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  • The Smarter We Get, the Dumber We Seem to Be - The Westside Gardener
    So what do they do They take the gene sequence from Bt San Diego that generates the toxin and splice it into the DNA of a potato Thus the New Leaf potato is born You may ask why this is such a big deal Well as has been repeatedly demonstrated in the past half century persistent exposure to a pesticide quickly breeds resistant pests Many people use organic and botanical pesticides specifically because they don t persist they break down when exposed to air moisture and sunlight Colorado Potato Beetles exposed to the New Leaf potato will be getting persistent exposure to this strain of Bt Since no pesticide is ever 100 effective it is likely that resistant CPB s will result and a good organic control used by millions of gardeners will be quickly rendered useless Terminator Technology No this doesn t involve Arnold Schwarzenegger in any way shape or form This is a new technology that renders plants incapable of producing viable seed In March of this year 1998 The Delta and Pine Land Company announced it had developed a new genetic technology dubbed Terminator The seeds which incorporate this technology will germinate and produce plants but those plants will only produce sterile seed Monsanto recognizing the potential value of this technique quickly bought up Delta and Pine Then Monsanto and Cargill merged which gives the new company a potentially controlling share of the world agricultural market So why you may ask is this technology so valuable The answer is rather simple they are hoping to control the food and seed markets in developing countries which potentially could provide a much larger market than is available in the developed world The vast majority of grain and seed production in the world is done in poor third world countries The farmers in these places grow their crops then save enough of their own seed for the next season If Monsanto Cargill can through predatory pricing quietly introduce enough of this seed into these countries they will be able to lock these countries into an inescapable cycle Don t believe me Check out this article in the Hindustani Times There are two other dangers involved here If these third world farmers are cut off from Monsanto for more than a season whether by war or some other catastrophe they will be unable to grow their own food they will die Also there is some debate whether this genetic code could escape into the wild which could have catastrophic consequences I know it seems like I m picking on Monsanto and maybe I am Frankly with all the takeovers of the past decade they along with one or two other companies pretty much control agriculture But I m afraid there s yet another example of short sighted stupidity to be discussed Roundup Ready Crops The herbicide Roundup glyphosate is sold by guess who It is quite popular with both farmers and gardeners because it is relatively non toxic and has no

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1998/smarter_dumber.html (2016-04-27)
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  • My June 1st Garden Report - The Westside Gardener
    to have some order for this year s winter garden After all the hoophouse can only work if I use it to cover contiguous beds Parts of the garden look pretty pathetic right now but to some degree it s deceiving A lot of the weeds are actually overwintered crops that have bolted and now are trying to mature seed I will admit these should have come out some time ago but I just didn t get around to it In late winter I was preoccupied with a potential cross country move and my garden just didn t get the care it normally receives Well I guess in the end they all do count as weeds because they do have to come out in the end I am doing better this season in terms of getting things sowed on time To some degree this is a byproduct of the relatively drier spring we ve had Another factor though is that I m really trying to avoid the embarrassment of last year when I had to explain to a number of people why my broccoli was a month late and my snap beans were being sown in July The corn that we put in around the end of April is actually doing pretty well The popcorn which my daughter and I direct seeded came up despite the cooler weather that followed the sowing Also I ve been happy with how well the sweet corn transplanted In the past I ve used peat pots on those occasions that I ve started it as transplants but this year I ve had just as much success using plastic pots As with most hard to transplant vegetables the key seems to be prompt transplanting before the roots can become pot bound I ll tell you

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1998/june_garden_report.html (2016-04-27)
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  • Has it been a year already? - The Westside Gardener
    to early gardening but all sorts of life s details seem to be interfering now a possible new job considerations of a potential cross country move the illness and death of a loved pet and the start of work on a new Web site have all chipped away at my available gardening time or so I tell myself In many aspects of life it is so darn easy to get caught up in the details But sometimes you have to just force yourself to leave those details behind and make time for the other things in life It s funny how that works because often those other things are the activities you really enjoy yet can t bring yourself to make time for I went out into the garden this past weekend for probably the first time in close to a month I had been putting it off for some reason I never seemed to be in the mood to go out there But after having forced myself to face the weeds I found it didn t take long to start getting caught up again in all the things which make me love gardening Sure weeding can be a chore but the birds were singing up a storm I had a front row seat for some robins and sparrows impromptu bath in a puddle And though it seemed at first to be all weeds everywhere at least in my perennial beds oh my goodness he s not in the vegetable garden a little poking and prodding made it evident that new life was already coming forth out of the ground The geraniums were up a calendula was blooming the buddleia was racing towards the sky life was good I may have reluctantly trudged outside to start with but I stayed

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1998/a_year_already.html (2016-04-27)
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  • I'm Excited About Spring! - A Letter From My Garden - The Westside Gardener
    my garden has seen more than its share of frosts due to the increased frequency of clear nights normally a rarity here People closer to Puget Sound s temperature moderating effects have been complaining about a bountiful supply of slugs while I haven t been finding many of them at all Since as I mentioned we haven t had nearly as soggy of a winter as is the norm I ve taken a few chances with pushing the spring gardening season I planted a couple beds of peas on January 31 which is a month or more ahead of the usual target date here As is typically the case whenever I sow anything we immediately had several good frosts during the first week of February Fortunately the peas protected by a floating row cover and a sheet of clear plastic did I mention this happens every time I plant early did fine and are several inches out of the ground already Some lettuce spinach and mustard also was put out a few weeks early and seems to be thriving under a row cover Several of my fall crops have survived due to the mild winter temperatures Some things which were a write off last year have actually produced this winter Some late cauliflower which did not head because I had sown them too late in the summer produced tasty flowers around mid February The fall broccoli also made it through and has been throwing off side shoots for the past month Another positive effect of this year s weather has been the early start on growth that some of the overwintered vegetables have made Leeks garlic garden cress lettuce radicchio and onions all have been making substantial growth since January On the downside though the root crops broke dormancy early

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1998/excited_about_spring.html (2016-04-27)
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  • Christmas Musings - The Westside Gardener
    in taste This winter I m experimenting with leaving my PVC hoophouse up over some of the winter beds instead of the cloches I ve used in the past The cloches being lower to the ground probably provide a bit more heat during the daytime but they ve always had the adverse effect of concentrating too much humidity around the plants Under the hoophouse the greens are all thriving I ve been particularly amazed at the way both corn salad mache and upland cress have kept growing under cover they ve done fine out in the open through past winters but pretty much just sat there My main concern was the larger wind profile the hoophouse has but it took 40 50mph winds without too much damage nothing I couldn t repair in five minutes The past two winters were unbelievably wet even for the Pacific Northwest This winter has been pretty dry so far As a matter of fact it s provided a new means of identifying migrants from other parts of the US anyone caught complaining about this wet winter obviously hasn t lived here very long In any case it s been nice to walk in the garden this winter without mud squishing up around my boots and I ve even been able to enter the garden without boots most of the time This drier winter has meant that the garden has seen more freezes than usual For brassicas like cabbage and Brussels sprouts this is a plus In response to frost these concentrate sugar in their leaves as a survival tactic chemists can tell you about freezing point depression Extra sugar means extra sweetness when you eat these plants On the other hand I m a bit nervous about the survival of my garlic Normally garlic

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1997/christmas_musings.html (2016-04-27)
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  • Get a Jump on Spring! - The Westside Gardener
    light will be no more than 4 5 inches above the tops of your plants Most vegetables grow fine under a couple of shoplight tubes which only cost a dollar or two apiece I ve found I get better plant color and development though if I use one 40W aquarium plant tube 8 each and one 40W residential tube 2 per bulb in each fixture If you mix florescent tube types in a single fixture be sure they are both the same wattage Most new shoplight tubes are only 24W I generally don t start these plants in a flat Instead I sow a few seeds directly into a 4 inch pot and thin down to one plant once it has a couple of true leaves This means my plants only get transplanted once when it is time to go into the garden so they get off to a faster start Using this method also allows me to successfully transplant spinach which can be touchy because of its taproot Some easily started spring plants are lettuce spinach chard beets yes they have a taproot but the beet forms up at ground level mustard and onions Spinach mustard and onions tend to be photoperiodic which means they will make a seed stalk if the daylength even the virtual daylength under your lights is too long Because of this I have my growing lights on a timer which is set to about 14 hours of on time To know when to sow these seeds indoors follow the same rule of thumb you use for tomatoes and peppers Sow the seed 6 8 weeks before the plants can safely be put outside Here in western Washington these spring vegetables are usually safe outside after March 1st so I sow the seed into the

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1997/jump_on_spring.html (2016-04-27)
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  • A Time for Reflection - The Westside Gardener
    and the new things we d like to try But it makes more sense to take stock now while the triumphs and failures of this past season are fresh in your mind It is the rare vegetable variety that succeeds everywhere The wise gardener always grows something new in order to compare with what has worked in the past Did Everest broccoli hold up during that heat wave Which carrot sized up faster in the cool soil of spring Artist or Kuroda You d decided to grow Brandywine tomato this time after hearing the Rodale folks rave about it was the taste as good as you expected Think through this gardening season and write your observations down now When December and January roll around you ll probably remember most of it but some of the details will certainly have slipped away Now I d like to suggest that you make an early New Year s resolution Repeat after me From this day forward I will diligently keep a garden journal I will start now with my memories of this season and will record my gardening successes failures thoughts and activities This diary of your garden doesn t have to be fancy I record mine using Word but a simple text editor like Notepad or TeachText will do or even and I realize this is a radical concept notebook paper in a binder works great The big advantage to writing on your computer is the ease with which you can search the past records Keep a separate file for each year At a minimum record the dates you plant and transplant when your last and first frost hit for the year and when your harvests occurred It can be very helpful to also note how good or bad the weather is

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1997/time_for_reflection.html (2016-04-27)
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  • Yes, You Can Teach an Old Scientist New Tricks - The Westside Gardener
    it can wander in all sorts of directions I began to notice the beetles crawling through the dirt the songs of various birds and how robins tend to follow you around the garden always staying about 10 feet away For the first time I really began to see all the different connections in the wide world Of course I still approached this as a scientist I read and studied like crazy But out of all this erudition one of the things that really struck me was how man in his attempt to conquer and control nature had really been screwing things up Don t get me wrong I still thought science was wonderful still do in fact but it had often been applied quite thoughtlessly and the consequences were appalling I also really begin to notice other things things I d seen for years but never paid attention While driving down the freeway I watched a commercial cabbage grower spraying his crops I d seen it dozens of times before but it began to hit me just how much crap was being sprayed on our food It s a well documented fact that the cancer rate has been gradually increasing in the United States over the past fifty years I wondered are we doing it to ourselves I must admit to being equally turned off by the mindless ranting of some organic types But I found other writers who had put a lot of thought into gardening reasoned things through and had turned back mostly to organic methods and convincingly explained why I noted how the agricultural colleges were beginning to teach the importance of preserving diversity building healthy soils and using lower impact methods of weed and pest control Basically I learned that more and more folks were after

    Original URL path: http://westsidegardener.com/articles/1997/old_scientist_new_tricks.html (2016-04-27)
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