Posts tagged ‘tomatoes’

Clear Gold

Michigan is proposing build a pipeline to drain 322 million litres of water from Lake Huron. Ontario hasn’t agreed to it yet, because the proposal doesn’t contain assurance that the water “will stay in the Great Lakes basin and be used efficiently.” Since moving water from the Great Lakes sounds a lot like the plan for solving Lake Mead’s problems without addressing the issues of wasted water.

The people murmuring about Water Wars are starting to look less and less crazy as time goes on.

Sarnia solved the issue of water conservation. They raised water prices and imposed watering restrictions, and a miraculous thing happened. “The water is so bloody expensive, that’s why people are not using it,” according to Coun. Anne Marie Gillis. They cut their water down to 81,000 cubic metres/day from the 181,000 it’s licensed to sell. So, to celebrate, they are begging people to waste more water, because the loss of revenue is putting them in the red.

Water is more valuable a resource than coal, oil, or gold. Three days without it and you die. Period. And as we start to watch folks around the world try to deal with their water shortages, it’s probably a good idea to look at our relationship to it. The average American uses 4500 litres of water per day (and I can’t imagine the Canadian numbers are much different—but if you know your food consumption in kilograms, you can calculate your water footprint). It’s not so surprising when you realize that it takes 200 litres to make 1kg of plastic, or that it requires 2-4 barrels of water to extract a barrel of oil from the tar sands. And then, of course, there’s food.

(more…)

August 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm 1 comment

Water water everywhere, and not a drop to…eat

My garden is swimming. Every day I look up at the sky and think, “oh, come on, can’t we have just one day without rain?” I’m fighting a war against fungal diseases on my tomatoes (spoiled milk is an amazing weapon!) because it’s been so cool and wet… and Alberta is becoming a desert.

This year we’re really getting to see what slaves we are to water. We still don’t have corn in Ontario because of the wet cold, while Alberta’s crops are about 2 weeks behind normal because of their drought. For Alberta cattle farmers, that means that rising feed prices are forcing them to sell huge percentages of their livestock because there’s no grass for grazing.

“We’ve had about an inch and 2/10ths (three centimetres) total since the snow left, and we didn’t have any snow,” one farm worker is quoted as saying in a Calgary Harold Article.

Mexico’s water shortage is now an emergency so bad that they’ve announced a 10 month water rationing plan, according to the Latin American Herald Tribune.

“If we don’t act now, both the government and the citizens, we won’t have enough water in the city during the dry season – February, March, April, May, primarily,” Ebrard said, adding that 13 of the metropolis’ 16 boroughs could be completely without water.

Does this sound familiar?

Imagine having to cut your water use by 10% Sunday’s through Thursdays, 25% on Fridays, and 50% on Saturdays (I’m not sure how the math works to get through 4 months even with these reductions). Imagine trying to supply North America with tomatoes etc with those kinds of restrictions.

It’s not just oil prices that are causing food costs to rise. You can’t grow food without water.

Did you know that it takes the same amount of water to produce 2 pounds of beef as to shower every day for a year? Two Pounds.

But we don’t think about the cost of water until things get bad, because the planet is covered in it. Sure, most of it is saltwater, and more and more of it is being contaminated every day, but it’s everywhere. Take Australia, for instance. They’re surrounded. Of course, they learned pretty quickly, as Treehugger points out, that you can’t grow food without fresh water:

Water shortages drop Australia's rice production to almost zero

Water shortages drop Australia's rice production to almost zero

And we can only expect the water crisis to get worse as the earth warms.

More on clear gold this week.

July 29, 2009 at 12:31 pm 1 comment

Handmade Pasta

I don’t have a pasta press, and it’s much lower on my wish list than a pressure canner, but how wonderful it would be to make herb pasta with fresh herbs from the garden! Or spinach/sun dried tomatoes/peppers.

This article on Dave’s Garden makes it sound so easy, I will try to make a batch by hand this summer. The author said his hand crank pasta press only cost him $25, and hand made pasta is cheap to make, while giving you control of the ingredients (all you REALLY need is flour and water). Also, chocolate pasta?

May 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm 1 comment

How To Grow Uber Tomatoes, even when you start them too early

…by using recycled coffee cups to maximize root size. Every year I start my tomatoes in February. I don’t have a south facing window–I am totally reliant on shop lights to help them grow. But instead of being leggy, my tomatoes are crazy drought-proof beasts that take over the world. Last year, my Matt’s Cherry tomato grew about 9 feet wide, and the neighbours had to cut it back just to figure out where the fence was so they could park their car. That’s because the root ball was deep enough to support it. My secret is using recycled coffee cups to help gradually build up the root ball.

Step 1. Get everyone you know (and their office) to collect coffee cups. Sort them by size, because you will want to start with the small ones. Poke drainage holes.
poke drainage holes
Step 2. Remove your leggy tomato seedling from the cellpack (I plant all my seeds in cell packs recycled from past years, because most greenhouses won’t recycle them), and place at the bottom of a small cup. See the first leaves at the bottom? Carefully pinch those off.
remove first leaves
Step 3. Bury the tomato up to where it branches, stem and all. Around the root ball, you can use compost to give it a healthy start, but when you are burying the stem, a soil-less potting mix is best. (I prepare my potting mix by soaking it first, to make sure it has absorbed plenty of water.) This is how deep you should plant it.

Roots will grow out of the part of the stem that you burried, to become part of the ever-growing rootball.
Step 4. When the tomato grows up out of the pot again, remove it from the small cup, put it in the bottom of a medium sized cup, and bury it up to the branch again. (In these stages, you can make a doughnut of compost around the outer edges of the cup, and use potting mix for the rest.)

Repeat until you have a root ball as deep as extra large coffee cup. You can keep moving them up into larger planters, but by XL I run out of space to keep all my seedlings.
XL
Using coffee cups also makes it easy to give away tomatoes to friends and neighbours. Share the heirloom love.

When it’s finally safe to plant everything outdoors, I’ll show you how to use drought-proof planting to make your tomatoes (and other plants) survive between rains without the need for watering.

May 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm 4 comments


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