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Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

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Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  pcvmorocco on 2/16/2012, 3:49 pm

Hello. I am a peace corps volunteer in Morocco and one of my projects is creating a school garden in one of the primary schools. I am going to attempt the square foot gardening method since it seems to lend itself well to school gardens. I may have more questions later but a basic one I have concerns the soil mixture. We will have the compost and I'm pretty sure I can get peat moss here as well. However, I cannot obtain vermiculite in Morocco. Is this an issue?

Appreciate the help
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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  walshevak on 2/16/2012, 4:48 pm

How exciting to work in Moroccol First thing, do you have access to the All New SquareFoot Gardening book. It will become your basic guidebook. In it is information on "square meter' gardens in countries other than the US. And it clearly explains that in countries where vermiculite and peat are unavailable, pure compost is fine. Also, check the foundation website on the top of this forum homepage and see what the they are doing in other countries. Contacting the foundation might also be a source of inspiration if not actual assistance. Also look at the foreign regional subforums within this one to see what others that don't have access to the mighty Mel's Mix are doing to have successful gardens.

AND MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A CAMERA HANDY. WE ARE SUCKERS FOR PICTURES.

Kay

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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  pcvmorocco on 2/16/2012, 5:20 pm

Thanks so much!!

I do have the book. (Courtesy of the Peace Corps library in Rabat). I basically read through the book but somehow skipped over that one line in the humanitarian section. I'm very excited about the project as it will benefit the school, the children and the local women's association who will be helping to run the project. I have zero gardening experience but have been reading up on it. I will be sure to post some pictures!

A few more questions since they are in my mind.

Would you still recommend peat moss if accessible?
Is it better for the garden boxes to have a ply wood bottom? (I will be doing 5 3X3 boxes and assigning two students to each box making 5 teams of 12 students)

My hope is to have finished compost by mid march (Haven't started yet but there is an abundance of material in my town, lots of vegetable scraps and animals (Donkey manure is similar to horse manure?) Start planting the end of march to be harvested before school ends in the beginning of June.

I need to find which plants have a short growing period and perhaps I am being too ambitious to fit this all in before the summer?
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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  walshevak on 2/16/2012, 5:59 pm

If peat is available and not outrageously expensive, I would use it. But if the purpose is to teach self sufficiency to small families, then maybe not. Go with what the population can get. I happen to like my beds off the ground because of age and bad knee issues and use wire bottoms lined with weedblock cloth or heavy plastic.

Is the local soil contaminated? Is there a problem with burrowing critters under the beds? Is wood readily available? Would local clay brick make better beds?

Most people here just put thick newspaper layers or cardboard on the ground, put the box on top, fill it up and grow unless there are specific issues. Some dig out the grass first.

From the Asian threads.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4571-mel-s-mix-ingredients-alternatives

When I was in the Philippines last Sep., I watched a missionary teaching composting to some locals. They built a 2 block deep pit of cinder blocks and layered water buffelo manure, chopped banana trunks, chicken manure and any other green and dried plant life they could machetti down. Then they added some liquid which they claimed was a starter and covered with a tarp. I was talking to the lady and she said that they would lift the tarp after 2 weeks and add worms. Expected time for finished compost in the PI heat was 1 to 1 1/2 months. Then it was to be mixed with charred, not burnt, rice hulls and planted in. I wasn't there to see the finished product on that bed, but they had spread some on top of very rocky, poor quality soil and had quite an impressive garden growing. A lot of it was under a shade cloth because of the intense heat.

I would find a local farmer and ask what grows well in Morocco and then just tranfer that knowledge from his row garden to your square foot garden.

If you have a big bug problem, try finding a fine mesh net like fabric to put over the plants that don't need insect pollination.

Is water going to be an issue? Rain barrels!!!!

You will learn so much from both your local people and from the book and this forum.

Kay


Last edited by walshevak on 2/16/2012, 6:07 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  sfg4uKim on 2/16/2012, 6:06 pm

WOW! I was just talking about Morocco with the receptionist at my mom's assisted living facility.

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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  sfg4uKim on 2/16/2012, 6:09 pm

If they add peat, what would you suggest? 2/3 compost & 1/3 peat? Or . . . ?

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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  walshevak on 2/16/2012, 6:27 pm

As a certified SFG teacher, what would you advise? The local aboretum plants in 1/2 peat and 1/2 turkey/pine (10% turkey manure) compost in their raised beds. They also use 12-16" deep beds. What a waste.

Kay

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Elizabeth City, NC
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Re: Peace Corps Volunteer- School Garden

Post  sfg4uKim on 2/16/2012, 6:38 pm

Not quite sure. I've turned it over to the Foundation since they would have more experience than me.

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