Monday, October 19, 2009


I thought this article in yesterday's Times was modestly provocative. The problem and its solution are not, I think, clearly identified in the article.

Recycling Goes From Less Waste to Zero Waste [...]Though born of idealism, the zero-waste philosophy is now propelled by sobering realities, like the growing difficulty of securing permits for new landfills and an awareness that organic decay in landfills releases methane that helps warm the earth’s atmosphere. [...]Americans are still the undisputed champions of trash, dumping 4.6 pounds per person per day, according to the E.P.A.’s most recent figures. More than half of that ends up in landfills or is incinerated.
Better recycling is important, but it seems like a Chamber of Commerce response to the problem--it's inoffensive and it leaves us feeling like, by gosh, I've done something good for the "environment".

For most problems, however, the solution to a given problem is to do less of whatever is causing the problem. If my problem is that I drink too much gin, the answer is not "take up smoking." The answer is, stop drinking so much gin. (It's not always so easy. A problem like "I'm stuck in a loveless marriage" involves solutions of a different sort.)

The answer to the problem if waste is not recycling because recycling didn't get us into the problem. Succinctly put, we buy too much crap. (Why we buy too much crap is another interesting question, but not apropos here.) Moreover, most of that crap is made of nasty plastic, and it's manufactured overseas. I never see the god awful mess (environmental and social) created by the manufacturing of my crap. When we tire after a few minutes playing with our new plastic piece of crap, we toss it into the waste bin, which every Thursday is conveniently picked up and moved somewhere I cannot see it, along with everyone else's crap.

The solution, then, is not "recycle better" (though that is part of a possible solution). The solution is, buy less crap.

............. Let me add that there's another solution to certain problems: Doing the opposite of what causes the problem can sometimes solve it. Sloth is undone by industry. So, not only should we buy less crap, but we should seek (in Wendell Berry's formulation) to become producing households, not just consuming ones. In our household, aside from producing a modest amount of the food we eat, we produce children, and take sole responsibility for their education. We produce much of our own entertainment (friends, music and reading) and try to ignore most of the mass-produced kind (no television). Finally, I guess, I produce most of the animal flesh that we consume...

These are modest things, and I am humbly aware of how much more I could do. But they are a start to the solution.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


My poor winter crops! They'll make it through, but it's been tough going for brassicas, lettuces, etc. Surprisingly good tomato set, though, despite the warm nights. Really a dreadful October so far...

NWS climate report.
Climate...Vero Beach set a new record high at 94 degrees today
breaking the old record of 90 degrees last set in 2002.

Orlando and Vero Beach also have extended their streaks of
consecutive days with high temperatures 90 degrees or higher to 10
and 11 days respectively which are new records for the month of October.
The radishes and peas I sowed over the weekend are already up, so the cooler weather that's headed our way is particularly welcome.

I notice that this is post number six-hundred.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A quick update in words...

It's HOT and DRY out there. I wartered my lawn for the first time since, well... probably May. My brassicas and chard are all doing OK, but suffering a bit in the afternoon. I ripped out all my summer beans (yard-longs, limas and cowpeas), spread a few baskets of mushroom compost, and planted a row of Super Sugar Snap Peas, and a mixed row of radishes (Crimson Crunch), carrots (Sugarsnax) and beets (Red Ace). All these seeds are hybrids--I decided this year to try them out, see if they did better for me. In particular I hope that their extra vigor helps with the poor seedling yield I've had on all my winter crops when they're planted during our hot and muggy late fall. Beets in particular can be vexing--I've had to resow every year to fill in the gaps.

Tomande and Yellow Submarine tomatoes are doing well. Peppers, especially Sweet Spot, are continuing to produce nicely, as they have all summer. Leonotis menthifolia (Lion's Mane) has finally kicked into bloom. Orlando Tangelos are coloring up a bit and, oddly, my grapes have produced a second (sparse) harvest. (I wonder if this is normal? They are ripening now, and should be ripe by November.) I cut my banana stalk a couple days ago and it's yellowing up quickly. Zinnias are getting ready to bloom. That's about it...

Friday, October 09, 2009

Gut Check: Here's the Meat of the Problem -

I agree... why are people so prickly when you suggest that, maybe, you know, eating too much meat is bad all around... It's bad for YOU, it's bad for the environment, and eating less is easy.
Gut Check: Here's the Meat of the Problem - "But the result isn't funny at all: Two researchers at the University of Chicago estimated that switching to a vegan diet would have a bigger impact than trading in your gas guzzler for a Prius (PDF). A study out of Carnegie Mellon University found that the average American would do less for the planet by switching to a totally local diet than by going vegetarian one day a week. That prompted Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to recommend that people give up meat one day a week to take pressure off the atmosphere. The response was quick and vicious. 'How convenient for him,' was the inexplicable reply from a columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. 'He's a vegetarian.'

The visceral reaction against anyone questioning our God-given right to bathe in bacon has been enough to scare many in the environmental movement away from this issue. The National Resources Defense Council has a long page of suggestions for how you, too, can 'fight global warming.' As you'd expect, 'Drive Less' is in bold letters. There's also an endorsement for 'high-mileage cars such as hybrids and plug-in hybrids.' They advise that you weatherize your home, upgrade to more efficient appliances and even buy carbon offsets. The word 'meat' is nowhere to be found."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

park's order

Getting my winter and spring seeds in order... I've decided to try a bunch of hybrids-beets, carrots and radishes this year.

Radish Cherriette Hybrid
Radish April Cross Hybrid
Pea Super Sugar Snap
Carrot Sweetness II Hybrid


Still working on understanding how to grow malanga (above). It's so tasty, so easy, but wow does it have a long season. I've decided it needs a 10 month season--which, given its persistent tubers, isn't as unlikely as it sounds. I just need the space to grow it.

Well, it feels like the tropics out there (minus the rain... BOY IS IT DRY!)... so, a tropical harvest of malanga, bananas, and roselle. I cut out most of my roselles a month ago because they hadn't started forming calyxes yet and I needed space for my cucumbers (yeah, the ones that got destroyed by stinkbugs...). Now I really regret having done that--the roselles are just covered in "berries." Ah,w ell, live and learn. Creating a long-lived annual/perennial vegetable bed should help solve this problem. The roselles were super easy to grow. Seeds available from ECHO.
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