Sunday, February 26, 2006

gb # 22 thank you

I am finishing my participation in the green blogathon 2006. I appreciate the support I received in various fashion from all those involved. It was an interesting experience and I am happy to have been a part of it. If you like what you’ve read here please check out these guys and girls and all they had to say this weekend as they spent their time writing in support specific charities. Good people doing good work will always make a difference.

Also please consider a donation in support of Trees for Life as it was my intention in writing this weekend to help this organization continue to support the environment and the human population it supports.

Thank you for reading.

gb # 21 everything but...

This is our sink. Guests probably don't look at it and consider us especially sensitive to energy issues and the environmental movement. Looks can be deceiving. Starting on the far right you see a shimmering pitcher of water, no bottled stuff here. Next notice the right hand basin and the tub of used water. This was used to catch rinse water will be poured out onto the garden. The drying rack is apparent as we don't have dishwasher but choose to clean our dishes ourselves limiting the amount of water we use and recycling much of that that is needed. You can barely see the small potato plant growing in the windowsill. This side of the house gets the most light and I often use this window to root cutting of herbs and even experiment with ideas like growing indoor potatoes. Lastly out of view is the florescent bulb above the sink that allows for low energy light to eliminate this space. The bulb has lasted more than 4 years and puts out a considerable amount of light. Simplicity is in the details.

gb #20 let it rain

Three years ago I was worried about being able to legally water my garden because of restriction placed the public in light of a years-long drought in central North Carolina. I quickly learned the value of mulching my garden with fallen leaves. This dramatically decreased the amount of water lost from the soil making extra waterings unnecessary in all but the driest of times. Still though the need for water during a few weeks of little or no rain will happen. I was preparing myself to be able to response to such a situation. I began to investigate rainwater collection, storage and use. Much of the world’s human population collects rainwater for drinking and cooking. I was planning to do nothing new. I would like to discuss this topic at length in a future post. In the meantime I point you to the Texas Rainwater Harvesting Manual. It shows ways you can collect rainwater to irrigate your garden or even to provide water for human consumption. Two discarded metal drums have meant I don’t have to worry about rainfall shortages to irrigate my garden.

Make your own rain barrel.

gb # 19 baby bites

Yesterday was quite a busy day in part because I found out my sister needed help moving into a new apartment. My family can be a bit scattered (self included) or as I like to think of us, exciting. I knew when my sister called on Friday followed by my mother’s call minutes later that my help was truly needed and an already crowded weekend was just going to have to get busier. We moved her successfully and I got a gift in the process. My mother gave me the tool she used to make all the baby food for her 3 children.

She told me it’s quite simple. She cooked carrots and peas and chicken and such and then pushed it through this uncomplicated device. She often froze the results for faster feeding in a pinch but told of never having bought commercial baby food. Wow. The jars, the preservatives, the expense- all unnecessary. She was speaking from experience and not preaching about what I should do. I imagine that my baby will see some store bought food, but I was happy to have become acquainted with not only the idea that babies can be fed through a simple process that doesn’t rely on agrobusiness processing but also to have an actual artifact accustomed to the task- the one I was feed with no less. I will at very least give it a whirl.

gb # 18 gone shopping

When I traveled to the Netherlands several years ago I noticed that the local grocery stores charged a price for the bags used to carry home the groceries. The bags were sturdier than those used by chain grocery stores here in the United States. The price was equal to about $0.50 per bag. This adds up quickly my local host told me so the Dutch usually save their bags and reuse them as many times as possible. I thought this a wonderful response to the wasteful practice of using disposable plastic bags each time a customer totes home some groceries. My response was realized enacted when my sister-in-law gave me as a gift 2 reusable grocery bags.

I have just gotten accustom to the ritual of taking them in with me to the grocery store, using them to bag my groceries, driving home to unloading the bags and then remembering to take them next time I go to shop. This afternoon though as I was checking out with my groceries when the woman helping me offered me a “bag credit”. She refunded $0.05 from my bill for each of my own bags I used. This is not an enormous amount of money but I was surprised by the event. This had never happened before. This program is not advertised. The bags are not for sale at the grocery store, but apparently if you get them yourself you will earn a rebate each time you buy food. I am happy about this but still puzzled by how much more straight forward the Dutch system works. Either way I wanted you to know about it.

Buy your own reusable bags!

gb # 17 early morning images

I'm getting help with the blogathon.

Koda is guarding the internet connection.

Spunky does most of my editing.

Ubie and the girls provided breakfast.

Inspiration given in part by lettuce-to-be currently growing under make-shift coldframes created from discarded old windows. I'm working up to a longer post for the future cnocerning ways to extend the growing season. For starters try Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food and Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace

gb #16 westwood

Last fall I visited the Westwood Community in Asheville, North Carolina. A colleague and I drove up to spend the day with Bill Fleming, a resident and one of the main individuals responsible for the community’s creation. The master plan consists of 24 shared-wall structures that utilize a collective solar heating system that not only provides domestic hot water but also radiant floor heating. The community also shares a common house with children’s indoor and outdoor area, entertainment room, office space, wood shop space, 2 guest bedrooms and best of all a commercial kitchen and large eating space. In other words the standard and fairly useless amenity structure provided for traditional communities has been replaced by a worthwhile common house that serves as the heart of the community. This brief description of Westwood and Bill Fleming does not do justice to this wonderful deviation from normal community planning. And for those of you who think such a “radical” idea in neighborhood design won’t work, leave Westwood off your list of failed examples. At last count there is a waiting list of 84 individuals ready to move in. Unfortunately for those on the list all 24 units are occupied.

gb #15 greener NC

Chatham County, North Carolina is about 90 miles north and east of Concord, NC. Chatham, located on the Haw river and encompassing Lake Jordan, has become a hotbed for the use of more sustainable technologies in this state. Central Carolina Community College located in Pittsboro is associated with a number of programs of this nature including their own curriculum on sustainable agriculture. Piedmont Biofuels is a cooperative creating biodiesel fuel for its members from waste vegetable oil. Integrated Water Strategies is a company in Apex, NC designing water treatment systems that use plants to recycle wastewater on site. John Delafield runs a construction company called LandmarkSolar. He focuses on residential construction that utilizes passive and active solar energy transfer. The NC Powerdown group in near by Durham, North Carolina is working on its own energy decent plan modeled after the plan put together by Rob Hopkins of Transition Culture. The NC group says, “Based on the model laid out by the Kinsale Energy Descent Action Plan. The essential idea is to create actions and infrastructure locally that people interested in lowering their energy use can tap into.” My hope is that the greater Charlotte area will join this corridor of sustainable thinking here in North Carolina.

gb # 14 green building council

One of the members of the U.S. Green Building Council chapter forming in Charlotte, NC was in attendance this afternoon as we watched The End of Suburbia. I want to make others in the area aware that this organization is coming to our region.

What is the U.S. Green Building Council?
  • The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is leading a national consensus for producing a new generation of buildings that deliver high performance inside and out.
  • Council members work together to develop LEED® products and resources, the Greenbuild annual International Conference and Expo, policy guidance, and educational and marketing tools that support the adoption of sustainable building.
  • Members also forge strategic alliances with key industry and research organizations and federal, state and local government agencies to transform the built environment.
You can catch up on our chapter here.

gb # 13 trees for life

Be sure to visit Trees for Life and make a donation.

gb #12 strange refillable brew

Canadian breweries divert 1 million tonnes of waste from the landfill each year by using refillable beer bottles. Read more here.

gb #11 cloth v disposable

An odd thing happened when I began to investigate the environmental benefits of cloth diapers versus disposable diapers. Many friends whom I considered eco-aware if not eco-friendly volunteered their opinions that cloth diapers are no better for the environment than disposable diapers. It seemed improbable to me that using 30 or 40 cloth diapers was no better for the environment than using 8,000 disposable diapers during a baby’s early years. Further consideration has turned up what I might have suspected- propaganda. In the early 1990’s as some states considered banning the use of disposables (the third largest source of solid waste in landfills and remember what is in them) Proctor and Gamble, the largest manufacturer of disposables, commissioned a study. Miraculously this study found cloth no better for the environment than disposable. Never mind that the study was later found misleading by Great Britain. Future studies by other groups not funded by this industry have not upheld this finding.

The truth is that the environmental impact of a diaper of any type depends upon what is used to produce it, how many times it is used, how long it takes to decay (some disposables taking 500 years to break down) and many other factors. Is the cotton for the cloth grown using pesticides? It’s like a game of chess, any move completely changes the match. For me I’m going with common sense. Washing 30 or 40 diapers as two loads of laundry per week seems a bit less wasteful than throwing away 8,000 diapers that may take up to 500 years to decompose. This doesn’t even address the fact that cloth diapers are better for the health of the baby because the waste isn’t concealed as well and therefore doesn’t stay against the skin for as long. The chemicals that hold the urine in the diaper are also questionable. Plus what would you rather have against your skin, plastic and non-woven fabric or cotton? And we’re not talking diaper pins any longer. The new cloth diapers are Velcro and have elastic.

My wife and I will use disposable diapers some times, especially when we’re traveling or asking others to look after our child. I am not going to be hardnosed about this subject. I think future conditions will necessitate a return to cloth for all of us. I am not however going to automatically buy into the easy idea that disposable diapers are not bad for the environment. Please offer me evidence for or against.

Read more here.

gb #10 path to freedom

True freedom is not the ability to do what you want but the ability to do what you should. I thought I'd take this opportunity to make sure you the reader are aware of Dervaes Family. Taking responsibility for your life and its affect on others begins at home. This group is living it.

Path to Freedom

gb # 9 film

OilCrash, the new 90 minute documentary, will be screened at the Southwest Festival in Austin, TX taking place in March 2006 from the 10th - 19th. Catch the trailer here.

Also the new documentary about the Cuban response to peak oil in the post-Soviet era will be released soon from Community Solutions. Read more and pre-order your copy here.

Escape from suburbia the follow up to The End of Suburbia is "coming soon."

gb #8 hope v fear

Each day something happens. I get up and go about the business of the day and I check in on the state of the world. I listen to world views on events and the shape of things to come. It is so interesting to me to see people being to understand the dependency of the modern culture of man on oil. As people become more fully aware of the fact that our lifestyle is predicated on cheap and easy oil their perspective on life changes. They begin to see the world in a different way. Not a better way. Not a worse way. Just a different way. One of the side effects of this understanding can be a hypersensitivity to global issues regarding oil. There is a debate among peak oil understanders as to whether our civilization will crash quickly or sink slowly in response to a reduced amount of fossil fuels available to the human race. I bet even those who believe we will see a slow and steady decline think fearfully for at least a second when they here about attacks on a Saudi oil field. Oil prices jumped 2 bucks a barrel.

Something happens to me each day. Most days I hear about events and I am hopeful about our future. Occasionally though I hear about events that make me feel fearful. I am beginning to believe that hope is the opposite of fear; or at least the only weapon we have against it.

gb #7 perma-holmgren

The following comes from an article on retrofitting the suburbs by Permaculture conceptualist David Holmgren. Can we adapt?

In recent years, as we have become more aware of the negative effects of our high-impact lifestyles, a number of environmental responses have also been introduced ­ such as building insulation, energy-efficiency requirements, improvements to public transport, conservation of urban green space, and more water-sensitive urban design. We have barely scratched the surface, however, of the profound improvements that the application of permaculture principles and strategies could deliver for the sustainability and liveability of today’s suburbs ­ for example: Food security based on gardening
Better health through a culture of home food consumption

Economy through home food production and food preservation

Firewood for sustainable and ethical energy

Passive solar design combined with thermally efficient nat
ural materials
Retrofitting attached greenhouses to existing homes

Water harvesting and natural wastewater treatment

Animals in productive garden ecosystems

Reclaiming the streets

Creative recycling

City farms and community gardens

New ways of trading

New ways of sharing land

Food security based on gardenin
Food security through retention of horticultural production within and close to cities, has barely been on the agenda, while home gardening is largely ignored as irrelevant to the sustainability debate. For many of today’s urban residents, where food comes from beyond the supermarket is barely on their radar. We are still fixated on the high-density European-style city that gets its food from somewhere else. Most are unaware of different patterns of urban living such as those of Japan, China and other Asian countries where cities have traditionally contained interspersed gardens and rice paddies.

Read the whole article here.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

gb # 6 humor

Please keep in mind that I am posting all night to suport the green blogathon and Trees for Life, a charitable organization. $10 donated means 10 fruit trees planted in developing nations. Please pledge here. Thanks.

gb #5 hirsch report

Over the past 30 years, most economic studies of the impact of oil supply disruptions assumed that the interruptions were temporary and that each situation would shortly return to “normal.” Thus, the major focus of most studies was determination of the appropriate fiscal and monetary policies required to minimize negative economic impacts and the development of policies to help the economy and labor market adjust until the disruption ended. Few economists considered a situation where the oil supply shortfall may be long-lived (a decade or more).

If you haven't ready the study prepared for the United States Department of Energy last year entitled "Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management you should download load it here and read it right now. It's commonly known as the Hirsch report and it is a telling document in terms of what sort of response is neccesary in regards to peak oil. We need decades not years.

gb #4 the end of suburbia talks

This afternoon I helped host the third screening of The End of Suburbia here in downtown Concord, North Carolina. None of the three have been widely attended but this evening was a bit of a break out. Those in attendance seemed to be aware enough of the situation to be interested but not overwhelmed. There were more than 12 counting all those who watched- 8 who sat through the entire documentary and sat afterwards and talked about ways to make real progress through action in the community. The group was energized and seems ready to get together beyond the watching of a film. There are others who are ready to act in ways that will help our community make anticipatory changes in defense against the upheaval coming as global oil peaks in production. UNplanner writes about a model for community change that involves empowered non-governmental groups who use private resources to research and configure appropriate responses to the coming oil crisis. The idea is that the local government then helps initiates the changes once the situation becomes ready. This leaves bureaucracy and politics out of the equation to some extent. It does however make use of the rules and regulations government is at liberty to impose. My hope is that the group present for the film screening tonight will help form the core of a coalition willing to undertake this challenge. It’s interesting to talk about the issues surrounding peak oil but it’s exciting to see the possibility of response.

gb #3 pop

The planet's population is projected to reach 6.5 billion at 7:16 p.m. EST Saturday, according to the U.S. Census Bureau

It turns out that this very night, February 25, 2006 at about 7:16 pm est the human population of the planet Earth reached 6.5 billion people according to the US Census Bureau and its population clock. The world is apparently adding people at a growth rate of 1.1%. That means we’re doubling in population every 64 years. 13 billion people by 2070 (my child might still be alive) then 26 billion by 2134. That means that at only 1.1% population growth we will have 52 billion humans on Earth just before 2200. Does anyone think this planet can handle an extra 45.5 billion people?

gb #2 the negative impacts of cellular technology on human behavior

(It’s 7am and you're driving to work. Who are you calling?)

Initial notes: The point of this post is not to fairly balance the pros and cons of cell phone use. Also, I understand that cell phones are tools and that humans decide how to use tools. I believe the coming global peak in oil production will not necessarily knock out mobile communication. In fact I can envision a world of the future where people talk to each other on cellular phones not from their cars but from on horseback. I was endangered just this past week by someone who thought safely merging onto a highway was less important than making a call. I would not have felt nearly as threatened had this man been riding a horse. Relocalization is coming whether we like it or not. Relocalization is all about scale. The ultimate in local is to do it yourself. Cellular technology fosters behavior contrary to this practice. Having said that here is the revision of a thought I have had once or twice

The widespread use of mobile communication devices has negatively affected the human race in three distinct ways. It has further destroyed the present tense by decreasing time spent in the moment, it has systematically reduced self-reliance, and has decreased efficient in the area of time management.

All spaces can be categorized as either destination spaces or circulation spaces. Destination spaces are defined as places where actives of human interest occur. Circulation spaces are the areas in between destination spaces that serve as transit corridors between them. Your kitchen where you cook and your bedroom where you sleep are destination spaces. The hall that connects them is a circulation space. Circulation can be enjoyed but the point is always to get somewhere you are not. The goal is to be somewhere else in the future. Cell phone use further removes the focus of the present from our ever-increasing amount of time spent circulating. The effect of cellular phones on destination spaces is even more dramatic as it removes the person from their intended task, be it cooking or sleeping, and transports them to an alternative reality if only for a brief time. Repeated transports diminish the capacity for the individual to focus and enjoy the task at hand. As I once listened to my mother on her cell phone chatter on about something my sister could have told her later that night at dinner, I realized she was missing a beautiful sunset as well as the opportunity to talk to her son in person.

Large emergencies are often mitigated by someone’s ability to call for help. Cell phones increase the ability of an individual to call louder and further for assistance. Smaller cries however are often the tools by which we learn to negotiate the unpredictable world in which we live. Without exposure to these trials, people lose the opportunities they need to learn skills that will come in handy in the future when other problems arise. Reliance on moblie phones therefore can lead to a reduction in general competence in an ever increasing population of specialists. Our world is still far too random to rely too heavily on others for everything. A peak in oil production will increase volatility and further necessitate the ability to think fast and solve problems in person. Someone once told me I wouldn’t feel this way if I had ever called the authorities from the scene of an emergency. I responded that I once suppressed a neighbor’s apartment fire with only an extinguisher. There were plenty of people with cell phones calling for assistance. What was equally important though was the knowledge of what to do and the willingness to do in the moment.

The idea that cell phones increase time efficiently is a myth perpetuated by specific situations that do not parallel an individual's overall use of time. In certain circumstances, time is saved by the ability to call for directions or add to a grocery list but what is left unexamined is the overall effect this ability has on the time management skills of those who rely heavily on this capability. People dependent on cell phones begin to give less consideration to those details that allow them to operate in a smooth and efficient manner. The ability to talk with virtually anyone at virtually any time causes individuals not to consider prudent planning. This leads to more delays that would have been eliminated through thoughtful planning. The occasional delay that taught someone to be prudent with his or her use of time is eliminated. Time lost to subsequent delays caused by reliance on this ability occurs in small increments but when totaled up, exceeds the amount of time saved by cell phones. Net loss of time occurs.

Cellular technology has reduced overall focus on life in the moment. It has diluted our ability to do for ourselves and has replaced effective time management with constant, chaotic communication.

On a personal note, I will get a cell phone. I am waiting for one that can call, photography, video, broadcast radio, play recorded music, access the internet, allow me to send and receive emails and has a range of more than 95% of my daily geography. An alarm, sweet ring tones and the ability to make a mean omelet should go without saying.

gb #1 better late than never

I would like to thank those of you who wrote out of concern for me and my growing family. My wife has not gone into labor. She is due to deliver our first child in 8 days so the baby could come at any time. We are calling the unborn child baby Roo. Roo did not make an appearance last night but it was important for me to spend time involved with family and not behind this keyboard. I appreciate your understanding. Tonight however, my wife is settling into bed and feels fine. I will stay up and write in support of the previously mentioned blogathon, in support of other like-minded individuals using their time and talent to affect change and in support of a better world into which my child will soon be born.

I will be writing tonight in support of Trees for Life. I would very much appreciate any donation you are willing to make to this wonderful international organization. Please comment to any post or send an email to let me know that you have made a pledge. I have happily received the first pledge already. Thank you.

Here we go…

Friday, February 24, 2006

I am sorry. I planned too much for a weekend this late in my wife's pregnancy. My apologizes but I am going to have to devote tonight to things other than this issue. A promise is a promise so I will be back with volume in short order. Please bear with.


This weekend is shaping up to be a busy one. This evening I’ll be joining several other writers for a blogathon. Shea at Musings of an Eco-Entrepreneur and Jeff at Sustainablog have put together the event to raise money for charity and to have a bit of sleep-deprived fun. More information and a list of all those participating in the blogathon can be found here. The goal is continuous postings for a set period of time with a minimum of 2 posts per hour. I am hosting a screening of The End of Suburbia on Friday evening and again on Saturday afternoon. In between I’m going to squeeze in at least 6 straight hours of late-night writing; maybe more. With at least 2 posts per hour I’m hoping to post at least 12 times between tonight and tomorrow afternoon. I am doing so in support of Trees for Life. Their mission statement includes the following:

Trees for Life empowers people by demonstrating that in helping each other, we can unleash extraordinary power that impacts our lives.

We do this by helping people plant fruit trees in developing countries. Each tree protects the environment and provides a low-cost, self-renewing source of food for a large number of people.

Our activities include three elements: education, health and environment.

Since our inception in 1984, more than 2.5 million people have participated in our programs and more than 30 million trees have been planted in developing countries.

You can even donate in the name of a friend or family member here. No donation is too small- $10 buys 10 trees! Please support me in this effort to use my time to affect change in the world. Please comment below to let me know about a donation you’ve made or contact me by email.

Thank you for reading and thank you for your support.


Just a reminder that at 7:30 pm tonight I'll be hosting a screening of The End of Suburbia in downtown Concord, North Carolina. I'll be hosting another screening of the same film tomorrow at 3:00pm. Here's the information.

The End of Suburbia
Friday, February 24, 2006 7:30pm
Saturday, February 25, 2006 3:00pm
Two Leaves and A Bud Teashop
11 Union Street South Suite 100
Concord, NC 28025
704/788.8327 (call if you need directions)

Much thanks to the Reese sisters for allowing me to show this documentary in their tea shop. Please join us.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Can you spot the compost container here at my office?

While I believe it's important to fully understand the failure of leadership in this country with regards to energy issues, posts like my last one really get me down. So this morning I'm following up with a quick bit about energy responsibility here at my place of business. The photo above shows the counter space where we keep our food and make our coffee. My compost container is the green Folgers jar in the middle. I bring it to work each Monday morning, fill it with coffee grinds, banana peels and stale brownies etc. during the work week and take it home on Friday to empty into my compost pile. The jar keeps in any smells. In fact you wouldn't know it was a compost container unless you opened it.

Included in this photo are two other ways I save energy and resources here at work. One of them is the introduction of compact florescent light bulbs into the office. They last between 6 and 10 times longer than conventional bulbs, and they use considerably less energy. The cost of these bulbs has come down and over the life of the bulb I save my employer money. How could he object?

The other item in the photo is our water pitcher. Instead of drinking bottled water throughout the day I fill a glass with water from the pitcher. This simple act eliminates the use and disposal of hundreds of plastic bottles per year. It also doesn't require the water to be bottled, shipped and then purchased by my employer again saving him money and reducing the overall amount of resources I use.

These are three ways I have reduced the resources I use at work. Any suggestions on others?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

ports through a barrel

Why on Earth would the Bush administration be willing to publicly defend turning over even partial control of some U.S. seaport operations to a company based in a country with known ties to the September 11, 2001 attackers? Knowing as we do that oil is about to peak in global production and become the most sought-after commodity on this planet I thought I’d follow the oil trail and find the answer.

First some facts about the UAE:

"The UAE was one of three countries in the world to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

The UAE has been a key transfer point for illegal shipments of nuclear components to Iran, North Korea and Lybia.

According to the FBI, money was transferred to the 9/11 hijackers through the UAE banking system.

After 9/11, the Treasury Department reported that the UAE was not cooperating in efforts to track down Osama Bin Laden’s bank accounts."
(Read more about the above in this article)

In the past the following is the sort of rhetoric that has been coming out of Washington D.C. My emphasis added.

"President Bush on Thursday urged the U.S. Congress to authorize military action against Iraq, warning the United Nations Washington was prepared to go it alone, as Saddam Hussein accused Bush of lying to gain control of Middle East oil." Reuters - September 19, 2002

On Tuesday however,

"Bush held a rare news conference on Air Force One to say the [Port] deal should go forward despite lawmakers' concerns and insisted he would veto legislation aimed at stopping it. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, 'You have to take into account the broader foreign policy implications,' he said. 'We should be working to broaden our partnership in the broader war on terrorism.'" Reuters – February 22, 2006

Are we to believe that this administration has finally come to understand the need for cooperation concerning the difficult issues of the day? Hardly. The following was written by The American Thinker and explains the geopolitical importance of the United Arab Emirates in providing the United States and the world with oil. As the price of a barrel has risen so has the status of the UAE. I have added a few images.

"In March of 1992, Iran started a long-term effort to effectively shut down the Straits of Hormuz, if it so desired, by seizing the island of Abu Musa."

"Abu Musa island is located in the Persian Gulf about halfway between Iran and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It is only a few miles square, but has significant oil reserves, which make the island an important possession, which would boost the economies of either Iran or the UAE. But the critical factor for the US and other oil importing countries is that Abu Musa is located in a position at the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf allowing whoever occupied it to threaten the Gulf’s valuable oil shipping lane or, given the weaponry currently deployed there, to entirely close off the Gulf to all shipping. Shipping through the Straits of Hormuz must negotiate an “S” turn which is only 35 miles wide at the Strait’s narrowest point. This puts shipping well within range of the Iranian weapons systems currently deployed on Abu Musa, which sits roughly at the midpoint in the channel."

"Both the UAE and Iran have had longstanding claims to Abu Musa and the nearby Tumb Islands… The Iranian occupation of the island is not only disputed by the UAE, but also by the entire Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It may be feasible to line-up the much-coveted support of a large “international community” to demand re-occupation of Abu Masa by the UAE, and the evacuation of Iranian forces. This could be phrased in a way which promises united military action, by the GCC, the United States, and a coalition of the nations dependent on the free flow of oil through the Straits, if the mullahs balk beyond a certain deadline. Such a coalition could theoretically include Europe, Japan, China, South Korea, and many other nations."

I added some emphasis again. further bolsters the increasing international importance of this waterway with the following facts:

"The Persian Gulf region contains roughly 68% of the world's known oil and natural gas reserves. Nearly 25% of the world’s oil supply flows through the Strait of Hormuz on a daily basis. Over 75% of Japan's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz. Oil flows through the Strait of Hormuz account for roughly two-fifths of all world traded oil. The Energy Information Administration projects that oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz will double from approximately 15 million barrels of oil in 2005 to 30-34 million barrels per day by 2020, suggesting that ensuring the free flow of oil through the Strait will continue to be an important mission."

Now the talk about “broad partnerships” and the UAE seaport operations deal both begin to make sense. I bet Japan would be willing to listen to a plan cosponsored by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to reinstate the rightful authority of the UAE over Abu Musa; especially since 75% of Japanese oil flows within a Silkworm Missile shot from that island. Maybe the already growing idea that Iran needs to be controlled by the international community because of its nuclear ambitions would be bolstered by the suggestion that Iran is illegally controlling the territory of another sovereign nation- namely the UAE. A coalition is starting to add up. Iran has threatened in the past to shut down the Strait of Hormuz. Such a threat to world oil supply can not be allowed, especially with less and less oil available for “all of us”.

But the U.S. would need the help of The United Arab Emirates to put together such a proposition. This support would not only be geographical in the form of a physical launching pad from which to initiate an attack but also political in the form of meaningful justification. If there’s one thing Americans are willing to fight for it’s an oppressed underdog. After all, the cries of “Help us regain our rightful authority!” must come from the UAE itself on this matter.

This means the U.S. can not afford to block the UAE’s attempt to gain a lucrative contract to control U.S. seaports. America needs the UAE if it’s interested in keeping the Strait of Hormuz open to the transport of oil in the event of an escalation in arms with Iran. Between the planned Iran oil bourse switch to sell oil in Euros (coming in March) and the malevolent ravings of the Iranian President that possibility is looking more and more likely.

It all makes sense when you look at it through the barrel.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

a crisis of confidence

Last week when I visited South Stanly High School to speak to students about peak oil I was asked why the greater powers of this country have not addressed this issue. I believe there are a number of reasons it has received relatively little attention. One of the most obvious is lack of political will. Some call that cowardice but imagine being the President of the United States of America and standing before your nation and telling your citizens that they will have to make do without. Imagine telling them that future generations will not have more but less. Imagine informing them that for the first time in the history of our country the next generation of Americans will not do better than the previous one in terms of material goods and wealth. The American people want to hear about how things will be better and most Americans have come to believe that better means more. We can (and should) criticize our leaders for failing to provide real leadership concerning the energy crisis that will materialize as we peak in global oil production and descend the backside of Hubbert’s Curve. We must however be more willing as a people to listen to the message of resource depletion and the limits to growth established by our environment. We must understand that we do not live in a fantasy world where we can simply increase supply just because people demand it. Our unwillingness to hear this message is partly to blame.

Any politician who attempts to tell the American people the truth about our energy situation will be voted out of office. Just ask Jimmy Carter. In 1979 with the country in the grips of an oil crisis, President Carter delivered a speech in which he tried to bring our energy situation into the forefront of discussion in this country. The address was entitled "Energy and the National Goals - A Crisis of Confidence”. It has been nicknamed “The Road Not Taken Speech" because Americans did not like what they heard and chose not to listen to his warning. He was not reelected in 1980. Maybe it was his pessimistic tone as he sat in a sweater and urged the American people to turn down their thermostats. Ronald Regan thought so and removed the solar panels from the roof of the White House and the woodstove from its living quarters. With them went the political will to speak with honesty to the American people about the future of our nation and its energy issues. Will we ever get a leader with the strength of character necessary to tell us the truth and lead this nation through the coming peak oil crisis? More importantly will we be ready to listen?

If you have not listened to President Carter's 1979 address "Energy and the National Goals - A Crisis in Confidence", I highly suggest you do. Audio is available here

"Our ignorance is not so vast as our failure to use what we know." M. King Hubbert

Saturday, February 18, 2006

the next generation

This past Friday afternoon I started a discussion by asking a class of students at South Stanly High School, “What does the term peak oil mean?” A young man in the front row raised his hand and then responded, “It means the midpoint of oil production.” I congratulated him. He already has a better understanding of the energy issues facing us than most of the general public in this country. Seldom am I able to ask that question and get an appropriate answer. The reason for his awareness of the issue is due in large part to the efforts of his teacher to study relevant, current events and the willingness of young minds like his to think openly about them.

Several weeks ago Patty Crump wrote to tell me of her class and their recent discovery of the issues surrounding energy depletion. The students watched Real Oil Crisis and researched topics related to peak oil and energy scarcity. She borrowed a copy of The End of Suburbia and they watched it in class. I offered to come and speak to the class and Mrs. Crump extended an invitation. There are many who criticize the most recent generation for spending too much time sitting in front of the television; ipod in one hand and Gameboy in the other. I have done it in the past and I don’t shrink from my disapproval of the over emphasis on time-wasting technology in the lives of our adolescences. I think a youthful afternoon spent in the woods is more informative, more relevant and more enjoyable than a week’s worth of TV but I digress. There are advantages to being young. What we often forget as we age is just how malleable young people are. They have spent less time in life and are therefore less likely to be stuck in a specific way of thinking. They also have more to lose if the American dream takes a turn for the worst. You can sense that as they ask questions about the future of our way of life. While some older Americans shrug and then dismiss the idea that the near future might not resemble the recent past, these students were willing to listen and consider peak oil and its implications. I found this to be refreshing and hopeful.

I prepared an overview of the topic of peak oil including a PowerPoint presentation. This was for me as much as for the students. What a wonderful exercise to create a comprehensive description of peak oil, its history and its possible implications on our culture. I've read or listened to many such descriptions authored by others but to make one myself was enriching. We covered Dr. M. King Hubbert and his curve, the state of production in various countries (the class already knew the U.S. peaked in the early 70’s), the dependency of various aspects of our way of life on cheap abundant energy, and much more. As the secession wound down they had questions some prepared and some spontaneous. Several asked about alternatives and I could hear the hope that there might be a way to just switch over from oil to another cheap abundant energy source. Their inquiries were reasoned though on a level that I think escapes most older Americans when it comes to their resources. One student didn’t just ask about hydrogen as a substitute he combined nuclear energy in the question. Instead of just assuming hydrogen would solve the problem and going back to sleep he asked about using nuclear power to produce hydrogen to run our transportation system. Personally I think scale will probably prevent a nuclear/hydrogen solution from allowing us to continue to live so many miles from where we work, teach, and shop but that gets away from the point. The point is that his question reflected not only an acceptance of the idea that there is a coming energy problem; it also combined several alternatives into the beginnings of an actual strategy for a way to mitigate the effects. Call me cynical but I was surprised (and pleased) to see coherent and applicable thought on the issue of Peak Oil from citizens that are too young to vote. There were questions that were not about alternatives, further proof that these young minds might be starting to settle around the idea that energy in the future might be less available. They wanted to know more about what life might be like as they graduate from high school and possibly complete college in a few years. They wanted to know what sectors of our civilization might be affected first. They wanted to know about where to invest themselves so that they might be in the best position possible to survive and thrive in an era of limited resources. I was ready to share what I think but not willing to give specifics about what will happen. That is of course because it is impossible to know exactly what the future holds so we spent time talking about trends. For example 71% of the oil used in this country goes towards transportation. It stands to reason then that traditional means of moving people or items great distances will become really expensive and happen less often. That does not mean there won’t be any truck drivers but I’d bet on a reduced demand for that occupation. On the other hand if shipping by truck contracts what other means of transportation might become relevant? Might we see resurgence in railroads and might that be a better choice of career? This is the sort of unconventional thinking I tried to promote in these students as they ponder their future; a future that is by definition undefinable but certain to see a reduction in cheap, abundant energy. It is my sincere hope that these young students and others will not accept the assumptions of older generations but question the rationality of the current patterns of our behavior.

I enjoyed the experience of sharing information with young people about what I believe will be the most influential issue of our time. I was happy to see pertinent topics being discussed by young adults even before they graduate high school. I am deeply concerned about how the United States of America and the rest of the world will respond to a global peak in oil production and the subsequent decline in available energy. This past Friday afternoon it pleased me to see that at least some of the leaders of tomorrow are already awake and aware of the issue.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

a spiritual map

I appreciate Steven Lagavulin at deconsumption for bringing to my attention the recent work of Carolyn Baker and introducing me to adaptation.

In her piece, Navigating the collapse of civilization: a spiritual map she writes,

“Some people tell me that they would rather not know what’s going on because they prefer to live their lives from day to day doing the best they can to make a better world, enjoy their loved ones, and earn their bread. I certainly understand their desire to protect themselves from the pain of awareness, but I also know that they are exchanging long-term preparedness for temporary comfort and that the pain of awareness in present time is far less than the pain they will incur as a result of ignoring it.”

I recommend a read. It's an uplifting piece and quite a bit more fun than tracking media coverage of the vice president.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

in defense of the blog

Recently a friend asked me why I consider blogs and other informal types of media relevant and important. "You can’t believe what you read on those things can you? What if it's just some guy spouting off his opinions with few if any facts to back up his claims?" I informed my friend that most responsible bloggers offer evidence and links to other stories to support their own ideas. Most offer the option to post supporting or opposing comments. There are a few bad apples in any bunch but personally I want to get as close to the truth of the matter as I can. Most other blogs appear to share that goal.

My friend’s skepticism is built around the notion that traditional, mainstream media is some how more reliable and forthcoming with the facts and that they are seldom if ever censored or manipulated by other groups. I offer this example in response to that idea.

Here’s a story from MSNBC giving more information about Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent hunting accident. [UPDATE 2.16.2006 Link has changed again!] This is how the story originally appeared. Note the text in the red box. It says, Armstrong also told NBC News that she does not believe alcohol was involved in the accident. She says she believes no one that day was drinking, although she says there may have been beer available during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. “There may be a beer or two in there,” she said, “but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.”

And below is how it appeared later this morning when I visited MSNBC. It had been wiped clean of the paragraph I quoted above.

If you click a link[UPDATE 2.16.2006 Link has changed again!] to the story you will see the updated version wiped clean of any mention of alcohol. I am not suggesting the Vice President was drunk. The whole incident was most probably an accident. In truth I don't really care. My point is that I find it interesting a major online mainstream media source like MSNBC would revisit an article like this and remove what appears to be a harmless comment.

If you believe bloggers are a shifty bunch out to skew public perception concerning the issues of the day and that mainstream media is the only credible source of information you ought to consider just how easy it would be for someone to mold your mind and shape the way you see the world. A paradigm shift will undoubtedly occur as the world peaks in oil production. There will be many with much to loose. It would be in their best interest to convince the general public that there is nothing wrong for as long as possible. I am not suggesting anything sinister or that the world is going to run out of oil tomorrow. Let me just say that those who get their information from the people in power will hear what the people in power want them to know; nothing more, nothing less. As for me, I'll continue to inform myself about my world in as many varied ways as possible. That seems only reasonable.

[UPDATE Link has changed again! Everything that follows has been added to this post 2.16.2006] Some of the original information concerning alcohol has been added back to the MSNBC story as well as new information concerning alcohol including the admission of Cheney that he had a beer at lunch.

The new alcohol section shown above in the red box is as follows.

A statement issued Monday by Kenedy County (Texas) Sheriff Gilbert San Miguel, who interviewed Cheney after the hunting accident, said that alcohol was not a factor in the shooting. "The investigation reveals that there was no alcohol, or misconduct involved in the incident," the sheriff said.

‘No comment’ on blood test
At a news conference Wednesday outside Whittington’s hospital in Corpus Christi, reporters asked hospital officials whether Whittington’s blood-alcohol level had been tested. The officials responded with a "no comment."

In a recorded, on-the-record phone call with NBC News, Armstrong said that beer may have been available at lunch that day. "If someone wants to help themselves to a beer," she said, "they may, but I did not see anyone do that," Armstrong says. She says she was not sure if there were beers in the coolers but wasn't ready to rule it out: "There may be a beer or two in there, but remember not everyone in the party was shooting," she told NBC News.

Armstrong added that she did not believe that Cheney or anyone else shooting in the hunting party had alcohol on Saturday before the hunting accident.

NBC News called the vice president’s office for comment four times Tuesday and Wednesday and asked whether the vice president or anyone in the hunting party had consumed any alcohol on Saturday prior to the accident. In an e-mail statement Wednesday to NBC News, the vice president’s press secretary referred NBC News to the Kenedy County Sheriff’s Department report on the incident. Later in the day on Fox News, Brit Hume stated that Cheney told him during a taped interview that he had had "a beer at lunch" before the hunting incident.

My big question is why did MSNBC remove the alcohol section in the first place and why did it take the outcry of observant citizens to get the facts replaced and reexamined in this newz publication?

If you want more Raw Story covered the scrub here. I'm on to issues more closely associated with relocalization.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

i didn't understand.

First I heared oil companies made record profits. "Exxon Mobil Corp. posts one of the largest quarterly profits in American history: $10.7 billion for the fourth quarter of 2005, up from more than $8.4 billion a year ago. Exxon is the latest oil company to post record profits as oil prices continue to rise. "

And then I read this. "The U.S. government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, an estimated $7 billion over five years. Under projections buried in the Interior Department's budget plan, the government would let companies pump about $65 billion of oil and natural gas from federal territory over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government."

I didn't understand until I remembered- it's Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day big oil from your sweetheart the current administration.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

seeds of thought

This weekend I painted the crib and planted the early crops for the garden. It rained and snowed a bit so I didn’t work the soil but planted instead in the greenhouse in which my mother has agreed to share space with me. Here near Charlotte we have an official last frost date of April 15th but usually the last frost of winter happens in March or early April. Often we get cold weather in March and hot weather in May. Spring slips by so quickly that if you want to grow cool weather crops you have to be ready and you have to start early. I planted the cool weather crops and some of the warmer weather crops that have to be started indoors. A quick examination of our financial status shows that it makes more sense for me to earn money and for my wife to stay home; that is if we want to raise our child in our own way and if we want to feed her breast milk easily. In the short term anyway this is the arrangement we’ve come to agree upon. This means my idea of working the land for what I can grow will have to take a side seat to the necessity of earning money so that I can pay bills. But enough whining.

I am going to have to do both this year. I am going to have to grow food for us and help raise the baby. I am planning to get help from my wife but an interesting fact has emerged from our current conversations on gardening. So much of farming, or gardening or whatever you call growing you own food comes out of intensely personal experiences. I live with this woman. She has watched me work in the garden and yet she is a stranger to the idea of growing her own food. You would think my daily deliberations with her or even my out loud discussions on gardening problems, issues, concerns, conflicts, and achievements would be enough to instruct her on the basic principles of growing one’s own food. Not so. “No learning takes place until it happens in the muscles”, my mother used to say. She was right. I can explain with these words, with these keystrokes, what it looks like when the soil is too wet to work but only experience can accurately describe the phenomenon. A major separation from the soil spells disaster for any society, eventually.

Earlier today I listed the vegetables I am going to grow this coming season. I wrote five pages with varying degrees of detail about what’s coming up in my garden this year. I realized through that exercise what a waste it is to sit and consider writing about a grand thought or idea. I have been discussing this blog with a friend and have become self-critical about what I write almost overnight. How silly that seemed until I sat down to do my next post. It seems difficult if not impossible to simply stop and write an extremely altering piece of journalism. What I found remarkable though was the fact that after troubling over this truth, when I tried to just write the most mundane facts about what I will plant and how it will grow, my mind wandered out onto other trails where I found direction and the overview that had previously eluded me. It was in the act of simply listing that the inspirations came. From this revelation came a better understand, in a new way, of something that was written on a poster my mother put up when I was young. The caption read, “The smallest good deed is better than the grandest good intention.” I have an even better understanding of that poster today. I would like to have written a great post today about how you might plant what will support you and your family in terms of the food you need and its possible scarcity sometime in the future. The truth is that today was better spent planting my own food and thinking about how to do it and writing it down. Not because I don’t care about how well you will do with your own garden this year. I do care. The point though is that only through action comes the ability to share.

I am going to grow quite a bit of food this coming season. I am going to weigh it. I have several strategies I would like to share with others interested in doing the same or something similar. I will copy, at the end of this email, the previously mentioned list of vegetables I am going to grow. I am however going to continue to try and convey more than the facts concerning the coming peak in global production of oil. There will be plenty from others about how to cope and the logistics of how to meet human needs in the upcoming upheaval. There will be more about gardening and soil temperatures and seed start dates but not with the idea that a paradigm shift has happened. I will write about how to raise a child with the idea of place within nature restored and not merely a recalling of daily events in the interest of documenting the end of oil and the coincidence that my child was born as global production peaked. Even if I wanted to I don’t believe I could sit down each evening and just spit out daily events in the face of a change. It would bore me to tears. What I can do, what I’d like to do, what apparently I must do is detail the overall effect these changes have on me and in so doing reflect the effects they are having on many of us. Perhaps I can affect change in the understanding of our behavior while affecting change in our behavior itself. I think that might be key. Perhaps the only way to affect change is to change and then maybe to point to it as an example. Gandhi said, “Be the change you see in the world.” I will follow that and I will write about it not that you the reader should feel compelled to do as I have or think as I do, but that you will think for yourself and figure out in your own way what might make sense to do in response to the coming change in our way of life. I appreciate your willingness to let me work this out in public and your interest in this issue.

[Update] I just realized I forgot to mention what a beautiful person my wife is and how hard she is working right now to grow our baby. I also thought I'd mention that while gardening isn't her speciality she is a talented vocalist and a gifted teacher and coach. Come to think of it I'm not sure how she would even have time to begin to garden. I am supremely grateful for her however and am thankful especially for her willingness to let me follow my heart; even when it takes me out into the yard and back inside with muddy shoes. I didn't want this post to give a false impression of her.

Garden plans.

I thought I would share my preparations for this year’s vegetable garden.

Asparagus – this is the third year the crop has been in the ground and I’m hoping for a more spears.

Beans – I like to use the climbing varieties. They save space. This year I am growing Kentucky Wonder as always. This staple heirloom is an excellent producer and has only one weakness to date in my garden- Japanese beetles. Luckily they like Mourning Glories more. Each year I grow Flying Dragons which are tall bamboo poles used to support towering mourning glory vines. There beautiful, fun and they provide a target for the dreaded Japanese beetles. Back to beans, Kentucky wonder, Cornfield beans, Royal Purple (the only bush beans) and King of the Garden Pole Lima beans.

Beats – Detroit Red

Broccoli – I have never had great success with broccoli. This year I’m trying De Cicco. Our problem here in North Carolina is short springs One day it’s cold the next day it’s hot.

Cabbage - Undecided

Carrots – I am again growing Nantes Half Long. They work for me. This year I’m going to try and save seeds from my own. Any suggestions would be welcomed as I still have some of last year’s crop in the ground. They never flowered.

Celery – This goes into the experimental category. I’m going to try growing Tendercrisp from seed.

Collards – Undecided

Corn – This year I am growing Golden Bantam and Ashworth Corn. I may add a third variety. More on the Corn/Bean/Squash combination later.

Cucumbers – I am growing Japanese Climbing Cucumber and maybe another. I have had repeated troubles with boring grubs and am trying two strategies this year to combat them. First I am growing climbing Cucumbers. Hopefully the lack of ground contact (not to mention the space I’ll save) will help prevent the little buggers from getting in the vines. Secondly I’m using beneficial nematodes to kill the borers. I might try pickling this year. Again any suggestions welcomed.

Eggplant – I love growing eggplants. They are so easy and tasty, especially fried. I learned a lesson last year- do not start them too early. The plants might survive so you‘ll think you’ve gotten a jump on the season but the plants will be slow to produce if they produce at all. Wait until it’s warm. This year I’ll grow Black Beauty and Ping Tung, maybe another.

Garlic – I am not sure the variety I am growing. I have been growing one hard neck and one soft neck variety for several years, using my own stock for planting in the fall. We have had a mild winter and both have put on quite a bit of foliage. I never seem to plant enough.

Lettuce – Last year was a break out year for me and lettuce. I stopped focusing on head lettuce. Hear in the south the short and wet springs couples with slugs always seem to work against head lettuce. Then one day I realized something. I like leaf lettuce better anyway. So I grew a few heads of Iceberg to prove to myself I could and now I’m on to leaf lettuces and loose head lettuces. Last year we had a cool spring and I got great lettuce. This year I am growing: Amish Deer Tongue, Key Lime, Paris White Cos (our staple), Black Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch, Slobolt and…. Bronze Arrow. The last is a lettuce I have heard great things about for years. Bountiful Gardens says, “A rare, long-standing beautiful lettuce that has it all; we feel it’s one of the best lettuces in the world.” It’s supposed to be slow to bolt among other great characteristics.

Melons – I have a few seeds from last year’s melon and a few given as gifts. I’ll have to see how much room I have later in the season. I also might try growing melons vertically this year.

Okra – I’ll stick with Clemson Spineless; 5 plants this year.

Onions – I have quite a few white and red bulb onions in the ground from a fall planting. Our mild winter has given them a great head start. Looks like I’ll be cooking with more onions this year.! I also received some bunching onions from my sister-in-law. Her family grows all sorts of food in the Marion, North Carolina just at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am grateful as these go in the perennial category. Each year I will not only harvest some of these onions but I will get small bulbs to plant for the following year. Hopefully I’ll have enough to pass on the gift of yearly onions to another lucky person. Anyone with Egyptian Walking Onions who would like to trade let me know. These onions form clusters at the top of their stalks which tip over and take root. I’ve been meaning to try some.

Parsnips – A new one for me. I’m growing an unknown variety I bought from a Farm supply store going out of business. We’ll see what happens.

Peas – Last year was a great year for peas. I like the taller-growing varieties. This year I’m growing Homesteader and Amish Snap Peas. I might also grow Black-eyed Beans (peas) and maybe chick peas.

Peppers – I am planning on growing a couple of sweet peppers and a few hot peppers: cayenne, habanera, etc. I always seem to plant too many peppers. It only takes a few to spice up a dish or to use in a salad. They are fun and easy to grow though.

Potatoes – As I focus more on calorie production this year I will be growing potatoes. I have yet to procure my seed potatoes so I’m not sure what I’ll be going. I will be growing them both in the ground as they are traditional grown and using the tire method that worked well last year. Instead of planting them in the ground this second method places them in a tire full of compost. As the potatoes grew I stacked on tires and fill with compost, leaves, soil, etc. Harvesting is easy. I just tipped over the tires. Also the black tires held heat and helped me grow potatoes early.

Sweet Potatoes – How fun. Last year I bought seed potatoes from a gentleman selling them from the back of his pickup truck on a visit to Charleston SC. You have to grow sprouts from the sweet potatoes and then root the sprouts (called slips) and then plant them in the garden. They are a vine and will run all over and shade out weeds and provide wonderful sweet potatoes for you. I’ll be using them to soak up unused space later in the season.

Pumpkins – Maybe in the corn area. They take up so much room.

Radishes – I will grow Cherry Belle again where ever I have bit of space. They liven up a salad.

Spinach – Another favorite of mine. I will be growing Bloomsdale Long Standing and maybe another variety of traditional spinach but also New Zealand Spinach. This is more of a bush type plant used by Captain John Cook to prevent scurvy. It is suppose to endure heat and produce lots of edible leaves. It may even perennialize (come back each year) in the Charlotte area. I’ll see.

Squash – I’ll be growing crocked neck yellow squash and zucchini if I can take care of the borer problem; maybe more vertical produce.

Tomatoes – Two years ago my wife ate 6 or 8 a day and we still canned. Tomatoes are just a blast to grow. Learning from past years I’m really going to mix it up and grow one or maybe two of the each of the varieties I want. I have a few personally saved seed varieties. I’ll be sure to try and grow another one of those cherry tomatoes that volunteered in the backyard last year. It produced enough small tomatoes just by itself to keep us easting cherry tomatoes everyday for 3 months. I just gave the chickens the last of the green ones I picked before frost if you can believe that. They had ripened but didn’t look fit for human consumption. Anyway back to tomatoes, I’ll be focusing on a getting a few early varieties going and also growing mainly high-yield varieties with a few lower-producing varieties that just have great fruit. I am also growing a few yellow varieties with lower acid concentrations for my mother-in-law. It’s a smart move for me and I like pulling up to my house and catching her in my garden “stealing” tomatoes. It’s a great notion to keep in my back pocket to reminder her of laterJ I grow about 8 or 10 different types. If you’re new to gardening start with tomatoes. They are easy and very rewarding.

Turnips – I am growing White Egg turnips this year. Not as exciting as tomatoes but a great calorie producer.

Watermelon – If I have space.

Yacon – This staple from the Andes is a new one for me this year. It’s a perennial tuber. It’s supposed to be like crossing a potato and a watermelon whatever that means. It’s high in water content and tastes like a water chestnut. It’s an experiment and also a way to grow more plants that come back year after year. Oh and it grows 4’+ stalks with beautiful yellow flowers.

Those are the vegetables. I am also going to experiment with Millet, Hard Red Spring Wheat, Flax, and Rice. I’ll use the organic material for composting and will get to see what growing these grains is like. I will also be growing peanuts, sunflowers and maybe alfalfa and mung beans in small amounts for experimentation. In the herb category I am growing basil, oregano, thyme, sorrel, arugal, chives, lemon balm, lemon verbena (a must for anyone who likes tea!) parsley, rosemary, and several types of mint. Plenty of marigold again this year to help with the pests and to add coulour to salads.

The peach tree will probably produce and I’ll get to see if the apples and the pears produce. The grape vine is a few years off I bet. This is the most boring list of gardening I have ever read.