Sunday, September 26, 2010

Helianthus tuberosa

Planted one bulb last year: 6 gorgeous, vigorous plants this year!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Don't Think So

The Guardian published the article Artificial meat? Food for thought by 2050 yesterday and I'm gonna have to say "I don't think so." The problem is the way we do - and have done - agriculture since it's beginning. Annual plantings of grain have desertified hundreds of millions of acres since it was discovered. The Green Revolution made plantings of these types of crops more productive than possible through manual labor so statements like "little more land is available for food production" and "extra carbon dioxide in the air from global warming, along with better fertilisers and chemicals to protect arable crops, could hugely increase yields and reduce water consumption" is only true from that incredibly short-sighted perspective. Annual crops and our reliance upon them is what has been destroying our planet and will continue to destroy it long after The Carbon Age.

To grow food as if the Earth matters, as if people matter - as if life matters - requires Us to change our relationship with our food. It has to become an integrated part of Our existence. Life must be respected, if not revered, and we absolutely must use the best that science has uncovered regardless of how many people need to change their perspectives, of how much learning must occur to change our place as destructive killer apes into caretakers.

Bending life to fit our needs must be replaced by stewarding life and partaking of what it would give us freely.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Nitrogen fixers and nitrate accumulators

A natural guild seems to be forming here in this field of soybeans and amaranth! Unfortunately for the GMO soybean farmer, amaranth is (and was the first known species to be) glyphosate resistant.

Aside: Maybe I'm taking a leap here, but it seems the smart thing is to grow and harvest them both! I'm aware of the difficulties farmers have with 'weeds' interfering and damaging harvesting equipment, but I'm betting that some one, some where could find a solution?!

Anyway, back to the title of the post. My intuition is bringing out some interesting features of this situation, like... how did the amaranth become so quickly resistant? is it the soil biota? did the roots from the soybeans transfer genetic or epigenetic material to the amaranth? It seems a strong possibility that these two species 'want' to coexist - mutually dependent, mutually beneficial. Is there a higher function at work - nitrogen fixers guilding with nitrate accumulators, for instance? I've been googling for research about this possibility but haven't found anything yet. Hmm.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

These guys want to play outside!

Of course, we're no where near our last frost.

Front two rows - Luffa aegyptica (they like warm temps, not just no more frost) - useful cucurbits.

Second two rows - Artichoke, Cynara cardunculus - healthy food, nutrient accumulator, spike root.

Third two rows - Stinging Nettles, Urtica dioica - healthy food (cooked), nutraceutical, nutrient accumulator, insectary. If you get up close, you can see the formidable nettle spikes!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

"The sky is falling!" or Silly Overreaction to the Healthcare Law

A Facebook friend of mine posted:
American's (sic) just lost more freedom. Why don't the legislators that voted for this healthcare bill move to a socialist nation? Our leaders are not upholding the Constitution like they swore they would do. Universal Healthcare doesn't work! When are people going to see that government can't care for you and shouldn't.... ...Our rights don't come from government, they come from God. I can't wait for November.
I responded:
Actually, universal healthcare DOES work. It works *much* better than the system we currently have. However, the bill that was just introduced is NOT universal healthcare. It simply overcomes some of the health insurance hurdles that many (poor) Americans couldn't overcome such as eliminating pre-existing conditions. The downside to the bill is it does nothing to keep insurance companies in check. Those are the real b******s in this little drama. That's where you should be looking if you want to get upset...
Another friend:
Dale, where do you get the statistic that the U.S. ranks dead last in quality of care? I would much rather be cared for in a U.S. hospital than in any other country.

I responded:
[Editor's note: the person I responded to in the thread has removed himself from the thread or made himself invisible to me, either way, here are his comments as I received them in my email notifications]

Michael D.:
Elizabeth, you've certainly some interesting folks chiming in here. Questionable in accuracy, but interesting. Frankly, I tend to question anyone who would attempt to quote Wikipedia as a 'legitimate source', but as to that survey, I'd be interested in seeing the survey's questions.

Simple truth about "Universal' or 'Socialized' health care is that it comes with extremely high taxes and rationed access. Need a radiological exam for a cancer? We'll get to you in 6-8 months...

Standby as the Supreme Court strikes this POC bill down.
Michael, of course you're right about citing wikipedia as a source... I put that in there for the wealth of links that the article provided so that people could follow them and draw their own conclusions about the accuracy of the ORIGINAL links. Personally, I figured everyone was able to realize this and I wouldn't have to make this disclaimer.

As for your interest in the "survey's questions"... Do you realize how ignorant that makes you appear? The survey I linked was actually a peer-reviewed scientific study that follows very specific, rigorous rules for aggregating published data from reliable multiple sources. Since the scientists didn't actually produce the original data, they had to *survey* other sources.

What I'd like from you, Michael, are facts. Produce the scientific studies, originals or surveys, that compare socialized medicine costs with the costs an American pays. Produce the scientific studies that show the waiting times that nations with socialized medicine have compared to the U.S. Produce the studies that show how coverage is denied in socialized nations versus denied coverage in America. Without facts, we're just spewing hot air and saliva all over everyone....

Finally, the Supreme Court will not likely strike the law down. The Supreme Court is firmly in the pockets of corporate interests. Also, remember Obama's Healthcare Summit? All the competing *healthcare* interests (doctor's organizations, hospitals, insurance companies, etc.) forged a negotiation so that everyone got a piece of the pie. This law will never go before the SCOTUS.
Michael D.:
Sorry Asberry. I refuse to converse with Socialists. Beneath my minimum level of interest, it rates somewhere along the lines of picking up after the dogs.
Shine the light on the cockroaches and they go scurrying.

Here are more thoughts I posted:
I actually think anger toward the government is misguided. It's actually *corporate* health care: doctors, hospitals, and insurance that we should be in a furor with. It's those greedy b******s that deserve our anger as they pillage our bank accounts. Sure, we need some frustration to focus at the government because we elected them to PROTECT us. But let us not forget, it's the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies that are committing the actual crimes against each and every one of us.

My position in this is far more subtle than "socialist"... I believe that some things, like roads (if you use roads are you a socialist??), are "in the public good." The health and well-being of my neighbors is always on my mind. I have an excellent, very well-paying job and am willing to commit some of my income to the betterment of all Americans. We need to be on the lookout for one another because no one else is. Doesn't the bible exhort us to do that? Does that make Jesus a socialist? If people were following their Christian directives for charity, would we even be having this discussion? How greedy and uncaring does someone have to be to think this law is a bad thing? Misguided maybe, but certainly not bad and definitely not evil as many portray it. As [name withheld] indicated above, Canada and the UK provide top notch health care that is not focused on the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Those two countries can hardly be considered socialist.

My point in this thread is to question opinion, discover facts, and come to rational conclusions. I've been studying this topic for nearly five years now and, scarily, the evidence says American exceptionalism isn't evident in our health care system. In fact, most research points out uncomfortable facts that some aspects of health care in third world countries such as Cuba may actually be better than what we have. Talk about scary!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Fever also Leads to Aches and Pains!

The fabulous warm temperatures this weekend encouraged me to start preparing the raised beds for growing season. Since I didn't harvest everything at the end of the season last year, I think I'm going to have some volunteers in some of the beds. Onions and carrots are already coming up in two of the beds! Need to work them into the guilds I'm designing -- along with some garlic. Mmmm!

The compost has finally decomposed fairly uniformly so I doubled up on one of the frames, one on top of another, and filled it with finished compost. My youngest loves to garden with me, so she helped me put in the seed 'taters. Going to move several of the frames more to the west. I think the maple is shading them out too much in the mornings. Also need to put together more frames. I think I'm ready to expand the garden a bit. Of course, this means putting down more weed (grass) block and getting a bunch more wood chip mulch. I can't keep up with our little wood chipper. Actually, it's not the wood chipper... it's cutting down all those little trees and bushes. Lots of work and not enough time.

Talking of compost, finally took the can in the kitchen full of decayed veggies out. Last time I did that was probably November. Definitely ripe! I've also been collecting used coffee grounds so I emptied and cleaned about a half dozen buckets into the pile. And, I put all the remaining dead garden vegetation into the compost to add woody material that will hopefully absorb some of that smell from the kitchen scraps.

Finally, my seed starts are sprouting! Globe Artichoke, Stinging Nettles, Luffa, Good King Henry are so far the only ones poking out. Still waiting on Comfrey, sweet peppers, and Seabuckthorn. Have a bunch more later season seeds that I've not started yet.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Spring Fever encouraging me to start posting again!

Posted the following at MetaFilter this morning:
Temperate Permaculture Forest Garden Wiki

One of the most important permaculture practices is building successful polycultures. The internet is full of great gardening resources (such as the Plants for a Future database) but severely lack information when it comes to integrating plants for maximum benefit as in a polyculture. I recently discovered one possible remedy at the Apios Institute's Edible Forest Garden Wiki.

The site appears to be divided into two areas: free access and paid membership. I've not investigated the membership area yet, but the free access content is high quality. It appears that the site is just starting up and one of the content authors is Eric Toensmeier, coauthor of the two volume, encyclopedic, Edible Forest Gardens books. In fact, the free content appears to be additional details from one of the case studies presented in the books.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bike commuting again!

The temps have been breaking up out of the freezing range into the 50's and 60's this week so I've been taking advantage. Monday I did a quick once over on my bike - tightening, inflating, cleaning - and got into work early Tuesday morning. I've been sick (and a bit lazy) for the last month so I wasn't in the best shape and had to skip the bike ride in on Wednesday. Rode in again this morning and I feel really loose and relaxed. Looking forward to Spring!