Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beautify the world with guerrilla gardening, graffiti art & tips on seed bombing

After I began seeing the Dogwood and Red bud trees flowering weeks ago, I wanted to discuss this topic of beautifying the world. Alongside the roads and almost every backyard, there was a line of pink and white blooming trees. I thought, "How beautiful would this world be if everyone planted flowering trees and created a food forest in their yard?"
I think of the Wisteria Tunnel in Japan, and wonder why we haven't implemented something as magical and inviting as that to the landscapes around us. Plants, trees, and gardens are pieces of artwork that provoke conversation and bring people together. And, you can certainly beautify the landscape at every season. For example, in the Spring, the Dogwood and Red bud trees are blooming along with the fruit trees; and in the Fall, the Hickory tree leafs and Burning bush grace us with Fall colors of yellow and red. Added benefits of planting trees and flowers to the landscape: provide color, food for bees and animals, provide free food for families, and adding oxygen while reducing CO2.
In Spring, spot blooming trees or flowers alongside the roads. Take cuttings from trees you want to implement in your own food forest, or dig up flowers to add to your garden. Once you have collected cuttings from trees, cut any bottom branches from your cutting and shave the bottom of your butting with pruning shears. Then add rooting hormone to stimulate root growth. Finally plant the cutting in a pot with some potting mix or soil. Label your trees and plants, and as your cuttings become larger, plant outdoors in the ground, then add compost and mulch around the base of your tree.

Dingy streets, gray buildings, and dark alleys create an ominous atmosphere, consequently, growing up within these environments extends into peoples' own emotions, relationships, and livelihood.
Colors really do affect your mood, and I hypothesize this is true for those living in colorless city and urban environments. Colors of green, blue, brown, and yellow are found in the grass, sky, dirt, and sun--all of which symbolize nature. Being in nature truly creates a tranquil effect on the body. Specifically the color of green symbolizes nature, fertility, and life. Chlorophyll gives leaves their green color. The green pigment in plants is refreshing and relaxing on the eyes, and actually has been claimed to improve vision. A couple of plants growing in homes could prevent irritability.
With only the sight of plants, people naturally experience an uplifting attitude. Plants have a distractive, engrossing affect that focuses your attention.
By adding perennial flowers, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, and colorful artwork in the ghettos, neglected towns, all highways and interstates, and any city and urban environments, we can potentially create a Food Forest that is inviting, artistic, innovative, peaceful, beautiful, and ecologically sustainable for the world.
In the same ghettos or impoverished areas will benefit from guerrilla gardening. Those who need the food the most will come to the gardens to eat for free.

Ron Finley, a Los Angeles resident is leading by example using guerrilla gardening methods. Finley is the co-founder of LAGREENGROUNDS.ORG, a company that plants gardens in low-income homes in the Los Angeles area as a part of a recovery system to transform neighborhoods. In 2013, he gave a TED talk on his progress as a "guerrilla gardener". "Guerrilla" is synonymous with rebellion. Guerrilla gardening refers to the act of gardening on land that people do not have legal rights to utilize. Below is a picture of Ron Finley at work to beautify what looks like an abandoned pool or skate park.

This idea of cleaning up neighborhoods and abandoned locations that become crime zones, could be transformed into a beautiful and inviting garden. Cleaning waste dumps can be transformed into parks, which would clean the environment. I have brought up this topic before: Ways to Clean Trash/waste landfills.
Freedom Hall
You'd be surprised what can grow in cracks and crevices in pavement as well. Small vegetables like lettuce, kale, spinach, and arugula will grow in the smallest nooks, as long as there is soil, water, and sunlight provided. Most people don't realize you can grow overtop of concrete.  Using raised beds will allow you to grow over top concrete. Raised beds are the best method for growing over top unusable surfaces, or create a layering system like sheet mulching, lasagna gardening, Hugelkultur, or straw bale gardens. Layers of grass clippings, leaves, straw, compost, and other wood debris are the best materials to layer within your raised bed.


You do not need to implement raised beds in a guerrilla garden. In fact you can make 100 or more seed bombs that will take out the hard work of making raised beds. Seed bombs are essential balls of soil with seeds inside. The intention of seed bombs is to throw out and scatter in abandoned lots, ditches, or any unused location. Guerrilla gardening emphasizes growing food anywhere and everywhere, so this is where throwing out seed bombs is much easier for growing food--especially when the intent is to not get caught growing food on private property.
Masanobu Fukuoka has been credited to the invention of seed bombs. They are easy to make but if there is insufficient amounts of rain, this will prevent or slow germination.

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To make seed bombs, mix clay soil with compost (or garden soil) and roll into a ball. Make an impression in the middle of the seed bomb to and add two to three seeds inside.

The great aspect about vegetable seeds is that they can grow in poor soil and tiny nooks in pavement. I have seen a tomato growing in a window sill and in the crevice of a doorway. The vegetables that grow best in small spaces are lettuce, spinach, and kale. In locations that receive excess moisture (like in ditches), throw out melon and squash seed bombs. In locations that receive lots of sunlight, throw out Tomato and Pepper seed bombs; and Brussels in shady locations. If the soil looks poor, grow Tomatoes, beans, and greens.


The sight of gardens and flowers is an artistic creation. But I also find that graffiti art beautifies the ugly atmosphere of urban and city life. Graffiti art is synonymous with rebellion and activism, and I think this topic works perfectly alongside guerrilla gardening.
Photos I posted below are great examples of graffiti art that can create an uplifting attitude in the most dismal looking environments.



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Modern architecture for some reason is still primarily grey. I personally do not live in the city, but if I looked at gray buildings everywhere I turned--I would want to escape to a forest. In places without many trees or forests, murals like this invoke a sense of freedom that a forest provides. These murals invoke thought, curiosity, creativity, and passion.

photo from Fresh Paint
 Displaying plants and gardening represents life, and abundance, and these images of plants will stir emotions of happiness even when there are no plants growing.


People and animals naturally gravitate to plants, color, and light. And each of these things effect us all psychologically. We are effected to the point that we amass a light and life in ourselves that encourages us to create a positive force for change. With these elements we could potentially live in peace with one another.

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