Friday, March 18, 2011

Earthquake Clean-up with E.M.

When you think earthquake, do you think about the following possible events, sounds and sights?

  • Impassable roads (fallen hidro lines, collapsed bridges, landslides, tsunamis or boulders blocking any passage like the ones you see fenced off on the roads through the Rockies
  • No hydro; no phones because of pole and tower collapses
  • No cell signals because of jammed, inoperable towers
  • Broken water mains; perhaps obstruction by landslides
  • No operable bank machines
  • Fuel confined to use by emergency vehicles only
  • Only the most seriously injured will be seen by doctors or hospitals
  • No food delivery systems
  • Hoarding of supplies results in rapid emptying of shelves in the stores
Now, what about smells and pathogens (disease-causing microorganisms?)?  How about the smells that will result when sewage lines break and mix with the flood waters everywhere?  Most of us have had our delicate noses assaulted by something like a backed-up toilet or a malfunctioning septic system once or twice in our life.  But the smells of doom are even more horrifying.  Here is a video talking about an enterprising and effective way to safely, greenly, get rid of sewage odours AND pathogens with something called EM (effective microorganisms):

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Being Food Secure in an Insecure World

The world is falling apart.  This is not news.  This is not rocket science.  I happen to be Seventh-day Adventist and believe that this world will come to a startling end and that Jesus will return again, but even if you are not a believer in "end time Biblical prophecies" you probably recognize that there are more wars, rumours of wars, and natural disasters occurring closer together all over the world than ever before.  And that requires being prepared for the "emergency" situations that are going to affect all of us at some point-- the Hurricane Katrinas, the Haiti earthquakes, the landslides, monster blizzards, tornadoes, floods, etc. that will mean, at the very least, inconveniently long power outages, but more likely, no ability to buy any food (let alone good quality organic produce) and water, hunger, devastation to our homes, and clogged emergency response rooms in hospitals and walk-in medi-clinics.

 I live on an island.  It's a  large island, but the story out there is that within three days of no deliveries by ferries and truck from afar, any 'real' food will be gone from all the store shelves.  At present, less than 10% of what we eat here is grown or raised on this island.  You might want to check to see what the food security stats show for where you live.  If you, like us, are depending on surviving on food that is trucked in from hundreds, even thousands, of miles away, you might want to start thinking about what you can do to provide for yourself, your family, and your community when that impending disaster hits.  Educate yourself.  Do what you need to do to "be personally resilient" and not a further drain on limited emergency response resources.  And educate others in your sphere of influence about what they can do.  If you go here you can read what the large city of Vancouver has provided as a glossary for problem-solving around the issues of 'food security' (along with definitions for that concept) that might give you some ideas for your own community, or to check out what is already being strategized or exists as policy.

At a presentation at Seedy Sunday in Nanaimo I was so thrilled to find the book called Food Security for the Faint of Heart: Keeping Your Larder Full in Lean Times" by Robin Wheeler.  There is quite a lot of information on the internet (and in books, etc.) from an American perspective, but I'm excited to have access to information that is Canadian, and more specific and common to both of us, coastal British Columbian (Robin survived in 1996 in a small structure on Mount Elphinstone on BC's Sunshine Coast and our son Conrad lived on Mount Elphinstone, under a tarp shelter, in the winter of 2002).This book is a god-send for anyone who wants know about what to do to prepare to be secure, food-wise, during the grim days that are about to happen.  It is also entertaining to read just in terms of story-telling.  Information is NOT power-- really, the empowerment lies in doing something with the information that we come by... this book provides that impetus!
You can order this book from Amazon HERE

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Step 2: Get the Organic and Heirloom Seeds

So, yes, I do have that bag of Vermiculite towards my eventual Square Foot Garden, but the highlight of this pre-garden season is going to the Seedy Sunday event in Nanaimo.  We drove there with our dog and met our son Conrad just outside the doors to the sports complex in innercity Bowen Park.

Inside the building it's a little like what I remember from my childhood Fair days in the "exhibits" buildings.  Here you will find table after table of people (mostly farmers) selling seeds that they breed and/or collect themselves-- heirloom and organic being the words that you look for on the banner and seed packets.  There are also related items for sale, such as mason bee condos, jams, small plants, lily bulbs, flour varieties, honey, and garden ornaments.

Taking command of the place with unmatchable energy is the day's emcee, Dirk Becker.  Dirk and his partner Nicole are "backyard farmers" from nearby Lantzville.  They've run into some conflicts with their neighbours and their regional district around their operation-- is it or is it not legal for them to grow tons of vegetables to sell at Farmer's Markets on their hectare of land that is apparently within the city of Lantzville?  You can read more about it HERE and there are quite a few Youtube videos on the subject.  We attended Dirk's presentation and were thoroughly entertained, and as usually happens when one is relaxed and feeling high-positive, we learned a great deal about the joys of sustainable farming.
And then there is the matter of the seeds I bought.  Around $100 worth I think.  I also bought some for my friend's Dad.  I have a number of novelty seeds (some kind of silver beets, and a cauliflower that has spiraling leaves) and 3 heirloom asparagus crowns.  I bought a small Bay tree (as in Bay Leaf that you put in your stew), herbs, flowers, a lily bulb (yes, just one), and lots of beans, tomatoes, and the like.

Today I planted some pepper seeds, cucumber seeds and tomato seeds (3 varieties) in jiffy peat pots.  Here is a list of what I've planted (the number on top is the number of seeds I planted):

courtesy Wikipedia commons
cucumis sativus

Days to Harvest: 65

Chinese Cucumber. 12" long with traditional ridges and white spines that brush off easily. Trellis these prolific vines to grow straight cukes.

Crisp, non-bitter, almost seedless, great in salads and for pickling.

(from "Omega Blue Farms" Heritage Conservation

Medium-tall very productive plant from Romania. Many beautiful 4"X2" tapered pointed yellow fruit are produced early then ripen to red.  Romanians fry them in a skillet to bring out the flavour.  Start early indoors.  Transplant when the soil is warm.  IOPA/COABC Certified Organic #401 (from "Full Circle Seeds"

Pale yellow fruits, 1 2/4" in diameter with a good mild taste.  Plants are compact and easy to pick.  Great in a basket with orange and red cherry tomatoes.IOPA/COABC Certified Organic #401
(from "Full Circle Seeds"

Known as peach tomato because of its buffed smooth, furry skin and deep glove shape, these wonderful heirlooms are packed with flavour and just the right size for garden munching or salads.  Absolutely unique in appearance with flavour to match.  Introduced into this area by Marti Martin-Wood of Two Wings Farm.  They held up well into the late fall at ALM Farm.  Self-determinate.
IOPA/COABC Certified Organic #401
(from "Full Circle Seeds"


Large. Beautiful. 5 in. fruit. Unusual milk chocolate colour.  Delicious rich taste. A sport of Cherokee Purple.  Mid-Late. Indet. Rare.
Certified Organic
PACS. #16-527

Go HERE to find a Seedy event near you (in Canada)

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