Bare Bones Biology 226 – Garden Recycled

“Because if I know how it works, I don’t need to be someone else’s victim. I can take care of myself.”   That’s what I said in (Bare Bones Biology 224 and here is your example.

140930-canyon-asc_2120RLSs copy 2The most important things we need to know about how the Biosystem works are described in Bare Bones Biology 225 (, that summarizes the three rules of how life stays alive. Rule number one describes very briefly that the Biosystem recycles all the materials of life, everything except energy, and especially organic macromolecules, such as proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids, and related compounds that make up most of our bodies after water. Organic macromolecules are made by living organisms. That’s why they are called organic. They are recycled as food throughout the Biosystem.

Even more important, we need to understand that the Biosystem is not separate from us and we are not separate from it. In fact, we are a part of the Biosystem, and so are our gardens and other sorts of agriculture. All of our food, water, air and energy comes from the Biosystem. Healthy food comes from healthy gardens that are created using healthy organic materials, healthy water, and healthy air. And of course healthy seeds.

“So what;” you may say. “I just want healthy food, I don’t want to learn chemistry.” This is fine. I don’t blame you. I had to take the course three times before I figured out what they were talking about. But the bottom line is that most of our body (in addition to water) is made of organic macromolecules. Organic macromolecules are put together in cells of organisms using materials recycled from their food. Or they were, until humans learned how to make them.

140924-squash-ASC_1997RLSs copy 2Now humans can “make to order” organic molecules to do various functions outside the human body, and frankly, as a scientist, I doubt very much if most of these compounds are adequately tested to determine what harm they may do inside our bodies. If you don’t want to learn chemistry — then the next best way to protect yourself from unnatural molecules of any kind, is not to eat them. Or drink them. Or breath them. Or touch them.

We do know that most of our foods are treated with pesticides and fungicides and other chemical molecules. The suffix –cide means that it kills – pests, fungi, insects. If the pesticide molecule, or a fungicide, or an insecticide gets into the cells of a peach and you eat the peach, what happens to the molecule? How does the killing agent kill? Does it break down in your body? If the manufacturer of the pesticide tells you it is safe, why do you believe him? Why does it break down? How does it break down? What are the side effects and the waste products? What ends up inside the peach cells that you eat?

What about hormones? For example, the hormones and pesticides you put on your dog’s shoulders or feed to your dog every month. These hormones and poisons can enter into the cells and tissues of the dog. That’s why you put them there. Do you want them in your cells? Your child’s?   Who says they are safe? How do they know? What tests have been run? Are the tests valid?

As individuals, we don’t have any good way to find out the answers to most of these questions, but one thing we know for sure. These compounds are now released into the biosystem and they will continue to circulate in all parts of the Biosystem long into the future. They will eventually be broken down into their components, but it’s Rule Number One of Biosystem function: they will not go away.

The most straightforward way to make sure you have healthy plants to eat is to grow your own plants in healthy soil using healthy water and healthy air.

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

The podcast of this blog can be downloaded at:

Bare Bones Biology 224

Bare Bones Biology 225




Bare Bones Biology 225 – First Frost

And as I said — last time was it? ( If we know how a thing works we can make much better decisions about how to work it.

And now the garden is over for this year ( and we are thinking about how to grow healthy food next year. We are thinking about how Life works to make food.

141007-BackYard-ASC_2272RLSss copyFood is made first by plants and consists of materials that cells are made of, and the energy to do the work. Energy cannot be recycled, but the materials recycle all the time through the Biosystem. Through us. Through the pine tree out my window. How do you think it stands up there? It’s made of very strong macromolecules, and these materials have recycled on the living earth through all the Life of earth.

The first miracle of the whole living earth is that it can use the same materials – rather the subunits, assemble them, take them apart, re-assemble them, over and over and over again, maintaining the balance of all the parts of Life, so that whenever and wherever they are needed, all the basic materials to make a living organism are available in the environment.


Our garden is now ended for this year. And now the “organic matter,” that is, the living things that have died, will recycle their substance to grow another crop of living things next year. Our job is to help this process without causing harm, and to figure out why some gardens grow food that is more healthy than other gardens (that we’ll talk about next week).


Anyone can make a garden. Plant a seed and the garden makes itself. But for us to design a healthy garden in an age of toxic advertising, we do need to understand the very most basic concepts of how Life stays alive. It doesn’t take science to tell us the first miracle of life. That Life recycles the materials of which it is made. So our first question is: “What is Life made of?”


141007-leaves-ASC_2297RLSss copy copyLife on earth is made of cells. Cells are alive, but they are composed of molecules that are not living things. Mostly the molecules that make up cells are five types. Water is one. Without water, nothing would happen in cells, and our gardens would not grow, so water quality is important. The other major parts that cells are made of are macromolecules. Macromolecules are huge (well, huge for molecules) and they are made of smaller molecules that I refer to as micro-molecules. Cells are mostly made of four classes or types of macromolecules: carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids. Carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and nucleic acids are macromolecules that the cells make by stringing together micro-molecules. The micro-molecules are made of atoms, mostly carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. Molecules and atoms are not living things; they are chemicals. All materials are made of atoms, but the macromolecules are made inside of cells and they are made by the cells. These are called “organic” molecules because they are made by organisms.


Every living thing makes it’s own macromolecules that it needs to be alive. Whenever it dies, what is left is a body that is mostly made of water plus organic macromolecules (proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids). These organic macromolecules are then taken apart by some other living thing until what remains is micro-molecules and water that can be put back together to make the macromolecules of another living thing.


When we eat a beet, for example, we digest the beet macromolecules into micro-molecules so that our bodies can put the micro-molecules back together again in the form of human macromolecules, to make more human cells.


The Life of Earth stays alive by using molecules and atoms and micro-molecules over and over and over again. That is why the first miracle of Life is Death, because without death our environment would run out of atoms and molecules that it needs to grow cells. There would be no gardens and no Life.


So, anyone can plant a seed and it will grow itself if it has enough water and micromolecules, but our question is how to understand recycling in a way that will make healthy life in our garden. Next week.


Bare Bones Biology is a production of FactFictionFancy and KEOS radio, 89.1 FM in Bryan, Texas. The podcast can be dowloaded at: