Friday, January 29, 2010


here's a graphic (admittedly a bit blurry) that illustrates the consolidation of control over seeds by corporations like monsanto and the lesser entities in the agriculture business. the use of patented, trans-genetic seeds in a monoculture of crop production both weakens genetic diversity in the plants and constrains the farmer's choice of crops to plant [brush 2004]. chemical inputs further weaken genetic diversity. when seed "designers" see a genetic defense in a plant that can be replaced by a chemical input they can remove that defense making both the plant and the farmer more dependent on agribusiness ( a nifty deal for some corporation like bayer that produces liberty herbicide and liberty-link corn that can withsatand its application) and leaving entire strains of crops vulnerable if the chemical inputs become over-costly or unavaialble [jackson 1980]. this is the reason all the plants (except the elephant garlic which came from burpee seeds because they were the only ones who could get it here in time for fall planting) and seeds in this garden were procured from heirloom seed companies, organic growers, or public access seed banks like j.l. hudson, an underlying philosophy of organic diversity we will maintain throughout the garden's existence.

Friday, January 8, 2010

it's definitely winter

winter has arrived and so much so in "his sternest shape" that even de quincey must approve...i was on campus today to pick up my books for the spring (ha!) semester...inopportune the bureaucracy to change a 200 level course to a 400 level ( the people at the registrar's office were kind and much so that i hesitate to tar them with the epithet "bureaucrats" i'll just call them workers instead since that has so much more currency where i come from...whatever they are, they were helpful and cheerful, so thanks!)...and pay a visit to steve mcshane in the calumet regional archives ( third floor of the library...tucked away in the should stop by sometime...neat place and steve is cool) so i stopped by the garden to see what was what and take a few pictures....clearly nothing much is shaking...except maybe the cold working to break the dormancy of the gamagrass seeds...i'm just reading and writing and mulling over my teosinte problem...i did order the potatoes which will be here sometime in late march or early april and the asparagus crowns are next ...then all i have to do is procure earthworms, lady bugs and bird tape...then the real fun starts

Sunday, January 3, 2010

albert howard

"...this development is based on the transfer of food from the regions that produce it to the manufacturing centers which consume it and which make no attempt to return their wastes to the land. this amounts to a perpetual subsidy paid by agriculture to industry and has resulted in the impoverishment of large areas of the earth's surface. a form of unconscious banditry has been in operation: the prosperity of generations to come, in the shape of soil fertility, has been used, not to bebefit the human race as a whole, but to enricha dishonest present,"
Soil and Health: A Study of Organic Agriculture. by albert howard p.193

published in 1947...precient...the proponents of sustainable anything owe a large debt ( which is widely recognized by most) to albert howard and his interpretation of soil as an organic whole made up of multiple components, and the delineation of the processes which were destroying it. he saw agriculture as a crucial component of the industrial revolution, but i don't think he could forsee the extent to which agriculture would be colonized by industry. chemical fertilizers were destroying the life in the soil even in his day and still are ( anhydrous amonia, the major nitrate fertilizer used in growning industrial corn , for instance kills 15% of the earthworm population in a given field with each application by drying the soil and changing its chemical balance) but he didn't have to contend with trangentic seed produced by agribusiness limiting the diversity of crops or monsanto and archer daniels midland patenting seeds in an effort to aggressively control diversity's re-introduction into the monoculture of corn and soy food and industrially processed food were probably unknown to him as well, though it most likely would not have suprised's taken most of the 63 years since the publication of Soil and Health for any sort of widespread realization of the impact of agricultural industrialization to come that time the system has become second nature and has spread around the world limiting or destroying traditional agriculture wherever it has gone...resource depletion will make us change our ways...the sooner the better...there's a lot to figure out.