Vertical gardening in containers against urban desertification (J. HOGAN-DONALDSON / LA Times / Willem)

Message from Jazmine Hogan-Donaldson :

Many thanks for your Desertification blog. Last year I volunteered in Burkina Faso for Helen Keller International. I’m always looking for news about Burkina and came across your blog from a Google search. I saw the following article in today’s Los Angeles Times and thought you might find it of some interest:,0,872568.story

Best regards,


Food garden blooms on skid row wall

Fruits, vegetables and herbs tended by formerly homeless residents cover urban gray.

By Cara Mia DiMassa, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 14, 2008


Very interesting article in the LA Times, showing how important container gardening on city walls can be in these times of food crisis, particularly for people living in difficult circumstances.

Combating hunger, offering ways of improving public health, alleviating poverty, combating urban desertification with vertical gardening in containers, it is simple and efficient.

Some people find solutions in “guerilla gardening”, a descriptive term with rather negative connotations, although it carries a lot of positive elements in its objectives.

Growing vegetables in containers on a grid against a wall opens new doors : food production in our cities, embellishment of our neighborhood, creation of a team spirit, …

This Los Angeles example should be followed and multiplied in many other towns and cities. Why shouldn’t it be adopted by the “Green Movement”, the “Ecologists”, the supporters of “Biological Gardening”, etc.

I feel like a fan for this idea. Thanks, Jazmine, for informing me !


Unusual container gardening : Young walnut tree growing in a PET bottle of which the lower part is used as a water tank, the inversed upper part as a substrate (with potting soil). This is a water saving device (less evaporation and top of soil can be covered with a mulch layer, e.g. sand or little stones). The same “bottle gardening” is used for vegetable production (see bottles in the background standing against the black wall of my birds cage). More info on bottle gardening against a vertical wall can be found on my second blog :


Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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