Interview Ricardo Gil Mendoza
Señal 94,9 Union Radio
Wednesday February 11, 2015 11:00 a.m.
On vertical crops, landscaping and irrigation
with Maria Elena Fernandez.
MEF: I have here with me Ricardo Gil Mendoza and we were talking about some tips related to a subject close to his heart, which is vertical gardens, landscaping and irrigation. This is an important subject when you see Margarita Island as an integrated landscape, because everything is concatenated; you go from one place to the other linking landscapes, and when we see for example how the pruning of trees is handled in the region, because trees are being cut and not pruned. I am learning with Ricardo the difference between pruning and cutting, and he’s going to explain it later to our audience, I am going to ask him to please do so, we understand why it is so painful to see those trees butchered, showing the lack of professionalism necessary to execute this task. Would you please share your opinion with us Ricardo?
RGM: Well, good morning to all of your audience and thank you Maria Elena for inviting me. With respect to this subject, the problem comes down to poor professional judgment, from the very planting of the trees, which can lead to eventual cutting, because they are not provided with the proper space, or because poor decision making when it comes to choosing the right place to plant, causing problems later on. Often, cutting is passed as pruning, and ultimately, trees end up being destroyed and their conservation is very important. Trees play a very important role in the environment, on one hand they provide shades, and on the other the oxygen we breathe. Also, they create microclimates to enable the organic development of soils and environment. The foundation of both soils and environment are precisely the trees.
MEF: And trees also have a growth dynamics, we were talking about that before the show, and people, most of us, we often do not understand plants.
RGM: Yes, this has to do with something we call “the lost paradise”, where human beings, with technology developments, have lost the contact with the environment, ending up feeling isolated and we are suffering the consequences of that. As you said before, the global warming and the consequences of our indiscriminate growth, thinking that we are the only inhabitants of this planet, but the plants also have an important role. Out of the species that live above water, plants represent more than 70% of the life on this earth and we all depend on them, and we do not take them in consideration, we think there is no value to them, we do not see them like living beings, but rather as static beings, as if they were just a color, the green grass, as a carpet, and we do not realize they are living beings.
MEF: I think human beings learn the hard way. Now we are seeing these imbalances in nature. In the United States there have been heavy snow storms, with temperatures of several degrees below zero, and here we are experiencing a relentless sun in February, which makes you think if this is how it looks in February, how will it be in August, how intense will the sun be?, and all this has to do with the global warming, and all this situation we are facing. The answer is in the trees, but instead we cut them.
RGM: Again, it comes back to what I said earlier, poor judgment, the lack of professionalism on the one hand, and on the other, the lack of values, or the indiscriminate value given to economic aspects. Nowadays, there are many studies and many conferences at international levels about global warming, and countries do not want to fulfill their commitment regarding carbon emission for example, which is something so important and has so much to do. For example in Venezuela, instead of recuperating the hydroelectric power stations, we are burning fossil fuels to generate power, and that has an impact on global warming. We are not taking advantage of the sunlight, which is a resource we have here, and its use through solar cells; it’s a technology that it is not yet at our disposal, with the resources to invest on it, but since we are a country that depends entirely on oil, we power electric plants by burning hydrocarbons, which is one of the main reasons there is global warming in the first place.
MEF: Let’s talk about vertical gardens. You were showing us some of your works, and I must say they are really beautiful, like works of art with plants.
RGM: Yes, precisely.
MEF: What a combination!
RGM: As a result of that idea, and keeping in mind that plants provide the air we breathe, part of the oxygen which is the main element we need to breathe 24 hours and to keep us alive, it is precisely the plants those that provide it to us; they provide it for themselves, because they need it at night when they cannot generate photosynthesis, and they share it with us, so we are completely dependent on them. If plants did not exist we would soon deplete the oxygen and we will cease to exist. But, besides that vital and transcendental function, with which we have lost contact, plants also represent a contact with our soul, with our inner part, that being that makes us belong to a whole and feel we are not isolated, that we are part of a conglomerate on this planet and we must take care of it, and the plants, through the walls and through the architectonic or artistic designs, leave us a good taste, sort of speak, at the moment we appreciate them. Several studies have been carried out nowadays regarding the placement of vertical gardens inside work spaces, and companies have witnessed an improvement on their personnel’s performance, when they have the walls for example.
MEF: However some mechanisms are needed for maintenance, water, to prevent soil from sliding down. You were showing us, and it really impressed me, a 7 meters wall, it is like a mural.
RGM: Yes, it is a mural.
MEF: It is a mural of plants!
RGM: Correct. It is a wall that we built in the building Roca Aloft in Puerta del Hierro, in Playa Moreno that is 7,8m height and 13m wide.
MEF: And how do you keep the sand from falling down? Well, not the sand, the soil.
RGM: It has a structure where you affix a geo-fabric, which is a mesh that allows us to place the soil or the substrate in a pocket, where the plant is going to grow. These come on different sizes according to the necessities of each type of plant. There are plants that need less water and others than need more water and even some that do not need water and they are placed outside the structure, such as the orchids or bromeliad.
MEF: Orchids do not need water?
RGM: Sorry, I meant soil, all plants need water. However, there are some like the cacti for example, which need to have the capacity to store a great volume of water in short time.
MEF: It’s interesting to know dynamics of plants, because for example one has a plant at home, for example, you have a lemon tree in your house, because what Margariteño (inhabitant of Margarita Island) does not have in his house a lemon tree? Well, I think very few. The first thing Margariteños, the Neospartans or those who live in Margarita Island do is to plant a lemon tree.
RGM: You got to have your fish! (laughter)
MEF: Yes, because lemon is essential. So, we want to prune the lemon tree and we realize the plant is leaning to the right or towards the left depending on the sun. It is a dynamics of the plant and something not everybody understands.
RGM: Sure, what it is important here is the pruning criteria. There is a very simple criterion that one explains, as it was explained to me, which are the concepts of the peasantry, of the farmers, that state that all branch that grows downwards or inwards must be cut. When one prunes a plant, it causes the other branches to grow with more vigor, so the plant identifies which are those branches that give it