Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yes, but...

Organic food is no healthier, study finds

This story appears on Reuters, and sounds kind of stunning at first, except that it fails to address the real reason some people favor organic produce. Conventionally grown produce may have pesticide and herbicide residues. Maybe some folks think organic is more nutritionally rich too, but the main reason is to avoid nasty substances.

Locally grown produce that goes quickly from field to table is more nutritious than food that has spent long periods of time traveling many miles. It's fresher, and fresher produce has more vitamins and minerals. Besides, produce that is embarking on a long trip may need to be picked before it is ripe and exposed to extreme temperatures or preservative gases.

So, while "organic" produce from wherever in the world may not be more nutritious, there are still good reasons to give it preference, particularly if it is locally grown.

Oh, and the school that published the study has a funny name.
The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Evildoers or Opportunists?

While I was out of town on vacation the chickens executed a jailbreak. They got into the part of the back yard that I have banned them from this year. By the time the escape was discovered they had uprooted a couple of yellow squash plants and some small onions and they had strewn a lot of dirt and mulch over the paths. This is their particular speciality, they are adept at spreading everything in their immediate environment into one even layer. This way they can pick and peck through everything very thoroughly.

But now that I think about it, I wonder if they deliberately chose the squash.

Like many gardeners I usually end up with an over abundance of squash and zucchini. And like most gardeners with this problem I run out of victims on whom to pawn it off long before I run out of squash. So I end up giving lots of it to the hens. They seem to like it, especially the seeds. But maybe they are more like us than we imagine. Maybe it is part of their dastardly plan to eradicate zucchini when they have the opportunity so they won't have to do the heavy lifting of disposing of the excess squash.

Monday, July 27, 2009

It's Gonna Be A Scorcher

We're about to have 2 or 3 days over 100 degrees. Wow. Yesterday I watered all the plants thoroughly, so they should be alright, but some may need a little refreshment.

And I'll have to do a few things to keep the hens cool. Their beach umbrella is up and the water is full. I may need to water down the run and the hedge, where they like to hide in the shade. The coop needs cleaning and a change of bedding too. That ought to be fun in the stifling heat.

Time to get outside before it gets any hotter, but first a trip to the feed store for cedar shavings, which is what I use for bedding and for mulch around the garden. Also some 5 grain scratch as a treat for the girls. Concentrates is my favorite for this stuff. Extremely helpful and friendly people there and it's close to home.

And there will be some catch up posts to make up for the dearth while I was out of town on vacation. Stay cool.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trouble in Tom Town

My tomato plants look hideous!
They're setting fruit, but the just look scraggly and sparse and not at all healthy. At first I thought I might have some blight from not mulching sufficiently before some big rainstorms, splashing fungus and junk onto the plants. But now, after some consult with the BQ (Bean Queen) it may just be plain old poor soil.

I thought I had added enough compost, I grew a cover crop and turned it in before planting. I fertilized. Maybe it just takes a little more to reverse 30 years under a sheet of concrete.

We'll get tomatoes, just not as many as I was hoping for. Gardening, it's a crapshoot.
So yesterday was the first officially ripe tomato, a Sungold. Delicious, but will there be enough?

Blueberries are ripe for picking. I went to a U-Pick farm with my neighbors. We hauled in about 20 lbs worth. Get out the blueberry muffin recipe.