Teaching children about soil preparation, planting, and harvest is a part of life here at Camino al Cielo. We are experimenting with new agriculture methods. Curiosity, and invention is evident in our gardens. Thanks for taking time to see our pictures and follow our progress.
This is our wall garden. Over 1500 vegetables which include spinach, lettuce, onions, beets, radishes, tomatoes, and swiss chard. 

The start was an experiment to see if the soil nutrients could be stabilized and the soil would not fall out. Through trial and error we had some success. Our garden project is now to the point that we can sell produce, This can easily be maintained by our students who can simply place tongue depressors in the soil to claim their work and check up on their plants. Our goal is a salad once a week for our students.


Onion's did exceptionally well, but Gardening is really about the science of the soil makeup, that is why it is so important to get your soil tested before. Red Onions as well as leeks, salad onions, chives and spring onions are great possibilities for this container system. Beans can easily be supported with thin wooden rods placed between the pipes then simply wrap with string for support.

There is no greater joy for me at our school than to watch students explore their world around them with all the curiosity that God has given. This is the first year of having our wall garden. This is an evolving project.
Transplanting always has root trauma. but with these planters that are open on both ends. We are using 1 inch p.v.c. pipe you simply push the plug into the new larger pipe, Less trauma. We are currently trying this with carrots.
Cherry tomatoes growing well. Do not understand why this plant is hard to find here in Guatemala. 
     We are pioneering a totally new method of gardening where there is little water. We are watering our garden by only using a "Host" tree vine or shrub. 

     This is an exciting experiment and is showing much potential. This method could be used in dry and arid climates that because of little rainfall can not support gardens. Using this method I have successfully grown a small garden through an eight month drought with out having to water the garden one time. All the water came from 4 small host trees.  

     Why wasn't this tried earlier. Plastic sandwich bags were invented around 1957 and by the 70's plastic was replacing paper. In the 80's a survival technique was applied by placing a bag over some leaves to collect water called "transpiration bags", I think this is simply the next step that was bound to happen sooner or later, and a good one especially if we use recycled bags. Plastic bags take up to 10 - 1000 years to decompose. 

     In the pictures below, I use Guyaba trees as the host tree, this was really because of convenience and the only tree I had available at the time. Ficus or decorative fig work very well, but all plants especially cedars are good candidates to use the broader the leaf the better, as well as vines......more about this later.

Here is a short file on my transpiration watering process.
The first step is finding a suitable tree that can be enclosed. I have used all different types and have found trees with wide leaves, high moisture content work the best. In this test I tried many years ago I used a guyaba. the bag shown was way to thick. I later found that the best bags are ones that move easily with the wind to carry the droplets of water to collect at the bottom. I tied the tube around the bottom of the trunk of the tree and then tied it around the top. This completely seals the tree. In this example I placed soil in the bottom. I found that this was a poor method although it gave me success to keep trying better methods, the better way was to place the vegetables outside of the bag in a tray and completely seal off the evaporation from happening. I will cover this in a bit.




Immediately after about 20 - 45 minutes the bag starts clouding over with humidity. The ideal condition is one that the humidity is always settling down to the bottom of the bag to where you have soil, or you have a pipe that drains out to where your vegetables are. If the vegetables are outside the bag you will need a p trap so that the humidity stays low in the bag. This keeps the trees transpiring at a high rate. Direct sun is up to 20 times more water than in shade. If your vegetable plants are outside the bag make sure they are in the sun when the host is in the sun and in the shade when the host is in the shade. This will allow your system to be balanced.







You will find that you will not have to worry about weeds except ones that come in with the top soil used. The biggest concern is fungal growth on the host or vegetable leaves. These can be taken care of organically or chemically depending on preference. 
 
Years later I started experimenting with different types of trees and finally the thought occurred to me to use invasive vines. This vine that can grow up to six inches per day is ideal. The advantage of vines is they produce water at heights up to 20 feet with little effort. I also changed the type of bag and started placing the vegetables outside of the host. This saturates the soil where it is constantly damp or wet. If you are wanting to have dry periods between watering you can drain the water from the host into a bell siphon



     This was the logical next step. I finally just decided to do a whole small tree. I could not get it out of my mind that people living in very dry conditions could benefit from this project. I looked on youtube to find bag sealing methods. They are really simple. Nothing about this is difficult or expensive which was a help to keep pursuing this project. This small tree ended up providing water to about 20 vegetables. Since soil water evaporation is an issue in hot climates I found in the next step that different color bags can be used to protect the host plant from overheating. I then found if you use a barrier system over the roots water evaporation is very low and you can add many plants per host. 














     In experimenting with trees it was amazing how much water actually precipitated (the process is actually called transpiration) from them. This is a very small Guayaba, that ended up, by itself providing water to 12 tomato plants. Don't be afraid to experiment especially when it comes to vines. You can use stand off poles with plastic balls screwed to the ends of the poles to keep the bags from touching the leaves. 
     Before going further I want to address something that you can jump to another page HERE (Will activate the link soon) to see further. When I first started this project I had to settle in my mind if this could be accomplished with small or large gardens (scalability). How did this compare to other quick practical methods already in use which included, well drilling costs, drip irrigation (an invention by Israel), spraying water, pipes, electricity, motors (thank you Tesla), nozzles, pumps, hoses, set up time, maintenance over 1 year, cost of water (cost effective). Was this a high maintenance project (sustainability). After the proof of concept, was this a localized success or could this success be attained in harsher environments (Adaptability). I also am going to start this as a BLOG because it is a new method and other who are trying this may want to interact as well as share information and ask questions. 











 
After much trial and error of different ways to connect the plastic bag to a downspout, guttering, drip irrigation this is the best method I have come up with if your host supplier of water is a tree. Here are a couple of pictures to give you an idea. 1/4 inch holes are drilled into the pvc to allow water to flow in from the inside of the bag. If you have questions please go over to the BLOG page and ask. 
One of the most recent methods I have been trying is to use vines. They offer many benifi that a tree can not.