from the ground up.

I enjoy gardening.

In my early 20s, I shared a garden plot with a few colleagues when I worked for Chesapeake. It took a while to realize I cared more about hot compost and blossom rot and sweet potato curing than the average working young adult. I was captivated by sustainable gardening. Although, back then, I didn’t know sustainable was more than not using chemicals and pesticides.


After returning back to school, I dabbled in home gardening. Bone meal and trellises and garden gloves and worm casing and lady bugs, I soon realized I was spending a lot of money for a tiny harvest.

Here’s one thing the US has wrong about gardening.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to grow a garden. 

We rely on fancy tools, seeds, and fertilizers which make gardening expensive. Many times we take on a backyard garden as if it’s a commercial farm. We start too big. And then our gardens fail.


Enter the idea of permagardening. Simple and teachable methods to link nutrition and agriculture which can be implemented anywhere around the world.

Upon returning to site after this workshop, I was on a mission to get serious about our household garden. I knew that this would require some help from my host family. So, I gathered my host siblings.

The type of permagardening technique we used is called double-digging. Double digging not only breaks up the top soil but increases the ability for the soil to hold water as well as adds air to the soil.

I use the term soil loosely because what we are dealing with here in northern Namibia is sand. Sand lacks essential nutrients for plants to grow therefore many plants cannot thrive in sand. During the hottest portion of the day, sand can increase in temperatures to about 120 degrees F. Not an ideal environment for a garden.

This is where science and knowing your environment comes in.

Our biggest task was to improve our soil and we didn’t have to leave the homestead to find all the right materials to do so.

Carbon Nitrogen Microbes
Charcoal Chicken manure Goat manure Egg shells (calcium)
Brown Leaves Coffee grounds Cow manure Wood ash (minerals)
Green leaves

Host sisters and I pulled overgrown plants around the homestead to add nitrogen to our garden.

Healthy doses of carbon, nitrogen, microbes, as well as calcium, will change the sand into soil over time. This will make a soil rich in organic compounds needed to grow a healthy, sustainable garden.

Cost: Nothing (Except some time and hardwork).


Collecting rainwater from the roof runoff. One less expense.


Buried a few palm leaves to provide some shade for the young plants. Also, added twigs and branches from a neraby neem tree to serve as mulch. Neem is also a natural insect repellent. Dark green leaves- Black-eyed peas

My host siblings are thrilled and eager to assist in beginning and maintaining our garden. They have even started growing mango seeds to plant in the garden, although I remind them our garden may be too small for a tree.

❤ Krystal


2 thoughts on “from the ground up.

  1. Krystal!!! This is a great post and the video is magic!! Grrat job! I am Peter’ sister and I have only seen still shots of the man in action. To see this all put together with great music and done do beautifully is a fabulous treat!!! Having grown ip on yhr same environment as Peter, under the keen gardening eye of our Swedish grandmother, I share your passion for gardening and compost etc and do my best to teach all I know about it. Double Dig On!!!!

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    • Thank you so much for your kind words! Working with Peter was treat. I have a friend who served in Mozambique in 2009 and also had nothing but good things to say about Peter. Thank you for reading and sharing and sharing a passion for gardening as well! 🙂

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