Monday, March 30, 2015

It's About More Than Food

With the arrival of spring, I have decided to take this blog post in a new direction, enlarging our vision of "sustainablility" as it applies to people in their everyday lives. If preserving our planet's ecosystems and biodiversity for future generations is important enough to you that you spend your weekends growing food and you teach your kids how to raise chickens in the backyard, I hope you will join me in a renewed quest to define the goals of a sustainable society and to explore ways to achieve those goals.

Since its inception, I have wanted this blog to be about sustainability and leaving the world a better place than when we found it. Perhaps the most significant way in which one can interact directly with the surrounding environment is through growing some of your own food at home. Home food production is in numerous ways both good for the environment and for the individual, and is fast becoming the number one home-based leisure pursuit. That is good news.

Now for the bad news, growing your own food, riding a bike to work and recycling will not save the planet. While it is better for the earth that you do these things rather than not doing them, the collective effort of even millions of people will not be enough to stop the wanton destruction of our only home.

Our best hope for a better future for our grandchildren and their grandchildren in turn can only be realized through change in our political and social consciousness. The scale of climate change, species loss, pollution, and deforestation are all global. As the citizens of the world's richest and most powerful country, we have an obligation to ourselves and the rest of the biosphere to do everything we can to alter the dangerous course down which many among our politicians and uber-capitalists would have us tread. Corporations and institutions which do not have the best interests of the world and it people in mind when constructing policy are the real power centers in our so-called democracy, and they are presently doing everything possible to reduce the rest of us to minions.

The profound damages resulting from industrial agriculture, resource extraction, and the discharge of waste products into the commons must be eliminated where possible and mitigated otherwise, or else we are headed for a catastrophe that will make World War II look like an across-the-fence spat. But before we can do any of these things, we have to elect leaders who, at the very minimum, look to science and established facts when formulating policy, and not to some arbitrary ideology. To base our national policies on anything other than the best information science can provide is worse than crazy. It is suicidal.

In the coming weeks, I will be offering information and opinions on certain policy issues, in addition to advice on growing and preparing food at home. Please join the conversation. Post your comments and opinions, also.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Out of Hibernation

After a month's hiatus due to family issues, I am back at the keyboard. We had an especially wintry February, but the current week has given us the first taste of 70-degree sunshine, and the vernal equinox is Thursday. The garden looks great, and we have lots of transplants waiting in the wings.

Yesterday we planted peas, transplanted spinach seedlings, and added compost to the bed where potatoes will be planted, on the traditional date, Tuesday, St. Patrick's Day. Appropriately enough, we are planting Irish Cobbler again this year. We will plant some radish seeds here and there, also. Cherry Belle is the variety we have chosen for spring planting. It produces roots about the size of a nickel.

Waiting in the wings are lettuce seedlings of several varieties, leeks about the diameter of a string, and a Greek basil, 'Bush Spicy Globe,' that we plan on keeping in containers.

We have been harvesting lettuce, parsley and cilantro from our windowsill garden, and will be replanting it with lettuce seedlings this week. As more and more crops become possible outdoors, we tend to focus on achieving "perfect" lettuce under the pampering conditions of our indoor garden.

I had the pleasure last Saturday of presenting a talk on spring vegetable gardening, as the guest of Stanley's Greenhouse.  Stanley's is also the sponsor of "Garden Talk," the radio show I co-host with Dr. Sue Hamilton and Andy Pulte. Please join us on Saturday mornings at 8:00 on 94.3 WNFZ-FM.

We have been forcing our Bletilla orchids for early blooms this season. You can find them at these local garden centers:

Stanley's Greenhouse
Ellenburg's Nursery and Landscaping
Mayo Garden Center, Emory Road
Mayo Garden Center, Bearden
Sweet Pea Garden and Gifts, Bearden

Please support your local, independent garden centers!