Feb 9, 2013

Earth-observing satellite to launch from Calif. (Update)

February 8, 2013 by Alicia Chang

This artist rendering released by NASA shows the Landsat satellite in orbit around Earth.

The satellite is slated to launch Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It's the eighth satellite in a program that began in 1972. (AP Photo/NASA) 

A new Earth-observing satellite is set to provide another watchful eye over our planet's glaciers, forests, water resources and urban sprawl. 

If all goes as planned, the Landsat satellite will be launched into orbit Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It would be the eighth such satellite in a series designed to continuously track natural changes and society's influence on Earth's resources. Since the maiden launch in 1972, the satellites have been providing "uninterrupted observations," David Jarrett, program executive at NASA headquarters, said during a pre-launch news conference on Friday. 

During the past 40 years, the Landsat satellites have been key in documenting changes to the Earth, pinpointing where droughts are occurring, how crops across the globe are faring and how erosion is affecting coastlines. 

The satellites also have recorded retreating glaciers in Greenland, captured the 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption and recovery aftermath, tracked population growth in Phoenix and deforestation in the Amazon. Although NASA aimed for a Monday liftoff, launch director Omar Baez said there were two remaining engineering issues to complete. 

It was too early to know whether that would affect the launch schedule, he said. 

The newest Landsat will be the most powerful yet. Once in orbit, it will circle Earth 14 times a day. It was expected to beam back 400 images a day to ground stations in South Dakota, Alaska and Norway. 

As in previous missions, the images will be freely available on the Internet. The $855 million project is managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey. The space agency developed the satellite and its two sensors, which are more sensitive than previous ones. After a checkout period in orbit, day-to-day duties will be turned over to the USGS. 

The latest Landsat will build on past missions. The USGS recently retired Landsat 5, which operated since 1984 and has returned 2 1/2 million images. Landsat 7, launched in 1999, continues to operate.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-02-earth-observing-satellite.html#jCp

DIY Track Saw and Other Ideas for Cutting Up Sheet Goods

DIY Track Saw
Track saw for $120, includes the saw.


Cutting plywood: how to break down sheet goods
Steve Ramsey

Starting Peppers

Starting Peppers, The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/doctorpr... (website)

Making seed planting tape, pumpkin flour, re-using items for water drip trays, saving potatoes, gardening books

Uploaded on Feb 13, 2012
Making seed planting tape, pumpkin flour, re-using items for water drip trays, saving potatoes, gardening books.

Starting Onion & Leek Seeds

Source Link: The Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener
Published on Jan 15, 2013

Joey shows how to start onion and leek seeds and explains why watering from bottom is best for good seedling production.

http://www.thewisconsinvegetablegarde... (website)

The N2 Dilemma: Is America Fertilizing Disaster?

Where does our food come from?

These days, most people might think corn, the ubiquitous grain that provides the bulk of feed for our livestock; most of the sweetener for our soft drinks and snacks; and a large amount of our cooking fat.

But where does the corn — and other staple crops — come from? The answer to that question lies beneath our feet. Healthy soil is our food system’s bottom line. Without it, food crops won’t grow.

Farming, especially on today’s industrial scale, is tough on soil, draining essential nutrients. The most critical nutrient is nitrogen, the building block of plants. A lot of energy and money have been spent figuring out how to replace it in the soil.

In the past 50 years, led by the United States, global agriculture has come to rely increasingly on a cheap, synthetic form of nitrogen produced in fertilizer factories that are powered by natural gas and other fossil fuels.

Before World War II, when the fertilizer industry was in its infancy, farmers used very little synthetic nitrogen. By 1964, U.S. farmers were applying about 4.3 million tons annually. In 2007, the last year for which the U.S. Department of Agriculture has figures, farmers dropped 5.7 million tons on the nation’s corn crop alone. We now know that the undeniable benefits of synthetic nitrogen come with serious costs, both to the environment and to public health.

In this special Grist series, we’ll be looking at where synthetic nitrogen comes from and what our reliance on it is doing to our health and to the health of our waterways and climate. We’ll also be looking at ways in which synthetic nitrogen can be used more wisely — and, as much as possible, phased out.

The question of where our food comes from will take us on a journey from the farm out to the fertilizer factory — and even farther, to the globe’s finite and far-flung natural gas deposits. And more important than where synthetic nitrogen comes from is where it will take us.

As with anything fueling a system that feeds a nation of 300 million, there are no easy answers to the nitrogen dilemma. But we will pose the hard questions — and try to generate debate about a critical ecological issue that remains obscure and little-discussed.

Check out the series: 

Related Link:

MAR 2, 2010

The Myth of Nitrogen Fertilization for Soil Carbon Sequestration -- Khan et al. 36 (6): 1821 -- Journal of Environmental Quality

Overuse of Nitrogen is Causing Soil Loss of Organic Matter, Atmospheric CO2 enrichment, and NO3– pollution of ground and surface waters!

New research: synthetic nitrogen destroys soil carbon, undermines soil health | Grist

By Tom Philpott

Just precisely what does all of that nitrogen fertilizer do to the soil?
“Fertilizer is good for the father and bad for the sons.”
'Dutch saying'

For all of its ecological baggage, synthetic nitrogen does one good deed for the environment: it helps build carbon in soil. At least, that’s what scientists have assumed for decades.

If that were true, it would count as a major environmental benefit of synthetic N use. At a time of climate chaos and ever-growing global greenhouse gas emissions, anything that helps vast swaths of farmland sponge up carbon would be a stabilizing force. Moreover, carbon-rich soils store nutrients and have the potential to remain fertile over time–a boon for future generations.

The case for synthetic N as a climate stabilizer goes like this. Dousing farm fields with synthetic nitrogen makes plants grow bigger and faster. As plants grow, they pull carbon dioxide from the air. Some of the plant is harvested as crop, but the rest–the residue–stays in the field and ultimately becomes soil. In this way, some of the carbon gobbled up by those N-enhanced plants stays in the ground and out of the atmosphere.

Well, that logic has come under fierce challenge from a team of University of Illinois researchers led by professors Richard Mulvaney, Saeed Khan, and Tim Ellsworth. In two recent papers (see here andhere) the trio argues that the net effect of synthetic nitrogen use is to reduce soil’s organic matter content. Why? Because, they posit, nitrogen fertilizer stimulates soil microbes, which feast on organic matter. Over time, the impact of this enhanced microbial appetite outweighs the benefits of more crop residues.

And their analysis gets more alarming. Synthetic nitrogen use, they argue, creates a kind of treadmill effect. As organic matter dissipates, soil’s ability to store organic nitrogen declines. A large amount of nitrogen then leaches away, fouling ground water in the form of nitrates, and entering the atmosphere as nitrous oxide (N2O), a greenhouse gas with some 300 times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. In turn, with its ability to store organic nitrogen compromised, only one thing can help heavily fertilized farmland keep cranking out monster yields: more additions of synthetic N.

The loss of organic matter has other ill effects, the researchers say. Injured soil becomes prone to compaction, which makes it vulnerable to runoff and erosion and limits the growth of stabilizing plant roots. Worse yet, soil has a harder time holding water, making it ever more reliant on irrigation. As water becomes scarcer, this consequence of widespread synthetic N use will become more and more challenging.

In short, “the soil is bleeding,” Mulvaney told me in an interview.

If the Illinois team is correct, synthetic nitrogen’s effect on carbon sequestration swings from being an important ecological advantage to perhaps its gravest liability. Not only would nitrogen fertilizer be contributing to climate change in a way not previously taken into account, but it would also be undermining the long-term productivity of the soil.

Getting their hands dirty: Saeed Khan, Richard Mulvaney, and Tim Ellsworth (l.-r.), in front of the Morrow Plots, University of Illinois.An Old Idea Germinates Anew

While their research bucks decades of received wisdom, the Illinois researchers know they aren’t breaking new ground here. “The fact is, the message we’re delivering in our papers really is a rediscovery of a message that appeared in the ’20s and ’30s,” Mulvaney says. In their latest paper, “Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizers Deplete Soil Nitrogen: A Global Dilemma for Sustainable Cereal Production,” which appeared last year in the Journal of Environmental Quality, the researchers point to two pre-war academic papers that, according to Mulvaney, “state clearly and simply that synthetic nitrogen fertilizers were promoting the loss of soil carbon and organic nitrogen.”

That idea also appears prominently in The Soil and Health (1947), a founding text of modern organic agriculture. In that book, the British agronomist Sir Albert Howard stated the case clearly:

The use of artificial manure, particularly [synthetic nitrogen] … does untold harm. The presence of additional combined nitrogen in an easily assimilable form stimulates the growth of fungi and other organisms which, in the search for organic matter needed for energy and for building up microbial tissue, use up first the reserve of soil humus and then the more resistant organic matter which cements soil particles.

In other words, synthetic nitrogen degrades soil.

That conclusion has been current in organic-farming circles since Sir Albert’s time. In an essay in the important 2002 anthology Fatal Harvest Reader, the California organic farmer Jason McKenney puts it like this:

Fertilizer application begins the destruction of soil biodiversity by diminishing the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and amplifying the role of everything that feeds on nitrogen. These feeders then speed up the decomposition of organic matter and humus. As organic matter decreases, the physical structure of soil changes. With less pore space and less of their sponge-like qualities, soils are less efficient at storing water and air. More irrigation is needed. Water leeches through soils, draining away nutrients that no longer have an effective substrate on which to cling. With less available oxygen the growth of soil microbiology slows, and the intricate ecosystem of biological exchanges breaks down.

Although those ideas flourished in organic-ag circles, they withered to dust among soil scientists at the big research universities. Mulvaney told me that in his academic training — he holds a PhD in soil fertility and chemistry from the University of Illinois, where he is now a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences — he was never exposed to the idea that synthetic nitrogen degrades soil. “It was completely overlooked,” he says. “I had never heard of it, personally, until we dug into the literature.”

What sets the Illinois scientists apart from other critics of synthetic nitrogen is their provenance. Sir Albert’s denouncement sits in a dusty old tome that’s pretty obscure even within the organic-agriculture world; Jason McKenney is an organic farmer who operates near Berkeley–considered la-la land by mainstream soil scientists. Both can be — and, indeed have been — ignored by policymakers and large-scale farmers. By contrast, Mulvaney and his colleagues are living, credentialed scientists working at the premier research university in one of the nation’s most prodigious corn-producing–and nitrogen-consuming –states.

Abandon all hope, all fertilizer execs who enter here.The Dirt on Nitrogen, Soil, and Carbon 

To come to their conclusions, the researchers studied data from the Morrow plots on the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus, which comprise the “the world’s oldest experimental site under continuous corn” cultivation. The Morrow plots were first planted in 1876.

Mulvaney and his collaborators analyzed annual soil-test data in test plots that were planted with three crop rotations: continuous corn, corn-soy, and corn-oats-hay. Some of the plots received moderate amounts of fertilizer application; some received high amounts; and some received no fertilizer at all. The crops in question, particularly corn, generate tremendous amounts of residue. Picture a Midwestern field in high summer, packed with towering corn plants. Only the cobs are harvested; the rest of the plant is left in the field. If synthetic nitrogen use really does promote carbon sequestration, you’d expect these fields to show clear gains in soil organic carbon over time.

Instead, the researchers found, all three systems showed a “net decline occurred in soil [carbon] despite increasingly massive residue [carbon] incorporation.” (They published their findings, “The Myth of Nitrogen Fertilization for Soil Carbon Sequestration,” in the Journal of Environmental Quality in 2007.) In other words, synthetic nitrogen broke down organic matter faster than plant residue could create it.

A particularly stark set of graphs traces soil organic carbon (SOC) in the surface layer of soil in the Morrow plots from 1904 to 2005. SOC rises steadily over the first several decades, when the fields were fertilized with livestock manure. After 1967, when synthetic nitrogen became the fertilizer of choice, SOC steadily drops.

In their other major paper, “Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilizers Deplete Soil Nitrogen: A Global Dilemma for Sustainable Cereal Production”(2009), the authors looked at nitrogen retention in the soil. Given that the test plots received annual lashings of synthetic nitrogen, conventional ag science would predict a buildup of nitrogen. Sure, some nitrogen would be removed with the harvesting of crops, and some would be lost to runoff. But healthy, fertile soil should be capable of storing nitrogen.

In fact, the researchers found just the opposite. “Instead of accumulating,” they wrote, “soil nitrogen declined significantly in every subplot sampled.” The only explanation, they conclude, is that the loss of organic matter depleted the soil’s ability to store nitrogen. The practice of year-after-year fertilization had pushed the Morrow plots onto the chemical treadmill: unable to efficiently store nitrogen, they became reliant on the next fix.

The researchers found similar data from other test plots. “Such evidence is common in the scientific literature but has seldom been acknowledged, perhaps because N fertilizer practices have been predicated largely on short-term economic gain rather than long-term sustainability,” they write, citing some two dozen other studies which mirrored the patterns of the Morrow plots.

The most recent bit of evidence for the Mulvaney team’s nitrogen thesis comes from a team of researchers at Iowa State University and the USDA. In a 2009 paper (PDF), this group looked at data from two long-term experimental sites in Iowa. And they, too, found that soil carbon had declined after decades of synthetic nitrogen applications. They write: “Increases in decay rates with N fertilization apparently offset gains in carbon inputs to the soil in such a way that soil C sequestration was virtually nil in 78% of the systems studied, despite up to 48 years of N additions.”

Fertile ground for research: the Morrow Plots at the University of Illinois.
Slinging Dirt

Mulvaney and Khan laughed when I asked them what sort of response their work was getting in the soil-science world. “You can bet the fertilizer industry is aware of our work, and they aren’t too pleased,” Mulvaney said. “It’s all about sales, and our conclusions aren’t real good for sales.”

As for the soil-science community, Mulvaney said with a chuckle, “the response is still building.” There has been negative word-of-mouth reaction, he added, but so far, only two responses have been published: a remarkable fact, given that the first paper came out in 2007.

Both published responses fall into the those-data-don’t-say-what-you-say-they category. The first, published as a letter to the editor (PDF) in the Journal of Environmental Quality, came from D. Keith Reid, a soil fertility specialist with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Reid writes that the Mulvaney team’s conclusion about synthetic nitrogen and soil carbon is “sensational” and “would be incredibly important if it was true.”

Reid acknowledges the drop in soil organic carbon, but argues that it was caused not by synthetic nitrogen itself, but rather by the difference in composition between manure and synthetic nitrogen. Manure is a mix of slow-release organic nitrogen and organic matter; synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is pure, readily available nitrogen. “It is much more likely that the decline in SOC is due to the change in the form of fertilizer than to the rate of fertilizer applied,” Reid writes.

Then he makes a startling concession:

From the evidence presented in this paper, it would be fair to conclude that modern annual crop management systems are associated with declines in SOC concentrations and that increased residue inputs from high nitrogen applications do not mitigate this decline as much as we might hope.

In other words, modern farming — i.e., the kind practiced on nearly all farmland in the United States — destroys soil carbon. (The Mulvaney team’s response to Reid’s critique can be found in the above-linked document.)

The second second critique (PDF) came from a team led by D.S. Powlson at the Department of Soil Science and Centre for Soils and Ecosystem Function at the Rothamsted Research Station in the United Kingdom. Powlson and colleagues attack the Mulvaney team’s contention that synthetic nitrogen depletes the soil’s ability to store nitrogen.

“We propose that the conclusion drawn by Mulvaney et al. (2009), that inorganic N fertilizer causes a decline in soil organic N concentration, is false and not supported by the data from the Morrow Plots or from numerous studies worldwide,” they write.

Then they, too, make a major concession: “the observation of significant soil C and N declines in subsoil layers is interesting and deserves further consideration.” That is, they don’t challenge Mulvaney team’s contention that synthetic nitrogen destroys organic carbon in the subsoil.

In their response (PDF), Mulvaney and his colleagues mount a vigorous defense of their methodology. And then they conclude:

In the modern era of intensified agriculture, soils are generally managed as a commodity to maximize short-term economic gain. Unfortunately, this concept entirely ignores the consequences for a vast array of biotic and abiotic soil processes that aff ect air and water quality and most important, the soil itself.

So who’s right? For now, we know that the Illinois team has presented a robust cache of evidence that turns 50 years of conventional soil science on its head–and an analysis that conventional soil scientists acknowledge is “sensational” and “incredibly important” if true. We also know that their analysis is consistent with the founding principles of organic agriculture: that properly applied manure and nitrogen-fixing cover crops, not synthetic nitrogen, are key to long-term soil health and fertility.

The subject demands more study and fierce debate. But if Mulvaney and his team are correct, the future health of our farmland hinges on a dramatic shift away from reliance on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

Tom Philpott was Grist's senior food writer until May 2011. He now writes for Mother Jones.

Related Link:

MAR 2, 2010

The Myth of Nitrogen Fertilization for Soil Carbon Sequestration -- Khan et al. 36 (6): 1821 -- Journal of Environmental Quality

Overuse of Nitrogen is Causing Soil Loss of Organic Matter, Atmospheric CO2 enrichment, and NO3– pollution of ground and surface waters!

Feb 8, 2013

Permaculture Keyline Water Systems: Tom Ward @ Wolf Gulch Farm - YouTube

Permaculture Elder Tom Ward takes us on a 10 minute animated tour of Wolf Gulch Farm in Southern Oregon, USA.

It was designed using Permaculture principles and laid out using Keyline patterning. Tom's narrated journey explores water supply and storage, soil building, wind and air drainage, cropping, and an enlightened perspective on the watershed and the future of farming in harmony with natural forces. 

This video was produced by Andrew Millison as part of the course content for his online Advanced Permaculture Design Practicum, Hort 485, taught through the Horticulture department at Oregon State University's Extended Campus: www.beaverstatepermaculture.com.

Related Links:
Jan 04, 2013
Restoration Agricultureexplains how we can have all of the benefits of natural, perennial ecosystems and create agricultural systems that imitate nature in form and function while still providing for our food, building, fuel and ...
Feb 04, 2013
The farm was designed using Permaculture Principles and Keyline patterning. We follow the water system from top to bottom, and then the amazing downstream effects are revealed. This video was produced by Andrew .
Jul 18, 2012
The farm was designed using Permaculture Principles and Keyline patterning. We follow the water system from top to bottom, and then the amazing downstream effects are revealed. This video was produced by Andrew ...
Jan 07, 2013
Online version; The City Forest : The Keyline Plan for the Human Environment Revolution (1971). Online version; Water for Every Farm: A practical irrigation plan for every Australian property (1973) ISBN 0-646-12954-6/ ISBN ...

Hines Farm Blog: Restoration Agriculture by Mark Shepard - New ...
Jan 04, 2013
Permaculturist Mark Shepard in Yellow Springs, Ohio 106 Acre Profitable Permaculture Farm - Interview ... Apr 13, 2011 - 47 min. In this interview we discuss Mark Shepard's 106 acre profitable permaculture farm - New Forest ...

Flattening Wide Boards - Woodworking Shop - American Woodworker

Flattening Wide Boards
You don’t need monster machinery to flatten monster boards.

By Dave Munkittrick

Big, wide boards make my heart race with anticipation. Panels and tabletops are so pleasing to look at when they’re made from a single board. Absent are jarring grain patterns and color changes caused by multiple board glue-ups. And I avoid the hassle of trying to match boards for a uniform, pleasing appearance.

I used to shy away from these beautiful wide boards because I thought I needed an aircraft carrier-sized jointer to flatten them. Over the years, I’ve learned a few tricks that allow me to take advantage of what a wide board has to offer—even in a small shop.

Don’t limit your woodworking to boards that fit on your jointer or planer. Here are four tried-and-true techniques to tackle any size board with confidence.

Power-Plane by Hand

For really wide boards, you’ll have to abandon stationary machines. A handheld power planer is the key to this technique. First, you need a flat surface larger than the board. Shim the board under the high spots so it won’t rock. A cupped board should be set convex side up at first to prevent rocking. Mark all four edges of a wide board with a marking gauge to indicate its high spots (Photo 1). The gauge is just a 2-in.-thick block with a 5/8-in. dowel set in a hole. Power-plane the board down to the marks (Photo 2). Use a set of winding sticks to fine-tune the flatness (Photo 3).

Big, thick planks are best flattened in stages. You don’t want to remove all the wood at once. That’s because removing wood releases tension, causing the board to slightly change its original shape. Remove about 75 percent of the wood you need to take off the first side. Then flip the board and remove another 75 percent. Let the wood sit for a day or two on stickers. Then re-mark and finish flattening the board.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a widebelt sanding machine, you can get the finishsanding done there. For the rest of us, a belt sander, a random-orbit sander (preferably a 6-in. model) and elbow grease will finish smoothing the board.

1. Flatten big slabs of wood in several steps. Place the board on a flat surface and add shims to steady the board. Use a shop-made marking gauge to transfer the flat surface onto the edge of the board.

2. Plane the high spots down to the line using a handheld power planer. First use a lumber crayon to mark the high areas. Skew the planer so the heel rides on the previously cut surface. Cut with the grain to avoid tearout. Check your progress frequently with a straightedge.

3. Fine-tune the flatness of your board using winding sticks. When the two end sticks are parallel, run a third stick back and forth between the two to check for high areas in the middle. Mark any high spots and remove them with light cuts. Check your work frequently

Joint & Hand-Plane

There’s no need to cut an inch or two off a board’s width so it’ll fit your jointer. Instead, remove the jointer’s guard and make a full-width pass (Photo 1). Then handplane the remainder (Photo 2). Now the board is ready for the planer. You may have to repeat the steps to get the whole length of the board flat.

Removing the jointer guard is no casual thing; you must take precautions! Clamp an acrylic guard to the fence to keep your hands clear of the cutterhead. And always, always use a pair of push blocks.

1. You can flatten a board that’s slightly wider than your jointer by removing the guard. It’s just like cutting a giant rabbet: The uncut portion rides over the rabbeting ledge on your jointer. Caution: Secure a temporary acrylic guard over the cutterhead.

2. Hand-plane the uncut strip of wood flush. Skew the plane so its heel rides on the jointed surface of the board. A power hand planer will also do the job.

Rip, Joint & Reglue

If the board is more than 2 in. wider than your jointer, hand-planing is a chore. Try this technique instead: Joint an edge of the board and then rip it on the bandsaw (Photo 1). Joint and plane each board separately; then glue them back together (Photo 2).

To minimize grain interruption at the joint, it’s important to avoid cutting through cathedral patterns. They’re hard to align when the board is reassembled. Follow the straight grain and your joint will be almost invisible.

1. Rip a wide board into jointer-sized pieces on the bandsaw. Make sure the board has one straight edge to go against the fence. Make the cut where the grain runs straight on the board. That way, the joint will be less visible when the board is glued back together.

2. Glue the board together again after it has been jointed and planed. Leave the board a little thick so it can be planed to finish thickness after the glue dries. Shifting the boards a bit may help blend the grain and hide the joint.

Turn Your Planer into a Jointer

Build a sled to hold a wide board steady through the planer (see photo, right). Fasten a stop at the front of the sled to keep the rollers from pulling the board through without the sled. Add a backerboard to prevent kickbacks. Shim under the high spots to prevent the planer rollers from flattening out the board before it’s cut. You’ll find it’s best to position a cupped board concave side up because it’s easier to shim around the perimeter than the middle of a board.

Joint a really wide board with your planer using a shop-made sled. Support the board on the sled with shims and double-faced tape. After you joint one side, remove the board from the sled and plane the second side normally. The sled is simply a piece of 3/4-in. sheet stock. Stops and a backerboard are fastened to the ends to hold the board on the sled.

Flattening Wide Boards

A huge, wide board makes a stunning tabletop. If it won‘t fit through your planer, flattening that board can be a lot of hard work. You could use a belt sander, but it’s much easier to use your router. To get started, you’ll need a large, flat surface, such as a big workbench or a hollow-core door. Lay the board on the bench and place shims underneath the board so it won’t rock. Next, mill two guide boards about 1-ft. longer than your workpiece. Screw or clamp them to the bench top an equal distance apart. Make a sliding carriage for your router from two 1-in. by 1-in. pieces of aluminum angle, and fasten them to two cleats. Install a large-diameter bit in your router and you’re ready to go. Slide the router back and forth on the carriage, then advance the carriage down the length of the board.

Feb 7, 2013

Square Newspaper Seed Starting Pots : MrBrownThumb

Full Article:

When you are in the grips of seed starting season you’re looking around the house for items you can upcycle into seed starting pots. Along with yogurt cups, takeout containers, and soda bottle seed starters don’t forget to dive into the recycling bin and make your own seed starting pots from newspaper. You can roll-your-own seed starting pots from newspaper, but you can also make square newspaper seed starting pots, too.

Making your own seed starting pots from newspaper is an eco-friendly way of starting seeds for your garden. You keep newspaper out of landfills--if you aren’t recycling it--and it is cheaper than buying seed starting pots every year.

Newspaper Seed Starting Pots Supplies

Obviously, you need newspaper to make these seed starting pots. A pen or marker to help you make lines, scissors to score your guide lines, and either tape or stapler.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SQUARE NEWSPAPER POTSCut your newspaper sheets into large squares. It helps if you use a square pot or container to ensure you make the base of your square newspaper pots large enough to hold more than two seedlings. Make your guidelines by drawing lines from the corners of your template pot to the corners of your newspaper. I used a marker to help illustrate this step, but you can use pencil or nothing at all and just make the cuts.

The next step, after you have cut along your guidelines, is to fold the edges of the newspaper sheets in the sequence I have marked. Fold in the first tab, and then fold in the second and third tab. Try to get the edges of tabs two and three to overlap.

Now either staple or tape the three tabs of your newspaper seed starting pot together and repeat the folding and stapling for the bottom of the other side of the pot.

You now have a perfectly square newspaper pot you can use to plant more than one seedling, or you can use these newspaper seedling pots to pot-up smaller seedlings into a pot with more room for their roots to grow.

NEWSPAPER SEED STARTING TIPSAs I mentioned above, you do not need to use a marker to make your guidelines. You can use pencil or nothing at all. Use newspaper printed with soy ink to make your seed starting pots. If you are unsure of what kind of ink is used to print the newspaper you have on hand, pull out any sheets that use color ink and leave those in the recycling bin.

If you have ever started seeds in newspaper pots before you know that after a couple of weeks they can start to fall apart pretty easy. It is best to use newspaper seed pots for seedling you will be transplanting out into the garden soon. You can make your newspaper seed starting pots a little more durable if you use a minimum of four sheets. Finally, when you are ready to plant your newspaper seed starting pots in the garden, pull out the staples or tape you used to hold them in place.

Need more seed starting tips? Check out the tab here for seed saving and seed starting tips. It lists all of the seed starting and seed saving posts and garden videos I have made on the subject. You can also use mySeed Snatcher custom search engine that is exclusively about seed buy, seed starting, and seed saving.

Do you make your own seed starting pots from newspaper?

Inside Story Americas - What fuels the love for guns in the US?

A look at why the debate over gun control is so polarized and travel to West Virginia – a place where shooting guns is a sport that has been passed down over generations – to find out what fuels the love for guns in this country.

Are American people as divided as their politicians? The Newtown shooting, which left 20 school children and six teachers dead, has dragged the issue of gun control back into the national agenda.

For the first time in years, US politicians are discussing serious gun control measures. But millions of people in the country’s inner cities live with the threat of gun violence on a daily basis.

In Baltimore, one of the most dangerous cities in the US, the police have re-framed their ‘war on drugs’ as a ‘war on guns’. We travel to Baltimore to meet those trying to stop gun crime and others who say owning a gun is sometimes a matter of survival.

Land Rush - Why Poverty?

In 2008, the world’s food system began to fall apart. However, threatened with hunger, rich countries have started buying up and leasing fertile tracts of the developing world.

With 60% of all arable land in the world in Africa, this is where investors have firmly set their sights.

In Mali, 75% of the population are farmers, but rich, land-hungry nations like China and Saudi Arabia are leasing Mali’s land in order to turn large areas into agribusiness farms.

Many Malian peasants do not welcome these efforts, seeing them as yet another manifestation of imperialism. As Mali experiences a military coup, the developers are scared off. But can Mali’s farmers combat food shortages and escape poverty on their own terms?

At the time of decolonisation, Africa was self-sufficient in food and exported around 1.3 million tonnes of food every year between 1966 – 70. Today, Africa imports 25% of its food.

Director Hugo Berkeley & Osvalde Lewat
Producer Eli Cane
Produced by Normal Life Pictures

Why Poverty?

Video URL: http://youtu.be/O_pKnP-2mOQ

Witness Green Death of The Forests

Green Death of The Forests is an unusual film. It is both a hard hitting portrayal of the causes and consequences of deforestation in Indonesia, and a film which captures the tranquility and calm of wildnature. It contains no narrative or dialogue and yet helps us understand complex commodity chains.

It was made with a small camera by a single person on a tourist visa, and has beaten much larger production teams, and healthily funded groups to the most prestigious prizes in environmental film-making.

Green needs to be taken seriously. That means it, and the issues it touches upon, need to be studied critically. We hope that this will facilitate the action and thinking that Greenrequires. For it is difficult just to watch it, but what to do requires some thought.

Ecologist Peter Warshall: Enchanted by the Sun - YouTube

Published on Feb 7, 2013

Ecologist Peter Warshall, the previous editor of Whole Earth Review, talks about the enchantment of the sun and the coevolution of light, life and color on Earth.

Related Links:
Peter Warshall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
ForaTv - YouTube
The Long N Foundation

Walking in Beauty
In beauty, may I walk.
All day long, may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.

Beautifully I will possess again.
Beautifully birds…
Beautifully joyful birds…

On the trail marked with pollen, may I walk.
With grasshoppers about my feet, may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.

With beauty, may I walk.
With beauty before me, may I walk.
With beauty behind me, may I walk.
With beauty above me, may I walk.
With beauty all around me, may I walk.

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
lively, may I walk.
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty,
living again, may I walk.

It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

- Excerpt from the Navajo Night Way Ceremony

When Trees Die, People Die - Lindsay Abrams - The Atlantic

Full Article:

The curious connection between an invasive beetle that has destroyed over 100 million trees, and subsequent heart disease and pneumonia in the human populations nearby

The blight was first detected in June 2002, when the trees in Canton, Michigan, got sick. The culprit, the emerald ash borer, had arrived from overseas, and it rapidly spread -- a literal bug -- across state and national lines to Ohio, Minnesota, Ontario. It popped up in more distant, seemingly random locations as infested trees were unwittingly shipped beyond the Midwest.

Within four years of first becoming infested, the ash trees die -- over 100 million since the plague began. In some cases, their death has an immediate impact, as they fall on cars, houses, and people. In the long term, their disappearance means parks and neighborhoods, once tree-lined, are now bare.
©American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Something else, less readily apparent, may have happened as well. When the U.S. Forest Service looked at mortality rates in counties affected by the emerald ash borer, they found increased mortality rates. Specifically, more people were dying of cardiovascular and lower respiratory tract illness -- the first and third most common causes of death in the U.S. As the infestation took over in each of these places, the connection to poor health strengthened.

The "relationship between trees and human health," as they put it, is convincingly strong. They controlled for as many other demographic factors as possible. And yet, they are unable to satisfactorily explain why this might be so.

In a literal sense, of course, the absence of trees would mean the near absence of oxygen -- on the most basic level, we cannot survive without them. We know, too, that trees act as a natural filter, cleaning the air from pollutants, with measurable effects in urban areas. The Forest Service put a3.8 billion dollar value on the air pollution annually removed by urban trees. In Washington D.C., trees remove nitrogen dioxide to an extent equivalent to taking 274,000 cars off the traffic-packed beltway, saving an estimated $51 million in annual pollution-related health care costs.


But a line of modern thought suggests that trees and other elements of natural environments might affect our health in more nuanced ways as well. Roger Ulrich demonstrated the power of having a connection with nature, however tenous, in his classic 1984 study with patients recovering from gall bladder removal surgery in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital. He manipulated the view from the convalescents' windows so that half were able to gaze at nature while the others saw only a brick wall. Those with trees outside their window recovered faster, and requested fewer pain medications, than those with a "built" view. They even had slightly fewer surgical complications.

Environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan attributed nature's apparent restorative ability to something they termed "soft fascination": Natural scenes, they theorized, are almost effortlessly able to capture people's attention and lull them into a sort of hypnotic state where negative thoughts and emotions are overtaken by a positive sense of well-being. Indeed, an analysis of numerous studies in BMC Public Health found evidence for natural environments having "direct and positive impacts on well-being," in the form of reduced anger and sadness.

The effect, it has been suggested, can have subtler effects than a mere elevation of mood. A 2010 study looked at the presence of parks and forests in the vicinity of people's homes and their ability to act as a "buffer" against stress. They ending up finding that the presence of "green space" was more closely related to physical -- in terms of minor complaints and perceived general health -- than mental well-being. While nature wasn't enough to make the participants forget about stressful life events, it appeared to quell their psychosomatic complaints.


Instagram in the O.R.: Hearing Restoration Surgery Live-Tweeted

The increases in mortality identified by the Forest Service study, meanwhile, were more pronounced in counties where the median household income was above average. The disparity highlights what we intuitively know about the presence of trees: In wealthier communities, they increase the market value of homes, while parks in poor neighborhoods attract crime and are thus undesirable. The researchers hypothesize that the rich communities that thrived before the blight arrived thus experienced its destructive effects more potently.

Which is all to say that there is something fascinatingly mysterious about the entanglement of our health with that of nature. The suspicion that this may be so, of course, is seen well outside of the scientific literature on the topic. Maurice Sendak knew it, as he spoke of his appreciation for the trees seen from his window in the final months of his life. 

And Henry David Thoreau, writing in The Atlantic in June 1862, said, "I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least -- and it is commonly more than that -- sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements."

"Wanton Destruction of Our Mother Earth" - Reading Roundup - NYTimes.com

Wasting energy: This NASA satellite image shows how the gas being burned off at the Bakken oil field in North Dakota is almost as bright as the light emitted from major U.S. cities such as Minneapolis-St Paul and Chicago
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Up in flames: A ground flare burns gas at a well near Ray, North Dakota, where about 30 per cent of the natural gas produced is burned as waste
The American shale boom, as seen from space, rivals the electrical output of major cities.

VIDEO NASA captures amazing images of Earth at night

Video Link Location

Speaking of potential water pollution: here’s an incredible view of shale gas production from space (in which gas fields now burn nearly as bright as big cities). Meanwhile, the Times Magazine visits “lucky” North Dakota in the midst of its shale boom.

"Wanton Destruction of Our Mother Earth" many more examples --> Weekly Reading Roundup - NYTimes.com  Great Article! .... Monte

Mark Bittman writes (mostly) about food for the Times Opinion pages, and is The Magazine’s lead food columnist. He is the author of “Food Matters,” which explores the crucial connections among food, health and the environment, and “How To Cook Everything.” His Web site ismarkbittman.com.For more about Mr. Bittman, visit his blog.

‘Homework’ Work Table by Tomas Kral

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Homework table caters to messy people with limited space
If you're working from home, the first thing you need is a good environment in which to operate, whatever the task at hand may be. Lots of space isn't a must, but a solid desk, a comfortable chair, and a distinct lack of clutter are all necessities.

Source Link:
‘Homework’ Work Table by Tomas Kral

Everything Attachments - "Tractor Toy Store"

Tractor attachments, Tractor implements, Skid steer attachments, and Excavator attachments, ...WOW, they have got about everything!  Monte


Ted from Everything Attachments shows us the different types of Everything Attachments garden bedders and how to use them

Related Link:
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"I added two more 12" disks to help close the trench from the original 14" blades. They are mounted 1.5" higher than the inner blades. I took off the sweeps and mounted a PVC pipe for a leveler to smooth out the tops of the beds. The PVC is set to just skim the surface to take out high spots."

Feb 6, 2013

Antique Tractors - America's Heartland - YouTube

Published on Feb 5, 2013
One of the best ways to explore America's rich agricultural history is through the historic equipment that helped U.S. farmers become the most productive in the world. Join us as we experience an antique tractor celebration in northern California. This event features the Best Tractor Company formed by C.L. Best in the 1800s. What's unique about those iron workhorses? Well, the tractor design uses track tread instead of wheels. You'll learn how many ag equipment innovations were later adopted by others, including the U.S. military!

Meet the NRA Leadership

I am a big believer in our second amendment rights, but not in sending money to this radical organization! Check out the facts and the people who run this outfit today!  Disturbing! ... Monte

Meet the NRA Leadership <-- Link To Website

In the increasingly distant past, the National Rifle Association (NRA) largely advocated for policies related to hunting and marksmanship, but today its leaders are defined by unsavory conduct and the advancement of extreme, anti-government ideology. While the NRA innocuously describes itself as the “nation’s oldest civil rights organization,” this portrayal serves only as a smokescreen to mask the fact that the organization is a rogues gallery of the most odious voices in the contemporary Conservative Movement.

One only has to look to the NRA’s leadership to discover that the organization is operated by a group of individuals who promote racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-immigrant animus, religious bigotry, anti-environmentalism, and insurrectionism. Some active NRA board members have even had close relationships with brutal dictators in outside nations. Put simply, members of the NRA leadership no longer make for polite company.

Moreover, while superficially bipartisan, the NRA is closely aligned with the most extreme elements in the Republican Party and has brought a number of the GOP’s most influential operatives into positions of power within the organization. The GOP and NRA are now locked in a symbiotic relationship where Republican legislators advance the NRA’s extreme agenda while the NRA musters its hardcore supporters to serve as attack dogs for a wide range of conservative causes.

This website shines a light on the background of members of NRA leadership, in large part by allowing them to comment on the issues of the day in their own words. It is intended as a resource for those who cherish moderation, civility and principled advocacy in American politics.

Feb 5, 2013

Explore the Grand Canyon with Google Maps - YouTube

Published on Jan 31, 2013

Save some gas and some pain!  Explore 75 miles of Grand Canyon views... Monte

Go to:

An Incredibly Detailed Map Shows The Potential Of Global Water Risks

Amazing opensource tool for assessing 12 water risks (agriculture, navigation, ..., etc.) ... Monte

Aqueduct.wri.org/atlas - Map

In January 2013, the World Resources Institute launched the centerpiece of Aqueduct after a three-year development effort: the Water Risk Atlas. The Atlas uses a robust, peer reviewed methodology and the best-available data to create high-resolution, customizable global maps of water risk.

The World Resources Institute is committed to transparency and open data. The data and methodology behind Aqueduct are documented and available for download. All the products, methodologies, and datasets that make up Aqueduct are available for free use under the Creative Commons CC:BY license.

To learn more about Aqueduct, or provide feedback, please contact our team.

Aqueduct.wri.org/about - About

Aqueduct, a new tool from the World Resources Institute, lets you see all the bad things that might stem from water, from droughts to floods and beyond.

Remember the drought that hit the U.S. in 2012? It was a big deal, even if it didn’t personally affect you. In fact, 53% of the country was dealing with what the USDA calls "moderate to extreme drought" by July. Over 1,000 counties were declared federal disaster areas.

Aqueduct, a new map from the World Resources Institute (WRI), throws the world’s growing water woes into stark relief. "We’re seeing that water and the lack of it is emerging as one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. What’s interesting now is that we’re hearing that concern echoed in the business community and across the world," says Betsy Otto, Director of Aqueduct for WRI.

The world’s water risks. Riskier regions are in red.

The project, created with an alliance of companies including GE, Goldman Sachs, Shell, and Procter & Gamble, is the highest high-resolution map of global water stress available today. It’s also the first water-risk mapping tool to include a layer for groundwater data. WRI’s free map uses 2010 data (the most current data available) to measure a number of categories of water risk around the world: physical risk; variability in available water from year to year, which looks at flood occurrences (how often and how intense); severity of droughts (how long and how severe), groundwater stress, pollution pressure, demand for water treatment, media coverage about water issues (meaning how much attention is given to water in a given area), and more.

"The beauty of the tool is that it allows you to look at individual indicators but richly layers all of those together and aggregates them to give an overall water-risk picture," says Otto. If you’re not sure what layers you want to see, Aqueduct has nine predetermined indicator weightings sorted by industry sector--an oil and gas company, for example, will have different risk factors that it wants to look at than a company in another industry.
World flood risks

"We set the water risk framework to speak to the business community, to the private sector, but we’re getting good feedback that the public sector and NGOs are going to use this information. There’s a dearth of good information globally about where we stand with water challenges, and we’re only going to be able to solve water problems if we bring the public and private sector together," says Otto.
Threatened amphibian species

Otto discovered a number of striking things while putting together the map. Places that haven’t traditionally had high water risks--the East Coast of the United States, the upper Midwest, Europe--now have medium to high water risk. This is because of changes in water demand, withdrawal patterns, weather, and water-supply patterns. At the same time, places where there’s already high competition for water (i.e. India) are at serious risk when combined with annual variability in water. "When thinking about resilience in the face of risk, it’s not just baseline stress, but what the disruptions are that could really wreak havoc," explains Otto.

Check out the map here.

Urgency for Permaculture

Published on Feb 4, 2013
Introduction to Permaculture in the midst of our toxic legacy in the post modern military industrial complex of the United States.How to disentangle ourselves and heal our communities with the power of permaculture.

Center For Bioregional Living: www.homebiome.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/dreiky - more videos

About Andrew Faust / Center For Bioregional Living:
Permaculture educational videos and inspirational philosophical talks by Andrew Faust. Journey into the depths of 4.5 billion years of the collective wisdom of the life matrix and emerge back into the modern mayhem with new insights and a sense of purpose.

Andrew Faust is one smart dude with much wisdom to learn from!  Monte

Feb 4, 2013

Lakes Michigan, Huron sink to lowest level ever | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com

The Great Lakes Michigan and Huron are now at their lowest levels ever recorded, thanks to a drought that now covers 58% of the US.

Our lakes are shrinking, along with our opportunity for climate action. SHARE this if you agree we can't afford to let our waterways drop any further.


Source: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130202/METRO/302020348/1409/metro/Lakes-Michigan-Huron-sink-lowest-level-ever

In the nearly 100 years researchers have catalogued the rise and fall of the Great Lakes, Michigan and Huron have never seen a month like January.

The two-lake system recorded its lowest-ever level for a month, a mean of 576.02 feet above sea level. It's a number that dips below the all-time low for January — 576.12 feet — as well as the all-time low for any month, 576.05 feet in March 1964.

For those who live along or play in the waters of the Great Lakes, the news is disturbing but unsurprising. Each of the lakes has lingered below its long-term averages for years as the region endured drought-like conditions. When the 2011-12 winter produced less-than-expected snowfall and the ensuing spring produced little rainfall, the seeds were sown for records.

Low lakes have meant recreational watercraft running aground, shorelines and beaches expanding as the lakes recede, changing fish habitats and forcing shipping vessels to drastically reduce the tonnage they carry.

The record comes as Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to unveil his 2013-14 budget Thursday in which he's expected to call for $11 million to dredge harbors to keep access to open waters, the Associated Press reported late Friday.

Other steps to alleviate the effects of low water levels will include expediting Department of Environmental Quality permits for dredging projects, pushing for more federal funding and devising a long-term strategy to pay for keeping harbors deep enough for recreational and commercial vessels, according to the AP.

Snyder's proposal would pull the money from a fund overseen by the Michigan State Waterways Commission that comes primarily from motor fuel taxes and supports improvements such as breakwalls and boat ramps, the AP said.

"A lot of people don't realize that lake levels are extremely low," Snyder said in Grand Rapids last week. "It is critically important to tourism and other things in Michigan, in terms of normal business and commerce."

State lawmakers seem to be on board with finding money for dredging. Republicans in the House last week indicated they will consider tapping the state's Natural Resources Trust Fund — which has roughly $500 million — to take on a host of projects that include dredging harbors.

That move would be welcomed by a shipping industry that has lobbied for years to have federal lawmakers free up all of the money available in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. With the lakes bordering, and now crossing, historic lows, the time is right, they have argued.

Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association, has said harbors that go without dredging year after year lose more and more draft over time. And every inch of draft lost means 270 tons of material a ship can't carry.

While Lake Michigan/Huron has seen the worst of it, other Michigan lakes have been consistently low as well:

Lake Superior finished January with a mean water level of 600.36 feet, while its historic low for the month is 588.84 feet set in 1926.

Lake St. Clair's January mean was 572.57 feet, while its historic low for the month is 570.47 feet set in 1936.

Lake Erie's January mean was 570.28 feet, while its historic low was set in 1935 at 568.27 feet.

Lake Ontario finished January with a mean of 244.03 feet, while its historic low of 242.16 feet came in 1935.

The snow and ice that accumulate in the upper Great Lakes during the late fall and winter, particularly in and around Lake Superior, create the runoff that dictates how high levels climb or how low they will sink during the year.

For many Metro Detroiters, the last few weeks of snow and rain may seem to indicate the lakes will rise later this year.

Keith Kompoltowicz, the U.S. Army Corp.'s chief of watershed hydrology, said the weather so far — including the recent string of days with 50 degree temperatures — has been inconsistent.

"It's really been a mixed bag of conditions so far," he said.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130202/METRO/302020348#ixzz2Jy2RWzXe