Monday, June 29, 2009

Would you eat this if you knew?

Robin works at the monastery. They have a kitchen there where they prepare food for the monks, employees and people who come there on retreat. They get their food from the commercial food supply giant Sysco. Robin brought home some boxes to use as weed control under the mulch. We got as far a putting the boxes down on top of the weeds but have not gotten to mulching yet. No mulch on-hand being the reason. Today i was walking over the boxes to get to the water spigot when i happened to look down and read the words printed on the end of a box that contained oranges. The box said that the fruit inside had been treated with one or more of the following: pyrimethanil, fludioxinil, thiabendazole, imazalil ..... I started googling these scary words.
What the box did not say was that these pesticides are to varying degrees known or suspected carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, developmental or reproductive toxins, ground water contaminators and other equally bad things.
This is what we are being fed in cafeterias and restaurants everywhere.
Do you really want to eat that?

Friday, June 26, 2009


I space my tomatoes pretty far apart to allow for good air circulation so that conditions that favor blight will be reduced. I am also on the lookout for opportunities to multi-crop. I got the idea earlier in the season that it might be a good idea to grow some bush snap beans between the tomatoes. There were 4 possible benefits i reasoned. 1. the tomatoes could take advantage of the nitrogen fixed by the rhizobium bacteria that colonize the bean roots. ( i inoculated the seed). 2. the beans would shade the soil which would reduce evaporation and keep the roots of the tomatoes cooler. 3. We would get 2 crops out of the space. 4. The blight organisms live in the soil and get onto the lower tomato leaves by being splashed by the rain. By having the beans between the soil and the tomato leaves blight infestation might be reduced.
I waited until the tomatoes were about 3' tall before planting the beans. The beans are starting to produce now. The tomato plants are doing well. No blight so far.
Seems like it is working.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Self Preservation

Lots of crops are producing abundantly now so we are busy eating a lot, selling some and preserving the rest for later. We love canned green beans so we can lots of them for the winter. We like preserves on our biscuits and cornbread so we are making blackberry preserves. We like fermented vegetables too so we are making kraut from purple cabbage and fermenting big jars of mixed vegetables. The ingredients will change with the seasons. Right now they are filled with carrots, white turnips, zucchini, yellow squash and broccoli. We have 2- 1 gallon jars and 2- 1/2 gallon jars going now. Robin gets them for the kitchen at the Monastery where she works. They came with pickles in them, ironically enough. Each jar is flavored with different herbs and seasonings. Rosemary in one, garlic and basil in another, thyme in a third and jalapeno peppers and spicy oregano in the last one.
The great thing about fermenting is that they are live cultures that have many health benefits. They aid digestion increasing nutrient absorption. Studies have shown that the fermentation of vegetables in the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts,, collards, bok choy...) converts glucosinolates in them into a powerful group of cancer fighting compounds called isothiocyanates. The same lacto-bacillus that ferment the vegetables live inside our digestive systems.
Self-preservation ;-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


All components of the aquaponics system are fully functional now. The water in the fish tank is crystal clear. The fish are healthy and eating voraciously. The plants are looking good. Right now i have growing basil, marjoram, peppers, and oca (a tropical tuber producing plant in the oxalis genus). I will be adding my favorite komatsuna greens soon.
the one issue is that there is a lot of splash so i have to add water more often than i would like. I am using rain water so it is free. I will make some modifications that should reduce the splash a good bit. It does force me to do water changes which i probably wouldn't do otherwise. With the few fish we have i don't think it is necessary anyway.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A couple of days ago we planted the first corn in one of the no-till beds. Most of the rye did what it was supposed to do and died. Some survived. The survivors i cut again with the weed whacker. As expected, where the cut rye and clover did not cover the ground thickly some weeds have started to grow. Other than a few tough perennial plants such as burdock the thickly covered areas have very few or no weeds germinating. I started the corn in 2 1/4 inch pots 3 1/2 weeks ago so they would have a head start when the no-till bed was ready for planting. They were about 6-8 inches tall with a good root system when i planted them. I put a handful of alfalfa meal as a nitrogen source where each plant was to go and worked it in as i planted. I watered them in with a solution of fish fertilizer. We had a thunderstorm the following evening which added some more nitrogen from the atmosphere.
I think this just might work!