Tag Archives: organics

When We Feed The Soil, We Feed Ourselves

Any time that we place compostable food scraps in the trash we are throwing away valuable natural resources. In Santa Barbara County, an estimated 700 tons of trash a day goes to our landfill and of that, about 40% is considered compostable. What happens to food scraps in the landfill? After being buried under layers of trash and dirt, food scraps begin to slowly decompose and emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and methane- a potent climate change causing gas.

Food Scraps On Their Way To A Worm Bin

Food Scraps- Landfill or Compost?

What to do? Compost!  Composting your food scraps turns your trash into treasure, saves you money on gardening inputs, and helps you become part of the solution to climate change.  Composting is easy, doesn’t require a lot of space, tools or materials and offers you a crash course in observing decomposition- a much maligned and feared natural process.  Finished compost is an excellent soil amendment. When you feed the soil with compost, you are improving soil tilth and providing plants with beneficial nutrients and microbes.

Composting Educator Bill Palmisano

Composting Educator Bill Palmisano

Here are four ways to get started on your journey of feeding the soil.  By creating the conditions for compost to happen you are calling in theFBI- fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates to do the composting work for you.

1.) Compost Piles– These require the most land area, at least 3’x3’x3′.  By layering dry sticks, cardboard and leaves (carbon) with food scraps, grass, and yard waste (nitrogen) you create a rich haven for composting bacteria to thrive. When your pile heats up, you’re on your way to creating your first batch of “black gold.” Be sure to keep your pile well aerated by turning it and watering it in dry climates.

2.) Compost Bins– Some people like to place their food scraps in a reclosable bin and let them decompose slowly. Sometimes this method can get a bit smelly (anaerobic), but it’s easy and convenient. The drawback is that anaerobic compost emits methane gas.

3.) Worms To The Rescue- Remember ant farms? Worm bins are worm farms where you can watch nature working for you.  A fun and fascinating way to quickly and efficiently create compost, opening the lid to your worm bin is like opening the door to another world.

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Filed under Ecology, Environment, food, Green Living, Organics, Permaculture, Uncategorized

The Last of the Non GMO Corn Speaks Out!

I’ve interviewed farmers, scientists, ecologists, and permaculture designers, but until today I’d never interviewed a plant.

A Conversation With Corn

J (Jill Cloutier)-  Thanks for taking the time to talk with me today.  Tell me a bit about your background.  Where were you born?

Corn (C)-  My name is as  Zea mays.  I’m a member of the Poaceae family, the grass family.  All cereal grains belong to my family, including wheat, rice, and rye.  I’m an Annual, a monocot, and believed to have been  born in Mexico thousands of years ago.  Like anything that’s been around for a long time,  I’ve had my ups and downs.  For millennia, I roamed the earth. My seeds were saved and passed down from generation to generation.  I was venerate and revered and used as food, fiber and in ceremony.  But, now that  Monsanto’s got a hold of me, I’ll never be the same.

J-  That brings me to the issue that I wanted to talk with you about today.  Genetic modification and the large role that you’ve played in this controversial topic.

C-  I didn’t volunteer for the job.  I never asked to be modified.

J-  What does it mean when something is genetically modified?

C-  It’s a laboratory process where the genes from the DNA of one species are taken out and put into the genes of an unrelated animal or plant.  The genes can be from insects, animals, humans, bacteria, or viruses.

J-  I’ve read that 85% of the corn grown in the US is genetically modified.  How do you feel about being one of the most widely genetically modified plants?

C-  At first, my reaction was one of complete and utter despair.  But now, I’m pissed.

J-  Why?  What happens when you are genetically modified?

C-  This gets a little personal, but basically it can happen in a number of ways, genes can be shot from a gene gun into a plate of cells.  Or bacteria are used to invade cells with foreign DNA.  The changed cell is cloned into a plant.  Most commonly, a gene from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis  is injected in me, so I secrete an insecticide that kills corn root worm pests.

J-  I have no idea what that means, but it sounds terrible.

C-  I’m a food crop that’s bio-engineered to produce my own internal insecticide.  Quite frankly, it’s abusive.  I’d rather have a rootworm eating me then be violated like this.

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Filed under Ecology, Environment, Ethnobotany, food, Green Living, Humor, Organics, Permaculture, Uncategorized