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Saltwater Crops

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm contributor

sea salt

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Some crops actually thrive on a little bit of salt in their water.

If you want to perform experiments on your garden and contribute to the data mass on this topic, the following are four other vegetable crops that might be appropriate candidates for deliberate saltwater-irrigation experiments:

Broccoli: Broccoli couldn’t be less watery, but it is quite tolerant of salt. The biggest problem is probably that working toward the development of a more nutritious broccoli even sounds a bit funny.

Cucumbers: These might be a good candidate, first because they’re relatively watery, which seems to enhance the effects of saltwater irrigation, and next because cucumbers are often accused of offering sparse nutritional values.

Spinach: Although spinach hardly needs to be improved either in flavor or healthfulness, it is already one of the most salt-tolerant vegetables. Perhaps some spinach superfood could be developed?

Zucchini: These plants are surprisingly salt-tolerant, and they produce so abundantly that a small reduction of total output might not be so bad in this case. Might saltwater treatments have a beneficial effect on zucchini’s common mildew problems?

Give us your opinion on Saltwater Crops.
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Connecting the Dots
Corn Ethanol produces no net reduction in the use of oil. The amount of petroleum used to plant, fertilize and harvest the corn completely negates the reduction in the use of oil for fuel in cars.
The carbon footprint for cellulosic Ethanol could be virtually zero. The carbon dioxide released by burning alcohol is partially or fully offset by the consumption of carbon dioxide used by plants in photosynthesis when growing the feeder crops.
Growing corn for Ethanol requires over 100 gallons of fresh water to produce 1 gallon of Ethanol.
Switch Grass can be grown in salt water.
The Salton Sea is over 300 square miles of surface area surrounded by huge tracts of under utilized desert land.
President Obama announced in July 2013 that federal land would be made available for pilot projects in renewable energy.
The Salton Sea is going to loose enormous quantities of fresh water when current allotments of Colorado River water are diverted for use by San Diego in 2017. This will accelerate the evaporation of the Salton Sea exposing the toxic lake beds to exposure to wind creating hazardous health problems. The mitigation expenses are expected to be billions of dollars. Something needs to be done very soon.
The Renewable Fuel Standards mandates increasing levels of cellulosic Ethanol for use in the United States. To meet this legal requirement we must import ever increasing amounts of alcohol from Brazil each year. This could be reduced if we could replace it with Ethanol from Switch Grass cultivated at the Salton Sea.
Most energy forecasts predict it will take 30 years to end our addiction to foreign oil. We could accomplish that goal within a half dozen years if we mounted a serious campaign to cultivate Switch Grass with salt water at the Salton Sea.
Ethanol costs less than a dollar per gallon to make in Brazil. Using weeds grown in salt water could eventually prove cheaper.
Ethanol 85 pumps are mostly available in the corn belt. In the Coachella Valley the closest pump is 40 miles away. The second closest pump is almost 60 miles away.
The United States has 15 million cars on the road today that are designed to operate on Ethanol 85. Half of all the cars sold in America in 2013 will operate on Ethanol 85.
Purchasing foreign oil costs us hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This raises our Balance of Trade deficit and is a drain on the economy. Cultivating crops for alcohol would grow the economy and make us energy independent. In my simple frame of reference the business opportunity presented by growing crops for fuel in stead of using oil would also amount to hundreds of billions of dollars per year. This could be the next California Gold Rush. I see renewable energy in Southern California as having the potential to rival Silicon Valley in the technology sector when it comes to economic impact.

Jim Kainz
Bermuda Dunes Strategic Planning, Inc.
James, Bermuda Dunes, CA
Posted: 8/18/2013 1:16:46 AM
Does this mean I can grow these veggies on land very close to the Atlantic seashore?
Dante, Hyde Park, MA
Posted: 7/22/2013 7:39:21 PM
I would be interesting in trying this but what is the benefit? I.e. apart from giving salt water a purpose.
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 3/13/2013 11:09:36 PM
Annie, Houston, TX
Posted: 12/5/2012 7:29:04 AM

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