Friday, December 28, 2012

How to Start Your Own Garden Almost Free

How to Start Your Own Garden Almost Free

By Alina NiemiKitchen Garden International

Yes, the economy is in bad shape, I know.  But don’t use that as an excuse for not gardening.  You can take the expensive route and buy everything you need to get started, or you can be resourceful and end up with something that works, for little to no money.  Here are some tips to get you started.

The trellises in the photo above are bed frames, railings, and other items collected from the side of the road. Other people's trash is your free garden!

Contain It
The first thing you need is something to grow in.  Start with the containers your food comes in.  Asceptic boxes, plastic tubs, and plastic bottles, all of which you would otherwise just discard, can all be used as containers to start seeds in.  Add some holes for drainage, some potting mix, and you’re ready to go.

You can also use newspaper pots.  Strips of newspaper wrapped around a cylinder, with the bottoms folded under, aren’t sturdy enough for the long term, but they can be used to start seeds in.  When you transplant them, put the whole thing, pot and all, into the ground or larger container.

Feed It
Fertilizer can be had in the form of compost, which is basically all your waste fruit and vegetable scraps, eggs shells, and some paper.  Vermicomposting, or composting with worms, can even be done in a bin inside your house–tucked under your kitchen sink, for example.

You will reduce the amount of garbage that goes into landfills.  You will get free fertilizer.  You will give life to worms (if you vermicompost).  And you won’t be forced to use chemical-filled soil mixes and fertilizers that are sold in garden and home centers, which may have a detrimental effect on our environment (not to mention your wallet).

Water It
The cheapest way to obtain water for your plants is to collect rainwater.  You can use any container you like.  (Avoid containers that have had toxic or cleaning chemicals in them.)  I’d suggest covering them with screening to prevent mosquito infestation, especially if you’re in an area where mosquito-borne illnesses, such as encephalitis or Dengue Fever, can be a problem.

You can often find discarded 5-gallon buckets from restaurants.  Be sure to clean them out thoroughly before you use them.

Reproduce It
Use what you buy from the grocery store to start more plants. Lemongrass and green onions are easy to grow and will provide you with leaves and stalks both.  Lemongrass leaves make a delicious hot or iced tea.  Use green onions in your salads and sandwiches.

Fresh herbs are commonly sold in grocery stores these days.  Mint and sometimes basil can be started by placing a sprig in a jar of room-temperature water until roots sprout.  Change the water daily and transplant as soon as possible, to prevent rotting.

Trade It
Become a part of an online gardening forum, a local gardening club, or something similar.  Almost all of them have formal or informal seed swapping opportunities.  Trade something you have a lot of, or seeds for something you’ve grown but don’t like, for something new.  It’s also a great way to trade varieties that don’t do well in your climate, for something that didn’t work for someone else in theirs.

Train It
Use found objects as trellises for climbing or sprawling plants, such as pole beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  The back of our little garden plot is lined with bed frames and rails, metal shelving supports, and other things.  All of them were picked up from curbside, thrown out by others.  Even if the metal rusts, it will last several years before it needs to be replaced.

So you see, you can be a cheapskate if you want or need to in your gardening efforts.  But be sure to be generous with your harvest, and share it with your neighbors, friends, and others.  I’ve fed arugula to electric company workers, herbs to neighbors, and cholesterol spinach to practically anyone who passes (since it grows almost without any help from me in our area.)

You’ll be opening their eyes to the pleasures of gardening, introducing them to new taste sensations, and maybe making them a little healthier in the process.  And that way, they might not complain about the toilet tanks, truck tires, and bed frames in your yard that you are using to grow everything with!

I added a post to my blog if you want to see how to use toilet tanks as containers for your garden. They already come with drainage holes, they are rectangular, so you can stack them next to each other, saving space.  And they are deep, so you can grow carrots and daikon in them, too.  See using toilet tanks for container gardening

About the Author
Alina Niemi is a gardener, foodie, teacher, writer, illustrator, and traveler. She is the author of The New Scoop: Recipes for Dairy-Free, Vegan Ice Cream in Unusual Flavors
sual Flavors

On Drug Policy, Europe Shows Us the Money—and It's Ugly


On Drug Policy, Europe Shows Us the Money—

and It's Ugly

December 19, 2012   by Daniel Wolfe & Joanne Csete     
Public Health Program, Global Drug Policy Program

The goal of balanced drug policy was revealed to be more rhetoric than reality with the release of the first set of national profiles on drug-related public expenditure by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

The profiles detail drug-related government expenditures in 30 European countries, finding that on average, spending on law enforcement and public safety greatly outpaced spending on health. Even in countries that position themselves as pioneers of harm reduction and drug treatment, the accounting shows how much policing and punishment are still the priority in Europe’s approach to drugs. In the UK for example, spending on public order and safety was 61 percent of the total drug budget—compared to only 13 percent on health. Belgium reported spending 62 percent of its drug budget on law enforcement, but less than one percent on harm reduction services. Sweden reportedly spent less than a single percent of its budget on harm reduction. Some countries like Austria, Poland, and Romania haven’t even bothered to report figures on their national drug strategies.

As numerous Open Society Foundations partners have detailed in the ‘Count the Costs’ campaigns in Eurasia and Western Europe alike, the drug war is exacting a terrible toll in terms of prisoners taken, productivity destroyed, and people stigmatized and criminalized. The EMCDDA’s summary helps to show the link between these outcomes and national budgets that emphasize too many arrests, too little treatment and counseling, and not enough access to clean needles. Law enforcement will always be part of a balanced approach, but it must not be disproportionately prioritized over support for health-based interventions that can stop HIV infection and help drug users make positive change. Health services not only work better than prisons in many instances, but are cheaper.
For the many countries looking to the EU for pragmatic leadership in drug strategy, this money trail leads to an ugly conclusion: the ‘punish and control’ model is alive and well. European countries have ample evidence that health approaches to drug problems work. Now, they need to fund them.

Original Story: On Drug Policy, Europe Shows Us the Money—and It's Ugly
Source: Open Society Foundations

For Many Cannabis Is An Exit Drug.

Is Marijuana an 'Exit Drug'? 

Study Suggests Some Are Taking It as a Substitute for Prescription Drugs and Alcohol

NORML/ By Paul Armentano

A surprising three quarters of medical cannabis consumers say they subbed in pot for more harmful substances.

Photo Credit:

Three quarters of medical cannabis consumers report using it as a substitute for prescription drugs, alcohol, or some other illicit substance, according to survey data published in the journal  Addiction Research and Theory.
An international team of investigators from Canada and the United States assessed the subjective impact of marijuana on the use of licit and illicit substances via self-report in a cohort of 404 medical cannabis patients recruited from four dispensaries in British Columbia, Canada.
Researchers reported that subjects frequently substituted cannabis for other substances, including conventional pharmaceuticals. Authors reported:
“Over 41 percent state that they use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol (n=158), 36.1 percent use cannabis as a substitute for illicit substances (n=137), and 67.8 percent use cannabis as a substitute for prescription drugs (n=259). The three main reasons cited for cannabis-related substitution are ‘less withdrawal’ (67.7 percent), ‘fewer side-effects’ (60.4 percent), and ‘better symptom management’ suggesting that many patients may have already identified cannabis as an effective and potentially safer adjunct or alternative to their prescription drug regimen.”
Overall, 75.5 percent (n=305) of respondents said that they substitute cannabis for at least one other substance. Men were more likely than women to report substituting cannabis for alcohol or illicit drugs.

Authors concluded: “While some studies have found that a small percentage of the general population that uses cannabis may develop a dependence on this substance, a growing body of research on cannabis-related substitution suggests that for many patients cannabis is not only an effective medicine, but also a potential exit drug to problematic substance use. Given the credible biological, social and psychological mechanisms behind these results, and the associated potential to decrease personal suffering and the personal and social costs associated with addiction, further research appears to be justified on both economic and ethical grounds. Clinical trials with those who have had poor outcomes with conventional psychological or pharmacological addiction therapies could be a good starting point to further our under- standing of cannabis-based substitution effect.”

Previous studies have similarly demonstrated cannabis’ potential efficacy as an exit drug. A 2010  study published in the Harm Reduction Journal reported that cannabis-using adults enrolled in substance abuse treatment programs fared equally or better than nonusers in various outcome categories, including treatment completion. A 2009  study reported that 40 percent of subjects attending a California medical cannabis dispensary reported using marijuana as a substitute for alcohol, and 26 percent used it to replace their former use of more potent illegal drugs. A separate 2009  study published in the American Journal on Addictions reported that moderate cannabis use and improved retention in naltrexone treatment among opiate-dependent subjects in a New York state inpatient detoxification program.

Full text of the study, “Cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and other drugs: A dispensary-based survey of substitution effect in Canadian medical cannabis patients,”  appears online in Addiction Research and Theory. NORML Advisory Board Member  Mitch Earleywine is a co-author of this study.

Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and is the co-author of Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (2009, Chelsea Green).

Read Original Story: Is Marijuana An Exit Drug?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Would You Eat A Biotech Fish?

Would You Eat A Biotech Fish??

By Frankly Speaking
     Ninja Progressive

The FDA paved the way on Friday for approval of genetically engineered salmon saying it did not believe that there will be any health risks to the  people that eat it. They also say there will be no threat to the environment. 

AquAdvantage salmon eggs would produce fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. If it gets a final go-ahead, it would be the first food from a transgenic animal – one whose genome has been altered – to be approved by the FDA.

The FDA says that there is a "REASONABLE CERTAINTY of no harm for consumption.

“With respect to food safety, FDA has concluded that food from AquAdvantage salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption,” the FDA assessment states.

Let's see... these are the same clowns who classify Cannabis as a Schedule One Narcotic and who routinely recall previously approved drugs because they kill too many people.

I think their definition of "reasonable certainty" is a little different than mine is... 

I'll Pass, thank you.