March 15th, 2011 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Many consider sustainable farming a boutique industry, unable to compete with conventional farming and produce enough food to supply populations outside their local communities. And that pesticides and modern food processing technology is the only way to meet the world’s demand for food.
But Mark Bittman, New York Times contributor and author of The Food Matters Cookbook, claims advances in sustainable farming now make it a viable solution to world hunger. He also points out that today’s industrial farming practices aren’t the savior they appear, citing record highs in the global food price index. And that conventional farming takes too heavy a toll on the environment.
Read More:Can Sustainable Farming Really Feed the World’s Hungry?
May 18th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Grass is like any other living entity: It requires nutrients and regular meals to grow.
The following guide from Scotts, a company known for numerous organic gardening products, will help you maintain a healthy lawn.
Think of fall as breakfast for your grass: the most important meal of the day.
Many experts say fall marks the single most important lawn feeding of the year, with one exception: Southern grasses, which benefit from fertilization during the June–July rainy season.
Feeding right before the winter months gives grass the nutrients it needs to recover from summer damage and increases nitrogen storage for early spring.
Spring feeding is the lunch that strengthens roots, getting them off to a good start before the heavy growing season.
If you’ve had crabgrass in the past, now’s the time to apply an organic combo: fertilizer and a pre-emergent weed killer.
By late spring, grass is busy growing and using up stored energy.
If you’re bothered by dandelions and other emerging weeds, use an organic weed and feed combination product that provides your lawn with nutrients and helps control broadleaf weeds.
If your lawn has only a few weeds, use an organic liquid spot-weed treatment. And if weeds don’t bother you, a dinner of lawn food will continue to maintain grass health.
Heat, drought, foot traffic and insects can stress out your grass. Your lawn may appreciate a snack to help protect and strengthen it.
If weeds or bugs don’t pose problems, you can substitute an application of straight lawn fertilizer for any of the meals on our menu.
Photo courtesy of Scotts
Read More:A Seasonal Guide to Feeding Your Lawn
May 6th, 2010 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Here’s the secret to good business – actually, it’s not really a secret – make more money than you spend.
That’s why farmers in Mindanao, Philippines are raving about organic banana farming. They’re making more money – cha-ching!
Farmers have switched from chemicals to compost to fertilize their crops, doubling their income.
One farmer said the compost improves water retention, keeping the soil moist even when there’s no rain in sight.
Plus it helps that the city banned the aerial spraying of fertilizers; health risks prompted the move.
Sure, this is exactly the kind of news you want to here, but you got to wonder if it is profitable on a grand scale – for example, in the United States.
It’s entirely possible.
Even though most bananas consumed in the U.S. aren’t grown domestically, the government could still provide tax breaks and incentives for U.S. companies growing organic foods abroad.
These cost savings could be used to offset any unforeseen costs. Remember, less expenses mean more profit – cha-ching again!
Image credit: Australia’s Coral Coast
Read More:Organic Banana Farming is Very Profitable in the Philippines
March 24th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
While a cup of coffee can get you moving each morning, a java jolt is also a great pick-me-up for your organic garden.
You can use coffee and tea byproducts as a slow-release fertilizer and key compost ingredient. Thinly dispersed coffee grounds serve as a soil amendment that puts nutrients back into the ground.
Here are some tips for getting “grounded”:
- Add coffee grounds (including filters) and tea bags to compost piles to create a rich, all-natural source of energy for plants.
- Dilute with water to make a fast-acting fertilizer.
- Use in soil for houseplants or in vegetable beds.
- Some gardeners believe coffee grounds can help repel pests, such as snails and slugs.
- If your garden needs more nitrogen, turn to coffee. Nitrogen is essential for leaf development.
- Plants that thrive in acidic soil—think pines, evergreens, blueberries, raspberries, roses, azaleas, gardenias, ferns, rhododendrons, lily-of-the-valley and marigolds—can benefit from coffee grounds, which slightly lower soil pH.
- Feed coffee grounds to garden worms. Worm excrement and the aeration provided by tunneling worms work wonders in the garden.
Read More:Give Your Garden a Coffee Break
July 20th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
I have friends who are vegan—I’m sure you do too—and most of them are pretty ardent about it, which is great. If you’re going to do something, go all the way with it.
But this might be taking it a little too far. Farming with no animals involved, not even poop! That means no manure fertilizer.
Using poop seems totally natural to me, but for the Vegan Organic Network, it’s got to be totally animal-free.
The vegan agriculture movement promotes farming methods that involve no “animal inputs” which excludes many common kinds of soil-enrichments, such as fish meal, bone meal, manure or the remains from slaughterhouses.
That seems a little weird to me. I don’t know about the other stuff, but using animal poop is perfectly natural and it doesn’t hurt the animal. They have to poop! So why not use it? That’s where I think vegan farming is a little kooky.
But this part is cool. Since it’s an organic movement, it involves no artificial chemicals or pesticides. The group says the overall approach is for the well-being of humans, social justice, animal welfare, biodiversity and environmental sustainability.
This is all well and good, but you have to show poop some love!
Read More:What is Vegan Organic Farming? It Means No Poop!
June 23rd, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
I have to admit. I never heard of Marion Nestle before. Turns out, she’s a foodie and a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University, as well as an author of many books, such as Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health.
Marion also writes a column for The San Francisco Chronicle and in her latest article, she answers some questions about organic food. Here are a couple good ones:
Q: What is the difference between “100% organic” and “organic”?
A: Organic has a precise meaning under the USDA’s organic program. Certified 100% Organic means that all the ingredients in a product have been grown or raised according to the USDA’s organic standards, which are the rules for producing foods labeled organic. Certified Organic requires that 95 to 99 percent of the ingredients follow the rules.
What, exactly, are those rules? Summarizing what’s in hundreds of pages in the Federal Register: plants cannot be grown with synthetic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, genetic modification, irradiation or sewage sludge.
Q: Which is worse: eating nonorganic produce full of pesticides or not eating produce at all?
A: Research demonstrates substantial health benefits from eating fruits and vegetables. Although I wish we had more definitive research, these benefits appear to greatly outweigh any risks of pesticides.
If you want to compromise, you can save your organic dollars for the foods most likely to be high in pesticides. These, according to the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org), are peaches, nectarines, apples, bell peppers, strawberries, cherries, pears, raspberries, imported grapes, celery, potatoes and spinach.
In contrast, foods that you peel – onions, peas, bananas, sweet corn and tropical fruits, for example – tend to be low in pesticides.
Read More:Q & A with Foodie Marion Nestle…
May 30th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
A few weeks ago, we talked about creating a flavorful organic landscape, even in small spaces.
To maintain garden health, water new plantings frequently enough to keep soil moist, but not too wet. Experts advise adding a layer of shredded leaves, evergreen needles or other organic material to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and moderate soil temperatures.
By mid-summer, give your plants a boost with a slow-release, organic nitrogen fertilizer like Milorganite, which meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s Exceptional Quality standards. Even on hot, dry days, the product won’t burn and will remain in soil until your plants need it. Milorganite encourages growth, without interfering with flowering and fruiting.
Photo courtesy of ARA
Read More:Organic Garden Helper: Milorganite