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The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Seriously Saving Seeds

Seriously Saving Seeds

David H.
PostCarbonDesign
Oxford, ME
Post #: 272
I saw a news clip, in which Chicago was trying out the sugar beet mixture on the roads.

http://www.smbsc.com/...­
----
New Haven tries to beet icy roads
By: Amanda Iacone, The Journal Gazette
2-14-2008
Tests sticky mix of veggie juice, salt to melt snow

What?s brown, sticky and made from beets? Oh yeah, it also can melt the snow that coated northeast Indiana roads this week.

The New Haven street department used a new de-icing agent this week called Geomelt, made by Indianapolis-based Road Solutions Inc.

It was the first time the city used the material as part of a winter-long test to see whether the organic substance made from sugar beet juice and other ingredients is a cheaper way to clear snow and ice from streets, Utilities Superintendent Dave Jones said.

For the past three years, Jones has considered using the Geomelt, which he learned about during a street commissioners conference. Both Warsaw and Elkhart use the product, and after checking with colleagues in those cities, Jones decided to buy about 1,500 gallons of the beet-based product this winter.

The city treated its cache of about 250 tons of road salt with the material. Jones hopes to see a few more snowfalls so he can monitor how much salt the city uses and how the juice-treated sample melts the snow.

Below 18 degrees, untreated road salt does little to melt snow and ice. Geomelt is effective to about 20 degrees below zero, which means it should work for most Midwest weather conditions, Jones said.

The material is also sticky, which helps it cling to the road surface. Salt tends to bounce off the road and onto sidewalks and into ditches, Jones said.

That sticky characteristic also ensures Geomelt will stay on roads longer, requiring fewer trips to re-salt and re-plow a road. Fewer trips mean less overtime pay, less wear on city trucks and less fuel consumption ? all of which could save the city money, Jones said.

Geomelt is also less corrosive than salt and can cause less damage to surfaces. The steel truck beds should need to be repaired and repainted less often. The organic material is also more environmentally friendly to waterways and ditches ? where most road salt ends up eventually ? Jones said.

But for Jones, the top priority is finding less-expensive ways to effectively remove snow, and so far, the Geomelt is an added expense. If the city breaks even, using the extra treatment might not make sense, either, he said.

The city paid about $5,000 of 1,500 gallons of Geomelt. But 250 tons of salt cost just $12,000. Calcium chloride, which melts snow and ice at lower temperatures, is about half the cost of Geomelt, Jones said.

Elkhart has yet to see substantial savings from using the product, city Street Superintendent Marty Morgan said.

In the five years Elkhart has used Geomelt, the city cut its use of salt and sand in half from about 1,200 pounds of material per lane mile to a bit less than 600 pounds per lane mile, Morgan said.

If the city could reduce that to about 300 pounds per lane mile, it would begin to save money, he said.

Morgan said one problem is that it?s hard to break old habits and his drivers tend to spread too much material on the ground.

The idea of using the byproduct of sugar beets is spreading to places such as Chicago and Michigan, where the substance comes from, Morgan said.

?We wanted to get ahead of the curve, too,? Jones said.
A former member
Post #: 95
Interesting article, isn't it? All those advantages that save money in the long run and yet they can only look at the price per lane and complain that even if they break even it might not make sense to use it.
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 92
The first paragraph put me on guard right away. We are going to use a substance used for food and ethanol to melt snow? I'm not saying salt and sand is better but there is something seriously wrong with this picture.

I'm sure it is good for the company selling it and it is "green" I guess but beets are first and foremost food. Ethanol producers are cutting into our food supply already. Flour of all types is way up. Malt and grains are up for food, beer, ale, and liquor. Potatoes are next.

Poor people will suffer first in all of this because fuel will be made from staples like corn, rice, potatoes, beets etc. My understanding is they already are and it is going to get much worse. Aid to Africa is on the chopping block. People will die so people can drive cars. A whole bunch of people die then use their land to produce biofuel. Arghh!!

http://wwww.reliefweb...­

http://biopact.com/20...­

We really cannot go after everything "green" with a blind eye. In the case of ethanol the cure is as bad as the disease. Maybe much worse.

On a pleasanter note, Honda is about to release a decent hydrogen car.

http://automobiles.ho...­
David H.
PostCarbonDesign
Oxford, ME
Post #: 273
I completely agree about the priority of food.
Of course the production of these crops for bio-fuels and such, are not being grown organically....for sure these crops are the products of intensive petro-chemical agriculture...so we really never leave the fossil fuel paradigm even though we perceive are intentions as "green".
A former member
Post #: 97
I understand that the deicing product is using the juice that is left after the sugar has been extracted.

I agree with the posters who feel that biodiesel fuel is not a good answer to our fuel problems in the long run. I have watched documentaries that show what a disaster it has been for the poorest of the poor now that some countries are beginning to grow crops for fuel rather than food. Of course the whole NAFTA/CAFTA problems fit in here also. And then, as mentioned, the energy and pollution of growing the fuel crops must be considered.

As is well known Willie Nelson is pushing biodiesel. He was on Democracy Now the other day and he stressed that to "work" it MUST be grown, processed, and used locally. That may work out for the farming states, but I doubt that we could raise enough soy beans here in Maine to meet even a small part of our energy needs.

Spending three and a half billion per week on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and borrowed money and that) and next to nothing to solve our energy problems, something that really should be causing us to be fearful rather than George Bush's "bad guys".
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 94
A Global Need for Grain That Farms Can?t Fill
By DAVID STREITFELD
Published: March 9, 2008

LAWTON, N.D. ? Whatever Dennis Miller decides to plant this year on his 2,760-acre farm, the world needs. Wheat prices have doubled in the last six months. Corn is on a tear. Barley, sunflower seeds, canola and soybeans are all up sharply.

?For once, there?s great reason to be optimistic,? Mr. Miller said.

But the prices that have renewed Mr. Miller?s faith in farming are causing pain far and wide. A tailor in Lagos, Nigeria, named Abel Ojuku said recently that he had been forced to cut back on the bread he and his family love.

?If you wanted to buy three loaves, now you buy one,? Mr. Ojuku said.

Everywhere, the cost of food is rising sharply. Whether the world is in for a long period of continued increases has become one of the most urgent issues in economics.

Many factors are contributing to the rise, but the biggest is runaway demand. In recent years, the world?s developing countries have been growing about 7 percent a year, an unusually rapid rate by historical standards.

The high growth rate means hundreds of millions of people are, for the first time, getting access to the basics of life, including a better diet. That jump in demand is helping to drive up the prices of agricultural commodities.

Farmers the world over are producing flat-out. American agricultural exports are expected to increase 23 percent this year to $101 billion, a record. The world?s grain stockpiles have fallen to the lowest levels in decades.

?Everyone wants to eat like an American on this globe,? said Daniel W. Basse of the AgResource Company, a Chicago consultancy. ?But if they do, we?re going to need another two or three globes to grow it all.?

In contrast to a run-up in the 1990s, investors this time are betting ? as they buy and sell contracts for future delivery of food commodities ? that scarcity and high prices will last for years.

If that comes to pass, it is likely to present big problems in managing the American economy. Rising food prices in the United States are already helping to fuel inflation reminiscent of the 1970s.

And the increases could become an even bigger problem overseas. The increases that have already occurred are depriving poor people of food, setting off social unrest and even spurring riots in some countries.

In the long run, the food supply could grow. More land may be pulled into production, and outdated farming methods in some countries may be upgraded. Moreover, rising prices could force more people to cut back. The big question is whether such changes will be enough to bring supply and demand into better balance.

?People are trying to figure out, is this a new era?? said Joseph Glauber, chief economist for the United States Department of Agriculture. ?Are prices going to be high forever??

Competition for Acres

At a moment when much of the country is contemplating recession, farmers are flourishing. The Agriculture Department forecasts that farm income this year will be 50 percent greater than the average of the last 10 years. The flood of money into American agriculture is leading to rising land values and a renewed sense of optimism in rural America.

?All of a sudden farmers are more in control, which is a weird position for them,? said Brian Sorenson of the Northern Crops Institute in Fargo, N.D. ?Everyone?s knocking at their door, saying, ?Grow this, grow that.? ?

Mr. Miller?s family has worked the Great Plains for more than a century. One afternoon early last month, he turned on the computer in his combination office and laundry room to see what commodity prices were up to.

?Oh, my goodness, look at that,? Mr. Miller said. Barley was $6.40 a bushel, approaching a price that would tempt him to plant more. Soybeans were $12.79 a bushel, up from $8.50 in August.

The frozen earth outside was only a few weeks from coming to life, but Mr. Miller was happily uncertain about what to plant. Last year, the decision was easy for Mr. Miller and everyone else: prices of corn were high because of new government mandates for production of ethanol, a motor fuel. This year, so many crops look like good bets, and there is so little land on which to plant them.

?I?m debating between spring wheat, durum wheat, canola, malting barley, confection sunflowers, oil sunflowers, soybeans, flax and corn,? Mr. Miller said.

The biggest blemish on this winter of joy is that farmers? own costs are rising rapidly. Expenses for the diesel fuel used to run tractors and combines and for the fertilizer essential to modern agriculture have soared. Mr. Miller does not just want high prices; he needs them to pay his bills.

Until recently, he could expect around $3 a bushel for his wheat ? far less than his parents and grandparents received, when inflation is taken into account. Consumption in the United States was dropping as Americans shunned carbohydrates. The export market, while healthy, faced competition.

Now prices have more than tripled, partly because of a drought in Australia and bad harvests elsewhere and also because of unslaked global demand for crackers, bread and noodles. In seven of the last eight years, world wheat consumption has outpaced production. Stockpiles are at their lowest point in decades.

Around the world, wheat is becoming a precious commodity. In Pakistan, thousands of paramilitary troops have been deployed since January to guard trucks carrying wheat and flour. Malaysia, trying to keep its commodities at home, has made it a crime to export flour and other products without a license. Consumer groups in Italy staged a widely publicized (if also widely disregarded) one-day pasta strike last fall.

In the United States, the price of dry pasta has risen 20 percent since October, according to government data. Flour is up 19 percent since last summer. Over all, food and beverage prices are rising 4 percent a year, the fastest pace in nearly two decades.

The American Bakers Association last month took the radical step of suggesting that American exports be curtailed to keep wheat at home, though the group later backed off.

If all this suggests a golden age for American growers, it could well be brief, said Bruce Babcock, an economist at Iowa State University. He predicted that farmers would do their best to ramp up production, possibly to the point of pulling land out of conservation programs so they could plant more. ?Give farmers a price incentive, and they?ll produce,? he said.

The Agriculture Department forecasts that world wheat production will increase 8 percent this year. In the United States, spring and durum wheat plantings are expected to rise by two million acres, helping to drive prices down to $7 a bushel, the government said.

Yet the competition among crops for acreage has become so intense that some farmers think the government and analysts like Mr. Babcock are being overly optimistic.

Read Smith, a farmer in St. John, Wash., thinks a new era is at hand for all sorts of crops. ?Price spikes have usually been short-lived,? he said. ?I think this one is different.?
David S.
stereoview
Washington, ME
Post #: 95
His example is plain old mustard. Two years ago, Mr. Smith would have been paid less than 15 cents a pound for mustard seeds. As more lucrative crops began supplanting mustard, dealers raised their offering price to 20 cents, then 30 cents, then 48 cents early this year. Mr. Smith gave in, agreeing to convert up to 100 acres of wheat fields to mustard.

Mr. Smith said it was inevitable that supermarket mustard, just like flour, bread and pasta, would become more expensive.

?We?ve lulled the public with cheap food,? he said. ?It?s not going to be a steal anymore.?

Bread to Be Had, for a Price

As the newly urbanized and newly affluent seek more protein and more calories, a phenomenon called ?diet globalization? is playing out around the world. Demand is growing for pork in Russia, beef in Indonesia and dairy products in Mexico. Rice is giving way to noodles, home-cooked food to fast food.

Though wracked with upheaval for years and with many millions still rooted in poverty, Nigeria has a growing middle class. Median income per person doubled in the first half of this decade, to $560 in 2005. Much of this increase is being spent on food.

Nigeria grows little wheat, but its people have developed a taste for bread, in part because of marketing by American exporters. Between 1995 and 2005, per capita wheat consumption in Nigeria more than tripled, to 44 pounds a year. Bread has been displacing traditional foods like eba, dumplings made from cassava root.

Nigeria?s wheat imports in 2007 were forecast to rise 10 percent more. But demand was also rising in many other places, from Tunisia to Venezuela to India. At the same time, drought and competition from other crops limited supply.

So wheat prices soared, and over the last year, bread prices in Nigeria have jumped about 50 percent.

Amid a public outcry, bakers started making smaller loaves, hoping customers who could not afford to pay more would pay about the same to eat less. Sales have dropped for street hawkers selling loaves. With imports shrinking, mills are running at half capacity.

At Honeywell Flour Mills, one of the largest in Nigeria, executives were glued one recent day to commodity screens. The price of wheat ticked ever upward. ?Even when you see a little downturn, you wait for some few hours or a day, and before you know it, it?s gone way up again,? said the production director, Nino Albert Ozara.

Despite the crisis, there is little sense of a permanent retreat from wheat in Nigeria. The mills are increasing their capacity, hoping for a day when supply is sufficient to stabilize prices. ?The moment you develop a taste, you are hooked,? said a confident Muyiwa Talabi, director of an American wheat-marketing office in Lagos.

Mr. Ojuku, the man who buys fewer loaves, and one of his fellow tailors in Lagos, Mukala Sule, 39, are trying to adjust to the new era.

?I must eat bread and tea in the morning. Otherwise, I can?t be happy,? Mr. Sule said as he sat on a bench at a roadside cafe a few weeks ago. For a breakfast that includes a small loaf, he pays about $1 a day, twice what the traditional eba would have cost him.

To save a few pennies, he decided to skip butter. The bread was the important thing.

?Even if the price goes up,? Mr. Sule said, ?if I have the money, I?ll still buy it.?
francesco s.
user 3227838
Portland, ME
Post #: 18
Have you seen those flyers attached to SUV's and oil trucks? It states "... our interconnectedness of starving and malnutrition children in the U.S. (yeah, right here in Portland), rising prices in food, increase in lung and other types cancer from carbon dioxide and other toxins, out of control asthma, degradation of parks, oceans and rivers, the massive disappearance of animal and plant species, sprawl and malls and parking lots oh my, the homeless population, lack of $ in public education and other social services, rising prices for heating fuel, insufficient public transportation, runaway greed and excess especially among people with a whole lotta cash, deep despair, fear and desperation that leads to suicide and violence (domestic and international) and steep health care costs, climate crisis, billionaires who sell weapons and pills like expensive candy, our future, oil and gas demand, and the understandable anger among people all propagated and perpetuated by the mass media moguls who steal and control the "crack" they offer us and continually sustained and sponsored by us. Do you have enough free will to see your connection to the rest of the world and how most of us are slaves or do the thought police have you chained to your illusory cocoon? The transition from the cocoon will be painful (I know, I don't like pain either) but well worth it for all of us. Think: mass happiness." The title of this is "Are You Really Happy?"
A former member
Post #: 138
I mentioned in an earlier post that I am experimenting with some seed saving this year. The leek I planted is growing like crazy and the parsnip is growing well also. I became impatient with the carrot and pulled it up - little roots are starting to grow and I replanted it. The onion and the shallot have not sprouted yet. I also put a little patch of green onions in that I plan to pull at the end of the season for next years planting and hopefully seed production. Parsley will go to seed next year as well.

I've saved bean seeds for years, but I plan to be more particular this year and choose the best plants. I didn't have room for scarlet runner beans this year but I planted a few to keep my seed viable as I have found that bean seeds are very short-lived.

One of the Roma tomatoes I started was just heads and shoulders above all the others. It is already starting to flower as well! So I put that one in a special place and I will save seeds from that one.

I also planted a little corn patch, and I mean really little - a 10 cent seed package from Renys with 19 seeds in it.smile I planted it in a block and hope it will be enough to pollinate itself. If they grow I will leave the best ear to go to seed.
A former member
Post #: 140
Was up the road a bit to some people that have quite extensive green houses. They are growing for Slates this year. She had a tray of sweet corn starters in the green house. I was surprised! I had half thought that I'd like to start my little 12 plant corn patch in flats because the soil is like bricks of clay and decided 'oh for god's sake, that is just plain silly to start corn in flats!'. Well apparently not so at all!

I did start things I would have never dreamed of starting, turnips for example. It gave me some control in my little experimental garden, though perhaps if it goes well it will be the way to go. We are entering a new age of discovery. What things from our elders are worth holding onto, and what have we "young'uns" got to add (I'm 67 smile}.
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