Social Media as a Homesteading Tool

One of the things I love most about this blog is that I get instant feedback and advice. Yesterday I asked for a source for olive trees and Ginny (thank you Ginny) left a comment with the address of a nursery I did not know about. An hour after reader her comment, I came home with a small Frantoio olive tree. Exactly what I was looking for.

I would never have found this tree without blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep notes on what you’re doing and connect with other like minded people. Should blogging interest you I recommend going with WordPress over Blogger. We’re going to switch over next month. And set a deadline for yourself–blog at least three times a week.

While there are many things to dislike about Facebook (principally that those of us who use it are doing free market research on ourselves), it has proven useful for me on many occasions. I’ve used it to solicit gardening advice, find a place to celebrate a birthday, borrow a guitar and keep up with friends and family. And I’ve learned a lot from what Facebook friends have posted about their homesteading adventures. Yes, the privacy issues are alarming but, having written two books now, our life is public anyways.

I think that it’s healthy to look at new technology critically and to take a break both daily and monthly from all the screen time we seem to accumulate. And I’m not a fan of cell phones, even though I own one. They seem like tracking devices with phone privileges to me. Perhaps some of you will show me the smart use of a smart phone. But I also believe the Luddite path is a dead end.

If you write a homesteading/gardening/cooking/home ec blog, or know of a good one leave a link to it in the comments. And friend Root Simple in Facebook here.

Sources for Interesting Perennial Crops

A fruitless search for a fruiting olive tree caused an existential crisis here at the Root Simple compound. With a few exceptions, most nurseries in Los Angeles cater to the mow and blow set. You’re more likely to find parts for your leaf blower and a flat of petunias than anything worth growing. Good luck finding olives.

In the midst of my frustration I stumbled upon a interesting list, put together by the USDA, of retail nurseries and perennial crop resources. You can view that list here. Here’s three sources I found particularly interesting from that list:

Continue reading…

Genetically Engineered Crops Increase Use of Pesticides

A new study authored by Charles M Benbrook of Washington State University, “Impacts of genetically engineered crops on pesticide use in the U.S. — the first sixteen years,” found troubling evidence that the use of genetically modified crops leads to greater pesticide use. This peer reviewed paper concludes,

Contrary to often-repeated claims that today’s genetically-engineered crops have, and are reducing pesticide use, the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds in herbicide-resistant weed management systems has brought about substantial increases in the number and volume of herbicides applied. If new genetically engineered forms of corn and soybeans tolerant of 2,4- D are approved, the volume of 2,4-D sprayed could drive herbicide usage upward by another approximate 50%. The magnitude of increases in herbicide use on herbicide-resistant hectares has dwarfed the reduction in insecticide use on Bt crops over the past 16 years, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

My two cents about genetically engineered ag:  I’ve always thought the best arguement against GMOs relates to unintended consequences. The novelty of genetic modification, when compared to the slower pace of conventional plant breeding, is a perfect way to generate “black swans“.  This is why I’ll be voting for Proposition 37 which will mandate the labeling of genetically engineered products in California.

Via The Garden Professors.  

The Fine Art of Worm Grunting

For your Monday viewing pleasure we have two videos showing worm grunting in Florida.

Worm grunting is a technique used to lure worms out of the soil to collect as fishing bait. Basically, you take a stick (called a “stob”), pound it into the ground and rub a metal rod (known as a “rooping iron”) against the top of the stob. The deep vibrations are said to mimic the sound of burrowing moles, the natural predator of worms. When they sense the vibrations, the panicked worms crawl to the surface of the soil. (The high population of earthworms in the area profiled, upwards of 1 million per acre, makes grunting a sustainable practice.)

In England, grunting is called “worm charming”. And yes, there are competitions–in Sopchoppy, Florida, Shelburne, Ontario, and South Devon, England.

Kelly adds: Attn: geeks! After viewing, shall we discuss whether Dune author Frank Herbert knew about grunting…er…thumping? Were the Shai-Hulud fleeing even more terrifying SandVoles?