The cost of growing your own food

Initial investment in gardening is, however, worth the price in the long term
By Catherine Whitnall
Growing your own food - 2As part of a three-part series on food security, reporter Catherine Whitnall wrote last week about the cost of eating when using the new Canada Food Guide. This week, she looks at the cost of growing your own food.
Before the advent of grocery stores and markets, people really had no choice but to grow their own food.
In the past decade, though, a growing number of people have been turning back to the land to supplement their grocery shopping.
For some, it gives them peace of mind knowing where and how their produce is grown. For some, it’s a way of reducing their grocery bill. For many, it’s a combination of both.
In the grand scheme of things, it makes sense.
“The big difference is that we know what’s in that plant and where it comes from,” said ecosteward Robbie Preston.
For those looking to garden at home, it’s a good idea to do a bit of math and research before committing, say Preston and fellow ecosteward Judy Kennedy.
The first thing is to check what is “readily available.”
“You need to look where the sun is going to be for the best part of the day,” said Preston, citing logic. “Plants don’t grow very well in the shade.”
The next step is to “stick a shovel in the ground and see what’s there.”
Soil that has a high clay or sand component isn’t terribly conducive to growing.
“If you don’t have good soil, nothing will grow,” he said, logically.
The best idea, adds Kennedy, is to construct garden beds instead.
This is where the math comes into play.
“A four-by-eight (foot) area is totally serviceable,” said Kennedy, noting it’s not so wide that the plants can’t be reached by hand.
Many people make the mistake of constructing gardens that are too wide, resulting in having to physically walk into the growing area — which can be detrimental unless pathways are included — which is a waste of growing area.
Frame and raised bed gardens also offer the advantage of heating up faster than the ground, boosting grow time, added Kennedy.
Ideally, the frames should be constructed by rough cedar. Most lumber supply businesses sell the boards, but people can save a few dollars by purchasing from area sawmills. Not only does cedar last longer — up to 10 years versus three years with pine or spruce, according to Preston — but slugs won’t crawl up the wood.
Cedar is a little more expensive than pine or spruce, though. Constructing one very basic cedar garden bed — not including screws — would cost and average of roughly $60 versus $35. Never use pressure treated wood, as the chemicals will leach into the garden.
The big cost comes in filling the beds.
Buying a good triple-mix soil from a local retailer to fill one garden bed could cost as much as $170. A bag of coir (coconut fibre) or peat moss would add roughly $8. Some of this cost can be reduced if the natural soil is decent for growing, as it can be partly blended with the triple mix.
The upside is that once the bed is filled, it only needs to be topped up in subsequent years.
“Every two years you will have to add about 15 per cent more,” said Kennedy.
Both Preston and Kennedy agree that natural products are the way to go.
“They can be a little more costly, but they work so much better and are better for the environment,” said Kennedy, who uses coir, which is better than peat moss for its slow-release properties and is renewable.
While it is more convenient to visit a greenhouse or retailer to buy plants, Kennedy prefers to use seeds.
“They may take longer, but they’re cheaper and they’re not sprayed with neonics that are hazardous to bees,” said Preston, noting Ontario Seed Company products are best as they have already been climatized. “You also know what you’re getting.”
Kennedy adds a few dollars in seeds can potentially yield 100 plants. She generally starts her seeds in containers in her home, using recycled fruit containers since they have openings for oxygen and work like greenhouses when closed. The only thing she adds, other than water, is a little vermiculite for extra nutrient support.
Those looking to start gardens can also access area Seed Savers Collectives such as the seed library operated by the Nourish and Development Foundation in Cannington.
The seed library provides “free and easy access to viable seeds so that as many people as possible are growing their own organic food and to encourage and enable people to save seeds through awareness, education, and community celebrations aimed at reviving seed saving culture.” Seeds are available at all three Brock Township public libraries.
Anyone with a Brock library card can take seeds for free to plant in their garden and, in return, save some seeds to bring back to the library for other community members to use. Seed libraries focus on lending organic, native, heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. Seeds returned from successful plants help grow Nourish’s collection and help cultivate seed stocks best suited to the local climate and promote seed sovereignty.
When it comes to planting, Kennedy recommends creating one-foot square “patches” that can be plotted out using chalk line or heavy string, available at most dollar stores. People should keep a diagram of what they’ve planted so they can “rotate” their crops as not all plants use the same nutrients from the soil and actually give something back.
“So one essentially makes food for the other,” said Kennedy.
She is also a big fan of companion planting, which can help with pest control, pollination, provide a habitat for beneficial creatures, maximize use of space and increase crop productivity.
For example, onions grow well beside beets, carrots, Swiss chard and lettuce, but not beans or peas. Peas grow well with carrots, cucumbers and radishes, but not garlic or onions. Potatoes like beans, corn and peas, but not tomatoes.
While it’s nice to be able to “walk outside and five minutes later it’s in the pot,” Kennedy notes her four garden beds produce more fruits and vegetables than she actually needs, saving her hundreds of dollars each year. Her basement still holds a variety of canned and preserved items from last year’s harvest.
“I’d have to say it cuts our grocery bill by at least 50 per cent, if not more,” said Kennedy.
All she needs is a few chickens and a cow … but that’s a whole other story.

(source: )

The folly of conspiracy theories

By Andrew Hobbs

For many, many years, ever since their happenings in 1969, the space landings have been the source of outrageous conspiracy theories and accusations, made by outrageous people and theorists, going out of their way to prove the moon landings never happened and, in some cases, they are completely absurd and clearly have not been thought through like they should have been. On the other hand, some of the theories and conspiracies these unique individuals have come up with seem like the theorist has spent their whole lives devoted to arguing that the moon landings never happened by completing crazy, unneeded calculations and arguments that, while they are impressive and persuasive at first glance, have some pretty obscene weaknesses.

In November 2018, Stephen Z. Nemo from Communities Digital News wrote an article regarding a poll run in Russia, The United States, and Britain. The poll says that of the American population, 7% of people do not believe that men landed on the moon in July 1969. That percentage seems relatively small, however, the poll was also conducted in Britain and Russia. In Britain, the poll states that nearly 52% of citizens do not believe that the United States put men on the moon, and that percentage climbs to 57% in Russia, that percentage including Vladimir Putin himself, Russia’s current president. What theories and conspiracies have been created and presented that, when looked into by the average citizen, persuade them that the moon landings were faked?

An example of one of these outrageous buffoons is the late Bill Kaysing, a scientist and person in charge of calculations at RocketDyne Rocket Engines, as well has holding security clearances with the United States Air Force and the Atomic energy Commission. Kaysing held this position up until a few years before the first manned landing on the moon when he resigned in 1963. Mr. Kaysing is seen as the father of the moon landing hoax theory, and is worshipped as a god in the eyes of moon landing conspiracy theorists. Kaysing wrote and published his book, We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle, in July 1976, less than 4 years after the last manned landing on the moon. In that book, Kaysing makes ridiculous claims attempting to back up his thesis, being that America wasted the money and never actually landed on the moon.

One of Kaysing’s biggest shortfalls in his claim, however, is that, despite having an entire 206 page book to fill with empty thought and evidence, he relies on one claim, and that is that America, nor the rest of humanity, possessed the technology needed to land men on the moon. Now, most people might look back and be like, “Yeah, that is a good point, we were not very technologically advanced in the 60s and 70s”, but let us look deeper into this empty claim. Humanity as a whole as advanced hundreds of thousands of miles in the last present decade in terms of technology and new ideas. Kaysing resigned in ‘63 and the first launch for a man to land on the moon was not until the middle of ‘69. Kaysing also relies on a calculation that he conducted in early 1962, where his math shows that there was a 0.02% chance of humans landing on the moon when they did, but how come that could not have changed? When Kaysing resigned in 1963, away went his security clearances, causing him to not ‘be in the loop’ any longer with what was going on, so how come a lot of different advancements could not have been made in that 6 year time frame? Or even the seven-year time frame from when he produced his original calculations of the probability of landing on the moon? While Kaysing was a brilliant man in his field, he did not quite think through his reasonings of why, “there is no way we landed on the moon,” when writing his books on the topic.

For an example of a theorist with too much time on their hands, presented to you is The author of’s, Various other Apollo Image Anomalies, where the unnamed author and an internet alias named NiteCaty TRY to say that the moon landing footage, along with the pictures, were faked and were actually filmed/taken in a studio in Hollywood. Now, there are a lot of theorists that believe this statement is true, however this unnamed author and NiteCaty are truly, with all sincerity, a new breed of buffoon. This pair of moon hoax theorists take the reported angle of the horizon on the moon, (recorded by the International Space Station), and the angle of the horizon from Earth, and compare it to the pictures take of the sunrise by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong while they were on the moon, and attempt to say that the horizon of the moon is actually 0.1 degrees off, stating that the moon landings, and the corresponding pictures, were faked. 0.1 degrees. An opinionated statement on what NiteCaty did in their calculations, and what the unnamed author double-checked, is not even necessary to explain how absolutely bogus their statements are. In their joint article, there are some other calculations that give slightly more leniency, however they are all done with the same process. The same bogus process.

Let us just assume that these two are onto something in their research and highly extensive calculations. In order to be able to make these kinds of calculations, they needed some background information, and some of the needed information was included in their findings, but not one of the biggest: they never took into account the curvature of the lens, or, the time of year that the pictures were taken. Those are arguably the two most important pieces to the research, and they are completely overlooked. If one does not already know, the cameras sent to the moon with the astronauts were, obviously, not the cameras that are available to the public today, but instead had a very large curvature on the lens, providing a larger field of view, allowing the astronauts to acquire larger photos in order for scientists to more easily analyze in the labs. Also, depending on the time of year, the Earth and the moon are in different positions in relation to each other, this alone, rendering the research done by these two theorists practically useless, and just like their predecessors work, an empty thought.

Now, while these are only two examples of the many, many, conspiracies and conspiracy theorists surrounding the moon landings from 1969 to 1972, they are perhaps the strongest in terms of claim on one hand, and who created it on the other. The basis of all of the theorists work, and all of their findings, seem to always be the same; that being, the largest pieces of evidence and/or pieces of their overall research, being left out and merely overlooked. It always seems that every conspiracy theorist is not a theorist at all, but merely a producer of empty thoughts and research, just hoping to find a way to argue on part of their behalf.

(source: )