Jan 21, 2012

Organic farming is far superior to conventional systems --> REPORT: 30 Years of the Farming Systems Trial | Rodale Institute

The hallmark of a truly sustainable system is its ability to regenerate itself. When it comes to farming, the key to sustainable agriculture is healthy soil, since this is the foundation for present and future growth.

Organic farming is far superior to conventional systems when it comes to building, maintaining and replenishing the health of the soil. For soil health alone, organic agriculture is more sustainable than conventional. When one also considers yields, economic viability, energy usage, and human health, it’s clear that organic farming is sustainable, while current conventional practices are not.

As we face uncertain and extreme weather patterns, growing scarcity and expense of oil, lack of water, and a growing population, we will require farming systems that can adapt, withstand or even mitigate these problems while producing healthy, nourishing food. After 30 years of side-by-side research in our Farming Systems Trial (FST)®, Rodale Institute has demonstrated that organic farming is better equipped to feed us now and well into the ever changing future.

Fast Facts

Organic yields match conventional yields.

Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.

Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system.

Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.

Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.

Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.

Choosing a Soil Mix - YouTube

Choosing the right soil media can make the difference between success and failure of your container garden. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/containergardening/ .

Cheap Fossil Fuel World - Dubai - The Poop Trucks - YouTube

This Pisses Me Off!
  • Wake Up World - The Age of Stupid - (trailer) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZjsJdokC0s
  • Imagine the fossil fuel burnt and wasted...
  • Imagine the green house gases caused by this...
  • Look at the amount of resources used...
  • How many tons of steel?
  • How many tires?
  • ...
  • We all need to do something about this stupidity...
  • ...
  • Shouldn't we have "International Crimes Against Nature Laws"
  • ...
  • If this does not qualify, what would?
  • ...
  • The resource contained in the tanks of trucks could be easily designed to create "desert forests"...
  • This is just one example of the "Stupidity" all around us.
  • Find at least one local "Stupidity"and do something about it!
  • The masses need to require integrity by those not displaying it ! (companies, politicians, banks, governments, ...) 
  • If you aren't doing your part, you should feel guiltily...
  • You are a citizen of the world...
  • Get Involved In Communities trying to change the world for the better... permies.com & richsoil.com/ ...
Regards to all... 

"It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory." W. Edwards Deming

Sanitation in Dubai - Wikipedia

Understanding PIPA / SOPA & Why You Should Be Concerned - YouTube

Most everyone has noticed the swath of websites that were blacked out in protest of the pending PIPA / SOPA legislation in congress, but not as many people understand exactly why those bills are such a problem.

This short documentary explores PIPA and SOPA, how the bills work, who's behind them, and why all internet users have reason to be concerned.

Very good ... Monte

Jan 20, 2012

Keep those branches, twigs, rotton logs and Christmas trees!

by  Paul Wheaton
permies.com & richsoil.com/

That stuff is gardener's gold! Organic matter!
Winter is the season for pruning trees. Sometimes taking out dangerous trees. I am mystified when people haul the wood away and in the sping they spend money for mulch. And equally mystified by people that rent an obnoxious, loud, smelly chipper. here is a quick list of a dozen things that can be done with that wood, keeping it on your property and not having to fool with a chipper.

1. Make your own mulch: A huge branch can be reduced to flat mulch in about two minutes with a pruner. I usually clip at the bends in the tigs and branches. A huge pile of branches and twigs will become about 30 times smaller in 15 minutes.
  raised garden beds
2. Cover it in soil to make hugelkultur. This is best with the logs (green logs work too) and thick branches. This makes for a richer soil that needs less watering. Some people have built tall raised garden beds with this technique and they have a normal garden that doesn't need water all summer. This is an excellent use for a stump - no need to pull it or grind it, just cover it with soil.

3. In Finland they use small branches and twigs between muddy spots and the house. You can make a muddy spot less muddy, or you can create a place near the house to wipe your feet.

4. Put the wood in a dry place for a while and then use it for firewood. Rocket stove technology can heat a home with 90% less wood than a conventional wood stove. So little, that many homes are heated with nothing but tree trimmings that come out of a small yard. rocket stove

 5. If you keep chickens, nothing makes better deep chicken bedding than pine, fir or spruce boughs.

6. Butterfly/bird/wildlife habitat: Just make a big brushpile. This provides habitat for butterflies to lay eggs, and a variety of beneficial insects and other critters. Most permaculture practitioners keep a brushpile somewhere in their yard because they believe that it reduces pestdamage for the rest of their garden.

6.1. Snag or stump for wildlife

7. Criss-crossing branches in a compost pile helps to aerate it.

8. With a bit of jute, it's a snap to make a twig trellis or arbor for your garden. Usually in about ten minutes. And when they get old, you can mulch the branches and the jute together.

9. If you have some wood shop skills, you can make chairs, furniture, name tags, coasters, bird houses, benches, planter box, tool handles, coat racks and so much, much more. And if the wood is living black locust wood, whatever you do with that will last about ten times longer outdoors than cedar without a drop of paint or stain.

10. garden stakes

Black Locust wonderful uses

11. Throwing branches and logs into ponds will usually reduce algae problems and give fish and amphibians a place to hide from predators.

12. marshmallow/hotdog sticks! A lot of this stuff is effectively sequestering your own carbon! It could be a massive step toward your own personal carbon neutrality.

BIO: Paul Wheaton is is the tyrannical ruler of two on-line communities. One is about permaculture and one is about software engineering. There is even one for Missoula. Paul has written several permacutlure articles starting with one on lawn care that he presented at the MUD Project 17 years ago, including articles on raising chickenscast iron and diatomaceous earth. Paul also regularly uploads permaculture videos and permaculture podcasts. In his spare time, Paul has plans for world domination and is currently shopping for a hollowed out volcano in the Missoula area, with good submarine access.
permies.com and richsoil.com are like "Bee Hives"  for  Honey Badgers if you want to know about permaculture, helping save the world, and that kind of stuff... great sites and great community of people sharing information on permaculture building blocks ... Monte Hines

Do Great Things - We have a greater capacity to change the world today than the kings and presidents of just 50 years ago. | TechCrunch

Full Story

Editor’s Note: Guest contributor Justin Rosenstein is the co-founder of Asana.

We have a greater capacity to change the world today than the kings and presidents of just 50 years ago. Whether you’re a programming prodigy or the office manager holding it all together, technology empowers small groups of passionate people with an astonishing degree of leverage to make the world a better place. Yet I fear that our industry is squandering its opportunity and its talent. In companies large and small, great minds are devoting their lives to endeavors that, even if wildly successful, fail to do great things.

We who work in technology have nurtured an especially rare gift: the opportunity to effect change at an unprecedented scale and rate. Technology, community, and capitalism combine to make Silicon Valley the potential epicenter of vast positive change. We can tackle the world’s biggest problems and take on bold missions like fixing education, re-imagining energy distribution, connecting people, or even democratizing democracy. And with increasingly severe threats to our survival — rapid climate change, an unstable international economy, and unsustainable energy consumption — it is more important than ever that we use these gifts to change the world, foster happiness and alleviate suffering, for us and our fellow beings.

But we are falling far short of our potential.

Within many large companies, brilliant engineers are convinced to toil away at ultimately-unimportant features. When the company was one-tenth its size, they would have worked on projects with ten times the long-term impact, but now measure success by the number of users they touch rather than the value they create. But do millions of eyeballs really make the work more meaningful? Our brightest minds are recklessly allocated to turf wars where winning is paramount above all else. When did beating the competition or protecting your existing business become more important than serving users?

It’s time to wake up! We’re all in this together: when we stop worrying about egos and focus on helping each other, the world will get better for everyone. The opportunity cost of not doing so is staggering. Asked why they stay, my friends respond with a combination of inertia, complacency, and attachment to seeing projects through that often limp along interminably. I definitely empathize: it’s easy to hope things will get better any day now, or fear giving up comfortable compensation. But I’ve never regretted following my heart — and, in our industry more than any other, doing so is less financially risky than ever.

The startup world suffers from less bureaucracy, yet, as Sean Parker, Michael Arrington, andPeter Thiel have observed, there’s a proliferation of companies with smaller, less-impactful ideas. An abundance of angel capital and increasing fetishization of entrepreneurship has led more people to start companies for the sake of starting a company. But the 100th engineer at Facebook had a greater positive impact on the world — and a much better personal financial outcome — than most of the startup founders we see heroized.

The result is a massive talent dilution, one so acute that both of Facebook’s founders are doubtful they could have started Facebook in this environment. It’s good that starting a business is easier than ever, but the pendulum has swung too far from Silicon Valley’s hey-day when a handful of great companies were able to gather a critical mass of great people to do great things.

I do not doubt that services like social games and coupons bring delight to people’s lives, and I mean no disrespect to the hard work that has made them possible. But in the face of threats to humanity’s future on the one hand and the extraordinary potential of mankind on the other, at some point we must ask: are we capable of more?

I wrote this post from my heart to remind you, my peers, to look regularly and honestly into yours and reflect on your deepest values. Life is short, youth is finite, and opportunities endless. Have you found the intersection of your passion and the potential for world-shaping positive impact? If you don’t have a great idea of your own, there are plenty of great teams that need you — unknown startups and established teams in giant companies alike.

Don’t lose the fire you started with. If you’re going to devote the best years of your life to your work, have enough love for yourself and the world around you to work on something that matters to you deeply. Something that’s beating out of your chest and compels you to throw yourself at it completely. No one knows whether you and your teammates will realize your audacious visions, but in order to do great things, we must attempt great things.

Justin works at Asana. Asana builds collaborative software to help teams be more effective in contributing to the world, one step at a time.

...  Full Story

Great advice that applies to a lot of  technologies... Monte

Harold Channer Interview with Rand Weeks on Coral reef restoration discussion

by haroldchanner on Jan 19, 2012

Electrical Engineer and Designer at Restoration and Conservation Environmental LLC
Electro-Mechanical Design Engineer at BioRock International
Designer and installer at New York Harbor School (NY Urban Assembly)

Chief Electromechanical Design Engineer and Installer at 1kD
Senior Partner, Green Energy Engineering

Coral reef - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Last 15 minutes... Very interesting coral reef restoration discussion... Monte

Mark Lakeman on Urban Permaculture: City Repair, Re-patterning the Grid, Solar Cat Palace - YouTube

by amillison on Jan 11, 2012

URBAN PERMACULTURE: Mark Lakeman describes the origins of the City Repair Project, talks about re-patterning the Roman grid, and leads us through the world's first Solar Powered Cat Palace! Mark is the founder of City Repair, Communitecture architects, and the Planet Repair Institute. Links to his work are at the end of the video. This video is part of a series produced by Andrew Millison of www.beaverstatepermaculture.com as part of Oregon State University's Permaculture program, where online and site based Permaculture courses are offered. The video was filmed and edited in the summer of 2010 by Norm Scott of www.scottmedia.com.

Interesting history lesson... Monte

HowStuffWorks "Permaculture Design Principles "

by Robert Lamb
Browse entire HowStuffWorks article How Permaculture Works

Introduction to How Permaculture Works

Have you ever imagined what human habitation of another planet might be like? Perhaps you envision clusters of white, cylindrical modules under the harsh Martian sun, or maybe you dream of forest-filled domes floating high above the Venusian atmosphere. Whether fueled by NASA schematics or science fiction, most visi­ons of planetary exploration involve, by necessity, closed environments shut off from the surrounding world and supported mostly by imported supplies.

Gordon Gahan/National Geographic/Getty Images This German farm may be successful, but is it sustainable? How many outside resources, such as gasoline, pesticides and fertilizer, does it require?

It makes sense to live this way on Mars, where the natural environment doesn't support human life. There, scientists would have to artificially sustain any Earth life. But why live this way in one of Earth's own temperate zones?

You probably won't notice anyone living in the hull of a spaceship in your neighborhood. But you might find subtler examples of agriculture and landscaping that de-emphasize the natural ecosystem and establishes some other order in its place. Would that finely manicured front yard look so nice without constant gardening and irrigation? Do those acres of corn grow naturally or do they depend on gas-powered machines and an input of fertilizers, soil and pesticides?

These farms and lawns are unsustainable, meaning that they regularly deplete themselves of resources and depend on the import of more resources to survive. Earth is home to countless, thriving ecosystems, where nutrients and energy constantly move in self-sustaining, permanent cycles. Instead of promoting unsustainable farming systems, why don't we just stick with what works?

This is where permaculture (permanent agriculture) comes into play. It centers on the theory that human habitats and food production systems don't have to artificially exist outside of natural ecological systems. This is a holistic approach, meaning that it views humans as a part of the larger ecological system and not as something standing separately.

In this article, we'll look at the origins of permaculture, its various applications and some examples of how permaculture allows for a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly way of life.

The Permaculture Movement

While it's a far cry from viewing the environment as a hostile foe to be conquered, permaculture also shouldn't be confused as a return to the days of scavenging for berries. Think of an ecological system as a river. The aim of permaculture is not to swim against the current or let it sweep you powerlessly down the stream. Like a boat floating down a current, permaculture, ideally, is sustained by the system it navigates without letting it dictate every detail of its course.

Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images News/Getty Images A woman harvests organically grown eggplants on a New York community farm, which is based around the principles of sustainability and environmentalism.

Permaculturists push for integrated farming and ecological engineering which, in theory, allow farms and communities to pursue their own ends in a way that works with, not against, their environment.

Australian ecologist Bill Mollison and his student David Holmgren introduced the word "permaculture" in 1978 [source: Diver]. The duo developed the concept as a new, self-sustaining alternative to conventional agriculture, which typically involves focusing large amounts of resources on the mass production of a single crop.

The permaculture movement follows three basic ethics:

Care for the Earth: This recognizes the importance of all living and non-living components of a planet, from plants and animals to minerals and air. It also entails a basic life ethic, which recognizes that every living being has value in that it fulfills some basic role in the ecosystem.

Care for people: This advocates the importance of community involvement and that access to resources is a basic human right.

Setting limits on population and consumption: This recognizes the importance of reinvesting surplus labor, money, information and energy into care for the planet and the human populations living on it.

While the term may be less than a century old, many of the ideas behind permaculture have been around for thousands of years. Ancient civilizations practiced such growing strategies as planting multiple crops, forest farming, crop rotation and composting long before environmentalism came into being. In this sense, permaculture isn't as much a radically new way of farming, as a melding of traditional, commonsense agricultural methods with modern ones.

Since the late 1970s, the permaculture movement has expanded out of Australia. Enthusiasts continue to push for mainstream acceptance of permaculture values throughout the world. Today, efforts range from the small-scale implication of permaculture design principles in household gardens to wide-scale, full-farm initiatives and permaculture communities. A number of permaculture programs and institutes boast their own functioning permaculture farms, as well as offer texts and classes for interested farmers.

Permaculturists pursue their ideals by following a number of key design principles. Read the next page to learn all about the different strategies that go into building a permaculture farm.

Permaculture Design Principles

The movement not only involves chemical-free organic farming, but also a number of key permaculture design principles aimed at keeping modern farming methods streamlined with nature.

Zones: This involves the division of areas on a farm based on movement and the amount of human attention required for different areas. Think of a permaculture farm as a circle with a farm in the center. Dividing a farm into zones involves arranging farm activities into a series of concentric rings moving out from the center. The higher the human traffic required for the activity, the closer that zone is to the center.


Dean Turner Permaculturists believe the best way to raise plants and animals is to follow nature's examples.

Sectors: This is another method of arranging the location of farming activities, this time based on the flow of necessary energies or resources from a given point, such as a farm house. Imagine the farm as a pizza. Each triangular slice is a sector radiating from the center. Permaculturists attempt to arrange farm activities so that each area has easy access to the center.

Relative location: This principle involves the thoughtful planning of both zones and sectors based on where they are in relation to each other. Permaculturists aim to position these elements in a way that maximizes energy usage and minimizes waste. An example would be planting crops downhill from a pond to allow for easy irrigation without the need for a pumping system.

Single elements with multiple functions: To maximize efficiency, permaculturists place farm elements in a way to encourage the performance of multiple functions. For instance, a properly positioned pond can supply irrigation and fence in livestock. The right choice in a hedge plant could provide wind protection and produce seeds to feed poultry.

Single functions from multiple elements: If a function is important, make sure multiple elements can supply it -- think of it as having a backup plan built into the farm. This involves backing up feed crops with edible fodder trees or using a pond to help irrigate during drought.

Energy efficiency: Permaculture calls for the input of as little energy as necessary from outside the farm. Energy-efficient designs, like using solar or wind power, help make this possible by wasting very little.

Biological resources: Whenever possible, leave farm work to more efficient, non-human elements. This involves the use of animals for tasks like weed control, pest control and fertilizer production. Using wasps to control plant parasites and manure to nourish crops is an example of this principle.

Plant succession: In a natural environment, plant populations develop over time, transforming from fields and weeds to include progressively larger plants. Ultimately, they develop into a forest. Permaculturists plant a variety of crops with this in mind, growing fruit and nut-bearing trees alongside short-lived foodplants. In this example, the land is still bearing fruit and enriching the soil while the trees grow to maturity.

Nutrient recycling: This involves using the ecosystem within the farm to replenish nutrients instead of relying on imports. A good example would be composting organic matter and using manure as fertilizer.

Diversity: Permaculture encourages raising multiple crops and farm animals to prevent farmers from becoming dependent on one product. This way, fluctuating market prices or breed-specific illnesses are less likely to have catastrophic results.

On the next page, we'll examine some of the ways in which permaculturists have carried out their ideals.

Permaculture in Action

Farmers eager to try permaculture don't just set out with a list of principles and hope to make the best of it. Permaculture texts and classes encourage a slow adoption of permaculture practices following careful observation and study of what would work best for a specific piece of land. Some permaculture farms eventually reach levels of full-time sustainability, while others focus on particular areas of their farms. Results vary as farmers continue to explore methods that follow the principles of permaculture design.

Victor Englebert/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images 
A Yanomami Indian weeds a forest garden in the Amazon, illustrating how permaculture practices existed long before the term itself.

While full-scale permaculture farms are mostly found among activists and educators of the movement, many of their methods have gained widespread usage. It's now easy to see examples of permaculture in action. Planting a forest garden, for example, is a permaculture activity available to anyone with lawn space. A forest garden is simply a foodgarden created to imitate a natural forest. This cuts out gardening chores like tillage and crop rotation. To start a forest garden, choose a selection of food plants and soil-enriching plants that work well with each other in a forest system. This consists of four layers:

Trees make up the largest part of a forest garden and soak up the full light of day through a wide canopy of leafy branches.

Shrubs such as blackberry and raspberry bushes thrive in the tree canopy's shade.

Vines grow in the shade but also climb up trees to benefit from full sunlight.

Ground plants such as strawberries and lettuce grow in the shade on the forest floor and cover remaining available ground.

As highly developed urban areas continue to grow and depend increasingly on food imports, permaculturists and architects have begun to explore the application of urban permaculture. This involves applying the principles of permaculture design to urban settings. The aim is to make cities greener with higher degrees of sustainability. Examples include buildings that support outside plant life, backyard and balcony gardens, and energy-saving green initiatives such as the installation of gray water reclamation systems.

The permaculture movement has its critics. Some dispute the possible crop yields forest gardening can offer and criticize some studies' alleged lack of comparative figures between permaculture and contemporary agriculture.

Also, the use of exotic plants in permaculture has provided a great deal of controversy. Many permaculturists, including co-founder Bill Mollison, have pushed for the import and use of exotic plants to create effective systems. The problem, critics argue, is that many of these plants could become major weed pests and potentially push out native plant species.

Critics charge that the introduction of exotic plant species could inflict considerable damage on natural ecosystems. In answer to this, many permaculturists stress the use of native plants whenever possible. Still others, including Mollison, insist that modern agriculture has damaged Earth to such a point that providing for a sustainable future is more important than preserving current ecosystems.

Want to learn more about how to apply the permaculture principles to your own yard? Explore the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

Related HowStuffWorks Articles
How Agritourism Works
How Composting Works
How Gray Water Reclamation Works
How Locavores Work
How Organic Farming Works
How Organic Food Works
How Space Farming Works
How Xeriscaping Works
Will there be farms in New York City's skyscrapers?

More Great Links
Permacultura America Latina
Permaculture Institute
Urban Permaculture Guild
TreeHugger: Water Cycle
Planet Green

Treehugger: How Farms Are Using Permaculture to Survive

Sami Grover Science / Sustainable Agriculture January 19, 2012
Full Story

Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden/CC BY 2.0

Plant biologist Ken Thompson raised eyebrows recently when he declared that permaculture doesn't work. He argued that the most well known expression of permaculture design—the forest garden—limits our potential diet to fruit and nuts and little else. But as I argued at the time, he's missing the point. Forest gardens are just one approach to permaculture, and Permaculture Magazine has a great piece on how many traditional farms are applying permaculture principles to modify their businesses:

Pioneering projects demonstrate the value of using a permaculture design approach. Designing to ensure each element has multiple functions, soil management that is wedded to minimal tillage, working to engage the local community and expansion of woodland for biodiversity is dormant and even nonsensical in today's world of profit driven commercial agricultural systems. Tomorrow's world, which will see the increasing rise in oil and ultimately food prices, will bring about fierce changes and make our current fossil fuel based practises uneconomic.

Head over to Permaculture Magazine for some specific examples of farms using permaculture to survive.

Permaculture Magazine: How farms are using permaculture design to survive and prosper

Monday, 16th January 2012
Louise Cartwright visits three farms in England and discovers how they have used permaculture principles to diversify yields and manage their businesses

Haye Farm education centre

Polytunnel at Keveral Farm

Growing mushrooms

Very free range chickens

Dexters at Haye Farm

The rise in fuel prices has seen greater awareness and a wider concern for what life will be like when the oil runs out. This has seen interest in less chemical dependant farming methods bringing permaculture to the forefront of discussion and debate.

A handful of farms in the UK have been using permaculture for many years as a systematic way of designing, developing and maintaining their various enterprises. These early adopters, with the help of the UK's permaculture charity, the Permaculture Association, began designing and experimenting long before peak oil and climate change were widely recognised.

As these farms evolved, their original designs developed and morphed. Their evolution has created systems that have helped to inspire others creating a catalyst for change. Farmers and smallholders are beginning to recognise that applying the ethics and principles of permaculture can create resilient multi-yielding systems that in turn build livelihoods and strengthen local communities.

As coordinator for the LAND project1 I have visited several established farms using the ethics and principles of permaculture. Below are three examples that have been practising permaculture and experimenting with different ways of growing food for many years.

Excellent Story of Permaculture Farming... Monte

Words and actions that are lessons for us all - Moe Norman on ESPN - YouTube

Great thanks to Robbie Power  for putting me on to this wonderful story on his Goggle+ page,  Robbie is a very talented woodworker (YouTube Channel) ...

Robbie says, "Moe Norman was autistic as well as a savant; his quirky behavior was in part a result of these disabilities. What most folks do not know is that along with the quirky behavior caused by these so called learning disabilities come incredible abilities. The ability of imagination, focus, concentration, feel, insight, and often athletic ability are just some of those abilities. Moe Norman was blessed with many incredible abilities and in his words and actions are lessons for us all."

This is a lesson for us all about treating people with respect. Let the genius in all of us bloom... Too bad the PGA didn't. 

It takes people who are a little different to change things. Sometimes we don't need people with "common sense". We need people with "better sense" in order to make improvements in our world...


Jan 19, 2012

Badger Bioneer Greg David (Prairie Dock Farm) speaks - Restoring Ecological & Social Capitol - YouTube

Uploaded by BenjaminNelson on Jan 9, 2012

Badger Bioneer Greg David (Prairie Dock Farm) speaks on principals and methods that have worked for him to restore Ecological & Social Capitol in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, USA.

As presented to Sustain Jefferson on Jan 4, 2012.
Greg David's videos can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/prairiedf
For more information, please visit: http://www.sustainjefferson.org/
Video recorded by Ben Nelson ( http://ecoprojecteer.net/ )
Opening music used by Creative Commons License, by Kevin MacLoed:http://incompetech.com/
Greg David leading by example...
Greg David leader of leaders....
I love to listen to soft talking people of great intelligence, experience, 
knowledge, and wisdom...

Vote for Wind Turbines or Power Stations - YouTube

Here you have your say in our future power needs. Please vote by using the Thumbs Up or the Thumbs Down.

1. Thumbs Up will show your support for more Wind Turbines as your preferred power supply for our future need.

2. Thumbs Down will show your support for more Coal Fire and Nuclear Power Stations as your proffered power supply for our future needs.

Tell USDA To Reject Agent Orange Corn - Institute for Responsible Technology

Small (Micro) Biomass Fuel Briquette Presses made from Wood - YouTube

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mt0QQe6Eetw 
LeeHiteVideo - A low cost, easy to build alternative to the large biomass fuel briquette press. Made completely from wood with hand tools the presses can produce briquettes at a rate of about 12 in 10 minutes. Measured drawing are available at http://home.fuse.net/engineering/ewb_project.htm Also see the EWBGCP Chapter http://www.ewbgcp.org/ 

Also see:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY4LUC78YW4 baconsoda homemade fuel briquette press
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kkW9XiBPq4 Peterson Press

Humanity Overdue - YouTube

Short Documentary exploring the current state of the world and some of the social, environmental and economic changes which could be put into place to create a better quality of life globally.

Interviews from Occupy London, The Eden Project and Ben Mcleish and Will Dixon from The Zeitgeist Movement.

For more information on the topics presented in this documentary including a Resource Based Economy visit:

Business & Technology | Natural gas price plunge aids families, businesses | Seattle Times Newspaper

AP Energy Writer
NEW YORK — The price of natural gas is plummeting at a pace that has caught even the experts off guard.
A 35 percent collapse in the futures price over the past year has been a boon to homeowners who use natural gas for heat and appliances and to manufacturers who power their factories and make chemicals and materials with it.

The country is flush with natural gas as a result of new drilling techniques that have enabled energy companies to tap vast supplies that were out of reach not so long ago. The country's natural gas surplus has been growing even as the country burns record amounts.

This winter's warm weather slowed the growth in demand, however, and created a glut. In the Northeast, December was the fourth warmest in the last 117 years. Winter supplies are 17 percent above their five-year average.

The natural gas futures price fell 13 percent last week, to $2.67 per 1,000 cubic feet. That's the lowest winter-time level in a decade.

"The market has been overwhelmed with gas," says Anthony Yuen, a commodities analyst at Citibank.

He and other analysts expect the price to average near $3 for all of 2012. If the weather stays mild, the price could even dip below $2, a level not seen since 2002.

Cheap natural gas is mainly a good thing for the economy:

- More than half of U.S. households use natural gas for heat, and a quarter of the nation's electricity is made from it. Falling heating and electric costs are offsetting the impact of high gasoline prices and enabling families and small businesses to spend on other things. Residential gas and electric customers are saving roughly $200 a year, according to a study by Navigant Consulting.

- For companies that make plastics, fertilizer and other chemicals derived from natural gas, the falling prices are nothing short of a windfall. The same goes for makers of products from steel to bricks to beer. All use a lot of natural gas to heat their furnaces. U.S. manufacturers are becoming more competitive globally as a result of the country's cheap natural gas, industry officials say.

Some industries aren't cheering, though.

With electricity prices falling, the profits of all electric power producers - whether they rely on coal, nuclear or wind - are shrinking.

Companies that drill solely for natural gas are earning less these days, too. That's prompting some to hunt instead for oil, whose price is near $100 a barrel.

Still, drillers aren't reducing natural gas production as much as they would have during previous periods of low prices. They've found ways to produce the fuel at much lower cost so they can be profitable at much lower prices. And, in many cases, natural gas is a byproduct of oil drilling, which is so profitable that companies are going after every barrel they can find.

Analysts say in some oil and gas fields, drillers could give the gas away and still be hugely profitable just from selling the oil.

The benefit of falling natural gas prices to homeowners is not as big as a major drop in oil and gasoline prices would provide. The average household's annual gasoline bill is about $4,000, roughly double the average annual gas and electric bill.

Also, the fuel cost is only half of a customer's bill. The rest is transmission and delivery charges, which don't change along with fuel prices. Homeowners are paying $10.18 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas on average, including transmission and delivery charges, according to the Energy Information Administration. Over a year, a customer will burn an average of 75,000 cubic feet, or about $760 worth.

The multi-year drop in natural gas prices caught most industry experts by surprise.

In the middle of the last decade, natural gas looked to be in short supply. Production in the U.S. was slowing, imports from Canada were rising and plans for importing liquefied natural gas from the Middle East and elsewhere were drawn up.

Natural gas futures hit nearly $15 in 2005. Chemical and metals manufacturers were shutting U.S. factories and moving overseas, where gas was abundant and cheaper. Farmers in need of fertilizer were turning to inexpensive imports from Canada, Trinidad and Asia.

But over the next few years, drillers perfected methods first tried in 1981 that now allow them to profitably extract gas trapped in shale formations - layers of fine-grained rock that in some cases have trapped ancient organic matter that has cooked into oil and natural gas.

Engineers combined the ability to drill horizontally into shale with a technique called hydraulic fracturing. Millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are pumped into wells to break rock and create escape routes for the gas. In doing so they unlocked natural gas deposits deep underground across the East, South and Midwest that are large enough to supply the U.S. for decades.

This eventually turned the shortage into a glut, and reversed the fortunes of some industries.

An ammonia plant owned by CF Industries in Donaldsville, La., that was shuttered by its former owner in 2004 is running again. Steel maker Nucor Corp. is building a factory in Louisiana; Shell Oil Co. is planning a petrochemical plant in Appalachia; and Dow Chemical is building a type of chemical feedstock plant it hasn't built in the U.S. since 1995.

"A whole slice of American industry is benefiting," says Steve Wilson, the CEO of CF Industries, which makes ammonia and other fertilizer ingredients. CF Industries, which is based in Deerfield, Ill., has seen its daily natural gas costs fall from $6 million to $2 million over the past few years. The company is planning to spend more than $1 billion expanding its U.S. plants.

While industrial customers are betting on low prices for years to come, things could change if demand increases sharply because of extreme weather or faster-than-expected economic growth, or if the U.S. begins exporting gas. It's also possible that natural gas drilling could be curtailed by environmental regulations designed to protect drinking water from hydraulic fracturing.

Legislators in New York and New Jersey have banned hydraulic fracturing temporarily, and the Environmental Protection Agency is studying it and may propose national regulations.

The most likely near-term scenario is that prices keep falling, according to Rusty Braziel, an analyst at Bentek Energy.

"This ain't the bottom," he says.


Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey.


Correction: Natural Gas Plunge story

In a Jan. 15 story about natural gas prices, The Associated Press misidentified the name of a city in Louisiana where an ammonia plant now owned by CF Industries was shuttered and later reopened. It is Donaldsonville, La., not Donaldsville, La.

The Associated Press


Good... Maybe when we have to refill LP Gas tank price will be cheaper...!  Monte

UT Professor Explains How ‘Permaculture’ Can Help us Help Ourselves | TEDxKnoxville talk | Tennessee Today

Chad's work focuses on agricultural land use policies, climate change mitigation, biofuels analysis and defining appropriate long-term agricultural policy in a post peak-oil world. http://economics.ag.utk.edu

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Video produced by Knox ivi http://knoxivi.com

Chad Hellwinckel has a vision for long-term sustainability.

“There is a link between energy and agriculture that I’m very concerned about,” said Hellwinckel, research assistant professor with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Agricultural Economics and Natural Resources department. “I’m trying to work on preparing my community, my family, and UT for the challenges of the future that I think are linked to the decline in energy availability.”

These challenges include growing food year round and creating self-reliant energy systems within the home and garden. One proven solution is permaculture.

A combination of “permanent” and “agriculture,” permaculture models human systems after natural processes.

“Permaculture is ‘smart design,’” said Hellwinckel. “A forest has many different species harmoniously growing at different levels. It’s building soil. It’s resisting pests and diseases naturally. It doesn’t produce toxic zones. We can look at how this forest is designed and ask ourselves, ‘how can we mimic our human agriculture after that?’”

The philosophy of permaculture can be applied to a variety of human systems, including architecture, transportation, gardening, and city planning. The key is designing permanent, self-sustaining systems that create resources people need while repurposing any waste byproducts. In this manner, the livelihood of a community is protected.

Putting permaculture to the test, Hellwinckel purchased an old house in Parkridge, Knoxville, and is retrofitting it with self-sustaining systems.

A roof catchment system feeds water into two 300-gallon tanks. A bicycle pump in the basement will pump water up to a pair of sixty-gallon tank in the attic, creating pressurized water. A naturally filtered gray water system from interior sinks will irrigate vegetable gardens and fruit trees in the yard. A wood stove will heat the house and “cob” will insulate the walls.

“Cob is clay and sand mixed in with straw. The straw acts as a rebar—it’s really heavy and dense and great for thermal mass. It holds a lot of temperature and releases it slowly like an adobe building,” Hellwinckel said.

“The technologies of the future are going to have to be cheap and from resources at hand. We’re going to have to improvise a lot,” said Hellwinckel. “I’m fixing this house up so my family will be okay if the electricity goes off for a week at a time or if grocery stores are unable to stock their shelves and we’re unable to buy food for a while.”

On November 16, 2011, Hellwinckel spoke about the benefits of permaculture at the first-ever TEDxKnoxvilleevent. TEDxKnoxville is a regional offshoot of TED, a nonprofit organization that promotes “ideas worth spreading” through inspirational speakers from the United States and other countries.

One problem with increasing the use of permaculture is that many people lack the knowledge or skills to install and operate these systems. Hellwinckel believes the solution is to begin at the neighborhood level.

“Getting enough people on a block that are interested and who meet up on each other’s front porches and brainstorm and build things on Saturday afternoons together: That’s how it’s going to happen,” said Hellwinckel.

Local examples of organizations with functioning permaculture structures are The Farm in central Tennessee and Beardsley Farm in Knoxville.

Local government policy is also vital for allowing self-sustaining communities to flourish. For example, Knoxville city residents can now own chickens and community groups will soon be able to apply for city land to create community gardens.

In the not-too-distant future, permaculture may become a necessity—especially if the world’s supply of oil becomes scarce.

“Twenty percent of global oil comes from fourteen giant fields. When most of those giant fields have peaked, global oil is certainly going to be going down. We’ve been on a plateau since 2005,” said Hellwinckel.

Severe oil shortages are expected to increase the cost of energy, threaten global economic viability, shipping methods, and financial systems that the United States and other nations have come to rely on for day-to-day operations. Investing in local permaculture systems can help prepare communities for coping with these potential energy and resource shortages.

For UT faculty, staff, and students interested in the benefits of permaculture design, Hellwinckel suggests starting with the following three steps:
Start composting all food scraps, except for meat.
With the soil created from the compost, start a garden, no matter how large or small.
Finally, eat all the food that grows in the garden. Any scraps or leftovers can be composted to renew the cycle.

“These steps are integrated and form a continuous circle,” said Hellwinckel. “Permaculture is about taking responsibility for yourself in the community. It shows that individuals have the power to solve the problems we face, and it’s not going to be left up to some larger business, or government, or economy to fix.”

A video of Hellwinckel’s TEDxKnoxville talk can be found on YouTube. For more information on permaculture workshops and resources, visit www.permaculture.org, and Knoxville’s permaculture guild at http://knoxvillepermacultureguild.ning.com/.


Amazing energy facts Chad Hellwinckel presented:
Energy Returns on Food
US (1920) "at farm gate"    1 unit in = 3 units out
US (Today) "at farm gate"  1 unit in = 1 unit out
US (Today) "at plate"         7 units in = 1 unit out
Very good video presentation... Monte

Related links:
permies.com & richsoil.com

Jan 18, 2012

Blackout Strike: Anonymous Calls for Street Protests; Lawmakers Drop Support of SOPA and PIPA | Truthout

Wednesday 18 January 2012
by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

Nadine Wolf protests outside the offices of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), who co-sponsored anti-piracy legislation, in New York, on January 18, 2012. The physical protest joined sites around the Web in a protest against two Congressional anti-piracy bills. (Photo: Michael Appleton / The New York Times)

Wikipedia. Reddit. Wordpress. Wired magazine. All of these sites and thousands of others are participating in a one-day blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) bills proposed in Congress.

Browser super power Google is operating, but its logo is blacked out. If you visit the nonpartisan legislation tracker OpenCongres.org today, the only bills you can read about are SOPA and PIPA.

Truthout considered joining the protest and blacking out today, but we decided to bring breaking news and information on the blackout instead.

The decentralized hacktivist network Anonymous has issued apress release calling for physical street protest against the bills, recommending that protesters converge at freeways, malls, libraries and schools. "IF YOUR GOVERNMENT SHUTS DOWN THE INTERNET ... SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT," the release declares.

Anonymous normally uses hacking and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks to shut down sites as a form of protest, but now the collective wants people in the streets:

"What will a Distributed Denial of Service attack do? What's website defacement against the corrupted powers of the government? No. This is a call for a worldwide Internet and physical protest against the powers that be."

The Internet has not crumbled as a result of the blackout strike, but support for both bills in Congress has.

Some members of Congress want to take more time to consider the bills and add amendments, while others are flat out withdrawing their support.

Freshman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), an original co-sponsor of the PIPA, announced on Facebook today that he is withdrawing his support because of "legitimate concerns" about potential impacts on access to the Internet and the broadening of government power.

Reps. Lee Terry (R-Nebraska) and Ben Quayle (R-Arizona) dropped their sponsorship of SOPA today and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) withdrew his support of PIPA.

These withdrawals of support still leave 76 supporters of the bills on the House and Senate and only 31 dedicated opponents, according to a list compiled by ProPublica.

Erik Martin, general manager of Reddit.com, one of the first major web sites to announce it would blackout, said there is still a "very long fight" ahead.

"We are encouraged, but we're not letting our guard down," Martin said.

SOPA was tabled in the House after President Obama said he would not support the bill, but the Senate is expected to consider PIPA next week.

Martin said the bills supporters have accused opponents of failing to read the actual legislation and spreading misinformation, but one of Reddit's top engineers picked through the bills and the Reddit community determined they were a threat worth protesting against.

Both bills would allow the Justice Department to take down sites deemed to be "dedicated to infringing activities" and both the Justice Department and copyright owners would be allowed to sue alleged infringers. The bills also allow the Justice Department to demand that search engines and service providers remove links and block access to targeted sites.

Proponents say the bills would curb online pirating of copyrighted material. Opponents say the bills would give the government dangerous censorship power and allow big media firms to target smaller competitors with government lawsuits, and it turns out the entertainment industry is a big supporter of the legislation.

Comcast, Viacom, NBC Universal and industry groups like the Recording Industry Association of America have all joined the US Chamber of Commerce in supporting SOPA. Together, these groups have contributed more than $3.9 million to top members of Congress.

Curtis Turner | Making a Turned Stool - Highlandwoodworking.com

by Curtis Turner Round Rock, TX

I decided to kick off the new year by building a stool for my shop. I have dragged my current shop stool around my shop for years. I always disliked having to interrupt my work flow to go retrieve my stool from the other end of the shop. (Now, don't get any ideas that I have a massive shop. It's just that stopping to go get the stool would break my rhythm.) So, it was high time I saved myself a few steps, which will add up for each project over the next few decades.

This project will be more challenging than most. A turned stool with four legs requires multiple parts, and fitting mortise and tenons. However, with patience you can make this project over a long weekend. I used several lathe accessories to make this job easier. While these are not critical, they sure made the project go smoother. First, I used the Oneway DrillWizard, which is a fixture for holding a drill at precise angles and heights. This ensures the holes (mortises) are drilled correctly. I also used the Oneway Spindle Steady. The steady rest provides support while turning long thinner blanks. More about these goodies later. For the seat of the stool, I used a pecan blank with slight spalting. The seat blank was about 2 1/2" thick by about 16" in diameter. I chose jatoba for the legs and rungs. Jatoba is a hard exotic wood that I have used for tool handles. I knew this would create a nice dark wood that contrasts pleasingly with the pecan. The darker wood will also hide the scuff marks and dirt this stool will experience in the shop. I started by laying out the desired diameter of the seat, and cutting wide of the line. By the way, I love using this Gladstone Heavy duty 8" compass. It is well made, and has a nice weight and balance. (see photo below left)

Note: click on any picture to see a larger version.

I then mounted a faceplate to what will become the top side of the seat. Next, I turned the bottom to my desired profile. I also turned a tenon for my Stronghold chuck. After that, I used the compass to strike a line to mark where I wanted the legs positioned. I set this line about 2" inside of the outer dimension of the seat. (see photo above right)

All about the angles

Next, I set up the Oneway DrillWizard by mounting a 1" Forstner bit in the drill. It is important to align the DrillWizard with the center of your lathe on both X and Y axis. (see photo above left) Note the square on the lathe bed aligning the banjo (see photo above right). I decided use a 10-degree angle for the legs and rungs. This matches the angle on my "old" stool. I wanted to make sure the stool was stable, yet didn't have legs that splayed out so far that they were in the way. I recently made a mini-stool for my 2-year-old daughter. I used about a 15-degree angle to make her stool a bit more stable. I made sure the legs did not extend much beyond the seat thus avoiding a tripping hazard. (see photo below)

I used a sliding bevel gauge to find the angle on my "old" stool and compared it using a protractor to find the actual angle. I then used that number (10 degrees) to adjust the DrillWizard to that angle. The DrillWizard has angles marked on the base that allows you to easily to match angles.

I then used the locking indexing head on my lathe to prevent rotation of the seat blank while I drilled the hole. The locking index also allowed me to mark off the four points for each leg. It is a good practice to unplug your lathe while the indexing head is locked. You don't want to forget and accidentally turn on the lathe.

I drilled a 1" hole 1" deep. (see photo above) The DrillWizard also allows you to set the depth. This will make for a consistent depth and prevent you from accidently drilling through the blank. (I know that kind of thing never happens to you, right?) I then rotated the blank to achieve the hole spacing for the legs. I didn't move the DrillWizard during this process. This kept my alignment consistent.

Turning the seat

Once I completed the bottom, I reversed the blank and turned the seat. First, I turned away the screw holes from the chuck. Next, I began to shape the seat. The seat could be flat, but why not add a bit of a profile to make it more comfortable? The seat was inspired by my recent visit to Thos. Moser's showroom in Freeport, Maine. Their stools are simple, beautiful and comfortable.

After finishing the seat, I reverse-mounted the piece and turned away the tenon. (see photo above). I used a bit of thick packing foam glued to a block that was mounted in the chuck. This gives a soft but grippy cushion to help hold the piece while the tenon is removed. (Below is a video that shows how to remove a tenon.)

Matching legs and rungs

I chose to create a simple leg profile that was inspired by turning tool handles. Shaping the tenon and the leg was essentially the same process as turning a tool handle with a tenon for a ferrule. I created a pattern once I turned a shape I liked. I then used calipers and this pattern to make three more legs. (see photo below left)

I used a spindle roughing gouge and a skew to shape each leg and rung. I used a spindle steady rest to help eliminate almost all vibrations (see photo above right). A side note: if you have ever turned long and/or thin spindles then you know the piece can develop a whipping or vibrating action. It becomes difficult to make smooth cuts when this starts to occur. The steady rest provides support and virtually eliminates the vibration. I then sanded to 220 grit. I used a story pole to mark key transitions and layouts for the mortises for the rungs (see photo 10). This helps to ensure a consistent layout from part to part. I didn't part off the legs at this point. I wanted to turn all the legs and drill all the rung mortises, before parting off the legs. This bought me a margin of safety just in case I ran into a problem with subsequent legs.

Once the legs were turned I focused on the rungs. Each rung (8 if you are keeping count) was turned to 1/4" with a 5/8" diameter tenon that was just under 11/16th" long. Of course, the rungs are not all the same lengths. I offset each hole by ½" so I would not have two mortises on the same leg interfering with each other and creating a weak joint. This meant that of the four upper and four lower rungs, only two were of the same length. You should measure each carefully. You need to really focus without distractions during this build. It is easy to lose track of which operation you are working on. So think through each step carefully. You are in the home stretch now and don't want to rush.

Drilling for the rungs

I remounted and realigned the DrillWizard. I changed to a 5/8" drill bit and adjusted the depth. I used the same 10 degree angle to drill the rung mortises. The mortises were drilled at a depth of 11/16th" (see photo above). Each hole was offset by ½" and 90 degrees to each other. Again, I used the indexing head on my lathe to make this operation simple.

Test fitting

Now it is time to test fit. Make sure your parts fit snugly, but allow room for glue. This is not a project you want to get part way through assembling, only to realize something is not fitting correctly. So, start thinking about your glue up strategy. You should mark or stack your parts in a way that makes sense to you. I did several dry runs to ensure everything would go smoothly. I used Titebond liquid hide glue for this project. This bought some additional working time since it takes longer to set up. Perhaps the biggest benefit will be if I ever need to replace a broken rung or a loose joint, the hide glue is reversible. I am happy to report that my glue up went smoothly!

I had to resist the temptation to sit in the stool as soon as the clamps came off. The glue needs to set up for a minimum of 24 hours before the joints are stressed.

You will likely need to adjust one or more of the legs to ensure the stool sits flat on all four legs. This is done by using a compass to mark around each leg (see photo above). Then cut to the line using a crosscut hand saw. You should also bevel (chamfer) the end of each leg. This looks nice, but more importantly, helps to prevent the wood from splitting as the stool is moved about.

The finish
I sanded and applied several coats of lacquer to the seat prior to the glue up. I applied Watco Medium Walnut oil to the legs. This created a nice contrasting color to the lighter seat. I am looking forward to many years of use from this project.

Good luck with your project.

Curtis is 2012 President of Central Texas Woodturners, a member of the American Association of Woodturners, and a member of Fine Woodworkers of Austin. Curtis teaches and demonstrates nationally for Lie-Nielsen Toolworks. He also owns a studio where he teaches and works. Curtis lives and works in Central Texas with his wife and four young children.

Great explanation by Curtis... !!! Monte

Downsizing to an eco-friendly home | SmartPlanet

Great idea...Great way to coexist with independence and provide family support... Monte


What SOPA and PIPA are at face value and what they could end up enabling

Great video explanation of proposed legislation ... Monte

THRIVE: What On Earth Will It Take?

THRIVE is an unconventional documentary now available to watch online at http://thrivemovement.com. To get answers to frequently asked questions and comments, please visit: http://www.thrivemovement.com/faqs. We also encourage you to recognize that the trailer has more than 95% "likes" and the substance-less ranting by those who have not seen the film or who may be paid by the powers that be to troll the channels of veil-lifting sites like this, inhibits informed discussion and positive reflections.
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ThriveMovement
Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/thrivemovement

THRIVE lifts the veil on what's REALLY going on in our world by following the money upstream -- uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives. Weaving together breakthroughs in science, consciousness and activism, THRIVE offers real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future.
Podcast 102 - http://www.richsoil.com/permaculture/637-podcast-102-thrive/ - Length 1:24 download thrive podcast Paul Wheaton and Jocelyn Campbell review the film, Thrive
download thrive podcast

"The Practical Guide To 'Free-Energy' Devices," by Patrick J. Kelly - http://hines.blogspot.com/2012/01/free-energy-devices-patrick-j-kelly.html - Full Site is a wonderful resource... a very technical site... a source for diving into what intrigues you... but beware of marketing schemes concerning these sometimes unproven technologies !
We need these real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future. 
Related Links: keep-those-branches-twigs-rotton-logs, permies.com and richsoil.com are like "Bee Hives" for Honey Badgers, if you want to know about permaculture, helping save the world, and that kind of stuff... great sites and great community of people sharing information on permaculture building blocks ... 

Overall movie covers many topics well and is thought provoking... I questions some of topics and some of the conspiracy theories...

Monte Hines

Starting Seeds Indoors

Hines Farm Red Oak Paper Pot Makers - Time to Start Using All those Paper Pots I Made... Monte

Starting seeds indoors will give you earlier vegetables and flowers, and your cultivar choices will be endless. The process of germination may seem complex, but the act of seed planting is reassuringly simple. Just take it step-by-step, and you’ll soon be presiding over a healthy crop of seedlings.

Select your work area—a surface at a comfortable height and close to a water supply where you’ll have room to spread things out. Assemble your equipment: seed-starting containers, starting medium or soil mix, watering can, labels, marking pen, and seed packets.

Choosing Containers You can start seeds in almost any kind of container that will hold 1 to 2 inches of starting medium and won’t become easily waterlogged. Once seedlings form more roots and develop their true leaves, though, they grow best in containers that provide more space for root growth and have holes for drainage.

You can start seedlings in open flats, in individual sections of a market pack, or in pots. Individual containers are preferable, because the less you disturb tender roots, the better. Some containers, such as peat pots, paper pots, and soil blocks, go right into the garden with the plant during transplanting. Other pots must be slipped off the root ball before planting.

Square or rectangular containers make better use of space and provide more root area than round ones do. However, individual containers dry out faster than open flats. Many gardeners start seeds in open flats and transplant seedlings to individual containers after the first true leaves unfold. Choose flats and containers to match the number and types of plants you wish to grow and the space you have available.

Excellent seed-starting systems are available from garden centers and mail-order suppliers. You can also build your own wooden flats. If you raise large numbers of seedlings, it’s useful to have interchangeable, standard-sized flats and inserts.

You can reuse your seedling containers for many years. To prevent problems with dampening off, you may want to sanitize flats at the end of the season by dipping them in a 10 percent solution of household bleach (1 cup of bleach plus 9 cups of water).

Homemade containers: You can recycle milk cartons and many types of plastic containers as seed-starting pots. Just be sure to poke a drainage hole in the bottom of each. Cut lengths of clothes hanger as a frame for your flats so you can wrap them in plastic to encourage germination. You can bend the wire to fit into a plastic flat filled with pots or six-packs, or staple the wire to the sides of a wooden flat as shown at right. Use clear plastic wrap or plastic bags (like the ones from the dry cleaner) to enclose the flat.

Two make-at-home seed-starting containers are newspaper pots and soil blocks. To make pots from newspaper, begin by cutting bands of newspaper about twice as wide as the desired height of a pot (about 4 inches wide for a 2-inch-high pot). Wrap a band around the lower half of a jar a few times, and secure it with masking tape. Then form the bottom of the pot by creasing and folding the paper in around the bottom of the jar. You can also put a piece of tape across the pot bottom to hold it more securely in place. Slip the newspaper pot off the jar. Set your pots in high-sided trays with their sides touching. When you fill them with potting mix, they will support one another. There are also commercial molds for making newspaper pots.

Soil blocks encourage well-branched roots and produce good seedlings. You can buy molds to make soil blocks, but making them is a messy, labor-intensive process.

Begin by mixing a wheelbarrow-load of potting soil. Use plenty of peat moss and lots of water to make a thick, wet, gummy mass with the texture of peanut butter. Jam the soil-block mold into the block mix. Press the mold hard against the bottom of the wheelbarrow, and then lift and eject the blocks from the mold onto a tray. Then arrange the blocks in flats and plant directly into them. Don’t let soil blocks dry out: Because of their high peat content, they don’t absorb moisture well once they have become dry. Water from the bottom or mist gently until roots grow. Once roots fill the blocks, they become solid and easy to handle.

Seed-Starting and Potting Mixes Seeds contain enough nutrients to nourish themselves through sprouting, so a seed-starting mix does not have to contain nutrients. It should be free of weed seeds and toxic substances, hold moisture well, and provide plenty of air spaces. Don’t use plain garden soil to start seedlings; it hardens into a dense mass that delicate young roots can’t penetrate.

Make your own seed-starting mix by combining one part vermiculite or perlite with one part peat moss, milled sphagnum moss, coir, or well-screened compost. Or, buy bagged seed-starting mix. Let your seedlings grow in such a mixture until they develop their first true leaves, and then transplant into a nutrient-rich potting mix (be sure the mix you choose is labeled organic, or check the list of ingredients, and avoid mixes that contain added synthetic fertilizer). To make your own potting mix, combine equal parts compost and vermiculite. For more recipes for mixes, see the Houseplants entry. For safe handling instructions for seed-starting and potting mixes, see the Container Gardening entry.

Some gardeners prefer to plant seeds directly in potting mix and eliminate transplanting. Planting in large individual pots is ideal for plants such as squash and melons that won’t grow well if their roots are disturbed.

Moisten the planting mix before you fill your containers, especially if it contains peat moss or milled sphagnum moss. Use warm water, and allow the mix time to absorb it. When you squeeze a handful of mix it should hold together and feel moist, but it shouldn’t drip.

If you’re sowing directly in flats, first line the bottom with a sheet of newspaper to keep soil from washing out. Scoop premoistened planting medium into the containers or flats, and spread it out. Tap the filled container on your work surface to settle the medium, and smooth the surface with your hand. Don’t pack it down tightly.

Sowing Seeds Space large seeds at least 1 inch apart, planting 2 or 3 seeds in each pot (snip off the weaker seedlings later). Plant medium-sized seeds ½ to 1 inch apart, and tiny ones about ½ inch apart. If you’re sowing only a few seeds, use your fingertips or tweezers to place them precisely. To sprinkle seeds evenly, try one of these methods:
Take a pinch of seeds between your thumb and forefinger and slowly rotate thumb against finger—try to release the seeds gradually while moving your hand over the container.
Scatter seeds from a spoon.
Sow seeds directly from the corner of the packet by tapping the packet gently to make the seeds drop out one by one.
Mix fine seeds with dry sand, and scatter the mixture from a saltshaker.

To sow seeds in tiny furrows or rows, just make shallow ¼- to ½-inch-deep depressions in the soil with a plant label or an old pencil. Space the seeds along the bottom of the furrow.

Cover the seeds to a depth of three times their thickness by carefully sprinkling them with light, dry potting soil or seed-starting medium. Don’t cover seeds that need light to germinate (check the seed packet for special germination requirements). Instead, gently pat the surface of the mix so the seeds and mix have good contact.

Write a label for each kind of seed you plant and put it in the flat or pot as soon as the seeds are planted, before any mix-ups occur.

Set the flats or pots in shallow containers of water and let them soak until the surface of the planting medium looks moist. Or you can gently mist the mix. If you water from the top, use a watering can with a rose nozzle to get a gentle stream that won’t wash the seeds out of place.

Cover the container, using clear plastic or a floating row cover for seeds that need light, or black plastic, damp newspaper, or burlap for those that prefer the dark.

Finally, put the containers of planted seeds in a warm place where you can check them daily. Unless the seeds need light to germinate, you can save space the first few days by stacking flats. Just be sure the bottom of a flat doesn’t actually rest on the planting mix of the flat below. Check the flats daily; unstack as soon as the seeds start to sprout. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. As soon as you notice sprouts nudging above the soil surface, expose the flat to light.

Sowing Timetable To plan the best time to start seedlings indoors in spring, you need to know the approximate date of the average last spring frost in your area. Count back from that date the number of weeks indicated below to determine the appropriate starting date for various crops. An asterisk (*) indicates a cold-hardy plant that can be set out 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost.
12 to 14 weeks: onions*, leeks*, chives*, pansies*, impatiens, and coleus
8 to 12 weeks: peppers, lettuce*, cabbage-family crops*, petunias, snapdragons*, alyssum*, and other hardy annual flowers
6 to 8 weeks: eggplants, tomatoes
5 to 6 weeks: zinnias, cockscombs (Celosia spp.), marigolds, other tender annuals
2 to 4 weeks: cucumbers, melons, okra, pumpkins, squash

Source URL: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/starting-seeds-indoors

Links: [1] http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/14-tips-starting-your-own-seeds 

14 Tips for Starting Your Own Seeds
Ensure that your plants are organic from start to finish by starting your own seeds.

Start your own seeds and you can be sure that your plants have been raised organically from first to last. And by sprouting and nursing your own seedlings, you don't have to wait for warm weather to get your hands dirty. Best of all, starting your own seeds is easy and fun. Here's how to get started now:

Place sure bets
Some plants lend themselves to home germination better than others. Surefire vegetables include basil, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, leeks, lettuce, onions, peppers, and tomatoes. Some reliable annual flowers are alyssum, cosmos, marigolds, and zinnias. Perennials include Shasta daisies, columbines, and hollyhocks.

Get the timing down
To calculate when to sow your seeds, go to our seed-starting chart, print it out and then fill in the blanks. Then you will have a planting plan you can follow through the season.

Gather containers
Reuse last year's nursery flats if you have some around. Otherwise, any container 2 or 3 inches deep will do. Punch holes for drainage into the bottom of containers and set them into trays. Protect against plant disease by thoroughly cleaning all used containers: Wash them in hot, soapy water, and rinse with a dilute solution of household bleach and water. If you want a less-irritating substitute for the bleach, use distilled white vinegar.

Pick the right growing medium
You can buy bags of seed-starter mix or you can make your own by blending equal parts of perlite, vermiculite, and peat. Add 1/4 teaspoon of lime to each gallon of mix to neutralize the acidity of the peat. You'll eventually want to repot most of your seedlings into larger containers before setting them into the garden. But lettuce, melons, and cucumbers are finicky about being transplanted and should go directly from the original containers into the garden. When starting these fussier plants, always add two parts well-aged, screened compost to your mix to give them a healthy beginning.

Sow carefully
Moisten your medium in the containers before sowing the seeds. Next, drop seeds onto the surface of the mix, spacing them as evenly as possible. Cover the seeds to a depth about three times the thickness of the seeds. Some seeds, such as ageratum, alyssum, impatiens, petunias, and snapdragons, should not be covered at all because they need light in order to germinate.

Top it off
Lightly sprinkle milled sphagnum moss, a natural fungicide, over everything to protect against damping-off, a fungal disease that rots seeds and seedlings. In the case of seeds that need light to germinate, sprinkle the moss first and then drop the seeds onto the moss.

Keep seeds cozy
Cover the flats with plastic wrap or glass to keep the environment humid and place them near a heat vent or on a heat mat made especially for seed starting. Most seeds germinate well at about 70 degrees F.

Keep them damp
Mist with a spray bottle or set the trays into water so the mix wicks up the moisture from below.

Lighten up
At the first signs of sprouting, uncover and move the containers to a bright spot—a sunny window, a greenhouse, or beneath a couple of ordinary fluorescent shop lights (4-footers with two 40-watt bulbs). The lights are worthwhile, especially if you live in the North. They provide a steady source of high-intensity light. Short days restrict window light, and your seedlings need 12 to 16 hours of light a day. Suspend the lights just 2 inches above the plants and gradually raise them as the seedlings mature. If plants have to stretch or lean toward the light, they can become weak and spindly. To turn the lights on and off at the same time each day, hook them up to an electric timer.

Cool down
Seedlings don't have to stay as warm as germinating seeds. Move them away from radiators and air vents, or off the heating mat, as soon they have germinated.

Feed them
If youre using a soilless mix without compost, begin to fertilize your seedlings as soon as they get their first true leaves. (These leaves emerge after the little, round cotyledon leaves.) Water with a half-strength solution of liquid fish/seaweed fertilizer every week or two. Use either a spray bottle or add the fertilizer to the water you set the trays in if you're using the wick-up method described above.

Give them room
If the seedlings outgrow their containers or crowd one another, repot them into larger containers filled with a mix that includes compost. Extract the seedlings with a narrow fork or flat stick, and handle by their leaves and roots to avoid damaging the fragile stems. Tuck the seedlings gently into the new pots, and water them to settle the roots.

Pet them
Lightly ruffling seedlings once or twice a day with your hand or a piece of cardboard helps them to grow stocky and strong. Or, set up a small fan to gently, continuously blow on your seedlings.

Toughen them up
About 1 week before the plants are to go outside, start acclimating them to the harsh conditions of the big world. Gardeners call this hardening off. On a warm spring day move the containers to a shaded, protected place, such as a porch, for a few hours. Each day—unless the weather is horrible—gradually increase the plants exposure to sun and breeze. At the end of the week leave them out overnight; then transplant them into the garden.

[2] http://www.organicgardening.com/paperpots 

It's easy to make your own biodegradable seedling pots. Simply spread open a standard sheet of black-and-white newspaper, then lay a 1¼ -inch-diameter dowel along one edge of the paper. Roll the paper and dowel one turn, then dab a small amount of flour-and-water paste on the rolled portion of the paper.

Continue to roll the dowel to within 3 inches of the end of the paper, then apply more paste in a zigzag pattern to this remaining area and finish rolling. Remove the dowel and allow the paper to dry overnight. The next day, when the paper is dry, cut the tube into 3-inch lengths.

When you're ready to start sowing, stand the open-ended cylinders upright inside a planting tray or flat, fill each with seed-starting mix, then plant your seeds. When it's time to transplant, place the pots right in the garden—the paper will decompose. (Be sure to cover the entire paper pot with soil so that the paper doesn't act as a wick, drawing moisture away from the seedling roots.)

[3] Hines Farm Red Oak Paper Pot Makers

DEC 8, 2011
Hines Farm Red Oak Paper Pot Makers

Larger Photo - Three freshly lathe turned paper pot makers made from salvaged red oak. Pots, 2" in diameter x 3" high are easily made from 1/4 sheets of newspaper, folded into 1/3's and wrapped around the 2" oak pot makers.

Larger Photo - "45 Pots made from Sunday Newspaper did not put a dent in it!" Paper Pots, with plant can be incorporated in the soil at planting time and will become compost in the soil. Good way to recycle in a very local, value added way.

I plan on turning some various size Garden Dibbles for use with these Paper Pot to make planting a breeze...

Example Garden Dibble

Related Links: http://hines.blogspot.com/2012/02/seed-starting-simplified.html