Thursday Jots 4 June 08

Green Miracle or Mirage: Accele-Gro-M
The company has been studying the use of the fertilizer in drought areas, and has seen yields grow from 40 bushels an acre to 180 bushels to 190 bushels per acre, Knight said. Only 8 ounces of the product are required per acre of farmland, and the cost to the farmer is around $8 to $11 per acre, depending on the crop and the area of the world in which it will be used.

NC Says NO to King Coal
Sixty-one percent of the electricity used to power North Carolina homes and businesses is generated by coal-fired power plants. Nationwide, North Carolina is second only to Georgia in its use of mountaintop removal coal.

We Are What We Waste:
Grocery bills are rising through the roof. Food banks are running short of donations. And food shortages are causing sporadic riots in poor countries through the world.You’d never know it if you saw what was ending up in your landfill. As it turns out, Americans waste an astounding amount of food – an estimated 27 percent of the food available for consumption, according to a government study – and it happens at the supermarket, in restaurants and cafeterias and in your very own kitchen. It works out to about a pound of food every day for every American.

China Bans Thin Plastic Bags
“Customers are encouraged to carry their own bags,” an official with the Ministry of Commerce, Men Xiaowei, said in an on-line interview earlier. “It is a ‘habit revolution.’ To limit the use of plastic bags is to protect our environment.”

We Hill Williams Have Had Enough
Our culture tolerates and promulgates stereotypes about Appalachians we wouldn’t stand for a minute about other groups. From Snuffy Smith and The Beverly Hillbillies to The Dukes of Hazzard and Li’l Abner, degrading stereotypes of rural mountain people are abundant. The public is so desensitized to the banjo-playing, toothless stereotype that most of us don’t complain as we would if other groups were ridiculed in this nature. Sure, there are good-for-nothings and ignorant people in the mountains of Appalachia, just as there are in Atlanta or Seattle or Anywhere, USA.

How Does Your Garden Grow (or Not):
Weeds. We hate them because of their success. Left to their own devices, they will out-compete–with absolutely no intervention, special nutrients or coddling–those desirables we work so hard to encourage. What’s a gardener to do, you ask. Answer: Corn Meal. Corn Gluten is a pre-emergent, which is a fancy way of saying that is it is a seed birth-control. Corn meal scattered around an area will keep any seed in that area from growing into a plant. This means a weed seed or a desirable seed. This method is a good option for areas that you plan on planting grown plants in (or for after seeds have emerged–I’m thinking, in my bean patch.)

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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