My teepee live greenhouse, a solution for arid regions (Willem Van Cotthem)

In October-November 2010 branches of the Navajo willow were planted in my Belgian garden.  The branches (cuttings) rooted and in Spring and Summer 2011 developed into a living greenhouse, having the form of teepee.  One can also construct similar greenhouses in the form of a tunnel, or any other greenhouse form.

The remarkable thing is that this Navajo willow is normally growing in arid or semi-arid regions, e.g. Arizona.  It shows that people in the drylands can build living greenhouses with this interesting, drought-tolerant plant species (Salix matsudana).

2011-08-16 – The tipi live greenhouse in my garden in Zaffelare (Belgium) – (Photo Martine Daubremé)

This kind of living greenhouse can be used as a pleasant shady shelter in hot regions, having also a higher air humidity inside by transpiration of the leaves, but also as an excellent protected space for growing young plants (seedlings, saplings), a sort of nursery shelter.

I strongly recommend to set up trials with this willow in arid countries.  Once a living teepee or living tunnel is growing, one can cut the young shoots to continuously produce new greenhouses (multiplication without any cost).

2011-08-16 – Branches of the Navajo willow have been woven between the teepee poles and the horizontal bamboo pieces. Planted in November 2010, these branches formed numerous new shoots, thus creating a shady shelter. Such a teepee can easily grow in arid regions – (Photo Martine Daubremé)

Taking into account that everyone can construct such an indestructible greenhouse at practically no cost at all (it suffices to lay hand upon some Navajo willow cuttings) and that a never ending series of similar greenhouses can be generated in arid areas without any supplementary cost, it should be clear to people involved in dryland development that this Navajo willow is A REAL JEWEL.

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Willem Van Cotthem

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