I apologize for the lapse in posts, it’s been a very busy May between finals and homestead projects and some social engagements and getting ready to go to Paris to visit the surro family next week. But I’m back on the wagon now and promise that I’ll try to keep things going while we are in Europe for two and a half weeks. In the mean time, here’s a quick update on what’s happening here on the Rocking Homestead. This will be a lazy post, because I’m still very busy.
This spring one of our big homestead projects were permanent, raised, hugelkultur beds. Hugelkultur is a German practice of basically burying a whole tree in a garden bed. Generally it’s done by digging a shallow trench, putting in the cut up tree parts in there, and then burying them in a 6′ mound. It creates a large berm in which you plant. This is great for a big property, but it doesn’t work so well for small suburban lots like ours, so I had kind of ignored it until a peer in my Horticulture program showed me the hugelkultur raised bed he made. That’s when I started looking into it more.
Do you guys ever read a book with ideas in it and think, “Why the hell aren’t we already doing this if it’s so simple?”
That was my over all impression of Cradle to Cradle. And The Upcycle, which is the sequel that I went ahead and read as well because Cradle to Cradle was short. You didn’t have to read the sequel if you didn’t want, but if you liked Cradle to Cradle you would probably like The Upcycle so check it out.
Often in conversations about the benefits or problems with Organic agriculture, you hear a common refrain. Nitrogen is nitrogen is nitrogen, organic opponents proclaim, the plant doesn’t know if the nitrogen is synthetic or organic in origin, and it uses it just the same. This is said to make the case that it doesn’t really matter what kind of fertilizer you use, it’s all the same to the plant in the end. But this perspective is missing a big chunk of the picture. It is certainly true that a plant doesn’t know the difference between synthetic or organic nitrogen, but to say that means all nitrogen sources are exactly the same is straight up false. Agriculture, and gardening for that matter, is not just about the plant. And the plant is not the only thing that the applied nitrogen interacts with.
A while back I talked about the importance of activism to making a difference for climate justice, and I promised I would address the topic of how to engage in activism if marching on the streets holding signs isn’t your thing. Today seems like a good day to tackle that subject. There are lots of options, but the one I want to look at most closely is direct action support.
Mulch is one of the most important things you should be doing in your garden. If you aren’t mulching, you need to be, no excuses! Mulch is vital to keeping your soil and your plants healthy. It can keep moisture in the soil, prevent erosion, add nutrients, stimulate healthy micro flora development, discourage weeds, boost harvests, and even gussy up the looks of your beds, depending on which mulch you use. It’s pretty much awesome. But mulch is also complicated, at least, picking it out is, and often that can stop people from choosing a mulch. I’m far from an expert, but I’ve picked up a thing or two in my decades of gardening and months of working towards a degree in horticulture, so maybe I can help you sort it out.
The point when I first made up my mind about GMOs was in a college biology class in 2010, when a student brought up GMOs in class, and the professor said that we should be very concerned about GMO technology, indicating that it was a troubling practice that we should all be wary of. This same professor had discussed other crunchy philosophies with me that I felt on the fence and maybe a little skeptical about, such as vaccine refusal and raw milk, and I felt pretty confident in the things she said about those, vaccines are safe and effective, raw milk is a waste of money, etc., etc. So when she straight up said in class that GMOs were bad, I figured that sealed the deal. I became pretty hardcore in my opposition to GMOs.
Its spring time, which means of course that we are very busy here on the Rocking Homestead. There is a lot to plant and build this year, and I’m towards the end of my semester so I’m looking at finals. To add to that, my climate activism has been very busy of late, and we’re planning for a trip to Paris to visit our surro family out there (I can hardly believe baby Kennan is 9 months old already!). I’m trying very hard not to slack on the blog, but there have been a couple of weeks that only had one post. I’m sorry. There’s just so much to do right now!
This post is late because it’s spring and this is a homestead. I’m pretty busy.
So, what did you guys think of The Soil Will Save Us? I was interested in this book because I am interested in both using tools to combat climate change, and sustainable meat production. This book had a lot of information in it, and it made me want to look into the scientists interviewed in it, and their work in general. There were quite a few scientists and prominent environmentalists interviewed, as well as a bunch of farmers. I wish there had been more practical information about soil carbon sequestration and how to do it yourself in your own environment, but over all I felt like I learned a lot and that is awesome.
This weekend I finally got around to starting some seeds. I’m not super late for Colorado. Our last frost date isn’t until mid May, but I like to live dangerously and get some things in the ground a bit earlier if I can. Our growing season is so short, I like to do whatever I can to extend it. This means utilizing things like row covers, wall of waters, and early seed starting.