What is urban farming? A solution!

What is urban farming and its benefits? Growing enough food in the garden for one, or many families, to survive on. Urban agriculture saved Cuba from going under, and it can save the world from looming food challenges.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, Cuba lost its main food provider and were thrown in the deep end. This was the time of dig-deep and stand together.

Their plan of action however proved successful and the world can now benefit from their lessons learned. Cuba looked at available land and started growing food as fast as possible. Rice, citrus, tomatoes and greens, potatoes and bananas are the crops they focused on (which replaced the once all important sugar cane mono crop).

What is urban farming in terms of effort and planning? We have outlined the basic how-to’s of urban gardening here https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/26/farming-urban-backyard-homestead/ with very easy to follow guidelines and how to create your own successful allotment.

Due to a lack of synthetic control measures, Cuba had to (fortunately) resort to biological control including compost (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/06/diy-compost-easily), companion planting (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/28/companion-planting/) and attracting beneficial insects (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/10/30/bee-gardening/).

About 5 years after their food imports came to a halt, Havana itself had 25,000 family-and urban cooperative tended vegetable allotments.

Thanks to constant soil improvement (see these easy tips on improving soil health: https://gardeningeden.net/category/soilhealth/) and regenerative and permacultural gardening (https://gardeningeden.net/2019/11/04/permaculture-abundance/) methods, these allotments soon produced food all year round. Single crop (mono culture) spaces such as sugarcane farms, largely came to an end, to make way for organic food-producing land.

We need to remember that all climates differ and growing according your climate can easily be summarized as follows:
-Grow most leafy (salad) greens and vegetables during a warm summer when sunshine is available.

-Fruit (shrubs, creepers and trees) are best planted in the early spring in a moderate climate. 

-Root vegetables such as beetroot can be planted at the end of summer for maturing during autumn/fall.

-High-yielding winter grains like rye is best grown in cold, wet climates. Corn and rice for example are better suited to warm, moderate climates.

“For other countries vulnerable to sudden loss of food supplies, Cuba’s experience suggests that urban farming can be one way of staving off potential famine when imports are restricted, expensive or simply unobtainable.” By Climate News Network, 13 Nov. 2019.

This wonderful video should be titled: what Cuba can teach the world about organic farming

Evening Primrose Plant Uses and Care

Evening Primrose Plant Uses and Care: Oenothera biennis at a glance: Indigenous to USA; 50cm – 2m
Planting position: Full sun.
Suitable for all growing regions without humidity.
Requires a little watering during ongoing dry spells.
Sandy soil.
Watch out for fungal diseases, snails and aphids.
Propagate from spring-sown (in situ) seed.

Truly a biennial, but treated as an annual this species produces fragrant yellow flowers, which open towards evening, thus the name. These summer flowersare hibiscus-like and its foliage is prominently mid-ribbed.
O. macrocarpa (30cm) is a smaller variety with yellow summer flowers.

This 1 – 2m tall plant lives 2 years, but self-sows and is perfect for dry, open soils in full sun. As Evening Primrose Plant Uses range from edible to medicinal – this plant is a must have, especially in coastal drought-stricken gardens. It does not need a lot of water and needs to be left alone.

Evening Primrose seeds can be sown in sown in autumn or very early spring.

The yellow spring- and summer flowers only appear at night or on overcast days and each flower lasts a single night. These flowers can be smelled from afar as they also have a strong lemon scent. The small seed pods appear at the end of summer and contain many red seeds.

Evening Primrose Plant Uses: food

All of the Evening Primrose is edible.
– The highly nutritius (pre-flowering, early spring) Evening primrose leaves contain tannins, flavonoids, mucilage and sugar, resin and phytosterols. Add them to your diet and menu as you would baby spinach.
– Evening Primrose seeds are high in proteïn, oil and essential amino acids.
– The (young) stems are peeled first and then eaten raw, steamed or fried.
– The fruit, or seed pods make a good flash-fried snack with dip.
– The edible spring and summer flowers are sweet and can be added to deserts, salads or as garnish.
– Treat and eat the roots like any root vegetale. Roots from pre-flowering young plants are best.

Evening Primrose Plant Uses: Medicinal

The flowers and seeds are harvested during summer to be dried for teas or to extract the oils. The entire plant can be dried in autum, after flowering, for herbal use later.

Evening Primrose seeds are known for their amazing oil – which has been used to treat eczema, the Sjögren-syndrome, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal symptoms, polyarthritis and multiple sclerosis.

The Native Americans traditionally boiled the entire plant as a tonic tea for energy. They also recommended the roots as an external treatment for piles and boils.

Medicinally, Evening primrose can be consumed as dried – in the case of leaves and flowers – as well as oils – and capsules is the most common form.

Experts advice should always be seeked before self-medicating and recommend dosage amounts should strictly be kept to.

Caution should especially (but not solely) be taken by:
– pregnant and breastfeeding mothers;
– people prone to epilepsy, seizure disorders, schizophrenia or mania;
– patients with bleeding disorders or taking medicine that may increase bleeding as Evening Primrose can increase the risk further.

Evening Primrose Plant Uses: Permaculture
– The night flowers attract night time pollinators
– Considered to be allelopathic to weeds by interfering with  the germination and growth of weeds.

– Because of the above reason, this is an excellent addition for a garden as cover-crop.  Match it with a legume as it needs a bit of nitrogen.

Other Common Names and Synonyms:
Fever plant, great evening-primrose, kings-cure-all, night willow-herb, scabish, scurvish, tee primrose, sun drop, suncups,
Brunyera biennis Bubani,
Oenothera chicaginensis
Oenothera chicagoensis,
Oenothera grandiflora,
Oenothera muricata,
Oenothera pycnocarpa,
Oenothera renneri,
Oenothera rubricaulis,
Oenothera stenopetala,
Oenothera suaveolens,
Onagra biennis,
Onagra muricata

Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for food & medicine

Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb

Indigenous to N. America; 1 – 1,5m
Plant Goldenrod in the right  position: Full sun. Suitable for all growing regions, with additional summer watering when needed. Provide wind-protection where you Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb.

Requires regular watering. Well-draining soil. Spring application of complete fertiliser.Cutting back of stems after flowering.
Propagate from division after flowering, every two years.

Solidago, or known as goldenrods, has between 100 and 120 flowering species in the Asteraceae (aster) family. These plants grow so srong that they are both considered a sign of good fortune or seen as invasive weeds. Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for permaculture and medicinal uses, to ensure you experience their good fortune.

These perennial plants love to grow in meadows, prairies, and savannas and Solidago species grow from rhizomes.

The summer and autumn / fall flower heads can easily grow 30cm long, with bright yellow daisy-like flowers. The growing shape is upright and bushy with narrow leaves.

Excellent companion plants include (imagine a wild pollinator-attractive border):
– Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian sage
– Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ – Montbretia
– Helenium ‘Waltraut’ – Sneezeweed
– Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ – Autumn Joy

Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for permaculture and medicinal uses – and besides, they are edible! Edible parts include the young leaves and seeds of some species. Herbal teas are sometimes made.

Medicinal properties and uses also include a mouth rinse for inflammation of the mouth and throat. Topically it is applied directly to the skin to treat eczema, wash wounds and improve healing.
Goldenrod herb is used to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, as a diuretic, to treat muscle spasms, gout, rheumatism and arthritis.

Frequent contact with goldenrod can cause allergic reactions for some.
Please always seek professional health advice before self medicating with herbs. Caution should especially be taken by pregnancy and breast-feeding mothers.

Organic farmers love to Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for permaculture benefits. Goldenrods are extremely popular nectar spots for bees and butterflies. These plants stabilize soil and grow very strong- they do not require any attention.

Goldenrod species are used as a food source by the larvae of many butterfly species. A great idea to nake this herb work for you, is to plant a border, or prairy frame, a little out of the way. This will be a nursery for butterfly pollinators and a nectar pitstop for your bees.

Woodpeckers are known to also frequent goldenrods as their supermarkets. Rhey feast on insects inside the gall centers. And woodpeckers of course add to your natural and free pest control.

Common names, synonyms and cultivated spesies are: Aaron’s Rod, Baguette d’Aaron, Canadian Goldenrod, Early Goldenrod, European Goldenrod, Gerbe d’Or, Herbe des Juifs, Solidage, Solidage du Canada, Solidago canadensis, Solidago gigantea, Solidago longifolia, Solidago serotina, Solidago virgaurea, Vara de Oro, Verge d’Or, Woundwort,
Actipsis Rafinesque,
Aster Linnaeus subg. Solidago (Linnaeus),
Leioligo Rafinesque, Solidago bicolor, Solidago caesia, Solidago canadensis, Solidago cutleri, Solidago riddellii, Solidago rigida, Solidago shortii, and Solidago virgaurea