Thursday, March 19, 2009
Monday, March 9, 2009
In the NYTimes:
ADP said private employers cut 697,000 jobs in February compared with a revised 614,000 jobs lost in January. The January job cuts were originally reported at 522,000.
Economists had expected 610,000 private-sector job cuts in February, according to the median of 23 forecasts in a Reuters poll, which ranged widely from a drop of 730,000 to losses of 500,000.
About 700,000 new people are going to need your help. Food banks are already pushed to the limit, and they need more help.
It's time to plant a garden for your fellow folks.
If you live in the North, it's time to start your seedlings. Below the fold is a video showing how to make easy origami newspaper seedling starting pots. They're free, biodegradable, and organic. I made two dozen last night during American Idol.
Starting seedlings indoors is one of the best ways to start your garden early. I shoveled 1.5 feet of snow off the driveway yesterday, by hand, with a shovel, so I really want spring to come so I can plant my flippin' garden. Seedlings are at least something pretty and warm and growing in the house.
Now, we should plant our gardens on the cheap, as the point of these gardens is not to grow $3 Lima beans. If you're going to spend $500 growing $200 worth of food, it's better to just donate that money to the food bank. They'll know what to do with it.
Seedling starting kits run $8-$40 at my local HD. And they look puny.
Newspaper seedling pots are free, biodegradable, and organic.
Plants you should start from seedlings: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. Squashes are also good to start.
These newspaper pots are quick and easy, plus they are only two sheets thick on two sides and the bottom, so you can plant the whole pot in the garden and the roots will quickly penetrate the newspaper and turn the whole thing into biodegraded mush.
They also have nifty flaps to label what you planted in each one.
After I fold them, I store them stacked under a heavy book to press the folds even more. That makes them even sturdier when you fill them with starting soil and plant those seeds.
I nestle them in a big, plastic tray or a low cardboard box lined with a lawn and leaf bag.
(Hee, hee. You can see my pajamas under the glass table.)
Friday, March 6, 2009
Really, it's even worse than that.
When you include people who have stopped looking for work but would like to work, the percentage rises to a 9.1% unemployment rate. (Click through the slide show on the front page for these numbers on a graph.)
When you include the underemployed, meaning people who are working part-time who want to work full-time, the figure jumps to 14.8%.
In addition, people are out of work longer. Almost 40% of those who are unemployed have been unemployed for 15 weeks or longer. That's the highest number of long-term unemployed since WWII.
Time to plant that garden. If you don't need it, people you know or food banks will.
Below the fold: Gleaned from the excellent book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte and sources on the internet, here's a listing of vegetables to interplant to reduce pests and disease.
As organic farmers know: monoculture doesn't work. Just planting the same plants interspersed with each other reduces the amount of pesticides and antimicrobials you'll need to use.
Some plants help each other ward off pests and even vermin by masking scent or providing a physical barrier. "Companion planting," as detailed in the excellent book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte, available at Amazon and in local bookstores and libraries. This book goes into much more detail about each vegetable and its beneficial and inhibitory companions.
I've grouped plants together for easy reference:
First Group: The Three Sisters
Pumpkins and winter squash (like butternut)
To Native Americans of the Southwest, corn, beans, and squash were known as the "three sisters," composing a majority of the diet.
Plant corn in the middle, at least 7 rows of it, then plant beans or peas at the base of each corn stalk. The beans will climb up the corn, anchoring it more firmly. Plant pumpkins and squash around the stand of corn to deter predators like raccoons. The broad leaves will create a barrier. Cucumbers enjoy the shade on the ground from the tall corn.
If you aren't growing corn due to space limitations, use poles or trellises for the beans or peas.
Second Group: Salad and Herbs
Plant tomato seedlings in the center of the garden, no closer than 30 inches from each other, preferably 4 feet apart. This reduces disease incidence.
Plant salad vegetables under and around the tomatoes. Plant lettuce where it will get some afternoon shade from the growing tomatoes. Intersperse aliums (onion types and garlic) between the vegetables.
Plant herbs around the perimeter.
Third Group: Getting A Head (Cabbage Family)
Intersperse aliums and herbs with cabbages to repel pests and varmints.
Fourth Group: Melonheads
Melons (all types)
Intersperse a few aliums or radishes to repel pests and vermin. Placing a square of waxed paper under melons will keep worms from tunneling up through the dirt and into the melon.
Tomato Primer for Growing Tomatoes
More Tomato Wisdom from DailyKos Tomato Mavens -- Taken from excellent comments to the above DailyKos post.
Why plant a garden? (Garden of Eatin' post)
Why is TK doing this?
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
This excellent essay was recently published in the Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI) newsletter.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
"I live in NE Ohio.I have always found them pretty easy to grow, actually. I plant mine along the side of my house - it's about 2 feet from the side of the house and 2 feet from the driveway - the radiating heat DOES help a lot.Lots of water is also vital. Try not to let the leaves get wet unless it's hot and sunny out and the water will evaporate within a couple hours.Some other tips -For larger tomato varieties (not cherry tomatoes), I always snip off the last few flowers on each cluster - leaving no more than 3 or 4 tomatoes per cluster. They are less likely to rot and grow larger.Plant them DEEP! Tomato stems root prolifically, so plant them deep, all the up to the lowest leaves.Prune to just a few major vines, plucking out the little "suckers" that grow at the Vs off the main stem.I grow only organically, so I only use compost for fertilization - chemical fertilizers are a no-no if you want really good tasting tomatoes.Half-way through the season I cut off the top 2-3 feet of the larger plants (they are often 4=6 tall by this point) - and let a couple suckers grow up into larger vines - this gives me a late season crop from plants that might otherwise be slowing down.by G35Guy
A few tipsFor container (or even garden) growing of tomatoes mix 1/3 dirt with 1/3 compost with 1/3 aged manure.Start seedlings indoors at least 3 weeks ahead of planting out and if you have room you can start much earlier and pot them up.When you plant the tomato plant it deeper than the soil line by up to 2/3rd of the plant. It will put out more roots and bring in more nutrients and have a sturdier stem. If you want to plant it deeper than the lowest leaves allow be sure to snap them off the stem, this will encourage more roots.Shake the plant once a day for 5-10 seconds once flowers begin appearing when the wind is calm. This spreads the pollen.When you water, water deeply but don't drown them. 1-3 inches a week is what tomato plants like but if you water them lightly each day then all those roots you developed don't get fed so it's better to give them a lot of water 2 times a week. More often if there's wilting.Tomatoes are subject to fusarium wilt so I use cinnamon on the surface of potted plants to deter fungi.by KS Rose
Monday, February 16, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
It seems like a great idea to plant a few seeds of corn, doesn't it? A few stalks growing in a corner of your wee garden that might produce ten or fifteen ears would be just grand, right?
The number of initial jobless claims was lower than week (ending 2/7) than it was last week, but 623,000 people lost their jobs and filed for benefits last week. In addition, 4.8 million people received unemployment benefits for the week before that (ending 1/31, most recent data available.)
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
- "Brown layers" = leaves you've run over with the lawn mover, wood chippings, paper shreds from your shredder, etc. Think dry.
- "Green layers" = grass clippings, kitchen vegetable waste, etc. Think wet.
Full sun – at least six hours per day — is necessary to grow really good tomatoes, peppers and corn, but it's not a requirement for all vegetables. It’s possible to grow a very good crop of lettuce, spinach or other greens in light shade with only a couple hours of sun.
Monday, February 9, 2009
A $3 packet of seeds can yield 5 pounds of lettuce, 8 pounds of green beans, 20 pounds of carrots, or 120 summer squash. Zucchini will indeed give you great veg for the buck. They are the hyperfertile rabbits of the vegetable world.
Depending on the variety and the care it receives, one tomato plant can yield more than 10 pounds of fruit, and in a packet of seeds, there are some 30 potential little tomato plants. That's 300 pounds of tomatoes per pack.
That's a return on your investment. Heck, after buying one packet of cilantro seeds a couple years ago, I let some plants go to seed and have had a self-sustaining cilantro pot ever since. Multiple plantings during the growing season reap multiple harvests.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
1. Start small. It's better to grow a few veggies well than try to grow a bunch, do it badly, and get no harvest at all.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Hello, and welcome to The Obama Garden.