Bare Bones Biology 246 – Back in the Canyon

We are back, and we have made it down into the canyon for the first time this year, carrying a bucket of smelly stuff that I have been porting around for a whole month to bring to our compost heap. The heap itself has finally collapsed to about half its size when we left. Probably that means it’s finally getting some decay organisms feeding away. The weeds that were there were stiff and dry, but the juicy table scraps I carried in from outside, and then covered over w150213-WinterP-ASC_3868LSsith local dirt, probably brought it to life, even cold as it has been.


I think I said earlier, I’m trying to make sure the things that I grow this year are healthy and sturdy and, much more importantly, that they are good for me to eat. My goal is to be healthy until I die. Good means that they do not contain the kinds of toxins that are likely to be in foods that we buy. Things like pesticide residue, plastics residue, antibiotics residues, hormones, human or dog feces that contain any of the above, nor toxins that the plants breath in from the air, for example if there is fracking nearby.


I try to think about everything these plants take into their bodies, as they grow: from the soil, from the compost that I add, from the air we all breath. So I only use waste materials from organic150308-WinterP-ASC_3775RLSs copyally grown foods, weeds, whatever, that have not been blessed by the plastics or any other industry. Should I, for example, be so foolish as to eat a commercially made hamburger – I do not add the remains to my compost. Only the good stuff goes in the compost.


It’s not easy. For example, my trash can is made of plastic, but as soon as I can find a healthier trash can, I’ll send this one to the final rest of all plastics which I hope will be recycled into something we really need.
I piled on another bucket of refuse this trip, along with a couple more shovels of local dirt, and took a lot of pictures to show you, and posted them or will post them on the blog today. The weather is fine and if it holds I’ll go back again next week and see if I can turn under some of the beans that we seeded last Autumn. Green manure it’s called. I don’t want to mix those beans up with the Heirloom beans that I bought.


When we opened our mailbox containing five weeks’ of mail that was not forwarded because of some obscure rule of the USPO – there were the organically grown seeds that we ordered from Baker Creek – organically grown, non-GMO, heirloom seeds with a short growing cycle. Beans of the original Spanish explorers in New Mexico; tomatoes; kale; and carrots.150213-WinterP-ASC_3880LSs


A neighbor will give us some seedlings of wonderful, sweet little plums that we will plant out by the barn so as not to invite bears into our front yard, and we have seeds from last year. These are Early Wonder Beets, Little Finger carrots, Blue Lake climbing green Beans, Heirloom cucumbers, nine sunflower seeds that are supposed to be fertile, and a bunch of “Drop Dead Red” sunflowers that I realized, after I got them, make sterile seeds. And acorn squash, broccoli, Papaya Dew Melon, Heirloom sweet corn, yellow summer squash, climber beans, bush beans and kale. From Plants of the Southwest we got pinto beans and Apaloosa beans that have been grown in this area for generations.


The seeds were in the cabin, in glass jars to avoid both plastic and the appetites of mice and rats. We brought them back out because there is no heat in the canyon. We will start a few plants indoors, maybe kale first, then tomatoes. Because as you have noticed, all the seed packets say: “after danger of frost has passed” which is likely to be about June.

If ever.


That is more than enough seeds for anyone, and now we will think about which ones to plant where.


This is Bare Bones Biology, a production of and KEOS FM radio, 89.1 in Bryan, TX.

A copy of the podcast can be downloaded at:


Meantime, check out the National Geographic, May 2014. If you don’t subscribe, surely it must be in your library.

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