Feb 25, 2012

Roger Doiron: My subversive (garden) plot: How to Grow a Revolution in Your Own Backyard | Video on TED.com

Uploaded by TEDxTalks on Oct 22, 2011

Roger Doiron is founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a network of people taking a hands-on approach to re-localizing the global food supply. Doiron is an advocate for new policies, technologies, investments, and fresh thinking about the role of gardens.

His successful petition to replant a kitchen garden at the White House attracted broad international recognition. He is also a writer, photographer, and public speaker.

Related Sites:

Small Farms Library - Journey to Forever

Small farms library http://journeytoforever.org/farm_library.html
City farms
Organic gardening
Small farms
Introduction Sustainable farming Small farms fit References
Small farm resources
Back to the land
Small farms
Soil management
Sustainable farming
General resources
Food storage and preservation
Useful databases
Community-supported farms
Farming with trees
Agroforestry Bamboo Resources
Farming with animals
Introduction Livestock resources Cattle Sheep General Draft animals
Introduction Pasture resources Silage
Pigs for small farms
Why pigs have snouts Raising pigs on soil in Japan Lady Eve's pigs Pigs on pasture Pig resources
Poultry for small farms
Muscovy ducks Khaki Campbell ducks Chickens Geese Rabbits Guineafowl General tips High-protein poultry feed from thin air Poultry as unpaid labour They're not pets Doing it
Poultry resources
Aquaculture for small farms
Introduction Aquaculture resources
Composting for small farms
Foundation On-farm composting resources
Controlling weeds and pests
Weeds Weed control resources Insect pests No pesticides Insect control resources

Feb 24, 2012

Permaculture Goes to the White House... With Your Vote!

Umass Permacuture Playlist by HRT87's channel

Community ProjectsDemonstration SitesDevelopmentsEducationEducation CentresNews,Urban Projects — by Ryan Harb February 25, 2012

I’ve got some incredible news to share with you! The permaculture initiative that I facilitate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (USA) has been selected by the White House as a finalist for the Campus Champions of Change Challenge award! This means we are in the final round and the general public is now voting for which teams will get a trip to the White House (judges selected 15 projects from more than 1000 applications!) The top 5 winners also get featured on a television program called ‘The Deans List’ on MTV.

Imagine the potential this has! This is by far the most important thing that I can be doing for the world right now — I truly feel that in my heart.

We have only 1 week to tally as many votes as we can – voting ends Saturday, March 3 at 11:59PM est (New York time!) Here’s a short description about the student group that I oversee, and how to vote:

UMass Amherst Permaculture is a student group that educates the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus and the local community about ecological permaculture solutions by demonstrating edible perennial landscapes that are highly productive, low maintenance, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible!

How to vote, and sharing the link with others!:

In summary, I feel that this is such an amazing opportunity to bring huge amounts of positive light to permaculture on the international stage — to further promote the environmentally and socially-just food system and world that we all want to see, and showing it to literally millions and millions of individuals! Thank you so so much, everyone. We could be at the White House on March 15 with your help!

Related Link:

Tri-State Forestry Conference Kicks Off March 10 In Wisconsin

File:A deciduous beech forest in Slovenia.jpg

This is the conference's 18th year. It typically draws 550 woodland landowners.
Compiled by staff
Published: Feb 24, 2012

The 2012 Tri-State Forest Stewardship Conference is slated for Saturday, March 10 at the Sinsinawa Mound Center, Sinsinawa, Wis., near Dubuque, Iowa.

According to Jay Hayek, University of Illinois extension forester, the conference, which is in its 18th year, draws 550 woodland landowners from Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

"It has become one of the largest private woodland owner conferences in the nation," Hayek says. "More than 25 presentations will cover a wide range of forestry and wildlife topics including timber marketing in today's economy, woodland prescribed fire, forestry herbicides, timber harvesting, safe handling and processing of wild game, introductory beekeeping, common tree diseases and pests and how to treat them, maple syrup production for the beginner, and crop tree release techniques to maximize tree growth.

A full list of topics and registration materials are posted online at www.forestry.iastate.edu. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with state and federal forest managers, to see the most recent advances in forestry technology at the vendor's fair.

"This year, there will be a two-hour chain-saw safety and maintenance discussion taught by STIHL Safety Instructors and a two-hour estate planning workshop," Hayek adds. "Enrollment for both the chain-saw safety and the estate planning workshop will be limited to the first 50 individuals. We will also be offering a two-hour session on forest management and stream water quality, which will highlight new research and restoration techniques."

The adult registration fee is $50 per person. The fee includes a continental breakfast, buffet luncheon, refreshments, resource packet and handouts. The deadline to mail registrations is March 1. Advance registration is required.

For more information, contact Jay Hayek at 217-244-0534 or send email tojhayek@illinois.edu.

The conference is presented in partnership with the Cooperative Extension Services at Iowa State University and University of Illinois; the Department of Natural Resources from each of the three states; the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University; and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2012 Tri-State Forestry Conference

Saturday, March 10, 2012
Exhibitor Registration Letter - .DOC or .PDF
Exhibitor Registration Form - .DOC or .PDF

Participant Registration Form - .DOC or .PDF
Presentation Schedule - .DOC or .PDF
Presentation Abstract - .DOC or .PDF

Related Link:

Putting 1 million tonnes of CO2 a mile under Illinois

By James Holloway
February 23, 2012

A scheme to inject 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide under Decatur, Illinois seeks to raise public awareness of the potential environmental benefits of carbon sequestration. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A bold undertaking to store one million metric tonnes (1.1 million short tons) of carbon dioxide in a sandstone reservoir 1.3 miles (2.1 km) below Decatur, Illinois, is well under way. The project began last November, and has so far injected more than 75,000 tons of carbon dioxide, almost one tenth of the target. The University of Illinois, which is leading the Illinois Basin - Decatur Project (IBDP), hopes that the scheme will demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of carbon sequestration, as well as raise public awareness of the process's potential environmental benefits.
What is carbon sequestration, again?

Carbon sequestration is quite simply the physical storage of carbon dioxide having captured it from industrial sources such as carbon fuel power stations or from the atmosphere. By storing carbon dioxide underground that would otherwise be in the atmosphere, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are reduced, and so is the gas's contribution to the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Modes of carbon sequestration

The IBDP employs geological sequestration, which involves literally injecting compressed carbon dioxide into an underground layer of porous rock. Sandstone is ideal. Conveniently, Illinois has ready access to the Illinois Basin - an 80,000-sq mile (207,000-sq km) Paleozoic layer of sandstone. Above it are several layers of shale, which cap the reservoir to prevent the stored carbon dioxide from escaping.

Map of Illinois showing Decatur near to the center (Image: Shutterstock)

Sandstone sequestration is merely one option for subterranean storage, as carbon dioxide may also be injected into oil and gas reservoirs. Unmineable coal has been proposed as another possible store. The ocean depths have also been mooted as an impermanent store of carbon dioxide, but carbon dioxide reacts with water to create carbonic acid, which, it is suggested, could have a detrimental effect on ocean life.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide can also be reduced by preserving and enhancing natural carbon stores such as peat bogs and forests. By increasing the amount of carbon stored in the biomass at any given time, the amount of carbon dioxide that will eventually make its way back into the atmosphere (via the processes of the carbon cycle) is reduced. Of course, all living things die, so such this approach requires the long-term preservation (or better still, growth) of habitats and biomass.
Has this been attempted before?

The IBDP's one million tonnes of carbon dioxide is, at first glance, made to look rather insignificant when one considers that the United States currently injects between 30 and 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year into oil fields. This isn't an entirely altruistic gesture, since the process aids the recovery of additional oil.

Numerous pilot schemes exist that inject between one and and 50 tonnes (up to 55 tons) of carbon dioxide per day - but only commercial, fossil fuel-oriented schemes inject hundreds or thousands of tonnes in the same timeframe. Salt Creek (USA), In Salah (Algeria), Sleipner (Norway) and Weyburn (Canada) all inject between 3,000 and 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide daily, in commercial ventures associated with either oil or gas extraction. It is thought that the additional fuel extracted ends up emitting more carbon dioxide than is captured in the process - better than nothing, perhaps, but hardly a greenhouse effect panacea.
So what makes IBDP special?

What differentiates the IBDP is that it appears to be purely for the benefit of carbon dioxide capture alone. Though it is by no means unique in this regard, it may just be the first pilot scheme on such a grand scale. Similar pilot schemes typically capture carbon dioxide in the tens of thousands of tonnes, so it bears repeating that the Decatur Project seeks to capture one million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Map of the thickness of the Mt. Simon sandstone in the Illinois Basin (Image: Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium)

It is also the first "large-scale" sequestration project in the USA to take carbon dioxide from biofuel production (or indeed any man-made source) - in this case ethanol. Over three years the IBDP will capture carbon dioxide from the Archer Daniels Midland ethanol fermentation processing plant in Decatur, and inject it into the ground at a rate of 1,000 tonnes per day - a rate in the same order of magnitude as the fossil fuel projects mentioned above.
The safety of carbon storage

IBDP director Robert Finley is adamant that carbon capture and storage has a vital role to play in managing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. "If you're going to achieve some of the reductions in emission by 2050 that have been set forth by international agencies, you can't come close to those targets without carbon capture and storage being a part of the process," he said. "For us to perfect this in a site that we believe to be safe and effective is very important. We can create a test case that demonstrates the best practices."

"A site that we believe to be safe" - a curious choice of words? Perhaps not, when you consider that a same issue of water contamination that applies to ocean sequestration could conceivably apply to geological sequestration were carbon dioxide able to leak from its sandstone host into freshwater aquifers.

A 2010 study published in Environmental Science & Technology simulated the slow release of carbon dioxide over a period of more than 300 days, slowly exposing it to water taken directly from a number of USA's aquifers including Illinois' Mahomet Aquifer. The study found that the exposure caused a drop in pH of between one and two units, which in turn increased the erosion of rock in the samples, releasing elements contained therein. In some cases these levels exceeded the maximum levels imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The likelihood of such leaks in real-world geological sequestration is not clear, and safety considerations are among the questions we have posed the University of Illinois (we await answers). That said, investigating the safety of large scale sequestration appears to be part of the IBDP's core purpose, and as such the project is being carefully monitored.
Ears underground

The whole process is monitored using geophysical surveying tools. According to the University of Illinois, the reflections of "energy pulses" sent down into the earth are recorded. "It's essentially like taking a sonogram of the earth," said Illinois State Geological Survey sequestration communications coordinator Sallie Greenberg. "Using geophysical technology allows us to create a time-lapse view of how the carbon dioxide is distributed in the sandstone reservoir." A second verification well on the site is used to monitor pressure and fluid chemistry. It's by tracking pressure levels that any leaks would become evident.

"The research that we're doing is very much on the subsurface geologic environment, to make sure that we can do this safely and effectively, and that we can monitor the CO2," Finley told the LA Times. "So we're using our research dollars to answer these important questions about safety and effectiveness, and we don't have to use our Department of Energy-funded dollars to just try to get our flow of CO2."

On questions of safety it may simply be case of not knowing without trying, and in this respect there's inherent value in the IBDP. Perhaps the larger questions surround carbon sequestration's role in combatting global warming. Will it coexist with other carbon reduction measures, or might it serve as a comfort blanket, inadvertently reinforcing humankind's fossil fuel habit?

Sources: University of Illinois, Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium,Scientific American, LA Times

"Water Pumps Without Electricity or Fuel" - Hydraulic Water Ram Pumps and Others...

File:Hydraulic Ram.gif
Basic components of a hydraulic ram:
1. Inlet — drive pipe
2. Free flow at waste valve
3. Outlet — delivery pipe
4. Waste valve
5. Delivery check valve
6. Pressure vessel

Water Pumps Without Electricity or Fuel Playlist     
7 Videos - 21:53
From Rife Product Videos  RifeRam.com

Frequently Asked Questions
A Brief History Of RAMS
John Whiteburst (1713-1788), of Derby, England, was the first to wittingly grasp the principle involved in the design and erection of a Ram. In 1775 he installed a "hydraulic machine" for the "service of a brew house and other offices"… "at Oulton in Cheshire, the seat of Philip Eagerton, Esq." The water had a fall of 16 feet through a 1 ½ inch pipe, 600 feet long; water was raised somewhat about the same level as the source.

However, the biggest drawback with this machine was that the Impulse Valve was hand-operated. This machine was never improved upon and thus was forgotten.

In 1797, some twenty-two years later, in France, an inventor by the name of Joseph de Montgolfier, better known for his invention of the gas balloon, constructed the first self-acting or automatic Ram. Based on this and his patents in France and England he is considered the father of the hydraulic water Ram.

Rams were primarily introduced in America in the 1840’s. They were quickly adapted by farmers and even country gentlemen, and owners of large estates. They continued to be used into the early 20th century.

Amongst these installations of the early 20th century was the one that was sold to a Pierre Samuel du Pont for use in his Chester County, Pennsylvanian farm called Pierce Park. This would later be converted to the now famous Longwood Gardens. The Ram was a Rife Model 40.

The last several years have seen a renewed interest in this proven old technology. With greater emphasis on conservation, more regard for the environment, people are once again looking towards Rams as an alternative way of moving water. Government agencies such as the Soil Conservation Service are helping in bringing awareness for Rams by demonstrating and recommending Ram usage for some of their programs.

A Brief History Of Rife
Rife, for over a century, has been dedicated to providing the means of pumping water without electricity or fuel. As we go further into the new millennium, Rife is expanding its horizons and is adding a wide array of products for agriculture, the home, and the outdoors. Because our pumps do not require electricity or fuel and are built to last, you and your family will continue to enjoy running water for decades to come without the unnecessary costs. Throughout the 126 years that we have been in business, Rife continues to be family owned and operated, priding itself on its quality products and valued customer satisfaction. Upon entering our third century of existence, we continue to retain the ideals that we have held sacred since 1884.

1885 - Rife Hydraulic Engine Manufacturing Company is incorporated with a Sales office in New York and a Foundry in Waynesboro, Virginia. The Company introduces the "Regular" Model in sizes 10 through 40, a "Series A", and a "Series C" (in sizes 60 through 80).

1915 - The Waynesboro Foundry, using the name Rife Ram and Pump Works, introduces "Series B" Rams. New York continues to sell the "Standard" Model, a Ram similar to "Series A".

1945 - New York discontinues the size 80 Rams as too large for efficient manufacturing. A new manufacturing facility is established in Andover, New Jersey.

1950 - Waynesboro drops "Series C" from its lineup.

1953 - New York adds "Series B" to its line and integrates the best features of "Series A" in its "Standard" Model.

1961 - Offices are moved from New York to Millburn, New Jersey.

1969 - The Davey line of Ram Pumps are added to Rife.

1974 - The simplified model lines, BU, SU, and HDU are introduced.

1984 - Company relocates in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

1989 - Sales offices are moved to Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania and manufacturing to Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania.

1990 - Rife adds the Slingpump to its line of water pumps.

1993 - Moved complete operation to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

1998 - Expands complete operation to Nanticoke, Pennsylvania.

Water Rams: Use the momentum of falling water to pump water up to 500ft high. Available in 2 models types and 12 sizes.

Rife River Pump Flowing water from a river or creek will spin this pump creating the pumping action needed to lift it 82 ft high.

Pasture/Nose Pump: The Pasture Pump is intended for Horses, Cows, or Bison. The animals will use their nose to operate the pump delivering worry-free water with no need to have you livestock on the banks of a river or stream.

Portable Floating Solar Pump The Floating Solar Pump is a versatile pump with many uses for a great price!


Related Links:

Feb 23, 2012

Woodworking - Sharpening Drill Bits with Drill Doctor 350X

ploaded by knecht105 on Feb 22, 2012
Understanding different woodworking drill bits and how to sharpen.

NASA finds space buckyballs in solid form

Posted on February 22, 2012 - 15:20 by Trent Nouveau
Full Article with Video - nasa-finds-space-buckyballs-in-solid-form

NASA astronomers have positively identified space buckyballs in a solid form. Prior to this important discovery, the microscopic carbon spheres were found only in gas form within the cosmos.

Formally dubbed buckministerfullerene, buckyballs are named after their uncanny resemblance to the late architect Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes. 

Buckyballs are made up of 60 carbon molecules arranged into a hollow sphere, much like a soccer ball.

Their unique structure makes them ideal candidates for electrical and chemical applications on Earth, including superconducting materials, medicines, water purification and armor.

Scientists managed to identify tiny specks of matter - or particles - consisting of stacked buckyballs by using NASA Spitzer’s telescope as they emit light in a unique way that differs from the gaseous form. They found the particles around a pair of stars known as "XX Ophiuchi," located 6,500 light-years from Earth, and detected enough to fill the equivalent in volume to 10,000 Mount Everests.

"These buckyballs are stacked together to form a solid, like oranges in a crate," explained Nye Evans of Keele University in England.

"The particles we detected are miniscule, far smaller than the width of a hair, but each one would contain stacks of millions of buckyballs."

Buckyballs were detected definitively inspace for the first time by Spitzer in 2010, which subsequently identified the molecules in a host of different cosmic environments. It even found them in enormous quantities, the equivalent in mass to 15 Earth moons, in a nearby galaxy called the Small Magellanic Cloud.

However, in all of the above-mentioned cases, the molecules were in a gaseous form.

The recent discovery of buckyballs particles means that large quantities of these molecules must be present in some stellar environments in order to link up and form solid particles. 

"This exciting result suggests that buckyballs are even more widespread in space than the earlier Spitzer results showed," said Mike Werner, project scientist for Spitzer at NASA's Jet PropulsionLaboratory in Pasadena, California.

"They may be an important form of carbon, an essential building block for life, throughout the cosmos."

It should be noted that Buckyballs have been found on Earth in various forms: as a gas from burning candles or existing as solids in certain types of rock, such as the mineral shungite found in Russia, and fulgurite, a glassy rock from Colorado that forms when lightning strikes the ground. In a test tube, the solids take on the form of dark, brown "goo."

Farm Stoves - Art Donnelly's / SeaChar / Photo Albums

Art Donnelly's / SeaChar / Photo Albums

Prototype for 55-gallon drum TLUD

Composting Podcasts

Master Composters #7: Diary of an Urban Soil
Posted: Thu, 11 Aug 2011 23:22:17 PDT
Play Now

Photo by erix!, shared via Flickr. In this episode of Seattle's Master Composter Podcast, host Joshua McNichols translates soil science into a short piece of young adult fiction. And you thought soil science couldn't make you cry.

Master Composters #6: Mulches
Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:43:37 PDT
Play Now

Photo by Shacker, shared via Flickr Mulches provide instant protection for bare soils. You can apply them in the fall, if you waited too long to plant your cover crop. This gets you quick protection from winter rains. In the summer, mulches protect soil life from the hot summer sun, and help retain valuable moisture. But it's important to pick the right mulch for the right kind of garden. We sit down with a Master Composter to discuss the different kinds of mulch available for purchase - or free in your own backyard. 

Master Composters #5: Cover Crops
Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:43:21 PDT
Play Now

You've amended your soil with compost. But all your soil's hard-won nutrition will wash out to sea unless you protect it from the winter rains. Join the Master Composters in the garden to learn how cover crops can protect your soil. Another way to let nature do the work for you.

Master Composters #4: Worm Bins
Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:42:39 PDT
Play Now

Worm bins give you another way to manage food waste in the city. In this episode, we compare worm bins to their close relative, the green cone. 

Master Composters #3: Green Cones
Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:42:36 PDT
Play Now

You can't put food waste in your compost bin. So where can you put it? In a green cone. Green Cones are the lowest maintenance way to deal with food scraps. We discuss how this system works, and where to put it.

Master Composters #2: Soil Types
Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:42:32 PDT
Play Now

Photo by Cyron, shared via Flickr.
What kind of soil is right for your garden? Join Master Composter Graham Golbuff in Seattle Tilth's demonstration garden. We'll dig some holes and learn what distinguishes different kinds of dirt.

Master Composters #1: How to Make Compost
Posted: Mon, 14 Mar 2011 21:42:17 PDT
Play Now

Follow the Master Composters as they prepare yard waste for composting at Seattle Tilth's demonstration garden in Wallingford. You wil learn all the tricks to make make quick, high quality compost at home. Find out what mix of materials you will need, and how to prepare and maintain a compost pile so it gets hot and decomposes fully. It’s fun! This is the first in a podcast series from the Master Composters. Throughout the series you will learn how to: - Understand your soil - Manage worm bins, green cones and other composters - Control insects and other problems - Mitigate the effects of global warming through organic practices Learn more about the Master Composters at Seattle Tilth's Web Site.

Full Feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/SeattleTilthComposting

The Beauty of Biochar

Posted on February 23, 2012 by Joshua McNichols

Clockwise from the top: biochar made from cardoon seed head, apple tree prunings, corn husks, bone, bamboo, lumber ends, rabbit droppings in center. Click through photo to see larger image.

As part of our month-long focus on soil-building, today we explore biochar.

Biochar is charcoal that you bury in your garden. It does many of the cool things that compost does – it holds water and nutrients like a sponge, it encourages crazy fungal growth. But unlike compost, it cannot be eaten by soil micro-organisms. It lasts just about forever. Spend a winter making it, then enjoy the benefits for the rest of your life. And if you’re an environmentalist, there’s a side benefit: that carbon won’t go into the atmosphere, which helps offset global warming.

biochar beef bone

I learned how to make biochar at a SeaChar workshop. I was doing a story on biochar for public radio. One visual caught my attention and has stayed with me ever since – a blackened piece of charcoal in the shape of a corn husk. There was something about seeing an everyday object, rendered perfectly in total blackness, that took my breath away. As if the soul had departed this object, leaving behind a porous, blackened skeleton.

biochar rabbit poo

As we were shooting a biochar-making sequence for our book (we show you how to make biochar from garden waste in your backyard) photographer Harley Soltes became equally infatuated by the sculptural shape of biochar. He disappeared for nearly a half hour in the makeshift studio he set up in the back of my garage, arranging little piles of biochar. Someday, an artist will discover biochar and create an entire show based on biochar versions of familiar objects.

biochar prunings from my espalier apple tree

I’ve spent a lot of time writing about biochar, how to make it, how it works. But the fact is, it’s a novelty, a useful tool that’s too much effort for most gardeners. Someday you may be able to buy it in bags as a soil amendment, but for now, it’s a hobby for a rare group of enthusiasts, for whom those perfect black shapes become an obsession. It’s about achieving the perfect use of your garden’s waste products, and building the best soil you possibly can. It’s about the thrill of becoming carbon negative. And the thrill of playing with fire. I hate gender stereotypes, but I have to say: if you want to get a man interested in soil-building, and if that man likes to grill, introduce that guy to biochar. And show him this post, so he can enjoy Harley’s biochar porn.

biochar detail

If you live in the Seattle area, and you want to learn how to make biochar, respond below for a chance to win a free spot in one of SeaChar’s upcoming weekend workshops. Basically you’ll get a gift certificate to cover the tuition and materials, which you can redeem when a class fits your schedule. In class, you’ll make a “Garden Master” biochar stove in a metal shop. You’ll bring that stove home, along with the knowledge of how to make your own biochar from garden waste. SeaChar hosts a few workshops per year, usually on Saturdays. You can wait for dates to appear on the blog or contact SeaChar for more information on future workshops.

Seriously, this workshop is awesome, like some kind of steam punk dream. The class participants work with metal and fire, and they’ve got soot on their faces, and they’re convinced they’re building something that will change the world. I loved every minute of it.

Photography by Harley Soltes

Related Links:

City-Slicker Resources for Growing,
Raising, Sourcing, Trading, &
Preparing What You Eat
Authors: Annette Cottrell,
and Joshua McNichols
Photography by Harley Soltes
Order Now: Amazon.com

Feb 22, 2012

10 Unusual Spring Flowers

Created 2010-11-26

Mark the arrival of spring with ephemeral flowers. Ephemeral means short-lived and refers to the fact that once their seed is ripe, the flowers and foliage of these perennials disappear, reappearing like magic the following spring.

Ephemeral wildflowers are relatively pest- and disease-free, and since they flourish on the slow release of nutrients common in garden soils, they don't need fertilizer. Several thrive under dry conditions. Here are my favorites; they grow in most regions of the country.

Sun to light shade The majority of these plants grow in full sun to light shade in rich, well-drained soil (exceptions are noted). They are easy to grow in a woodland garden or under deciduous trees because they go dormant as the trees leaf out. The soil should be evenly moist in winter and spring, but it can become quite dry in summer.

Fawn lilies (Erythronium), such as the creamy 'White Beauty', are glorious additions to spring's floral tapestry. The leaves are mottled like a fawn. Several yellow-flowered varieties are available, among them 'Pagoda'.
Photo: Photo: (cc) Peter Stevens/Flickr

Chinese hellebore (Helleborus) has graceful, nodding pink flowers. Winter moisture doesn't harm it, but dry soil is necessary during summer, when all the leaves completely disappear.
Photo: (cc) Leonora Enking/Flickr

Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale) have huge crepe-paper flowers in fiesta colors that seem to usher in the vacation months. After flowering, however, the plants quietly fold up and remain dormant until autumn, when a fresh rosette of foliage appears.'Patty's Plum', has enormous dusty purple flowers.
Photo: (cc) Daryl Mitchell/Flickr

Siebold primrose (Primula) works well for winter-wet or moist spots. The starry, five-petaled flowers emerge in late spring, and by midsummer when conditions are dry, the plants retreat underground. This primrose is easy to grow throughout most of the country, even in semi-arid regions, as long as it is planted in humus-rich soil.

Photo: (cc) Anemone Projectors/Flickr

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla) have gorgeous purplish blue flowers and demand a well-drained spot with sandy or gravelly soil and a neutral pH. For areas with wetter and warmer winters, try European pasque flower. Pasque flowers do not grow well in regions with hot, humid summers.
Photo: (cc) Liz Jones/Flickr

Atamasco lily (Zephyranthes) grows well in gardens with wet soil in spring and winter, and it does fine in any moist, acidic soil. The pure white trumpets bloom around Mother's Day. Foliage persists through early summer, so provide ample sunshine while plants are in active growth. Voles and other garden critters usually don't eat the bulbs.
Photo: (cc) Katherine Fries/Flickr

Woodland shade The deciduous forests of North America put on one of the most dazzling displays of spring wildflowers seen anywhere in the world. Why such a show? Wildflowers are taking advantage of the light and moisture before the trees and other plants block out summer sunshine. For gardeners, especially those surrounded by trees, this means a brief but glorious flower display. The following plants thrive in neutral, humus-rich soil that is moist in winter and spring but can become dry in summer.

European wood anemone (Anemone) form solid drifts of white or blue flowers. Try the white and green 'Bracteata Pleniflora', the late-blooming white 'Vestal', the green-flowered 'Monstrosa', and the yellow-flowered buttercup anemone.
Photo: (cc) L.C. Nottaasen

European Toothwort (Cardamine) is lovely. Try the dramaticC. pentaphyllos. It has showy pink flowers.
Photo: (cc) Hickory Rose/Flickr

Leopard's bane (Doronicum) opens its yellow daisylike flowers with the daffodils. 'Little Leo' is a showstopper with double glowing golden flowers. Leopard's bane does well as far south as Virginia but wilts miserably farther south where spring days are hot. Plants produce fresh foliage in autumn after spending the summer underground.

Photo: (cc) Big City Al/Flickr

Trilliums (Trillium) fascinate me with their range of colors and intriguing shape. The great white trillium is native throughout the east and Midwest and is easily cultivated in rich soil. Gardeners on the west coast can grow the coast trillium. The unfortunately named bloody butcher is a purple trillium that forms an open groundcover. The dramatic yellow trillium has mottled leaves and lemon-scented yellow flowers.

Many native wildflowers, especially trilliums and fawn lilies, are illegally collected from the wild. Please shop responsibly. Buy only from nurseries that clearly state that their plants are nursery-propagated.

Photo: (cc) Peter Stevens/Flickr

Source URL: http://www.organicgardening.com/learn-and-grow/10-unusual-spring-flowers
Links: [1] http://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/5666576699/ [2] http://www.flickr.com/photos/33037982@N04/5478826887/ [3] http://www.flickr.com/photos/daryl_mitchell/3678566773/ [4] http://www.flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors/5569038554/ [5] http://www.flickr.com/photos/lizjones/2476871684/ [6] http://www.flickr.com/photos/saiberiac/3558575074/ [7] http://www.flickr.com/photos/magnera/3476205779/ [8] http://www.flickr.com/photos/hickoryrose/1657052258/ [9] http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_sir/3508021357/sizes/o/in/photostream/ [10] http://www.flickr.com/photos/nordique/4695419334/

Monsanto Found Guilty of Chemical Poisoning in France | Natural Society

Anthony Gucciardi NaturalSociety February 13, 2012

In a major victory for public health and what will hopefully lead to other nations taking action, a French court decided today that GMO crops monster Monsanto is guilty of chemically poisoning a French farmer. The grain grower, Paul Francois, says he developed neurological problems such as memory loss and headaches after being exposed to Monsanto’s Lasso weedkiller back in 2004. The monumental case paves the way for legal action against Monsanto’s Roundup and other harmful herbicides and pesticides made by other manufacturers.

In a ruling given by a court in Lyon (southeast France), Francois says that Monsanto failed to provide proper warnings on the product label. The court ordered an expert opinion to determine the sum of the damages, and to verify the link between Lasso and the reported illnesses. The case is extremely important, as previous legal action taken against Monsanto by farmers has failed due to the challenge of properly linking pesticide exposure with the experienced side effects.

When contacted by Reuters, Monsanto’s lawyers declined to comment.

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Monsanto’s Deadly Concoctions

Farmer Paul Francois was not alone in his quest to hold Monsanto accountable for their actions. He and other farmers affected by Monsanto’s deadly concoctions actually founded an association last year to make the case that their health problems were a result of Monsanto’s Lasso and other ‘crop protection’ products. Their claims were also met by many other farmers. Since 1996, the agricultural branch of the French social security system has gathered about 200 alerts per year regarding sickness related to pesticides. However only 47 cases were even recognized in the past 10 years.

Francois, whose life was damaged by Monsanto’s products, has now set the powerful precedent in the defense of farmers.

“I am alive today, but part of the farming population is going to be sacrificed and is going to die because of this,” Francois, 47, told Reuters.

It is also important to note that Monsanto’s Lasso pesticide was actually banned in France back in 2007 following a European Union directive that came after the ban of the product in other nations.

Explore More:
France Asks EU to Halt Monsanto GMO Corn Approval
France Takes Stand Against GMOs, Monsanto Despite End of Ban
Breaking: Monsanto Forced Out of UK by Activists
Farmers Issue Lawsuit Against Monsanto for Widespread Genetic Manipulation
Monsanto Shareholder Meeting Infiltrated by Activist (Video)
Monsanto Investor Bill Gates Says GMO Crops Needed to Fight Starvation

Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/breaking-monsanto-found-guilty-of-chemical-poisoning-in-france/#ixzz1n5giNnfQ

Feb 21, 2012

OCCUPY THE ECONOMY : Andrew Faust - Permaculture

OCCUPY THE ECONOMY : Andrew Faust - Permaculture - OWS from Costa Boutsikaris on Vimeo.

Andrew Faust spoke at the Sustainability Forum in an atrium at OWS days after Zucotti Park was evicted.
Andrew Faust Permaculture Designer

Costa Boutsikaris Filmmaker


Setting Up a Worm Composting Bin

Uploaded by TheCompostGuy on Oct 22, 2007
Detailed instructions for setting up a 'deluxe' Rubbermaid worm composting bin

Setting Up a Basic Worm Bin

Uploaded by TheCompostGuy on Oct 24, 2007
Instructions for setting up a basic Rubbermaid worm bin

Vermicomposting - An Overview

Uploaded by TheCompostGuy on Feb 2, 2009
Vermicomposting (or "Worm Composting") is a great way to convert your food waste into a rich compost - excellent for growing plants. This video provides a quick overview.

Worm Power - Worm Castings Fertilizer - Large-scale worm casting production
Uploaded by laheyp2 on Jul 31, 2007

Worms Gruntin in Sopchoppy Florida

Uploaded by SeidlerProductions on Apr 6, 2007
The Annual Worm Gruntin Festival in Sopchoppy Florida. The Festival is the second Saturday in April every year 8am till 10pm

Slide 1

Vermicomposting - Video (Permaculture Lecture-HS 432-590 Lecture 013)
  • Need 1 Pound (1000 E. fetida) to start $22/ LB 
  • Buy from Worm Grower - Directory of Vermiculture Resources:by State in the U.S. and by Country:Worms, Supplies & Information
  • Worms Eat 50% body weight per day
  • Temperature : 59-77 Degrees 
  • Moisture: 80% (60-90) 
  • pH 5-9 
  • Low Ammonia 
  • Low salt 
  • Worm Poop - "Castings" are Rich 
  • "Vermicompost" - "Castings" + Undigested Material 
  • Affects - Better Germination, Bigger Plants, Produce More 
  • Add Blood meal for Nitrogen 
  • Plant growth hormones and micro-organisms improved 
  • 0-40% rates - best at 10-20% 
  • Build Bin 
  • Bedding 
  • Add worms 
  • Bury food scrapes 
  • Harvest Compost 
  • Air-Upper Side 
  • Drain Holes on Bottom 
  • Bedding - newspaper, leaves, shredded cardboard, ... 
  • Handful of soil - inoculate with microorganisms 
  • Moisten Bedding in bucket and then squeeze out like sponge 
  • Fill Bin halfway 
  • Vegetable, Fruit-Not Citrus, Leaves, Left Overs 
  • Store - Freeze - Helps Break Down 
  • NO - Meat, grease, bones, dairy, citrus (too acidic) 
  • Put in hole and cover (eliminate fruit flies) 
  • Don't Overfeed 
  • Chop Things Up Small!!! 
  • Empty Bin on large plastic sheet - Return worms to bin 
  • Black Gold Container 
  • New worms - New container 
  • Vertical Separation
Related Links:

Feb 20, 2012

The Time for Change is Now!

Consumerism, Society — by Zaia Kendall February 21, 2012
What is happening in the world today and how can people help themselves, each other and the planet, so that the future will look bright again.
by Zaia Kendall

I would like to start off by saying how much I love Australia. The people are great, there is a lot of opportunity here for everyone and we have a lot of space and an enormous amount of wealth.

Unfortunately, this also means that people become complacent.

I was born and grew up in Europe and still have family living there. Things are tough in Europe at the moment. Pensions are being cut or will in the near future, people have trouble meeting their expenses (and there are a lot of those in Europe…) and there is a lot of unrest everywhere due to financial instability. Things have started to go downhill in Europe ever since the big crash in 2008, and things are not looking up. No politician wants to say it, but Europe has been in a recession for the past few years, if not in a depression. In the mean time, those wonderful European bankers try plugging every financial hole with a bigger one. The truth is, there is no money, and the sooner people face that fact, the smaller the next crash will be. As it is now, the wool is being pulled over people’s eyes by financial institutions slowing the crash down with money that doesn’t exist.

So where does that leave us? Let’s look at what else is happening at the moment.

Corporations are pushing legislation through government to benefit them, so that people will be forced to spend. Some of this legislation is absolutely frightening, and has all the signs of taking liberties away from people. Governments, corporations and financial institutions are scared, because our way of life will have to change in order for people to be able to live. And the changes that will need to be made are not to the benefit of these institutions. So they are trying to force us to spend money on things so that shareholders will see an increase in their yearly profits (after all, capitalism is based on eternal growth, once the growth stops, capitalism fails…) This year, every company needs to make more than last year, otherwise people will be laid off, prices will go up and most importantly for those companies, the shareholders will get upset and may sell their stock.

The position the world is in now shows that capitalism is failing miserably. It was great whilst it lasted, but unfortunately it has also left behind a ravaged planet.

You may all have noticed, that appliances do not last very long, metal is not as strong, plastic is thinner and breaks down easier. In fact, every single product made from natural resources is of less quality than 20 years ago. Why?

There are a number of disturbing issues at work here. Number one is that we are running out of resources! We are not just running out of oil, we are running out of everything. In our years of extravagant consumerism, we have used up the planet. Not quite completely yet, but close. It is now harder to extract some metals and other natural resources, because all the easy stuff has already been extracted. So it costs more to extract a resource that is of lesser quality. Hence the products made from that resource are not as strong as they used to be.

Number two is also quite disturbing. In our keenness to move into automation, people have lost manual labour skills. Years ago, it took around 20 years of study with a Master Builder to become a Master Builder. Now it only takes a few years of study. Manual labour is looked down on, so less and less people are keen to develop a trade. And unfortunately the quality of trades people has deteriorated over the years as well. There are now very few people who are true masters of their trade and put the care and time into a product that it deserves. And those products can last several lifetimes….

But of course, due to the need for society to keep eternal growth happening, we cannot wait for a master trades person to make a quality product — it has to be produced in the hundreds and quickly, and it has to break down within a few years, so that people are forced to buy another one (and hence keep the economy going).

The next concern we have is the major one. A simple fact of life is that we cannot live without food and water (some breatharians may debate that, but for now, let’s pretend we do need those two). What is happening in the world is very disturbing. Broadscale farming with its fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and now GMOs, are all stripping the topsoil. Beneficial organisms that are essential to healthy soil are destroyed and not replaced. Most food we consume is as dead as a doornail. Because our food grows in the earth it gets most of its vitamins, minerals — and other beneficial things that we haven’t discovered yet — from the soil. If the soil is dead, the food is dead as well (but you may get some genetically modified RNA that can affect organs and other parts of your body).

Our water (rivers, lakes, glaciers, ground water, etc.) has become incredibly polluted with heavy metals and other horrible things (like severely toxic chemicals due to fracking and other shady practices). Since food doesn’t grow without water, we now have toxic food and water. We are an adaptable species, but too much is too much.

Our environment is so toxic that our bees are disappearing.

So now we don’t just have a broke society, we have a diseased, broke society. But for the government and institutions this is great, because the pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest industries in the world, so a sick society will keep the economy growing….

And then there is terrorism. I can remember in the 70s, there were plane hijackings, regular bombings in major cities and all sorts of anarchy. These occurrences are rare today. And you can’t tell me that is due to increased security, I am sure that if someone really wanted to hijack a plane or bomb a city, with today’s technology they could easily do it. Or if they really wanted to stuff things up, they could attack technically. After all, we are all technophobes at the moment — it would create more disruption for people to be without internet for a day than a bomb in an isolated city. (I probably should watch what I write here, because “they” will be watching and may think I am up to no good….)

Fear keeps people in line. It was fear that caused people to walk into the gas chambers meekly — the fear of the people with the guns outside, whereas it was the showers that should have been feared.

So now everyone fears the elusive terrorist, whereas the biggest acts of terror are being committed by corporations and governments that are completely without ethics, in a society that is crumbling. Whilst we are busy fearing our neighbours, our trustworthy governments put legislation through that will limit your freedom. Freedom to speak, freedom to grow food and freedom to be responsible for your own actions.

It is now so easy for someone to point the finger and be awarded damages, that the sense of personal responsibility has disappeared. So the typical not-responsible person is waiting for someone else to fix their troubles and the troubles of the world, while he sits back.

The fear factor also means that countries can accuse other countries without any foundation and declare war. Which again is great for the economy. The weapons industry is up there with the pharmaceutical industry, so lets blow up some more metal and such, and boost the economy. No matter that the country the weapons are directed to is innocent and nothing to be feared. And we non-responsibles just sit back and let it happen.

So, let’s re-cap what we see in the world today:
Toxic water and food
Genetically altered food (which is infecting the wild strains and creating super weeds)
Corporations, governments and institutions with increased power that try to scare the common people into consumerism
Loss of personal freedom and responsibility
Loss of skills and trades
Financial hardship
Decreasing resources
Inferior quality products
Government induced fear (and thus loss of community)

I am sure this list is incomplete, but it is a start (and I don’t want to scare anyone off by making the list too imposing!).

So what can we do to ensure a future for ourselves and our offspring, current and future?

First of all, we all have to stop!!!! Stop consuming. Stop driving. Stop everything. As long as we consume, we encourage the current trend.

Ride your bike if you need to go somewhere. Or walk. Or use public transport.

If you do not have a garden, buy from farmers direct. Contact them direct and organise a co-op situation with some friends and neighbours. Not only will this support the farmer, it will build community.

Start planting. Bathtubs, bins, shoe boxes, you name it! You can even plant in your garden if you have one. And forget about all the decorative stuff — apart from some flowers here and there to attract bees. Plant food plants; fruit and nut trees, root vegetable, green leaves, herbs, you name it! Inside or outside, you can get miniature fruit trees for inside or on balconies etc. If you are really hard up for space, you can always do some sprouting (sprouts are very good for you). But just plant. Find out how to create soil, do a permaculture course, learn about compost and how to use food scraps.

Create community wherever you are. If you live in an apartment building, talk to people in the building and try and grow different things so you can trade. You can do the same in your street, suburb or town, depending on where you live.

Everyone has different skills. Get a skill bank going so people can trade skills and do things for each other.

The internet is very accessible these days and has a lot of information. Learn. Do not watch television, because that just gets you stuck in a rut and stymies your creativity. Do an online course or get some books from the library on some activity you have always wanted to do and which can help your community. Instead of watching TV, create and learn.

Send a message to your government, let them know you and your community are taking things into your own hands by growing your own food and supplying services for each other. Get away from being dependent on others and take charge! Become personally responsible for your own well-being and become an integral part of a community by participating and supplying your skills. Tell the government that it is our God-given right to have clean air, clean water and clean food, and that the government has failed to secure that.

The time for global change is now. If we all pitch in there is still a chance we can save this planet. But we all have to stop what we are doing and change.

If you want to learn more about methods for changing the planet and creating a more sustainable and community-based approach, do a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course. PDC teachers are available globally. The true PDC is based on Bill Mollison’s Permaculture Designers’ Manual, and does not promote any particular religion or spiritual viewpoint.

Take personal responsibility and be part of the change you want to see in the world!


Written by Zaia Kendall, who runs Kin Kin SOULS with her husband Tom. Tom teaches Permaculture Design Certificate courses at Kin kin SOULS in the Noosa Hinterland on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Kin Kin SOULS is a Permaculture Demonstration Site.

Roundup in City-Dwellers' Urine Permaculture Research Institute

Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Jeffrey M. Smith February 21, 2012
Studies have already found Monsanto’s toxic herbicide Roundup in groundwater, in streams, and even in the rain and air of US agricultural areas. It’s been found in our blood and even crosses the placental barrier to enter our unborn fetuses. So are we surprised that a German university study has now found significant concentrations of Roundup’s main ingredient glyphosate in the urine of city dwellers?

Perhaps we should be surprised at the amount: all the samples had concentrations of glyphosate at 5 to 20 times the limit for drinking water.

Roundup is used on railway lines, urban pavements, and roadsides. It’s used to dry down grain crops before harvest. But the single greatest use of Roundup is on genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" crops — designed not to die when sprayed with the poison.

Wouldn’t it be good if we too were Roundup Ready, so we wouldn’t get sick or die due to the virtually omnipresent toxin? After all, studies now link it to birth defects, endocrine disruption, cancer, and abnormal sperm.

As Roundup is a best-selling product worldwide and there are massive profits hanging on its continued use, the new testing initiative has fallen prey to the usual attempts at disinformation, distortion, and intimidation. Note the excerpt from the story: "The address of the university labs, which did the research, the data and the evaluation of the research method is known to the editors. Because of significant pressure by agrochemical representatives and the fear that the work of the lab could be influenced, the complete analytical data will only be published in the course of this year."

Biochar Videos(Lunchtime Series) What-Benefits-How-Uses-Kind Playlist

Biochar Videos(Lunchtime Series) What-Benefits-How-Uses-Kind
Playlist by HRT87's channel

Great videos on Biochar ( What-Benefits-How-Uses-Kind) from Walden Effect Homestead site http://www.waldeneffect.org/  ... Monte

Additional Links:

Paul Ehrlich: The Dominant Animal - FORA.tv

First 10 minutes

Full Presentation -->  Paul Ehrlich: The Dominant Animal 
from The Long Now Foundation on FORA.tv

Paul Ehrlich...  Very wise old guy... Very entertaining (funny) and enlightening... Good for anyone who is still in "a drunken stooper" about what we are doing to our "life support systems"... Idea of culture evolution...  What we can do about our situation...  Technology - "devil in the details"...   Who controls technology is important...   Paul gives us the BIG WORLD PICTURE...  Watch and Listen...  You won't regret!!!  Monte

It's more than democracy, it's an important part of the intellectual process to challenge ideas which forces others to defend and know more about their position and vice versa. So because someone had a message that was ahead of its time and was a little premature this would exclude Ehrlich from ever criticising. I think you are confusing Ehrlich with God there because to date there has never been an intellectual who has been near perfect.

Behaviourally modern humans emerged from the evolutionary process 40,000 years ago and since then have created and designed an entirely new dimension of life (style) from the organic and this is faciliated by culture. Even diehard gene-centrists like Dawkins (memetics) and to a lesser extend Edward O. Wilson (gene-culture co-evolution) have had to respect the power and weight of culture although it has been a profound mystery for evolutionary theory over the last 151 years.

Ehrlich is pointing out something that Malthus pointed out in the early 1800s that if populations keep expanding there will be a push on resources. This is important because it's the closest we have to a eureka moment in Darwin's biography. It's also worth nothing that Malthus' book also prompted Wallace's thoughts on natural selection, so they are not trivial. As a consequence of humans emerging and extending from the evolutionary process they are to a degree in unchartered territory as they/we have to live increasingly to our own imperatives. This was not lost on Darwin who in a reply to Hooker stated that 'nature does for the good of the organism, culture....for man's pleasure.'

So if mahogany is 'in' this year then humankind will be cutting down vast amounts of mahogany to satisfy 'man's pleasure' (Darwin also referred to it as 'man's fancy') and if there is an unfolding effect on the habitat of many, many species, so be it. Ehrlich is pointing out something that is evident but difficult to nail down all the while we don't have a general theory of culture (our second nature). To bring up 'The Population Bomb' has a veneer of observation to it, but scratching below the surface of complexion and get to the complexity and it's a very different story.

Malthus was aware of something, as is Ehrlich and when we reach figures where humans require 1.5 planets to survive at present levels and the alarm bells should be ringing. With India and China almost 40% of the global population and 'developing' fast that figure is only going to move towards 2.0 earths and exponentially fast. So if you want to stick your head in the sand on a real, lasting and easily the most pressing for humankind, good. It's difficult to use copious amounts of energy and carbon with your head down there.

Related Links:
Humanity on a Tightrope: Thoughts on Empathy, Family, and Big Changes for a Viable Future by Paul R. Ehrlich and Robert E. Ornstein (Mar 16, 2012)
The Dominant Animal.org
Amazon.com - Dominant Animal Human Evolution Environment

Fire In The Hole | Popular Science - Gray Matter

Chemicals can turn any tree stump into virtual gunpowder
By Theodore Gray Posted 07.07.2011

Slow Burn Wood treated with stump remover burns with a purple-blue flame at and below its surface.Mike Walker

When you need to remove a tree stump, you have several options. Sissies call a tree service. Tough guys loop a chain around the stump, hook it to the bumper of their truck, and find out which one is stronger. Others use gunpowder to blow them up, though this is not advisable in most jurisdictions (unless your cousin is the sheriff and you let him watch). But my favorite method is to convert the stump itself into gunpowder and then burn it up. That is the secret behind how chemical stump remover works.

You might think you could just light stumps on fire and let them burn until they disappear. But since they’re underground, there’s no source of oxygen to sustain the flame. Even with kerosene soaked into the wood, the part of the stump under the surface won’t burn. Gunpowder, on the other hand, burns even inside a sealed space because it contains its own source of oxygen in the form of potassium nitrate, or KNO3, better known as saltpeter. Get saltpeter into the stump, and it supplies oxygen to combust the wood.

Better Landscaping Through Chemistry: Saltpeter changes the composition of a tree stump, allowing it to burn underground after it's been soaked with kerosene Mike Walker

Most common brands of chemical stump remover are nothing more than saltpeter. The instructions say to drill holes down into the stump, pour in the powder, and let it soak with water for up to a few months. This dissolves the saltpeter and distributes it throughout the stump. Then you soak the stump with kerosene and light it, causing it to burn all the way down to the roots with a fizzing, popping, purple-blue flame.

The stump’s altered chemical composition—potassium nitrate combined with organic carbon to produce heat and gas—is similar to gunpowder. That explains the unusual flame. The burn is slower, though, taking minutes instead of milliseconds to complete.

It might be surprising to discover that you can buy the key ingredient in gunpowder at any garden center. But here’s the kicker: The other two ingredients are readily available as well. If you want to find out what those are, and read about my adventures making gunpowder, you’ll just have to check out next month’s issue.

Related Links: