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Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #50 on: March 05, 2014, 11:41:39 PM »
If you have a zone or area that your confident the spray nazis or big Ag, is not close, consider yourself lucky, as these safe zones will be held a bit sacred.
How close is close? My plot is about 2 thirds of an acre, and I have conventional ag fields to the North and South of me (and beyond), so that would probably not be sufficient. My hope is to buy some of those fields adjacent to our plot in the future, to build up a buffer zone.

If your trying to attract pollinators while waiting to put up some sort of shelter, these three plants will bring the pollinators calling.

Lavender
Mint
Sanfroen (sp) mine, a new seed for the farmer that wants to raise food for livestock, store nitrogen in their soil, and provide lots of pollen and nectar for the pollinators.
We'll definitely be planting a lot of lavender, and my wife wants mint on the border of our pond, but what's the last plant you mention. Google doesn't show any results.
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ghoti

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #51 on: March 06, 2014, 02:19:17 AM »
If you surround your plot with wonderful plants for pollinators why would the pollinators bother visiting your crops plants? They are going to spend their effort visiting the most attractive sources. Or not?

wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #52 on: March 06, 2014, 02:32:26 AM »
Not. Haven't you heard of the phrase 'busy as a bumble bee'?

But I have heard of people making nice bouquets from the surrounding flowers right at the time that their vegetables are blooming to encourage the little buggers in the right direction.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #53 on: March 06, 2014, 03:53:44 AM »
If you surround your plot with wonderful plants for pollinators why would the pollinators bother visiting your crops plants? They are going to spend their effort visiting the most attractive sources. Or not?

Personally I would expect the bees to keep coming until they've exhausted the whole area. Why would they expend effort to find a new place to go while they can still go to your place and get nectar?

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #54 on: March 06, 2014, 04:31:46 AM »
Part of the advantage of planting blooming plants like coriander, babies breath, and other plants with small flowers is that they attract beneficial predatory wasps. The wasps feed on the little flowers and then lay their eggs on pesky little bugs you need nature to control. That is one of the reasons spraying is like using napalm ... A lot of collateral damage.  I think little white flowers are best but I would have to look around to remember why.

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #55 on: March 06, 2014, 05:23:01 PM »
 Bruce Steele,

Hope you got enough rain to avoid irrigation for a few days.

For those interested in the USA "The Pollinator Partnership"  at
http://www.pollinator.org/index.html 
has some useful information Guides, in PDF format, about planting native flowers - plants for each area 
http://www.pollinator.org/guides.htm
scroll down and enter your ZIP Code.

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #56 on: March 06, 2014, 06:04:00 PM »
Neven

The organic certification separation distance is 75 meters.  But that assumes that your neighbor who is spraying refrains from it if the wind is blowing in your direction as spray can drift a long ways.


btw the more things there are for the bees the better.  They are little pigs and will keep coming back until there is nothing left to eat.  And like Bruce said you want to create an environment that provides habitat for all the good insects that like to eat the bad insects.  Bio-warfare!
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #57 on: March 06, 2014, 08:33:16 PM »
If you surround your plot with wonderful plants for pollinators why would the pollinators bother visiting your crops plants?

If that happens, I will place an ad asking for more pollinators.  ;D
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JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #58 on: March 07, 2014, 03:40:20 PM »
~  "I think little white flowers are best but I would have to look around to remember why" ~

Bruce,

Forgot to mention, it's probably somewhere in all the literature we read, but I use some
"sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) (Brassicaceae)- also called Carpet of Snow"
especially in any broccoli - cabbage,  (Brassicaceae/Cruciferous) - cabbage worms terrible here without wasps.
Google:
sweet alyssum wasps

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #59 on: March 07, 2014, 04:22:54 PM »
Jack, I have Alyssum also but it spreads by root cuttings and can take over as it doesn't freeze out around here. Drought tolerant and nice little white flowers so it can be put in borders where it takes care of itself.  We did get +4" of rain so the cover crop is very happy and I don't need to change hand lines any more this season. The soil moisture will make tilling it in easier and also help it to break down quickly once I turn it under. Work load is beginning to ramp up and I am starting large plantings now as most frost risk has passed.  I did some brush clearing as per JimD's advice but now with the threat of an El Nino i will need to add base to the road, work on berms and clean out the drainage routes. Being a bit of a worry wort means I now have both fire and flood as potential threats.
Hope spring gets around to visiting you soon. 

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #60 on: March 07, 2014, 07:52:20 PM »
I did some brush clearing as per JimD's advice but now with the threat of an El Nino i will need to add base to the road, work on berms and clean out the drainage routes. Being a bit of a worry wort means I now have both fire and flood as potential threats.
Hope spring gets around to visiting you soon.




Fire And Rain - James Taylor with lyrics - YouTube

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #61 on: March 09, 2014, 03:00:13 PM »
Bruce

About your rodent problem I realized that I forgot a big factor that would help you.

Barn owls.  I looked up and they do live in your area.  Put up a couple of barn owl houses on either end of your farm and they will eventually find them and take up residence.  They eat a lot of rodents and that will cut down on your losses a bunch.  We did this and it helped also.

Another thing along the same line is we put out bat houses on the farm buildings and we had lots of bats.  They do eat a lot of bugs.  Not sure how to train them not to eat the good bugs though  ;)
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #62 on: March 09, 2014, 03:46:18 PM »
JimD, I have a healthy owl population and they like the scattered pine trees I have around the fields. They talk one to another from tree to tree in the summer. I also have a couple three species of hawks but the neighbors poison the squirrels and it kills the raptors. Always sad to see them dead under the trees after somebody goes on a big squirrel campaign . I should try some bat houses, I only get one or two flying around, again during summer. Cliff swallows colonize the eaves of my house and I have learned that they can have trouble with sparrows taking over their  nests. I have learned to knock the old nests down during winter. They return ~ March 15 and I make sure to keep a mud puddle wet in their favorite spot for the nest building season. Swallows from quite a distance frequent the mud hole during dry years. Seems kinda counter intuitive knocking their nests down to help them but it only takes a few days to rebuild and they get nice clean nests that way. I do get a lot of bird shit on my
windows but the swallows are eager to eat my garden bugs so I figure a little window frosting is a fair trade.

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #63 on: March 09, 2014, 04:58:48 PM »
I said awhile back that I did not think one could make useable drip irrigation systems out of bamboo.

I was wrong.  I just read a blog post by a farmer in Queensland who had pictures of bamboo drip irrigation.  The way he got around the segment in the middle of the poles was by cutting the bamboo lengthwise in half and then using some method to cut out the dividing hard membranes.  So in effect he had a series of u shaped channels in which water flowed.

Not really drip exactly.  Sort of a micro trench system.  But it looked adequate for gardening.  Sort of Swiss Family Robinson like (think the movie had something like that in it).  Pretty interesting.

His farm buildings also have to have metal roofs and fireproof membranes under the metal to resist the wildfires.  His buildings also have metal shutters to keep embers from igniting the buildings.  Lots of solar and water storage tanks was visible as well.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #64 on: March 16, 2014, 07:43:48 AM »
Farm tour today, some pictures. Greenhouse tomatoes -just getting going but all electric so far with paper mulch to control weeds and scavenged cardboard paths. Also a demonstration of the electric tiller weeding around some potatoes. There is a bowl of winnowed amaranth in a stainless bowl.
There is one of me jumping the fence after I picked up one of the piggies and momma didn't like it.
Cover crop went under and needs a couple more passes with the tractor. We got together for some dinner and talked climate change and familiar subjects.
 JimD might notice a hay burner. We all have our weaknesses.


http://www.meetup.com/Santa-Barbara-Food-and-Farm-Adventures/photos/all_photos/?photoAlbumId=20655972




Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #65 on: March 16, 2014, 12:03:13 PM »
I liked that picture of that picture of a smiling pig!   :D

We're waiting for some rain to be forecast (has been dry and anomalously warm here (up to 20 °C) for the past couple of weeks), after which we will sow different stuff in different parts of our plot: 1) phacelia and crimson clover, 2) a mix of alfalfa, raygrass and different clovers, and 3) white clover around the trees and bushes we planted in October.

We've prepared a couple of beds where we will experiment a bit this first season. My wife is enthusiastic about square foot gardening and wants to try that out first.
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Laurent

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #66 on: March 16, 2014, 05:13:25 PM »
You may want to check that ressources...
https://sites.google.com/site/dorrrose/home

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #67 on: March 16, 2014, 07:52:16 PM »
There is one of me jumping the fence after I picked up one of the piggies and momma didn't like it.


You call that a pig?  THIS is a pig!

Imagine that in your yard!  A lot of guys where I lived back in Virginia hunt these beasts to help out the farmers.

Nice looking setup by the way.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/14/500-pound-wild-boar_n_4958913.html?utm_hp_ref=weird-news
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #68 on: March 16, 2014, 10:05:51 PM »
JimD, I will see your little piggy and raise you one of these.

http://www.typesofsharkshq.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/great-white-shark-smile.jpg


Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #69 on: March 16, 2014, 11:32:41 PM »
You may want to check that ressources...
https://sites.google.com/site/dorrrose/home

Thanks, Laurent. Bookmarked.
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JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #70 on: March 17, 2014, 12:12:14 PM »
~~ "Greenhouse tomatoes -just getting going but all electric so far with paper mulch to control weeds and scavenged cardboard paths." ~~

Nice to see.  In worm country here, some people use newspaper wrapped around the stem when transplanting tomato's to reduce "Cut-Worm" damage.

BTW, can that "hay burner" pull a plow?   

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #71 on: March 17, 2014, 02:45:54 PM »
Nice to see.  In worm country here, some people use newspaper wrapped around the stem when transplanting tomato's to reduce "Cut-Worm" damage.

What's "Cut-Worm" damage, if I may ask?
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JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #72 on: March 17, 2014, 03:50:58 PM »
some people use newspaper wrapped around the stem when transplanting tomato's to reduce "Cut-Worm" damage.


What's "Cut-Worm" damage, if I may ask?


The terrible enemy of all tomato growers in my part of the world!  >:(
The tomato vines just wilt up and "die on the vine."

Newspaper strip cut to about the size of a dollar bill wrapped around the stem is a "type of" organic approach to avoid pesticide use. Half of width in soil - half above soil. Small plots - doubt it would be economical on an industrial scale.

http://www.tomatodirt.com/tomato-worms.html
Early season problems
Tomato worms, or more specifically cutworms, gobble up stems of tomato seedlings. They work mostly at night to do their damage, cutting off seedlings at the soil line. Gardeners who take no precautions against cutworms – beware! You may check your garden early one morning only to discover plants have disappeared from the surface on up.


https://www.google.com/#q=tomato+cutworm+newspaper
Will get a lot of information on the evil little devils.

I don't like "Hornworms" either  http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=772

Hope you don't have them where you live.

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #73 on: March 17, 2014, 04:06:24 PM »
Neven,

Is "Neem Oil" considered as organic in Austria?

How about "Chrysanthemum pyrethrum" (pyrethrins from Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium flowers)

Neven

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #74 on: March 17, 2014, 04:28:35 PM »
Neven,

Is "Neem Oil" considered as organic in Austria?

How about "Chrysanthemum pyrethrum" (pyrethrins from Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium flowers)


This, I wouldn't know. I had a fantasy (like all eco-suckers have before experience bites them in the ass) that we would plant a neem tree, but there's too much clay in our soils and Austria (still) isn't in the tropics.

I had heard about Pyrethrum, but didn't know it comes from a flower from the region where my roots lie.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #75 on: March 17, 2014, 04:54:53 PM »
  I avoid all pesticides organic or not. Pyrethroids have been all jacked up for commercial applications to make them more resistant to photo degrading and now they are a serious risk to benthic aquatic insects.
Jack, "the hay burner" is buggy trained and I tried hooking her up once to a harrow for my tractor. She was willing but a buggy harness isn't the same a a plow rig. I need a rigid collar for her comfort. Plowing a straight line was no where near as easy as it looks. There are skills I would need to acquire also but around here horses need either a very large pasture or purchased hay. I don't see horses as  an alternative to tractors locally but if you lived where there was adequate rain then they would be. Horses are herd animals ,very sweet and loyal. They have a way of returning love that is very hard to describe , thus my weakness.
 I am a practical sort and I really think my electric tillers will deliver better EROEI than horses at least in space limited conditions. I am trying my damnedest to figure a way out of this mess. I posted on "consequences" today hoping maybe that someone would agree with me that using solar power to produce food calories increases solars EROEI potential. Something hands on I can prove up with , and documentation , hopefully. I talk a blue streak , lobby , attend science conferences, and sit on government advisory boards but without offering practical evidence I am trying to come up with solutions it is easy for people to ear me out. Maybe I should have posted on "policy and solutions"
But could you give it a read and tell me what you think?
 p.s. There is light weight netting that can be used to keep Sphynx moths out of greenhouses to stop hornworm issues. ? Sphynx moths in Europe?
 

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #76 on: March 17, 2014, 08:12:41 PM »
Bruce Steele,

Glad to hear you've mastered "no-pesticides" period!

I only do table veggies on about 1/6 to 1/5 of an acre, < 1/4.

It's like a jungle here in the summer and since I do not sell any veggies I do 'stoop' to some "pesticide" spraying.  Hope I don't kill anyone at my dinner table.  ::)

I make my own pyrethrins from Chrysanthemum flowers - it's claimed some "Pyrethroids" are synthetically derived.

I use Neem Oil for "Pickle Worms" in Cucumbers from late July on - remembering to apply only very late in the evening to avoid blistering leaves by direct high sunlight and reduce killing beneficial insects (bees).

Some "horticulture oil" and/or some "homemade-insecticidal-soap" for a film in/on water buckets/barrels to trap mosquitoes.

The only chemical I purchase is "DACONIL" a chlorine based anti-fungal  for "Powdery Mildew" (cucumbers & squash/zucchini) when it's too heavy for the baking-soda treatment.  As the weather (climate) changes it has been heavily migrating from our southern coastal part of the state, South Carolina - Georgia.

Sphynx moths in Europe? = have no idea.
Don't have a greenhouse - use grow lamps with shelving in back bedroom for starting.

"Plowing a straight line was no where near as easy as it looks."
I can attest to that.  When I was 9 years old my uncle had my 1st cousin (a year older) and me cultivating corn an cotton from daylight to dark, using a horse in the morning, one of us riding and guiding, the other one holding the plow up.  Horse in the morning and switch to a mule in the afternoon.  The mule was very well trained, easy to guide, but no saddle (sore butt for a while).  By the time I was 16, I was running a team of horses to turn ground and had another two mules used for cultivation so well trained the only bad part was walking.

BTW, it took a lot of feed, hay, and fodder to get the mules & horses through the winter.
We even cut and baled "Kudzu" to mix in.

Will give your "consequences" post a read - but remember I've never aspired to be a farmer.
Left that life 6 months after graduating from high school.  Worked a lot on relatives places over the years though - my own is just a small garden, and guilty of loving to talk about it.  On average, about another month until frost free, but onions and taters in the ground.

Hope you have a very profitable season.


JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #77 on: March 17, 2014, 10:00:41 PM »
Cutworms - most of this problem can be avoided by always transplanting your tomato plants.  I never had any issues with cutworms using transplants.

Hornworms - keep a good eye out for damage to the tomato plants and pick off any you find.  If you look everyday you will catch them in time.  Once you find one that has been parasitized by the wasps (looks like tiny grains of white rice on the worms back) do not kill those as they are paralyzed by the wasp venom and are hosts for baby wasps.  Those wasps will hatch and annihilate all the worms you have not found.  And once the wasps show up on your farm they will always be there (unless you kill them with pesticides of course).  We only had worm problems the first year and after that the wasps killed them.  Bio-warfare!

Re horses:  To do large scale farming you need draft horses as the smaller thoroughbreds/quarter horse types are too fragile for heavy or long duration work.  The standard figure for a farming operation using draft horses was 25% of the land was needed to grow the food for the horses.  Think about that when you see posters indicating we will go back to that farming method and then recall that in 1900 there were something like 13 million work horses of varying percentages of draft horse blood in the US.  Considering the number there are in the US today it would take 40 years to regrow sufficient numbers to run all of Americas farm land.  One of my grandfathers was a draft horse breeder before the age of tractors came and my father spent his youth behind them.  He was running teams of 4 horses by the age of 10.   He decided going to college was the best escape! 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ghoti

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #78 on: March 18, 2014, 12:43:33 AM »
Cut worms used to get our transplants until we started digging around looking for them before transplanting and using collars to keep them out of the cleared area.

Now our problem is squirrels and bunnies. Though they tend to leave the tomatoes alone and get everything else.

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #79 on: March 18, 2014, 01:52:57 PM »
Cut worms used to get our transplants until we started digging around looking for them before transplanting and using collars to keep them out of the cleared area.

Now our problem is squirrels and bunnies. Though they tend to leave the tomatoes alone and get everything else.


yea ghoti,  you sound like me when first starting a garden on newly acquired property.
Until the "marigolds" had a couple of years to work their magic the cutworms were tough.

I now trap squirrels and go after the others with a pump-air rifle.  You ought to see people turn up their nose when I kid'em about "Dumplings and Squirrel."

I'm one of those who believe organic - sustainable farming will never, never, ever feed the masses.  I truly admire those who do everything in the organic way with no pesticides nor insecticides nor manufactured chemical fertilizers nor heavy machinery.  But, I'm also very particular about not corrupting the data. When I see limited production per worker, I just say it's OK to dream.

Where one farm workers output totally feeds several hundred people for a full year, that takes a lot more than we have time and space to define here.

But, this thread is about Gardening NOT Farming.

If anyone has so much as one square foot of ground - which would not start a war in their neighborhood for unsightly property - backyards are usually/partially  out of sight - then they should grow some type of food plant.  I know one excuse not to, having an extended absence during the growing time.  I thoroughly know the time and expense - acquiring "horticulture skill" (green thumb)  at first is not logical in most folks thoughts of production for being worthwhile.  I realize a lot of people live in apartments - condos.  There so many things that can be grown in a small space, even in just pots and hanging baskets.

With all that said and done, let me put in a plug for a rival of my favorite college/university.
To my belief, virtually all USA 'States' have an Agriculture Component in their colleges.

Home & Garden Information Center
of Clemson University http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/
is what I use the most.  Also, Texas A&M has good online information.  Most or all states do.

At the above Clemson web-site there is a link, on the left "Search HGIC"
result is http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/search.html
you name it and if it's grown or occurred in my area information seems to be there.

BTW, I love "Heirloom Tomatoes" especially "Cherokee Purple" but put out some "Early Girl" for quicker results.  Some of my heirlooms may be kind of ugly - but taste you can't get from a supermarket.



wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #80 on: March 18, 2014, 05:00:47 PM »
Jack wrote: "I'm one of those who believe organic - sustainable farming will never, never, ever feed the masses."

As you know, essentially 'organic' farming always, always, always  :) fed the masses up to a few decades ago. In China, it did so in the same area for over four millennia--maybe not quite long enough to be considered ultimately sustainable, but not to bad.

Keep in mind also that a huge portion of modern mono-crop ag goes to feeding animals and cars. There are in fact still 'masses' that are mostly supported by mostly organic farming and gardening.

I do like your idea about growing on whatever you have. Even windows and porches can be sites for a few veggie plants. I believe it was in one of McKibben's books where he said that 40% of the vegetables consumed in Hong Kong are grown within the city limits. So there is a lot that can be done even in "one of the most densely populated areas in the world."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong

But we do have to bring lots more people into ag, on the one hand, and reduce both mouths to feed and wasteful use of food as well.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #81 on: March 18, 2014, 10:28:11 PM »
Jack wrote: "I'm one of those who believe organic - sustainable farming will never, never, ever feed the masses."

As you know, essentially 'organic' farming always, always, always  :) fed the masses up to a few decades ago. In China, it did so in the same area for over four millennia--maybe not quite long enough to be considered ultimately sustainable, but not to bad.

Keep in mind also that a huge portion of modern mono-crop ag goes to feeding animals and cars. There are in fact still 'masses' that are mostly supported by mostly organic farming and gardening.

I do like your idea about growing on whatever you have. Even windows and porches can be sites for a few veggie plants. I believe it was in one of McKibben's books where he said that 40% of the vegetables consumed in Hong Kong are grown within the city limits. So there is a lot that can be done even in "one of the most densely populated areas in the world."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong

But we do have to bring lots more people into ag, on the one hand, and reduce both mouths to feed and wasteful use of food as well.


wili,

Agree with you to the extent that perhaps "mined inorganic" fertilizer fed the masses for centuries until synthetic fertilizers caused the so called "Industrial Agriculture Revolution."

But, how many Billions were in the masses prior to say 1750?
approx ~ Ten Percent (~ 10%) of present

Do you think the world could feed Five Billion using organic only?

If industrial society breaks down or collapses - how will we transport what small amounts of mined inorganic's are available to the prime agriculture areas?

There may be a reason(s) why some people say less than 100 Million is the maximum post collapse.
Not even close to the number for the masses of today.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 10:37:09 PM by JackTaylor »

wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #82 on: March 18, 2014, 10:42:47 PM »
Yep, how massive the masses are is a very important consideration. I just think it important to keep some historical perspective.

But do look into how much of the main industrial crops in the US--corn, soy and wheat--actually go directly to feeding people as opposed to cows, cars, and other non-human-food products. You might be surprised.

As to 'mined fertilizer': as I understand it, the oldest continually used 'bread baskets' exploited what might be called 'naturally mined' fertilizer and, practiced intensive recycling of minerals.

The flooding Nile brought minerals from the lands from the south, but they were also very aware of the importance of manure--hence the dung beetle being a sacred creature.

China also got 'free fertility' from the flooding of their two great rivers, but also had an intensive culture of using manure, including especially night soil or 'humanure.'

One area I've always wanted to look into is that of the Balkan republics: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia--apparently their tilth steadily increased over the centuries that they practiced agriculture, much more so than other areas of Europe.

I'm not sure what their secrets were, but I know they were one of the last to be Christianized, and even after that, they held trees and streams as sacred and had a much more earth-centered perspective, iirc.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2014, 10:51:59 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #83 on: March 19, 2014, 11:55:34 AM »
wili,

We will be talking in a circle for a long time unless we define certain parameters.

From my point of reference, it's sustaining a world population of near 10,000,000,000 (ten billion).
I truly believe that is the masses.

During the 'heyday' of the ancient Chinese - Egyptian I'm led to believe total world population was somewhat less than one billion.

Repeat:
"Do you think the world could feed Five Billion using organic only?"
It's only half of what I'm talking about.

I am a true believer that Organic Grown Food is the BEST
but,
I don't adhere to strictly eating organic only.


wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #84 on: March 19, 2014, 01:02:00 PM »
5 billion. I don't know. Certainly in places like much of the Middle East and North Africa the local populations have far outstripped their abilities to live on the productivity of the land, even without there were now impacts of GW crashing around their ears. Probably southern Europe is on the verge of the same.

Besides population distribution, we also have the problem that much of the land that has been industrially farmed is now much less productive, so even turning it back over to totally organic methods, it would take a long time for the biological life of the soils to return.

On the other side of the equation, we wouldn't just be going back to traditional methods--there have been a lot of advances in our understanding of how to make organic work better than it had in the past. So weighing all these things together, I have to say that I don't know, but probably not with current distributions of population, and especially in an energy constrained, AGW beset world.

I do know that if 90% of the industrial corn crop in the US disappeared tomorrow, it wouldn't make much of a difference to world hunger IF a lot more people became mostly vegetarian and we stopped using corn for cars and for other industrial uses.

"About 12% of the U.S. corn crop ends up in foods that are either consumed directly (e.g. corn chips) or indirectly (e.g. high fructose corn syrup)" (Not that HFCS is essentially poison and should be removed from people's diets anyway.)

It looks like about a third of soy goes to cattle, and another goodly portion to industrial uses. So a lot of that could go away as well and not have much of an impact on global food availability (given the same circumstances listed above).

Those are the two largest crops in the US.

http://www.epa.gov/oecaagct/ag101/cropmajor.html

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #85 on: March 19, 2014, 02:32:14 PM »
"Do you think the world could feed Five Billion using organic only?"
5 billion. I don't know.

Exactly what population number do you believe "organic" could feed (totally sustain)?

I realize we covered a lot on levels in the thread:
Population: Public Enemy No. 1  https://forum.arctic-sea-ice.net/index.php/topic,473.0.html

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #86 on: March 19, 2014, 03:30:57 PM »
Jack, Home gardening could make a big difference. Just ripping out the lawn, planting fruit trees, and edibles instead of ornamentals would be a nice starter. I traveled in Hungary right after the wall came down and almost every house had a garden, some chickens and many with a pig.
 Experience in seed selection makes a big difference. Some veggies  are just better adapted locally and don't have the same pest issues as others. Grow what works best.
 Mostly it's the scale of equipment that allows such massive production. This will eventually end.
Like many issues we follow on this forum it seems there is just no way out. Gardening is to some degree a salve, physical labor settles the mind. It does connect us to our roots and will expand as
necessity demands. Local is much more important than organic and moderation in chemical solutions
Is healthier than a complete dependance on the supermarket.
 I share my little attempts at getting off fuels as an example of how very difficult it really is and I do know what I am doing around a garden to start with. 
 

wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #87 on: March 19, 2014, 08:22:18 PM »
Good point Bruce.

Jack, I don't know how many ways to say, "I don't know."

But my rough calculations show that everyone in the world could be supplied about 2000 calories a day just from the corn that the US alone does not use for direct consumption.

So given equitable distribution and logical end use (very big 'givens' I'll grant) there would appear to be some 'wiggle room' on feeding the global population at this point.

(But do feel free to do the calculations yourself, as I have little confidence in my meager mathematical abilities.)
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #88 on: March 19, 2014, 08:34:31 PM »
The big kicker with the discussion in the last few posts is what level of fossil fuels is assumed in the discussion.  Unlimited is where we are now.  When there were none in use we ran at about 1 billion population, but the caveat in that number was that we were still destroying large acreages of arable land over time so we were already unsustainable.  We just had enough extra land it did not matter all that much, except to those who starved in specific areas.

If we decide to reach a level of sustainability comparable to 1500 and take into account our more comprehensive knowledge of biology and were willing to use very moderate amounts of carbon emitting energy what number would we get?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #89 on: March 19, 2014, 10:35:15 PM »
wili,

You're not the only one that doesn't know.

Also, I've seen figures elsewhere supporting 2K calories/person from USA corn for whole world.
But it's not "organic corn" and there is no way in hell I'll ever believe we could produce that much corn other than by industrial synthetic fertilizer agriculture methods.  Hopefully there will be folks that come along and prove me wrong.

As an old saying goes "everyone has their favorite (pet) peeve"
there are also many everyones who have a favorite theory.
Most time I refuse to ask'em what they're smoking and drinking.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bruce,

I 'm a strong believer, and practice what I preach, in the home or backyard garden.
I know it can help as it did in the past with "Victory Gardens."

A significant event is necessary to wake-up a super majority (catastrophic ?).


wili

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #90 on: March 19, 2014, 11:13:40 PM »
The point is: pretty much all that corn could go away tomorrow, and most of the world would be no worse off than it is now (in terms of direct calorie consumption).

In other words, much of industrial ag is involved in something other than feeding the world.

On the other hand:

Food Prices Surge as Drought Exacts a High Toll on Crops


Surging prices for food staples from coffee to meat to vegetables are driving up the cost of groceries in the U.S., pinching consumers and companies that are still grappling with a sluggish economic recovery.


http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303287804579445311778530606?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303287804579445311778530606.html

Thanks to COBob at robbertscribbler for the link. Sorry that it's to WSJ. :(
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 02:40:06 AM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JackTaylor

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #91 on: March 20, 2014, 10:26:32 AM »
The point is: pretty much all that corn could go away tomorrow, and most of the world would be no worse off than it is now (in terms of direct calorie consumption).

In other words, much of industrial ag is involved in something other than feeding the world.

wili,

I thought the conversation had drifted to "Organic" and will add without Nitrogen I have absolutely no faith in the USA "dent corn" crop.  I've spread a lot of "chicken manure" for it's Nitrogen content simply based on cost/availability and there's not enough for Illinois not to mention Iowa.  http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/repositoryfiles/ca3507p24-61767.pdf

BTW, I no longer grow corn in my garden - this one's too small. I Highly recommend to folks in my neck of the woods for their "Silver Queen" to try Osage Farms http://www.dillardgeorgia.com/osage-farms/  buy the big green mesh bag-full.

What do you do for your freezing and canning of corn?

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #92 on: March 21, 2014, 09:39:03 PM »

SATire

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #93 on: March 22, 2014, 02:02:32 PM »
Hi everybody,

I want to share some thoughts about gardening in harmony with nature, which is quite common in urban fringe and villages here. I am not talking about agriculture. Next to harvesting some high quality food important goals include also education, curiosity, recreation, increasing bio-diversity and such.

There are a lot of different philosophies and concepts out there - I do not want to discuss them here. E.g. there is the old bio-dynamical way described by Steiner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture - we could discuss for weeks the strange esoteric and pseudo-scientific background. I do not want to discuss that. In my opinion everybody should walk the way suitable for his/her life and circumstances. There is the more modern concept of permaculture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permaculture and there are a lot of local concepts and association which could fit your interests, your climate and your needs for interaction with other poeple best. 

What does gardening in harmony with nature mean?

1) Do not try to control your garden. Interactions in nature are way more complicated than e.g. a nuclear power plant. You can never understand every detail so you will never be able to control everything.

2) Take your time and watch a year or two before you start actions and brutaly change everything and maybe destroy an old community of synergetic life forms. Look at the cold/wet  places and the sunny areas and who is flying or crawling there and with wich plants and herbs you share the garden. Unlike a nuclear power plant nature can do quite well without you.

3) Make it complicated. The more different places you have the more different life-forms can stay at your place. The more diverse the ecology is, the more stable it is. So make your garden looking and feeling different in different spots: Trees give shadow, some water is very helpful (even a 100l bucket may help the frog and the syrphid fly and dragon fly), a small area with high grass and different flowers, a pile of stones and sand in a sunny place, a pile of old wood from different trees, some acid soil under some firs and some other place with lime/chalky soil, a compost pile, some lawn with clover and a hammock...

4) Do not clean your garden to much. Especially take care for predators (wesps, fire flys, centipedes, frogs, salamanders, birds, hedgehogs ...) - they need places to hide in the winter and material to build a nest.  The pile of wood and a pile of stones are nice homes. Do not remove all dry flowers/herbs in autumn. Make it look different, interesting and worth living for a lot of species.

5) There are no enemies in your garden. Ignore words like weed or vermin. Every life form is valuable. The problem you may face is that in a unstable ecology with limited number of species some life forms spread to much and to fast. In that case remove some of the species claiming to much space - but not all! You do not want to expulse their predators. Maybe you even need some more different "vermins" to make your garden an attractive one for predators. And it may take some time for the predators to come back. Maybe they were killed by insecticides before. The use of any insecticides guarantees the later invasion of some bugs because the predators were killed and they are much more sensitive to a broken ecology.

6) Plant the stuff you want to eat and want to look at. Try to use original plants native to your place or climate. Do not use breeded stuff but the "real" plants - e.g. there is a nice snowball bush with white flowers: They are beautiful but sterile flowers without nectar for insects and without berries for birds. Try different versions and look which kinds of plants like to share the garden with you. Do not force the plants to life with you - some may be just the wrong plant at the wrong place.

7) Enjoy your garden - if you really do not like something remove it. The garden is a fun place for you. The more fun you have the more tolerant you are to other species and the better for all life forms sharing the same place. Try to life in peace with the species - but if some species do not want to life in peace with others you are the advocate of the victims, you are responsible for everything you do or let alone.

just my 2c

SATire

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #94 on: March 22, 2014, 06:43:48 PM »
http://www.bioland.de/fileadmin/dateien/HP_Dokumente/Allgemeine_Informationen/2012_12_12_Vergleich-BL-EGVO_englisch.pdf
[...]
What I  didn't see was whether a reduction of energy inputs were specifically considered ? Where they a goal?

Hi Bruce - sorry I missed that question before.

I think for bioland energy input is not considered. But demeter considers energy input - just because they try to consider everything and maybe also something you do not want to be considered. I think there is an organic concept for everybody out there ;-)

adelady

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #95 on: March 23, 2014, 02:49:29 PM »
 A few ideas on organic and permaculture and - essential where I live - watering.   

Water.  One of the most inspiring things on radio I heard one day was one of those gardening guys who pointed out the most obvious thing.  If you want to store water, the best place is in the soil.  Obviously that doesn't work for your lettuces on a hot summer's day, but by and large it's not a bad principle to live by.    The other thing to think about is changing what you grow.  Some plants are just too thirsty.   And for trees?   Watch out what you do with the overflow from your rainwater tank, don't waste it.   My granny's garden was well watered because the tank overflow was directed into a surface brick drain, which went past at least eight fruit trees before ending up in the bamboo patch - which provided all the tomato and other stakes for summer crops.  None of the rain that fell on the house or the garden left the premises.   It was all used in the garden or the laundry or in cooking. 

Organic versus permaculture.  Organic is more or less the hard way to do conventional gardening.   Permaculture is a way of organising your garden and associated land so that the land, plants and animals are set up to do more work than you do.   For those who are interested in how to organise a chook cleared and fertilised series of beds for successive crops, I recommend Linda Woodrow http://books.google.com.au/books/about/The_Permaculture_Home_Garden.html?id=P9VUAAAACAAJ .  It's written for Australian conditions, so you guys with snow and ice and other detriments to year round veg gardening wouldn't be able to use her scheme of fruit trees for the veg beds - I believe citrus trees don't do very well in such conditions.   

Pest control.  The first principle is to make life as hard as possible for pests.  So don't plant your broccoli or lettuces all in a row.   Mix everything up as much as you can.  Bugs then can't munch their way through your crop as though it's a cafeteria with all the goodies lined up.   That means growing flowers and "weeds" in among the vegetable and fruit plantings.  A good idea is to have extra lavender, rosemary and half a dozen varieties of thyme in medium sized pots - big enough to support reasonably sized plants, small enough to be moved every few weeks or so where they're needed.  They'll both promote bees when/where you want them and support other bugs all or most of the time.    And a frog pond in the middle, or other suitable part, of your garden is a great perpetual bug eating machine.   A good hint is to have a candle or lantern by the edge every few nights so the nighttime bugs get a chance to meet the residents.    And you can grow water chestnuts, watercress and a few other edibles in the pond into the bargain.   

The best bug killers are chooks.  They find every possible bug and slug and turn them into garden fertiliser.   Chooks can't be trusted among growing veggies - but they will seek out and destroy every bug and every egg that remains after a crop is finished.   And you can maintain their green veg diet with any weeds you pull. 

Permaculture.  The most important thing is the "perma" part.   As much of your garden as possible should be trees, shrubs, vines and other perennial plants.   Asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries, artichokes, raspberries and other brambles.  You can also handle household veg so that the plants are sort of perennial or at least long-lived - if you cut spring onions and leeks off just above the roots instead of pulling them, they'll just keep growing and give you another veg to pick much, much more quickly and for much less trouble/fertiliser/water than replanting a new batch.   (You'll also get much more broccoli per plant if you start cutting as soon as heads start to form.)    And you use various attributes of shade or ground cover or clear ground beneath or dropped leaves/fruits/seeds from the trees and perennials as nutrients for other plants.   

Don't be so keen to get rid of the whole of your lawn.  Think about it.   You might want to keep some of it, you might want to replace most or all of it with grasses and other plants that grow reasonably fast - and provide. you. with. plant. material. that you don't have to fetch from elsewhere for mulch, compost, animal bedding, chook run.  Lawn clippings are also a useful addition to compost or chook areas.  Especially if you want to use big compost heaps to clear (and fertilise) plots for veg.    It's also a good idea to plant a few extra of those pest control shrubs to be cut down regularly to provide more bulk material for mulch and compost. 

Use your fences.  Espalier trees there as well as growing vines on them.  Also climbing beans and peas can be grown up them, on their own or in and around the trees/vines/shrubs.   Especially the ones you don't want to pick green but let mature and keep as dried pulses for winter soups and the like. 

adelady

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #96 on: March 23, 2014, 03:12:10 PM »
And let's not forget the quality aspects of growing your own.  One way to minimise watering and protecting plants is to pick them young.  That way you can get the sort of things that are extremely expensive in shops, and save yourself the worry of growing things on through bad weather. 

Baby leeks, baby beets, baby turnips, baby carrots, whole heads of small cabbage or lettuce are gourmet items in many places.  You can have them several times a week.   And save yourself the trouble of keeping up the water to a largish veg as it grows.   

And if you intend to pick them young and small, you can plant a whole heap more in the area that would normally take only a few.   With some varieties of cabbage, they're pickable after a mere six weeks but will also grow to a large size for a further 4 or 6 weeks.  So you can fill up the bed with them much more closely planted - saving on clearing and weeding - start picking alternate ones after a few weeks and leave the remainder to take up the space they've left.  One thing many people recommend is to cut rather than pull.  Leaving in the stub provides an avenue for water to penetrate further more easily and as the plants either side get bigger, that water supply will be just beyond their dripline.  Exactly where you want it.    You can do the same thing with beets.

Bruce Steele

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #97 on: March 23, 2014, 03:23:26 PM »
Adelady, Very nice. I loved the movable herb garden idea as keeping perennials around annuals requires much hand weeding that your trick would obviate. Also frog buckets with night lights is a good one. They too might be designed as movable and kept under the potted herbs for a little shade. I have always wondered what to do with the little solar night lights people use along paths ,now I know.My aunt kept a little pond with some pond lilies that the bullfrogs sat upon. With a nightlight you might draw enough protein to keep the frogs in fairly small buckets. Maybe add a goldfish to keep the water clean. I wish I could let my chickens wander but I have always lost them to coyotes, bobcats, owls and the neighborhood dogs. I got pretty mad at the neighbors the second time their dogs took out my 6 month old hen replacements that I had hand rolled in the incubator. Now I only let out the old hens that have stopped laying and I tell them freedom has it's costs. Isn't worth fighting neighbors over anyhow. 
 You should also try a lettuce called " little gem" over here and " sucrine " in France. Mine made it through a 22 degree F cold snap and it can take very hot temperatures and still stay sweet, thus the French name I suppose.

JimD

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #98 on: March 23, 2014, 04:55:59 PM »
Bruce

Just FYI in regards to our earlier discussion.

I read yesterday that many put the EROEI of industrial agriculture at about 0.1

I suspect that does not include the embedded energy in all the equipment but more along the lines of pure energy inputs to calories out.  A pure EROEI number might be an order of magnitude or more worse.  As you know, a big tractor can burn over 300 gal of diesel a day.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Gardening
« Reply #99 on: March 23, 2014, 05:06:49 PM »
And let's not forget the quality aspects of growing your own.  One way to minimise watering and protecting plants is to pick them young.  That way you can get the sort of things that are extremely expensive in shops, and save yourself the worry of growing things on through bad weather. 

A point worth emphasising.

If you choose your seeds wisely (increasingly hard to do in the EU at least as heirloom seeds are being heavily attacked), the taste and quality difference between items freshly picked from your own garden and purchased from the shelves of a supermarket is very significant.

Firstly, nothing in a supermarket is "just picked fresh" - most of it is days old.

Secondly, supermarket produce is selected for its ability to transport, handle and store for long periods of time. Taste is a secondary consideration if it is considered at all. I can think of countries where the supermarket strawberries pretty much taste like cardboard...

Unfortunately the ignorant city dwelling masses are so far removed from all this they simply don't understand what has been lost from our diet.