Thursday, April 16, 2009

One of my Birthday gifts, a willow trellis.
It's expandable, and portable...

I took my Vegetable Container Gardening class yesterday and learned a lot of things, but I also got my (mainly) heirloom tomatoes (Cynthia who provides tomatoes and veggies to Manresa, is selling them now), and this is what I ended up with:

Ananas Noir - (Black Pineapple - French). 1 to 1.5 lbs multi-colored, beautiful and delicious, I tasted some last year, it's one of my favs. 85 days.
Black Prince - chocolate smokey tomato, Chef's favorite. I haven't tried it yet. 2 inch fruits. 75 days

Black Zebra. I love Green Zebra, but the grower, who also likes Green Zebra said "This is even better". So I'm trying it this year. 70 days.

Bloody Butcher. This is my largest seedling, I had to put it in a 5 gallon pot to "pot it up" because in it's 2" pot there was no room for it's roots. It's a potato leaf variety, produces very early, and is apparently prolific. Bright red! 55 days.

Brad's Black Oxhart - "A black oxheart! Large fruits, oxheart type, with plenty of tender, juicy flesh. Delicious. Nice, rich aromatic flavor. Skin color is dark red with purplish hues. Slightly variable shape, usually like a fat strawberry. Medium size plants, about 1 m tall. Recently selected by Bradley Gates from California. 90 days." (link for seeds)

Brandywine Red Landis
- "This old time legendary and very special strain of Red Brandywine is named for Brandywine Creek and comes from Chester County Pennsylvania where it originated in 1885. These big, vigorous vines produce 8 -12 ounce, deep bright-red round fruits in clusters of 4 to 6. Outstanding, prolific, robust, with intense tomato flavor which stands up to its legendary 100 year history. " 78 days

Chile Verdi - indet., "regular leaf plant with a good yield of 4-8 oz green-yellow paste type fruit, very good flavor, bred by Tom Wagner, Everett, WA." This is new to my grower, Cynthia, and she's never grown it before either. It's not even in most seed catalogs. Experimentation! I thought a green yellow past sounded very intriguing. 85 days.

Green Grape - a favorite of mine. These resemble Muscat grapes, they are in clusters... Very tasty and a nice contrast to red, yellow and orange cherry tomatoes. 60 days.

Mandarin Cross - Last year when I took the Master Tomato Growing Class, this was one of my favorite yellow/orange tomatoes in the taste test. I bought some of these and saved the seeds, so these are from seed, I didn't buy them. Gorgeous yellow orange, medium sized tomato. 80 days.

Paul Robeson - Hard to explain how delicious these are, it's no wonder the Russians named this after their favorite black opera star... The flavors are rich, full and complex. "This favorite tomato was named after the operatic artist who won acclaim as an advocate of equal rights for Blacks. His artistry was admired world-wide, especially in the Soviet Union" This grows to about 4 inches, and won best of show at the Carmel Tomato Fest (well worth going to). This is definitely one of my favorite tomatoes and works well in climates like mine. 74 days.

Super San Marzano - A very prolific, wonderful paste tomato. Probably the best of the Marzanos. Much better than Roma. 70 days.

Sungold - One of the best Cherry Tomatoes ever. It's sweet, like sugar, and a beautiful golden orange. It's one of those you pass by in the garden and can't resist to pop in your mouth. I've tried them dried too, exquisite! Candy you can grow. And yes, it's a hybrid. But a REALLY good hybrid. 55-58 days.

Sweet 100's - Hundreds (they aren't kidding) of currant sized tomatoes bedeckle this plant. It's a hybrid too, but don't let that deter you! These are amazingly good. Combine these in a tomato salad with all these, and this is heaven! 65 days (more or less).

I potted them up, at least those that were in pots way too small for 2" containers, after disinfecting some one gallon pots and one 5 gallon pot with some bleach and hot water and washing VERY thoroughly. Those plants I potted up I put some soil down first, added 4-5 chicken shells, some worm castings, some time release fertilizer, and some bone meal. Mixed that up, then put the tomato in, trimmed the side branches, and filled up with soil until the soil was right under the top most leaves. They will be in these containers for at least two weeks, maybe longer if the cold weather doesn't stop. So I wanted to boost them up.

The tomatoes that take the longest time to ripen will be in that deep bed that gets the hottest sun and the rest will be in 15 gallon pots. That's 8 in that bed and 6 in pots. All will get 7 foot tall cages.

Getting concrete reinforcing wire cages in May. And rebar to reinforce the cages and shade cloth for the tomatoes that will be in black pots.

Getting 6 large pots with potting soil to plant a whole bunch of cucumbers to grow up the fence...
Yes we WILL be pickling this year, have no doubt!

I'm making a "bean teepee" with a great goodie I got from gardeners supply for my birthday, which is at the top of the page.

I'll put 15 gallon pots in the four corners for this, set this in the soil, and grow green, yellow, and purple beans, as well as scarlet runner beans for the hummingbirds and the flowers (which are great in salads).

We have raspberries growing now, all kinds of lettuces which make for amazing salads, our strawberries are popping out blossoms all over the place, in fact going insane, broccoli starting to really become broccoli, onions pushing up, garlic becoming bulby, Rabe surprisingly good, Kale that I'm unsure of - I'm not a great lover of kale, Snowpeas that are magnificent, and very delicate to train, Curly Cress being very tasty.

One half of one my beds is going to be dedicated to Basil, which I'm pinching off constantly in the green house and replanting into larger pots to encourage intense bushy growth, and the other half is going to be dedicated to cilantro, which bolts fast and I will have to have places to grow new batches on a consistent basis. (*reminder to self, plant some more cilantro seeds tomorrow).
We are starting strawbale gardening as well, which are basically instant beds, and are hydroponic for the most part. We will be growing a scad of peppers, a pumpkin, a zucchini, maybe a melon, and other seed plants.

The hops are taking off like, well, hops, they know where the things to climb are, and with an uncanny and incredible accuracy they will grab on to a rope to lift them up to the sky. There's something almost spooky about hops. They move faster than you expect and grow really fast. I swear they can see the rope ladders you create for them and as soon as your back is turned, they have grabbed that thing to grow up on. In minutes! It's really weird.

I've planted hyssop for the first time, and have lots of marjoram and thyme to plant. Thyme will be my primary herb outside the fence.

It's still too early to plant the tomatoes, but I'm getting prepped. To plant excellent tomatoes, you need to prep. I needed to talk to the chef at Sandabs to find a source for fish heads and he's amenable (I only need enough for 14 plants, and he's more than happy to provide them). I needed to take these classes from Love Apple Farms on both how to grow tomatoes with a masters touch (because I've not had luck or knowledge the last few years) and with the right attitude. I needed to see how a really good garden grows. I needed to be empowered to do it. Cynthia did that with a lot of information, and a lot of inspiration. I highly recommend her classes!

I think this years garden is going to blow us away. After all this work, it better! :)

I hope to share pickles, jam, and salsa this year with my good and dear friends.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

RADIOACTIVE?? TVA Disaster is much worse than imagined. UPDATE x II

(UPDATE: On Monday, Jeff Farias is going to interview Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, who is going to be testifying on this spill in front of the Environment and Public Works Senate Panel on Thursday, January 8th. Smith is going to be joined by a number of citizens who live there, and Jeff will follow up on Monday and talk to him and one of those citizens.

Hope to see ya there... you can join us in live chat about this at Democracy Interactive.)

"Imagined" is apparently the key word with the TVA, btw. This does not surprise me, unfortunately. What DOES surprise me is that there has been no real media coverage on what may be the very worst man-made environmental disaster in this country, ever. Water testing by Appalachian State University is showing 35-300 ppm more arsenic and 6-60 ppm more lead than the EPA water drinking standards. What has not been discussed is that coal ash is radioactive, and at this point I have not found any evidence that measurements of uranium or thorium are being monitored. Let's try and change that!

From Waterkeepers and Appalachian Voices take water samples at TVA spill

This is worse than the Exxon Valdez, which is still not cleaned up, and I submit this is worse than Katrina, though it doesn't look that way yet, but the health and environmental devastation that will follow from this is not even conceivable at this point. I consider Katrina a man made environmental disaster because we could have saved the levees. Katrina was horrible. But so is this.

I will get to the radioactive issue in a moment, but today a test of the water quality from the Emory River was released from the Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry labs at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, by Dr. Shea Tuberty, Associate Professor of Biology, and Dr. Carol Babyak, Assistant Professor of Chemistry.

“Although these results are preliminary, we want to release them because of the public health concern and because we believe the TVA and EPA aren’t being candid,” said Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chair of the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Results of the ICP-OES Analyses of the TVA ash spill samples collected 12-27-08 from the Emory River (PDF file)

All water samples were found to contain elevated levels of arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury, nickel and thallium. The samples were taken from the immediate area of the coal
waste spill, in front of the Kingston Fossil plant intake canal just downstream from the spill site, and at a power line crossing two miles downstream from the spill.

“I have never seen levels of arsenic, lead and copper this high in natural waters,” said Babyak. "

This is incredibly worrisome, but apparently this article shows that fly coal ash has radioactive elements, uranium and thorium, in much higher concentrations than the original coal that was mined,and that the burning of this fly ash 10 times more radioactive.

Coal, meanwhile, is believed responsible for a host of more quotidian problems, such as mining accidents, acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions. But it isn't supposed to spawn three-eyed fish like Blinky.

Over the past few decades, however, a series of studies has called these stereotypes into question. Among the surprising conclusions: the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy. *

At issue is coal's content of uranium and thorium, both radioactive elements. They occur in such trace amounts in natural, or "whole," coal that they aren't a problem. But when coal is burned into fly ash, uranium and thorium are concentrated at up to 10 times their original levels. [See Editor's Note at end of page 2]

Fly ash uranium sometimes leaches into the soil and water surrounding a coal plant, affecting cropland and, in turn, food. People living within a "stack shadow"—the area within a half- to one-mile (0.8- to 1.6-kilometer) radius of a coal plant's smokestacks—might then ingest small amounts of radiation. Fly ash is also disposed of in landfills and abandoned mines and quarries, posing a potential risk to people living around those areas.

In a 1978 paper for Science, J. P. McBride at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and his colleagues looked at the uranium and thorium content of fly ash from coal-fired power plants in Tennessee and Alabama. To answer the question of just how harmful leaching could be, the scientists estimated radiation exposure around the coal plants and compared it with exposure levels around boiling-water reactor and pressurized-water nuclear power plants.

The result: estimated radiation doses ingested by people living near the coal plants were equal to or higher than doses for people living around the nuclear facilities. At one extreme, the scientists estimated fly ash radiation in individuals' bones at around 18 millirems (thousandths of a rem, a unit for measuring doses of ionizing radiation) a year. Doses for the two nuclear plants, by contrast, ranged from between three and six millirems for the same period. And when all food was grown in the area, radiation doses were 50 to 200 percent higher around the coal plants.

I hated to quote so much, but these are significant issues that are being overlooked by the media. People are MISSING this part of the information!

So the people in Tennessee are surrounded by this stuff, and the environment is being inundated, not only with 17 heavy metals that EPA drinking water standards has limits on, but also with radioactive elements. This is NOT being discussed, or even looked at. They are not being even warned about their WATER, let alone the effects of this toxic stew they are still living around. Anyone in the area of this disaster needs to re-situated as soon as possible. That river will not be fishable in the foreseeable future. This is a toxic mess and is Bush's fault for hiring cronies in the areas that could do something about this. What a great legacy for your outgoing 14 days!

Of course the heavy metals are a story in and of themselves and need to be looked at from every angle, and they are very serious:

Due to the porous topography in the Kingston and Harriman region, well and spring water contamination is one of the primary concerns for nearby populations. “The springs and the well
water in that area need to be closely monitored to see if there is any movement of these arsenic compounds and other heavy metals percolating down through the soil into these wells, because the [surface] levels are 300 times higher,” said Tuberty. “That’s a dangerous level.”

“The highest level of risk you can have with these heavy metals is actually ingesting them,” Tuberty said. “Either drinking or eating them is really the only way it will become an issue, unless you are breathing them. That is coming into play with these ash piles, from drying and becoming picked up from the winds. You can actually breathe them in and that’s the third way you can become exposed to them.”

“The ecosystems around Kingston and Harriman are going to be in trouble, the aquatic ones for some time, until nature is able to bury these compounds in the environment,” said Tuberty. “I don’t know how long that will take, maybe generations.”

If you look at the Emory River, you can see that it is a a tributary to the Clinch River, and that's a tributary to the Tennessee River. This major river feeds water to Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Georgia.

And eventually our oceans. Everything that spilled into the water lands there and goes DOWNSTREAM. Where it spilled it will never go away either, and while heavy metals will eventually be absorbed into the soil, it takes a long time to get rid of radioactive isotopes. I'm afraid Tuberty is vastly underestimating the effects at this point.

I wouldn't drink the water there, nor grow vegetables there... Hell I wouldn't live there at this point. Nor would I live downstream!

Coal Ash Kids
Is this the legacy we leave to that generation?

This is tremendously sad, and I place the blame on Bush. I worked for the Environmental Defense Fund in the 90's, for the Toxics Program, we focused on lead and other heavy metals, as well as dioxin. When I saw what had happened my alarm bells went off big time, because I knew this was much worse than it looked. This waste pool should have been superfunded and cleaned up years ago. This is a critical issue and must be addressed immediately after Obama takes office. Otherwise more of these things will make our country "toxic zones".

And while we are at it, we can make sure that he understands we KNOW that there is no such thing as "clean coal". When you rape the earth for it's resources, this is what happens. "Clean coal" is delusional, because no amount of "sequestration" addresses the coal ash, or the rapacious methods to get the coal. It's a dinosaur technology. I think this accident was hopefully a wake up call.

In the meantime, please complain to the press that they aren't covering this story better.

But what else is new?

This is really a neglected story, from any way you look at it, and the people of Tennessee are facing an enormous challenge to their eco-system, their health, and their future. These folks are generally ignored by the news, and this story HAS been ignored in the news except for the local news (kudos to the local news, btw). So the more people who know about this, the better. For that person in the diary that was unaware that this happened at all, here's a link. I'm not surprised you didn't know.

In the end, this disaster could have been prevented. So now that we have a new administration, we need to do what we can to make sure nothing like this happens again.

Crossposted at EPluribus Media

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Way too Cute

This isn't my video, but I had to put it on my blog:

Science Wins!

Science Wins!

We have a President Elect who Values Science!

"Dr. John Holdren has agreed to serve as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. John is a professor and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center. A physicist renowned for his work on climate and energy, he’s received numerous honors and awards for his contributions and has been one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change. I look forward to his wise counsel in the years ahead."

Here's John Holdren:

"Finally, Dr. Jane Lubchenco has accepted my nomination as the Administrator of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to conserving our marine and coastal resources and monitoring our weather. An internationally known environmental scientist and ecologist and former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Jane has advised the President and Congress on scientific matters, and I am confident she will provide passionate and dedicated leadership at NOAA."

Here's his choice for head of NOAA. She's brilliant!

Taking us out of our Comfort Zones?

Just heard this on Kuby's show on Air America.

A caller said Obama was trying to take us out of our "comfort zone" by choosing Rick Warren that Obama was trying to change US.

Some people should not possess a phone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Smerconish is an idiot

From the Nurnberg Trials, the closing argument from Robert Jackson, Chief Prosecutor: "In conspiracy we do not punish one man for another man's crime. We seek to punish each for his own crime of joining a common criminal plan in which others also participated. The measure of the criminality of the plan and therefore of the guilt of each participant is, of course, the sum total of crimes committed by all in executing the plan. But the gist of the offense is participation in the formulation or execution of the plan. These are rules which every society has found necessary in order to reach men, like these defendants, who never get blood on their own hands but who lay plans that result in the shedding of blood. All over Germany today, in every zone of occupation, little men who carried out these criminal policies under orders are being convicted and punished. It would present a vast and unforgivable caricature of justice if the men who planned these policies and directed these little men should escape all penalty. "

The same applies to this current, lame duck, administration.

For the full text of Jackson's closing argument at the Nurnberg trials:

You can see a clip of the actual closing argument here:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

K-Street is getting Santa down their lobbyist chimney

Well I'm starting up my blog again, and with a harsh note. But before I get to that, I want to express my joy that Obama was elected. I've been so intensely involved with that that I haven't even been able to concentrate enough to blog.

So I've been remiss.

And now our economy is in the TOILET:

Mike has it down.

As usual

Thursday, September 07, 2006

This Means War? Jesus Camp

I saw this and chills literally covered my body, not just my spine. This is really scarey stuff.

I'll let it speak for itself:

Jesus Camp

Mike Papantonio of Ring Of Fire Radio is the counterpoint in this film, and if he thinks this is serious then I have no choice but to agree. I have yet to see the movie yet, and I'm gonna have to have some comforting things (like a blanket) around me when I do.

Indoctrinating children into a Christian equivalent of a Jihad is exceedingly dangerous and disturbing.

This really scares me.