Thursday, February 13, 2014

Climate Change.....gee great!

The Wild Bird Diner will remain open despite the winter weather!

Welcome back to this week’s edition of Lost In The Farmer’s Market, and indeed it is rather cold and the once majestic green fields of Fayetteville are covered in a blanket of wretched winter oppression. Translated to English snow and ice to a depth of at least 3” at last measure making this one of the oddest winters I’ve ever seen in Fayetteville. I’ would imagine when all is said and done on Thursday evening we might have as much as six inches in this winter storm for a total of 8.5” thus far. This means unfortunately there will be some garden damage. Your cold-weather plants might be fine but expect losses. Fortunately this storm started with powder snow and is following with sleet or frozen rain making it a good insulator for field crops. That same trait makes it a nightmare for vehicles and thus the roads will be completely treacherous. I don’t think I have to tell you to stay safe out there and avoid driving unless you absolutely must but well I kind of just did anyway. Also, remember your plumbing in weather like this, it is better to spend a little to leave the taps dripping so the pipes do not burst under your house then to spend hundreds getting a burst pipe fixed.

Ok, I never thought I'd see this in NC.....ever.

Winter gloom aside, we know with every passing day it gets closer to spring, and so there is something to look forward to.  This week’s ice and snow draped episode continues the critical conversation regarding terminology in the agriculture field. Now, we know for a fact that the term Organic has been the subject of debate both legally and socially. Much like the different levels of genetically modified organisms it can be said that the levels of organic are as problematic because the pundits tend not to indicate a difference. On the extreme end some claim it’s organic because the label says so and don’t bother to ask any questions. On the other end you have folks like the Oregon Tilth who actually produce stringent organic standards and guidelines in the middle you have an organization like the Organic Materials Research Institute who exists to get tested products labeled and accessible.
For you, it is now a matter of deciding how stringent you want to be. Is a label good enough or perhaps do you want to know more? The issue is that the label ‘organic’ has been under assault for many years by corporate interests who only see the term as a big cash cow. Recently Wal-Mart went organic….but where are their organics even coming from? What system of verification and assurances do they use to keep their product clean? The issue is simply that we do not know, but we do know Wal-Mart didn’t do it out of the kindness of their heart; they did it to cash in as they have with every begrudging change they have made to date. These are the same people who are still fighting against the minimum wage and having women as mangers, and executives. These are the same folks who constantly try new ways to break the labor laws. Monsanto is much the same…except they make no secret that they would love for you to be a slave to their product, terminator seed anyone?
I digress on corporate sin, because I think it fair to state how I define the term organic.  Well first off, let’s keep in mind the realities of field operations, having a budget and labor limitations. According to the test gardens as they currently stand organic is anything produced in soil that has not been enriched with peat moss, receives regular enrichment by way of onsite-composting operations and is irrigated by means of rainwater collection system. Also, the use of chemical based fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides are barred in the instances involving crop production. The exception here is noted in problems with wasp nests in access areas and fire ant encroachment and poison ivy. In all cases precision application of chemicals with limited or no environmental impact are used because in these situations the presence of the noted issues pose a direct human health risk. I may add that plants are always grown for in their natural season and off season alternatives are used to maintain good crop rotation practices. Lastly as part of proper sustainable procedure the planting plans are oriented to the use of longer-season plant species or perennials with full integration of genetic preservation techniques to ensure the purity of production materials from GMO incursion. In short…it’d better be verified as clean before I’d ever consider it.

A night shot of the first day of snow this week as the moon briefly penetrated the winter sky.
The Fayetteville City/Farmer’s Market occurs every Saturday from 9:00 AM through 1:00 PM. The market is located at 325 Franklin Street in the parking lot of the Fayetteville Transportation museum. Since we are a year-round operation you can expect there will be fresh foods available at the market and as always yours truly is always prepared with garden advice and great plants. Here is a list of what will be coming to the market this week.

Southward Skies: A northern guide to southern Gardening
This is the second edition of my book, which was published using data compiled from several years of test garden operations. It’s written to aid gardeners of all skill levels in successful garden methods that are targeted for the south east but had proven to be a valued resource for gardens across the eastern coast. It’s certainly a good gift for that gardener you know or for yourself if you’d like to have a reliable field guide. The book costs $25.00 and we do take checks for this item, you can even have it signed.

Black Magic Fertilizer
That’s right you’ve heard about it in trials all summer. This specially formulated liquid fertilizer was made and tested at the test gardens using natural ingredients and no chemicals. The result explosive growth, great harvests and of course no environmental side effects! We’re making batches of this stuff to order, at $6.00 per gallon of fertilizer. You can either order it at the market and pick it up the next week or have it delivered to your home in the Fayetteville area for a delivery charge of an additional $2.00.

Fresh Cut Herbs
Bundles of Fresh Rosemary, short stem ($1.00)
2x Bagged Lavender ($2.00)
2x Bagged Eucalyptus ($2.00) – Last of year-
1x Bagged Santolina ($2.00)

House Plants
6x Holiday Cactus ($3.00)

Garden Plants
1x Stone Head Cabbage Plant 0.5 gal pot ($3.00)
1x Savoy Cabbage Plant 0.5 gal pot ($3.00) 

Winter to hell with that...

So this concludes the third LITFM Episode of February, hopefully all of you are not suffering any cabin fever from our vaguely insane weather. If so…remember, friends don’t let friends reenact The Shining. Until next week, Keep ‘em Growing!

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