Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

I’ve been getting tons of anti-GMO posts thru my Facebook feed and I just want to provide a blanket response so I don’t have to deal with this much longer.

Any hybridization encouraged by man, by definition, is a Genetically Modified Organism. People crossbreed things and choose desirable traits and cull out the bad ones(they hope.) Out the other end comes donut peaches & Labradoodles. Also comes cats with 5 legs & bulldogs who have to give birth by C-section because the pups have Oprah sized skulls. To call it scattershot is an insult to shotguns.

What the scaremongers would like to define GMO as(and I don’t have a problem with it as long as we have internationally defined terms for trade purposes) is that someone plucks a specific gene from one plant(or animal) into a different type of plant(or animal,) like that goat that produces spider silk in its milk. That would be more akin to transgenics.

Do I want transgenic plants/animals? It depends. Glow in the dark fish/cats? Awesome. If I could get glow in the dark corn on the cob every once in a while that tasted like roadstand silver corn, sure. Is it corn on the cob that poisons ants/aphids/butterflies? No. Do I want giant sunflowers cross bred with Venus fly traps to eat small animals & children who try and get on my property? With a few exceptions, no. Little cats that look like tigers? Straight gene manipulation would probably be more humane than the “natural” crossbreeding that goes on currently.

Genetic modification is a tool, nothing more, nothing less. The questions are this:
1: Are there protocols in place to prevent bad things happening?
2: What are they and are they adequate
3: is the information freely available for others to look at?
4: How does this benefit society?

Do I want agri-pharma supplying monocultures? No, they are potentially harmful to food security.

Do I want them restraining trade? No. Patents on items that come from nature is an affront to society. If farmers want sterile seed stock, more power to them if the benefits outweigh the costs; but it’s usually a false economy.

I screw around with citrus. Every once in a blue moon’s blue moon, you get a happy accident like a Mineola. To get that happy accident they had to cross pollinate varieties, plant them, let the grow until they set fruit and look at the results. It is painstakingly laborious and time consuming, with tens of thousands of dead ends. If you could decode the citrus genome, then make educated guesses which genes you wanted to tamper with to get a lime the size of a grapefruit so you could make Key Lime Pies that much cheaper(yet keep the rest of the genome intact,) isn’t that acceptable, desirable(even if you don’t love Key Lime Pie, which in any case you’re dead to me) and reasonable? I’m not talking about limes the size of grapefruits that have wings and fly to my basket when ripe like salmon returning home to spawn.

It’s not a binary question to GMO; it’s costs/benefits, it’s honest talk based on science and not on emotion. I’d say that a rational group of people could suss it out in a day, but I think rational people are hard to come by these days.


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So this is what(and where) I’ll hopefully be working on for the next couple of months.The main house

View from the side

A view of the lake from the Living room

The pavilion

The Stage

The dance floor

A layout of the main house

The place was built around 100 years ago by old school New York money and was bought by my grandparents and a bunch of other Communists back in ’48. The idea is to make it a Hotel/B&B with a restaurant, hosting cultural events(music, dances) at the pavilion. It’s 50 miles from the GWB, the train to Penn Station is 70 minutes away(after they fix it, the hurricane last fall washed out a bit of the line.) It’s on 80 acres with exclusive lake access, mostly surrounded by state forest. At some point we hope to plant some fruit trees on acreage that is lying fallow along with growing as much produce as we can on site. The restaurant would have some slavic food, but would also feature the best food to come from Orange County and the Hudson Valley.

The kitchen needs a bit of work and some bedrooms need to be converted back to their original dimensions, but it’s actually not that bad if we can just get past political headaches and egos.  The Pavilion needs some ADA upgrades and the kitchen needs work(as does the bathhouse and snack shack) but with new LED lighting tech we can install a PA & lighting rig relatively cheaply.

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Gardening in AZ

The 1st pass at tomatoes came up a cropper, they took off easily but got cooked in the seedling trays as the soil couldn’t retain water all that well.

Did a 2nd batch of tomatoes in a Burpee self watering system(it’s aces) and I’ve had so many go off and thrive I’ve actually too many and am donating.

In short season the Marmande and Moskovich varieties are thriving best with Orange Roma and Peche Jaune right behind them. I’ve had some losses due to a mockingbird doing what it does, especially with my watermelons and sunflowers.

On the cherry tomato front, Super Snow Whites, Isis candy and a random cherry variety pack are doing amazing, Black cherry and God Love are doing ok and only Hawaiian currant(I suspect they need night soil temps to climb into the 70s) and Coyote(probably another warm soil grower) haven’t really taken off.

The Basil has really taken off once it hit the 80’s, but hasn’t transplanted well, maybe 50% survival rate.

All of the Hops(Kent Golding, Hallertau, Fuggle & Cascade) have finally all taken off and most are starting to climb the string. As the days get longer they’ll accelerate their climbing growth. Flagstaff is about the bottom range of their reliable growing range and Tempe only gets a month of the sunshine hours they need. It’s going to be interesting to see if they can adapt to the desert and truly be productive.

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First Sprouts

Not even the Winter solstice yet and three tomatoes have already sprouted from seed that I started on Dec. 1st.

Peche Jaune, Buckbee’s 50 day and Northern Lights, take a bow!!

Spent yesterday walking on the arbor that is on the southern exposure installing eye hooks on the 1″x 1″. I felt like I was walking a tightrope even with all that lumber beneath me. The idea is that those eye hooks will hold the wire for my containers that also have eye hooks in them:

And when I get them up there they’ll look like this:

That way when the tomatoes really take off I can just have them hang off instead of building a trellis or caging them. This will provide extra shade as the sun rises during the spring. Want to put watermelons up there, but then I’d probably have to re-inforce the hooks with washers and bolts to keep them in the plastic.

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Long time, no post.

Gearing up for my 1st spring in the new crib and boy have I been a busy boy.

Planted the following(thanks to Greenfield Citrus and Baker Nursery ) :

  • Sanguinelli Blood Orange
  • Orlando Tangelo
  • Lisbon Lemon
  • Macatera Sweet Orange
  • Pink Eureka Lemon(it’s only pink when it’s unripe, but it is striped  like a green  & yellow tiger)
  • Bonanza Mini Peach(2)
  • Anna Apple(2)

Just started seeding the following short season tomatoes(thanks to Tomatofest.com) :

  • Buckbee’s New 50 Day
  • Early Annie
  • Marmande
  • Northern Lights
  • Orange Roma
  • Peche Jaune
  • Siletz
  • Sunset’s Red

And a Scarlet sweet Watermelon

The reason I chose Short season  is that A: they’re used to growing in chilly weather but will benefit from the full sun, and B: they mature so fast they’ll hopefully won’t get zapped by the sun to the point that they’ll split like the larger tomatoes usually do out here.

If the Lord’s willin and the creek don’t rise, the 1st of them should be ready before the Phoenix Open and most of the by the time pitcher  & catchers report for Spring training. Starting next week I’ll be seeding the Cherry Tomatoes that will keep me in sauce from March 1 thru June. Gonna be hanging them from an arbor that runs along the south roof line, gonna anchor them with sting and some eyehooks.

Just transplanted:

  • Mexican Lime
  • Buddha’s Hand citron
  • Navajo Blackberry

I think the Lime will be OK, worried about the Buddha Hand and the Blackberries. Finding the right locations is hard, wonder if it’s too hot for the Blackberries even in this microclimate.

Getting ready to harvest:

  • Pink Eureka
  • Blush Grapefruit
  • Minneola tangelo
  • Kumquat

Have a shipload of kumquats, all of 4 Minneolas(then again the tree was half dead when I bought) 20 or so Grapefruits and a dozen Pink Eurekas

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