that can be grown in containers indoors.Peppers and onions do well in colder weather, while tomatoes, shallots and carrots are among the many veggies that can be grown in containers indoors.  PROMEDICA PHOTO


When it comes to having fresh produce in your diet, nothing beats going straight from plant to plate by growing your own fruits and vegetables.

And you don’t even need a yard in order to do it — a container on your porch or balcony, or even an indoor window box, can provide a surprising variety of produce. 

“Having an at-home garden is one of the best ways to have fresh produce,” said Frank Nagle, manager of population health and community relations for ProMedica. 

He’s worked with ProMedica Farms on the grounds of ProMedica Charles and Virginia Hickman Hospital in Adrian since the farm’s inception in 2017.

At the grocery store, “you’re at the mercy of what’s in stock and what’s in season. You can’t beat having it fresh out of the soil,” he said.  

Getting started

Now that it’s spring, the time is, well, ripe for thinking about starting your own backyard or container garden.

You might even be surprised to discover the range of produce a Michigan growing season allows you to produce, Nagle said, because vegetables such as peppers and onions do well even in colder weather, while tomatoes, shallots and carrots are among the many veggies that can be grown even in containers indoors. 

Tomatoes, peppers and zucchini are considered great starter crops for first-time gardeners because they’re fairly easy to grow.

Tomatoes, peppers and zucchini are considered great starter crops for first-time gardeners because they’re fairly easy to grow.  PROMEDICA PHOTO

So where to start? The idea of creating a backyard garden can seem daunting, but there are plenty of resources available to help you channel your inner farmer.

The MSU Extension Service’s website, for example, has everything you need to know to grow fruits and vegetables both indoors and outdoors by visiting

A handy calendar lays out what you need to do in order to get the most out of your home garden, and a wealth of articles cover topics including planning your garden, keeping pesky bugs away, overwintering container plants and explaining where plants grow best.

It’s true that having a garden requires regular watering, weeding and general tending to the plants, but what it actually doesn’t require is massive amounts of space.

“It comes down to, ‘How much time do I want to spend on it?’” Nagle said, explaining that a plot as small as 8 feet by 10 feet, or even 8-by-15, “is pretty manageable for one person.” 

Time to plant

Once you have your plot ready, what should you plant in it?

Tomatoes and peppers are pretty easy to grow, Nagle said, but veggies like kale and Swiss chard can also thrive in a backyard garden. Nagle also suggests trying your hand at cucumbers, zucchini, spinach and even corn.

And if you really want to grow something on the more interesting side — especially if you have kids — you can’t beat broccoli, Brussels sprouts and peas, he said.

At ProMedica Farms, schoolchildren who’ve come to visit are fascinated to see what broccoli looks like when it’s still on the plant, and as for peas, “to watch them grow up a trellis and be harvested is really cool,” Nagle said. 

Many of ProMedica’s fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in a hoop house, a planting area made of metal framing and a heavy-duty plastic film that provides solar heating and protection from the elements.

Many of ProMedica’s fresh fruits and vegetables are grown in a hoop house, a planting area made of metal framing and a heavy-duty plastic film … Show more   PROMEDICA PHOTO

Don’t forget the fruit, either. Your garden also can be home to a number of different berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries, that are pretty easy to grow and are fairly manageable, he explained. 

And when your recipe needs a sprig of rosemary or a pinch of thyme, there’s nothing better than having it right on hand, whether in your backyard garden or growing in a box on your kitchen windowsill.

Herbs such as these, and parsley, too, “are low maintenance enough to be able to easily do indoors,” Nagle said, adding that they’re great either used fresh or dried for later use. 

It’s important to plant your new seeds or starter plants with room to grow, make sure your soil has the right amendments such as fertilizers and, of course, give your garden enough water. In the height of summer, it might even be necessary to water a couple of times a day to keep your plants healthy and thriving.

A sprinkler or a soaker hose can make that task easier. 

No space? No problem

But what if you don’t have a yard to plant a garden in, or you simply want to just grow a few tomatoes, peppers or other produce, instead of having an entire garden?

Containers are a great way to grow all sorts of things on your porch or even on your balcony if you live in an apartment. Just make sure the containers are large enough for your plants and have the necessary drainage. 

One advantage to container gardening, besides the fact that you don’t need a yard, is that your plants can be brought indoors when the weather gets colder.

With the right lighting — either natural lighting or special lightbulbs that mimic natural sunlight — and keeping the containers far enough away from windows so that your plants don’t get too cold, you can even have some fresh produce year-round. 

No matter how your garden grows — in the ground or in a container — the advantages to planting your own vegetables and fruits are many, compared to buying it at the grocery store, Nagle said.

“You’ll have higher-quality produce when it’s right off the vine or right off the stalk,” he said. “And with just a little sweat equity and time, you can significantly reduce your costs.” 

Plus, when you have fresh, inexpensive veggies and fruits right at hand, “it makes it easier to make that healthier choice,” he added. “And it can be done anywhere — a yard, a balcony, a porch, a windowsill.

“There are so many options for people to be able to participate in gardening. I encourage everybody to just give it a shot.” 

How to start a vegetable garden

The Detroit Lakes Tribune is introducing a new gardening column this week, courtesy of the Becker County Master Gardeners. The Master Gardener program is offered by the University of Minnesota Extension Service. If you have an interest in plants and gardening and would enjoy sharing that interest with others, apply at the Becker County Extension Office to become a volunteer Master Gardener.Written By: JoAnn Dobis / Becker County Extension Master Gardener.

Vegetable gardens can be a simple way to ease into gardening as a hobby — or they can be a way to supply your family with all their fresh vegetable needs during the growing season. (Submitted photo)

Vegetable gardens can be a simple way to ease into gardening as a hobby — or they can be a way to supply your family with all their fresh vegetable needs during the growing season. (Submitted photo)

Liberty gardens were planted all over the world during World War I. These vegetable gardens were a way to combat food shortages, high food prices, have fresh home grown produce and show support for your country. During World War II the concept was reintroduced as the National Victory Garden. Today, while we are battling the war against the COVID-19 virus, the idea of home gardening has once again emerged.

The thought of starting and maintaining a garden may be overwhelming. The great thing about gardening is it can be a simple, easy project that can stay small and uncomplicated. Alternately, it may be expanded over time to become a new hobby which can produce most of your fresh vegetables during the growing season.

The location of your garden is one of the most important aspects of starting a garden. Vegetables grow best in a sunny location with at least 6 hours (8 to 10 hours is ideal) of full sun. It is best if the garden plot is level. South-facing locations are warmer in spring and fall and are less subject to frost damage. Try to avoid low-lying locations, due to poor drainage and early fall frost, and areas near roads or sidewalks because the soil may have contaminants such as ice-melting treatments. Locating the garden close to your home will make it easier to maintain the garden and to enjoy seeing the vegetables grow.

Soil quality is very important. Vegetables prefer loose, well-drained soil that does not puddle after heavy rains. If the soil is heavy and does not drain well, it should be improved, or amended, by adding ingredients to change soil quality.

Another important ingredient in gardening is water. Locating the garden near a clean water source makes it easy keep the garden watered. Watering vegetables with recaptured rainwater that is stored in a rain barrel is often discouraged due to pathogens that may be present from bird droppings. However, rain barrel water can be used to water nonedible plants such as flowers and shrubs.

The type of garden planted is limited only by the imagination. Container gardening has become very popular in recent years. Annual flowers are routinely seen in containers, but vegetables can also be grown in containers. On a patio you can use flowerpots, old buckets, raised garden containers, or any other container you choose. It is important to make sure there is a drainage hole in the bottom of the container to ensure proper drainage for the vegetables. Raised beds allow the gardener to concentrate soil preparation to a small area and have the potential to grow an abundance of produce in a small space. Beds, usually 3 to 4 feet wide, can be worked from each side saving gardening space. Also, the traditional method of tilling the ground planting a garden in that area is always an option. Lastly, straw bale gardening is an inexpensive, quick gardening solution that can be placed anywhere, including hard surfaces such as concrete or asphalt.


Growing vegetables and herbs in buckets and raised beds with hoops

A message from Logan Leroux

My nightshade garden. Uses a modified Alaskan grow bucket system. No power needed. Below is my raised hoop house beds with sprinklers.

Who says it’s difficult to grow tomatoes ?

10 Tomatoes to Grow in Your Container Garden

By Colleen Vanderlinden

It’s hard to beat the taste of a ripe tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) plucked straight from the vine, and there’s no more convenient way to harvest them than from a container garden on your patio or deck. A well-supported heirloom slicer like black krim or a small, clustered cherry variety are both excellent options for growing in a container.

Here are 10 tomato varieties to grow in your container garden.



See also Orina Dominic’s message :

Who doesn’t love celery?! We can all grow it in a container

A message from JoLynn Aitken

Who doesn’t love celery?! Celery might just be my favorite to grow indoors. We are so exited to have some growing since seeds right at our finger tips! Caesars, salads, stews, snacks – it might be our most consumed vegetable. So I decided this year I would grow more of it! Can’t wait to eat it all.

Don’t be afraid of droughts or floods : Grow Garlic Indoors

How to Grow Garlic Indoors?

How to Grow Garlic Indoors
How to Grow Garlic Indoors

Growing garlic indoors is one of the best ways for beginners to learn some basic principles of indoor growing and learn more on How to Grow Garlic Indoors.

Garlic plant is one of the easiest vegetable plants to grow whether indoors in container or outdoors.

Information to Getting Started Growing Garlic Indoors in your Home

  • Choosing & Planting the seeds

What you need to know about which seeds you should pick for the best crop.

Garlic plants usually grow from separate cloves of the bulb.

There are two main types of garlic: White and pink. White is usually a lot easier to grow indoors and will usually grow faster.

Garlic will do well in almost any soil provided you allow enough depth for the roots to grow.

Plant cloves 3 inches apart or 3 inches away from any other plants and 2 inches deep.

Provide adequate drainage so that the roots do not get waterlogged.

  • Light & Temperature

How to provide the correct environment for your plants to ensure growth.

Garlic Bulbs will tend to grow in almost any light. As long as you provide a window that gets plenty of light.

As with a lot of plants, the growth will only be improved by longer durations of bright light, but it is possible to bring plants to maturity by providing just a few hours of sunlight every day. This can also be supplemented with some fluorescent lighting as well.

Temperature is not a big factor for growing garlic bulbs, as the plants can survive in all but the coldest conditions

Read MoreHow to Grow Garlic in Your Garden

  • Watering Bulbs Indoors

Watering techniques specifically for garlic gloves.

Garlic is a plant that will thrive on being allowed to become dry and then given a good watering. When the plant is growing to be about 1ft high, then you should prolong the periods of time between watering the plant. Watering methods like this will make the bulb of the plant grow whilst slowing the growth of the stems.

  • Feeding & Nutrition

How to make sure that your plants get all the nutrients that they need in order to survive and produce harvests!

You should not need to feed your garlic plant at all.

  • Harvesting Garlic Bulbs

How to collect your fruit safely and how to maximize crop growth for the future.

The garlic is ready when the stems of the garlic plant have stopped growing altogether and they have dried out and wilt. Just pull the garlic Plant gently from the soil. Leave it to dry in a cool spot that receives indirect sunlight then remove the roots and the stems before storing.

Growing garlic indoors is very easy as long as you follow these guidelines.

Yes, you can grow zucchinis, squash and beans at home !

A message from Steph MilaszewskiRaymond, New Hampshire

My zucchini and summer squash are budding and I have beans.

If people can grow food crops on the 5th floor, is should be even easier to grow food in containers in Malawi

A message from Samina Tahir

And if smartphones can not help to alleviate hunger and malnutrition, there is always container gardening

This is probably not a joke :

KaiOS teams up with Justdiggit to connect rural communities

Paul Hill @ziks297 · Feb 25, 2021 14:40 EST1

A group of people using KaiOS-powered phones

KaiOS Technologies, the firm behind KaiOS, has announced a new partnership with Justdiggit, a Dutch-based foundation concerned with restoring degraded ecosystems. The two firms will supply 300 rural farmers in Tanzania with KaiOS smart feature phones to get information to them that will improve their livelihoods and help them to regreen their farms to fight desertification.

Each of the devices come pre-loaded with a new Regreen App that has been developed by KaiOS. The content in the application is sourced from Justdiggit which advocates proven and scalable regreening techniques that have already been used on 60,000 hectares of farmland in Africa in three years.

According to KaiOS, the threat of desertification and droughts in Africa is huge. It said that 350 million smallholder farmers already deal with these problems or are expected to in the coming years and they can lead to a range of problems including failed harvests and poverty which subsequently creates climate refugees who move to different parts of the world looking for a new way to get by.

KaiOS phones are designed to be affordable and bridge the gap between feature phones and smartphones. While they typically use a feature phone design, they are equipped with apps such as WhatsApp, Google Maps, YouTube and Facebook. Bringing these devices to the 300 participants, not only helps them better manage their farms but also helps to close the digital divide.

As an additional benefit to recipients, KaiOS devices come equipped with the Life app which can help provide users with health advice, financial education, digital skills and more.

After using the devices for several weeks, KaiOS was keen to find out from participants whether they would pay for a device with 52% saying they would spend between $22-28. The firm said that devices with KaiOS already exist in the price range and that it’s a positive sign for the scalability and sustainability of this initiative.

KaiOS is going to work with other partners in the future to scale up this initiative so that it can get devices into the hands of farmers across the African continent.


If 350.000.000 smallholder farmers in Africa can’t reduce the malnutrition and hunger of their kids with these smartphones of $22-28, we could perhaps think at showing them how easy it is to grow food crops in all kinds of free containers, starting with the free seeds in the fruits actually available at every African market.

At the end of the day even people afffected with Alzheimer will understand this.

We sincerely hope that container gardening will be part of the food security research

New grants spark food security research in Africa

By Kelly Merchan |

 March 3, 2021

Two graduate students working with Professor Rachel Bezner Kerr have received funding for research focused on increasing food security from the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability.

Doctoral students Emily Baker and Emily Hillenbrand received funding aligned with Cornell Atkinson’s food security working group. The group aims to bring together people from across campus and beyond to tackle a set of transdisciplinary collaborative projects that address food security challenges requiring both research and action, at scales from local to global.

Each received $7,000 grants for food security research centered in Africa.

“I am delighted and proud that Emily Baker and Emily Hillenbrand have both received this award, which will support community-engaged research focused on long-term food security solutions that build equitable and sustainable communities in several regions of Africa,” said Bezner Kerr, professor of global development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Bezner Kerr’s long-term research in Malawi and Tanzania tests the impacts of agroecological approaches on livelihoods, nutrition and sustainable land management for rural communities.

 “Both doctoral students have a deep commitment to rigorous, applied research with many years of experience, and so it is exciting to see their research get supported,” Bezner Kerr said.

“Novel approaches like these help interdisciplinary research efforts take root,” said David Lodge, the Francis J. DiSalvo Director of the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. “By marrying innovative early-career scholars with established faculty researchers, our small grants program aims to launch efforts toward a pathway to impact. I have no doubt that the community-level engagement will lead to real-world food security solutions.”

Emily Baker: “Participatory Agrobiodiversity Mapping Informs Sustainable Livelihoods, Food Security, and Socio-ecological Resilience


Growing mint in fabric pots

A message from Netra Manjunath

So here’s my mint in a container. I usually grow everything in fabric pots. This container is about 24*10 inches, and I now have enough mint to last a long, long time. I also use mint to make hydrosols etc. To grow mint from cuttings, I remove the leaves and plant them in a seedling tray until they grow at least 4-5 inches long and develop roots. Then, I plant them in final containers. The key is to keep the soil moist until they are ready, which is why I use a DIY dome. If you want to see how I do this, here’s a video –

This is a step by step guide to growing Mint or Pudina on your balcony, terrace, or ground. It’s very easy to maintain. Just use compost or manure every 15 days and you can start harvesting pudina leaves in just 20 days. This is one of the best methods to grow pudina at home.

Raised beds with trellis : a success !

Raised beds are a fantastic solution for Malawi.

A message from Sharon Barnes

This is my garden in raised beds a couple of years ago, when I accidentally mixed up my seeds and thought I was growing squash on this trellis, but it ended up being pumpkin!

Carol Lee Anderson : I once had a spaghetti squash plant that climbed up my lilac bush, it was really cool to see spaghetti squash growing in the lilac bush.

Zoryanna Post : I love this trellis idea! I also have raised beds and I have the wire (concrete reinforcement wire) that I could use. Thank you for posting this Sharon Barnes even though this was all about the pumpkins.

Use planter boxes made from a pallets

A message from Amber Bridges

This is a planter box my husband and I built from salvaged pallets. We’ve planted some ground cherries and herbs in the top. There are strawberries on the side.

Gillian Cooke : Judt watched a video on container planting strawberries and they suggested to plant allysum with it, it brings in the pollinators for more strawberries. And I bet it would look pretty next to the berries.

Natascha Veninga : Doesn’t the sand fall out from the sides or do you have netting? Amber Bridges : Natascha Veninga it is lined with landscape fabric.

Recommended for Malawi : a veggie patch in the garden

A message from Rebecca Peiris

I have been busy moving a few of my raised beds around to allow for a better walkway through the garden. I have added a few more pavers which still need to be leveled and rocks that need to be moved. I’m in the progress of making changes to my fruit tree area also, I’ll show you that soon too.

This could be a perfect solution for Malawian families to be protected aagainst severe droughts or floods.