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story.lead_photo.caption New Doc 2018-06-04 (1)

Here it is June and I'm ready to give up on this year's garden. The rainy, cool spring delayed my plantings. I finally got seeds and plants in the garden, got the weed block laid down, and then turned my attention to other jobs on my never-diminishing To-Do List. The rains were timed perfectly to keep the garden watered, so I didn't pay too much attention to it.

In what seemed like just a week, the garden became a jungle of weeds. The weed block was no deterrent, weeds just grew under it and lifted the block. I could see the potato plants. They appeared to be competing successfully with the Johnson grass and pigweed, but only a few bean plants were still present. None of the cucumbers came up. Squash sprouted then developed damp rot.

I basically feel like tilling it all under and just piling cardboard and newspaper on the whole thing for a few years.

I'm considering hydroponics. Get a few plastic tubs, fill them with gravel, lay out some PVC pipe for water, and pump a fertilized solution through the tanks. Still sounds like a lot of work. I am constantly fighting the algae in my ornamental pond; that could be an issue with hydroponics as well.

Then I happened across an article detailing concerns that we will run out of protein-rich food for the world in the near future. Humans will most likely have to consider other sources of protein for consumption. The most likely candidates for future foods? Algae and grasshoppers! Guess what we have an abundance of here in Northwest Arkansas? Algae and grasshoppers!

So, yeah, that little bulb over my head lit up. Why fight the pond algae when it could be a source of income-producing food? Why cuss the grasshoppers eating my grass when I should be herding them into little grasshopper pens and fattening them up? Folks, we are sitting on a veritable gold mine!

Loch Lomond, which is where our vacation home is located, is already growing tons of algae despite the best efforts of the lake caretakers. Our pasture south of Siloam is swimming in grasshoppers and crickets. According to the article lauding the virtues of unusual protein sources, algae and hoppers may be more efficient sources of food to grow. Algae doesn't need fresh water, but cows and pigs do. You can grow algae almost anywhere, even in the desert. People already make smoothies out of everything, why not an algae smoothy?

Today, some 2-billion people already eat 2,000 species of bugs worldwide. Insects take up less space, are more efficient in food conversion to protein by a factor of 12, and contain essential micronutrients such as zinc and iron. Obviously, in the Western countries, a huge public relations effort will be required to get people less squeamish about eating bugs. Just get a few celebs to do commercials showing them eating insects and people will be lining up to buy their share.

Enough writing, I've got some grasshopper corrals to build!

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to devin.houston@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Gardening in the future

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