Links April 2014

April 18, 2014

Economic and environmental news:

Technology news:

Imperial news:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/04/the-monster-on-the-hill/ This is written by Uri Avnery, a warmonger who poses as a peace activist, and a person who I truly despise. But this article is brilliant, pointed, and enlightening. (Good, that I didn’t read the authors name before reading the analysis, otherwise my prejudices would have gone in the way of the appraisal).
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/local/survivalist-expo-draws-preppers-from-around-the-country/article_980faf22-bc44-11e3-a759-001a4bcf6878.html About the US-American mindset. (Preppers will succumb a few hundred days later).

Inperial conquest news:

Everything else news:

This post is published because it rains and I cannot work in the garden. The rain is very welcome, because the winter was mild and dry (one could have called it as well a prolonged autumn) and there was no snow or any other precipitation except the morning dew.

From March on I worked in the garden preparing everything for the moment when it finally would start raining. I was convinced that rain would arrive and rescue the plants, all of my activity was geared towards the great moment when the first raindrops would reach the thirsty soil.

Because of the drought I had to water the plants in the first two weeks of April. Irrigating in the garden is a very laborious and time consuming task and watering just the most important plants takes nearly four hours, time that I rather would have liked to use for other tasks.

The reorganization of the garden is nearly completed. I created a stripe which is a small potato field and four new beds for general use. There are only two small patches of meadow left. The biggest one of the new beds is home to nine new blueberry bushes, some sedum colonies as ground cover, and moss that I fetched from the forest. I put also four tiny peach tree seedlings into this bed.

Last year a friend gave me a basket with peaches that were from a wild peach tree which he discovered on his farm. The peaches were a bit greenish and harder than the cultivated ones but nevertheless eatable. They were not especially delicious but I liked them. I saved all stones and put everyone in a flower pot on the balcony. Eight of them developed into little seedlings and they have been now transplanted to various locations of the garden to become one day great peach trees.

Yet, though there are high expectations for the future, my present peach-outlook is grim. A few weeks ago I discovered that all four peach trees and one nectarine tree were infected with leaf curl, a devastating fungal disease which causes red blisters and deforms the leaves — it looks terrible. Once the symptoms of leaf curl are visible, nothing can be done against it, the disease will take its course no matter what.

The five year old peach tree had this disease already last year and he didn’t produce any fruits. A small three year old tree was completely healthy and produced 33 wonderful fruits, really great for such a young tree. I was very proud of my peach tree friend. Two other newly planted peach trees didn’t bloom but they were healthy and I was appreciative for this season to get lot of peaches.

Now I have to scale back my high expectations and I would be already glad if I could cure the three young trees. The prospect of curing the two old trees were not great so I had to cut them down.

Beside the peach leaf curl disaster there was also a second blow which dampened my spirits this spring.

The spawn of a toad who was born in the garden pond and grew up in the garden is again not developing into tadpoles. I neglected the pond last year because I was busy with reorganizing the garden and creating new beds. I also had lost interest because the pond was occupied by dragonfly nymphs, which had whipped out all other animals in the pond. Dragonflies may look interesting, but the nymphs are ugly and they are merciless predators.

As the dragonfly nymphs had also killed all the little snails and other beneficiary water animals which feed on algae, the algae bloomed and became a severe problem. In the end the algae bloom led to an oxygen deficiency which killed also the dragonfly nymphs. This is how nature works. If the population of an invasive species explodes, the particular ecosystem breaks down, eliminating everything including the invasive species to allow a fresh new start.

Are humans an invasive species?

Right now I try several methods to reestablish a balanced pond environment but the little toad had its own plan and laid her spawn strings into the water just as I started with my treatment. The eggs got instantly covered with algae and did not develop. I can only hope that my dear toad friend will try it once more next spring. I would be so glad if I could watch the tadpoles swimming around in the pond.

I had this toad already two times in my hand, one time when I met her on the path along the house wall and she became confused and didn’t find a suitable cover, the other time when I caught her hiding in a pile of old planks. Both times I grabbed the toad carefully with a paper tissue and carried her to the raspberry hedge which is very dense and a great hideout for little toads.

I have voiced my sympathies for toads already in earlier posts and I’m not alone with my preferences. Last year Reverend Billy (William Talen) and his church of Stop Shopping (aka the Golden Toads), performed in the Manhattan branch of JP Morgan Chase Bank as a protest against the companies policies. They were wearing toad like hats at this occasion.

Billy was arrested and faced one year in prison for that stunt but fortunately the charges were dropped one week ago.

Back to the garden work:

I have put a lot of onion and garlic bulbs into the new beds and the glasshouses are full of pots with various other seeds of herbs and vegetables. A few spinach and broccoli plants are out in the open beds. The broccoli is doing fine but the spinach is severely decimated, not by snails but by big beetles which are quite active now. I will not plant any more spinach, because chard has just the same nutritional composition and is far less vulnerable. All chard is doing fine here, it is frost tolerant, many chard plants survived the winter and can be harvested right now.

Chive and ramson are growing fast and can be also harvested since the start of April.

The two with leave curl infected trees were not the first ones that died this year because already in March I ended the life of a huge pine tree which had no less that four tree tops.

The wood of this pine tree will heat the house for at least one year. The tree was some 16 meters high and it had at the bottom a radius of 46 centimeters. I cut the wood logs in 30 cm pieces and split them with a hydraulic log splitter, the pieces are now piled up in three stack around the garden. The wood has to dry at least one year before it is used.

pine tree cut DSCN3021

This is expensive firewood though because I paid some 400 Euros for the logger who cut down the tree and for another worker to assist me with processing the logs and branches. The logger was a highly qualified man who climbed up the tree and cut it down from the top in pieces of one meter length.

This was the only possible method to remove the tree because simply cutting it at the bottom would have jeopardized two nearby houses and there was no place to which the tree could have fallen without damaging installations in the garden or my house or the neighbors house.

The action took nearly three hours and all the time the logger operated the chainsaw with only one hand while holding on to the tree stem with the other. When he had finished the job he was visibly exhausted. I don’t know anybody else who would have been able to do this job, and he really deserved the 200 Euros that I paid him.

pine tree cut DSCN3027

I always had a special relations with trees and they are one of my favorite plants. I consider them as my friends. This tree was approximately 70 to 80 years old, older than the house and older than me. It grew up unfortunately in close proximity to a fir tree. The fir tree is beautiful and majestic, it is even higher than the pine tree was. As the two trees grew bigger decade after decade, they competed for sunlight and hindered each other. The fir tree was stronger and the pine in the last years looked not good anymore because the branches opposing the fir had become scraggy and had lost their needles.

I pondered about this problem already for two years and the decision to cut the pine didn’t come lightly.

pine tree cut DSCN3030

I didn’t kill the tree completely, I have left a three meter high stump standing with the lowest branches intact and I hope that the crippled tree will live on and get new sprouts and branches. I covered the biggest wounds with a special paste and put a coper plate on top of the stump, that is all I can do for my poor tree friend.

As I wrote before, trees are most times not cured, when they get sick, they are killed, Trees are defenseless, they cannot run away, they cannot defend themselves against the chainsaw massacres that are ongoing all the time.

The mentioned three trees were not the first which I have assassinated. Last year I cut down a big birch tree, a dozen thuja trees when I replaced a thuja hedge against a hornbeam hedge, and a wild cherry tree that was in the way when I unearthed and secured an old and nowhere documented cesspool (I had discovered the cesspool while cultivating a new and until then unused area in the garden).

All kind of little trees (birch, beech, ash, oak, larch, pine, spruce, fir, and others) are coming up in the garden. The seeds are carried by the wind from the surrounding forests. Most times I let them grow up to a heigh of two meters and then either put them on a place where they are not in the way or cut them. As I have planted many new fruit trees in the last two years, there is no space left for other new trees in the garden and the trees babies that come up now will all have to die one day.

I feel sad and guilty again about killing my friends, the trees. Feeling guilty seems to be one of the constants of my life and all the time I’m working to make good on the many misdeeds (real or perceived) that I committed. But that is another story and a private one which will not be published here.

This is the reality of our human existence. Whatever we do, whatever step we take, we are competing with other species and we are destroying lives. I don’t buy the ironic argument of meat eaters, that “carrots feel pain too,” yet there could be indeed some kind of consciousness in plant species. Many people claim, that talking with their houseplants makes a difference, and I had the same experience with the plants in my garden. Last year I adopted an old strawberry plant which seemed to be withering away but when I focused my attention on it and talked to it the plant started to flourish again and delivered wonderful fruits. It has survived the winter and I think my little strawberry will live another year.

I don’t know how this talking with plants could work. Maybe the plants can detect the smell or the electromagnetic fields of the body, maybe the sound waves make the leaves vibrate, or some other signaling is happening that we don’t know. Human knowledge is very limited indeed.

It is time to close this post. The music of the falling raindrops together with the purring of the cats will accompany me into sleep. It has rained for days now, exactly as I had hoped. All the rain barrels are full and the soil is soaked, the plants will have enough water for weeks.

When the rain ends, I will continue to work in the garden, seeding, planting, transplanting, weeding, watering, and digging in the dirt all day long. It would be so much easier to buy all food in the supermarket.

It would be so much easier to just gratefully accept the offerings of the food industry and of industrial agriculture.

The cats are fine except Gandhi Jr., who apparently was involved in a fight and was bitten by another animal. He had to take antibiotics for a week (what he really didn’t like) and he is still limping, but he will recover completely.

Gandhi hiding DSCN3010 Gandhi hiding DSCN3017 Gandhi kitchen DSCN2693

“Don’t dare to laugh because I’m hiding every time a visitor enters the house. You are a big animal and  you can defend yourself against the visitors, if you would be a small cat like me, you would be hiding too!”


  1. I like what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve included you guys to my blogroll.


  2. Aw, this was a very nice post. Taking a few
    minutes and actual effort to generate a superb article… but what
    can I say… I hesitate a lot and never seem to
    get nearly anything done.


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