Friday, January 24, 2014

Desert Gardening: Not Just Cactus and Succulents Anymore!

Of course, I think cacti and succulents are perfect all on their own.

The Hairy Perfection of Los Tres Amigos, MR
However, we have a planet full of people to feed, diminishing fresh water sources, and a whole lot of ocean water and desert moving in. What to do? We need a pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, in other words, a miracle or two.

According to a recent edition of Science Insider:

A project to “green” desert areas with a mix of technologies—producing food, biofuel, clean water, energy, and salt—reached a milestone last week. A pilot plant in Qatar, built by the Sahara Forest Project (SFP) and supported by Qatari fertilizer companies Yara International and Qafco, produced  75 kilograms of vegetables per square meter in three crops annually, comparable to commercial farms in Europe, while consuming only sunlight and seawater.
In SFP’s greenhouse, fans blow hot desert air through a honeycombed curtain with salt water trickling down it to produce cool, moist conditions suitable for growing veg- etables. Some of that moisture is recaptured by condensation to provide fresh water to irrigate the plants. Similar evaporative cooling is used to grow more crops outside, such as barley and arugula, and an onsite concentrated solar power plant provides electricity for the whole facility.
That a greenhouse with just 600 square meters of growing area produced such good yields suggests that a commercial plant could do even better, says SFP chief Joakim Hauge. SFP is now engaged in studies aimed at building a 20-hectare test facility near Aqaba in Jordan.

Of course, tackling global climate change and population pressures would render such radical farming methods unnecessary, but coping with environmenal change, and growing adequate food is imperative here and now. Seawater farming makes sense, and I hope the test facility expansion in Jordan succeeds. 


  1. Nice collection of the hairy cacti. I love the pots, are they home made? Yes, I suspect water will become the valuable commodity of the not too distant future. Even now, problems are occurring in California. However, something (invention or new technique) will pop up in the near future and change everything. It's still hard for me to believe most of my early life was lived when there was nothing called, or known, as a computer. You really can't predict the great changes that will come, they will just come. Enjoy your tillies! :)

  2. Yes, those are some of my pots. And I, too, remember life before the Internet! I'm always happy to learn about technology that makes life on Earth better for everyone. Those desert greenhouses look quite useful!