Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year in Review: Let's Get Data Heavy


Crops harvested:

Icicle radishes (10) 2lbs
Cassava 60lbs
Kohlrabi (18) 13.5 lbs
Radishes (21) 1.5 lbs
Endless Salads (10lbs?)
Turnips + their greens (13) 8.4 lbs
Peas 4 lbs
Beets (7) (0.5lb)
Cauliflower (3) 7 lbs
Broccoli (7) 10.1 lbs
Sweet Potatoes 120 lbs
Papaya (15) 26.25 lbs
Florida Cranberry calyxes 1.5 lb.
Bananas (17) 5 lbs.
Lemons (8) 3.5 lbs
White guavas (5) 2.5lbs
Wild Grapes 4lbs
Sugar Cane 20lbs
Beans 15lb
Tomatoes 3 (.5 lb) [TOMATO FAIL!]
Strawberries (dozens) 2lb?
Blackberries (dozens) 1lb?
Blueberries (handful) .5 lb?
Carrots 10lb

Total weight of food harvested: 331.75 lbs

Estimated Egg Count (Chicken and Duck): 2000-2500


1 Jujube
1 Apple (from a rootstock cutting)
1 Everbearing Mulberry
8 (at least) Loquats
1 Hachiya Persimmon
2 Peaches (from seed)
5 Pecans (from seed)
5 Figs
1 Tung Oil Tree
5 Pomegranates (4 from cuttings)
1 Black Cherry Tree
1 Chaste Tree
15 Moringa Trees
50 Cassava plants
50 Sugarcane plants
5 Papaya trees
1 Blood Orange Tree
1 Calamondin Tree
5 Citrus (from seeds)
2 Lemon Trees
3 Simpson Stoppers
7 Goumi Berry shrubs
10 Silverthorn shrubs
1 Chinese Chestnut
1 Raspberry
10 Banana Trees
4 Plantain Trees
4 Blueberry Bushes (from cuttings)
Senna Alata Trees (Many - from seed)


Built/Dug 13 new garden beds
Acquired (3) old hot tubs for a new aquaponics system
Acquired (1) Country Living Grain Mill
Added (2) rainbarrels
Converted goat run into a large chicken run
Built high-capacity clothes line
Created sprinkler irrigation system for garden beds
Acquired and repaired tiller
Acquired a StoveTec Rocket stove for emergency cooking
Acquired an egg incubator
Acquired a large stainless sink for butchering/washing


Total Posts: 109

Survival Plant Profiles Created: 11
New Videos Posted: 9

Top Posts:

Film Review: Back to Eden

Response from Mayor Dyer on "Illegal Garden"

Video Interview with Jason and Jennifer Helvenston

Cassava: King of Staples

August Natural Awakenings Article (on Toxic Manure)

Survival Plant: Sweet Potatoes

Extreme Composting III

Survival Plant: Shepherd's Needle

Survival Plant: Bananas

Orlando Gardener Fights to Keep His Front-yard Garden


Articles for "Natural Awakenings" Magazine: 12
Articles for "The Marion Gardener:" 11
Articles for Mother Earth News: 1
Articles for local extension office: 1


Overall, a pretty good year... especially considering that my spring garden was mostly destroyed by Aminopyralid-contaminated manure (I'm looking at you, tomatoes!).

The numbers on crops are approximate, since many things were eaten in the garden and never made it to the scale to be weighed. We also didn't bother weighing most of the salads we consumed - or the edible weeds we mixed into stir-fries. Additionally, the fruit trees aren't yielding much of anything yet, since we've only been on this property just over two years. Chill hours last winter were poor so the blueberries also failed to crop well at all... and the blackberries were also smitten by evil toxic manure.

As for the blog, since its official re-launch on August 30th, we've gone from getting a handful of visits a day to averaging over a hundred. Thank you all for stopping by and contributing your thoughts. Gardening - even survival gardening - is much more fun when it's shared.

Have a wonderful New Year - 2013's gardening is going to rock!

-David the Good

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why Does this Terrify Me?

Is it because I like dirt that this nerves me out?

Or is it because this:

...kind of reminds me of this:

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Friday, December 28, 2012

On the Value of Foraging

Two days ago I had the rare pleasure of meeting noted Florida forager Green Deane in person. His website (to which I also link on my sidebar) is a treasury of information on Florida's wild edibles.

How did I meet him? I took one of his classes. In it, Green Deane conducted a foraging tour through the Jervey Gannt Recreational Park in Ocala. It was a small group, consisting of myself, two of my children, and three other weed-eaters.

As I pulled up to the dead monoculture of the park... seeing grass, tennis walls, playgrounds, oaks, magnolias, pines and concrete I thought, "No way is there much to eat here. No way."

I was wrong. Green Deane introduced us to sow thistle, chickweed, oxalis, wild lettuce, smilax and wild mustard... as well as explaining how to find sweet acorns that require less processing, medicinal plants for asthma and memory, how to use hawthorn berries and a host of other interesting tidbits. By the time our four hours or so was up, I was seeing food everywhere. Though I'd known some of the plants were edible, I didn't realize how many there were - or in what places they might be found. He even found a paw-paw seedling growing near the sidewalk. I have looked for those trees for years without spotting one.

Seriously - I thought I was good at plant ID. This man is phenomenal.

In the case of societal collapse, these skills will be vital. Get an idea of what plants grow near you - and if your garden gets ransacked or you have to bug out, you'll still have sources of calories and nutrition.

There's a lot of overlap between what I'm doing and what Green Deane does - many of the plants he finds in the wild would be notable additions to edible food forests and other Florida polycultures. I added a few new species to my yard after Green Deane revealed their palatability.

After seeing the incredibly bounty of food available in a rather boring recreational park, I feel a bit like someone that's been told there's oil beneath their doublewide. I'm used to gardening and getting plenty that way - but the back up that's available is amazing.

Do your research now. Take a class. It's worth it - and it's delicious.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why Double-Dig?

Here's a good explanation:

I've double-dug multiple beds over the last year. Though it's a total pain, those beds are much more productive than those I started without double-digging. They even beat my raised beds with perfect soil mixes - even though the double-dug beds are mostly sand. Go figure. It grows me more food, so I do it.

Incidentally, isn't that some amazing dirt in the video? I wouldn't mind having some Wisconsin soil - without the Wisconsin weather. Sadly... I believe one creates the other. There's nothing like a good rest under ice and a nice rot-down of vegetation to build humus.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making Compost Tea

Here's one method:

Here's another video on the value of compost tea. Giant freaky awesome veggies!

Last fall, I filled a trashcan with pulled weeds, leaves, some chicken manure, straw and a bit of dirt... filled it the rest of the way up with water, then let it rot for a while. I then dipped into that water and fed my plants in the greenhouse throughout the winter. They did quite well, though the smell... my gosh... it was amazing. (I think I need to market it: Dave's Fetid Swamp Water (TM)).

Incidentally, you're supposed to keep air in the mix in order to encourage the friendly and less dangerous aerobic bacteria - but hey, who can fault a guy for sending a little love over to the anaerobic side once in a while? Watching these videos made me start a new batch... and it stinks already. This time I threw in some yogurt, kefir, sugar, urine, compost, leftover water from cooking beans and mustard greens, ashes and a bit of epsom salts. YUM!

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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! Check Out What's Happening Right Now

It's about time I post some pictures of what I'm growing. So here are some shots Rachel took just a couple days ago. Lots happening, despite the cold. Hurray for Florida!

 Fava beans!

And now for some aerial views:

Anyhow... feel free to celebrate the birth of the Savior by doing some garden work... I'm sure He'll approve. After all... one of the first things God did on earth was create an awesome garden. Heck yeah.

And with that - Merry Christmas, one and all. Thank you for stopping by and making this blog much more fun than it has any right to be.

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Monday, December 24, 2012


This was a photo I just discovered from our spring garden... lettuce, radishes, carrots, dill and parsley.

All I need is some bacon in my garden and life would be complete.

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Annual Sparr/Anthony Christmas Parade

I have no idea who's putting this parade on, but it's marched through my neighborhood for the past two years (and probably some years before that... I bought my place in '10). I suppose things can't ever become too bad as long as humanity keeps pulling off ridiculously fun things like this:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chicks In the Bathtub!

Friday, December 21, 2012

December Broccoli

Just in time for the end of the world!

My wife took this picture this morning. We've had great luck with the brassica family over the last two years. Our spring, fall and even winter plantings have all been quite rewarding.

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Timely Tips for December

Here's this month's column for the "Marion Gardener," a little later than usual. Enjoy.

Timely Gardening Tips for Marion County (December)
David Y. Goodman
UF/IFAS Marion County Master Gardener

Merry Christmas, green thumbs!

Unlike our poor sad friends up north, we don’t have to worry about “White Christmases” and all that nonsense here in Marion County. No… here Christmas is a time of cool nights and sunny days… and ongoing gardening. I grew up in South Florida, where it’s always green, so the multiple freezes and brown grass up here took some getting used to – but it’s a lot better than living further north, where snow, drizzling rain and weeks of grey skies drop your dopamine levels into the basement of despair.

If you have a greenhouse or a sunny window, December is a great month to start sprouting sweet potatoes. Toothpicks, a healthy tuber and a jar of water are all you need to get going. Poke three or four toothpicks into a sweet potato at about 1/3 of the way down from the end with the stem scar/little eyes on it. Then use those to suspend it into the jar, and fill it with water so at least half the potato is submerged. You may have to change the water occasionally if it gets nasty, but that’s part of the fun. In a few weeks, sprouts will appear. When they get 2-3” long, break them off and stick them into some soil. They’ll root and the potato will continue making new sprouts, sometimes for months. In fact, you can just about plant an entire bed from one good potato in the window. By March, you ought to have plenty of little vines ready to go.

Another thing you can do this month is create new garden spaces. The weeds grow really slowly during the winter and the weather outside is perfect for working. I like to use this season to double dig new plots, build raised beds and clean up and mulch around my dormant trees and shrubs. Don’t wait until spring to get rolling – it’s better to get things pretty and functional now before the rush to plant starts.

Ever start trees from seeds? Though they don’t come true to type, many trees will produce wonderfully even without being a named variety. I’ve started pecans, peaches, persimmons, loquats and other attractive trees around my yard – for free. Many seeds and nuts that fall to the ground late in the year need a time of chilling to sprout – and that time is now. Soak acorns, chestnuts, pecans, hickory nuts, black walnuts and other seeds in water for a day or two, then pick a spot in your yard (or use a pot) to plant them. The chill of winter should initiate germination them and in spring, you’ll have baby trees popping up. I’m experimenting with mixed nuts from the supermarket this year – why not? At $3 a bag, I’ve nothing to lose – even though I know some varieties will be out of our growing range. Interestingly, trees that start from seed often have faster growth and stronger taproots than those which are bought and transplanted. It will take a long time for them to bear this way – but who knows – you may end up with something really cool. If you’ve got a scientific streak and like to experiment, this is a cheap way to satiate your inquiring mind. (Though you might want to mark where you’ve planted things so you don’t accidentally decapitate your seedlings during a spring mowing!)

Enjoy the chill air – and enjoy celebrating the Nativity with your family, friends and plants.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Extreme Composting IV: Humanure Project in Haiti

Very interesting - this organization is taking potentially dangerous human "waste" and turning it into an asset in Haiti.

Dr. Sasha Kramer, SOIL's Executive Director, wheels humanure compost in to a presentation at the Karibe Hotel in Port-au-Prince.

They're also having fun doing so. I wish them the best. I don't see much hope for Haiti, but sometimes little changes can add up. Changing sanitation practices seems to be a great way to start.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Presentation At This Year's Master Gardener Christmas Party

The content in my speech definitely does not reflect the views of Marion County Master Gardeners... of the University of Florida... or indeed any sane person in the state.

But I did have a lot of fun. And some of what I said was serious. See if you can pick those bits out. Heh heh.

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Off-Grid Refrigeration

I definitely think a larger pot would be better, but this video is a great introduction to the power of evaporative cooling. It might just save your meat supply in a power outage. Worth some experimentation.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Why You Should Grow Your Own Food: Reason 3

Because your back yard (or front yard!) produce won't give you digestive problems, cancer and a wrecked liver:

What the heck, Monsatan?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Survival Plant Profile: Bananas

One of the most beautiful plants. Grow it.
In South Florida, bananas will produce year-round. Since they're non-seasonal, your goal should be to plant a big patch of them so you're getting new fruit for cooking and fresh eating on a regular basis. In the northern half of the state, frosts and cold will take a big chunk out of your yields. That's not to say it isn't worth planting bananas there - it's just going to be less reliable than some other plants. Like collards or even a weed like Bidens alba. Of course - bananas taste better than both of those, so heck with it. We're gonna grow them anyway - because that's what we mad horticulturalists do.

Most of us know that modern bananas are seedless. They weren't that way originally, but over time we bred the seeds out of them. (Interestingly, there is also an alternate theory on where the fruit came from.)

Now we can only propagate most banana plants by dividing off the pups. That's not good for genetic diversity, but it is good for getting consistent results.

I know. You've seen this before. This, incidentally, is the south wall of my house. ZONE 10!

Let's assume you've got a little baby banana plant that someone really nice gave you. When you plant that in your yard, it will start to grow into a big banana plant. Quickly if you water and feed it... slowly if you don't. Beneath the ground, a bulb is growing. As the first "tree" gets bigger and bigger, little pups will generally start growing alongside it. Leave at least one there - you're gonna need it.

When your original banana has successfully created a certain number of leaves, it will then flower and create a lovely stalk of bananas. Watching the bud unfurl and young bananas peek out is like magic. The first rows are all female, meaning they'll be your fruit... and then after those have all appeared, the bud will continue to descend and reveal male flowers. The bananas take a long time to ripen, in my experience. At least four months or more. (This is bad if the tree decides to bloom in the fall... and you get frost in your area. I have one in my side yard doing that right now. It being December, those poor bananas are going to freeze right off unless I can find a way to protect them.) When the fruit turn yellow - or start to - you can cut the entire cluster off the tree and bring it inside to ripen completely. Plantains are a higher-starch variety of banana that are used for cooking - I usually wait until those are mostly black before cooking them. If you'd rather them not be sweet, you can cut and cook them earlier. Unfortunately, plantains do NOT like the cold (though I'm attempting to grow them here anyhow). If you're up north, I'd recommend begging pups off friends, neighbors or strangers in your local area... that way you know the plants are likely to survive some freezes.

These were fried and consumed. They were really good.
Once you harvest your bananas, that "tree" is done. Kaput. Played out. Yesterday's news. Old hat. Dead and gone. Expired. It's not going to make more bananas for you. So cut that stem down WITH A MACHETE! Or it will die on its own. Then the next largest pup beside it (you did leave a pup, right?) will take its place. Remember - the "tree" is basically a big bulbous plant with multiple tops above ground - not a real tree at all. 

As for growing bananas, they like a lot of water so pick a moist area. They can take sun or shade and like it warm. Think: south wall right next to the house. They'll also eat every bit of nutrients you can shovel their way. Most of the trees in my yard were originally growing on a foreclosure next to a broken septic tank that was seeping sewage. They looked so amazing there it was hard to move them. Now they're being fed by a greywater line coming from my kitchen sink... but it's just not the same... hmm... wait... that gives me an idea...


2.5 Spuds!

Name: Banana
Latin Name: Musa spp. (It's complicated, actually.)
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Medicinal: No
Cold-hardy: No
Exposure: Full sun/shade
Part Used: Fruit
Propagation: Division
Taste: Excellent
Method of preparation: Green bananas cooked, fresh bananas raw 
Storability: When pulled green, they keep for a week or two. May be dried or frozen.
Ease of growing: Moderate
Nutrition: Good
Recognizability: High
Availability: Moderate, depending on location in state

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Milkweed Pods

I took this picture a couple months ago and just found it again.

You may not be able to eat milkweed (at least, not without some serious and probably-not-worth-it preparation), but they sure attract some nice butterflies. It's a beneficial weed, to be sure, and it's pretty in bloom. I pulled this plant from a vacant lot and transplanted it into my wife's rose garden (which is only that in name only at this point... I've crammed so many other plants in there).

Maybe more will pop up around the yard now that the seeds have blown about.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Too Good Not to Share

Okay... this is just incredibly weird. As I watched the YouTube video below, I was drawn further and further in. Like the herbs going into the lawnmower drum de-budder thing.

It's a how-to... I think? And the guy is strangely charismatic, as he shows us the shredder... and the piles of catnip...

And... now a school bus? What the...?

I just don't know what to say. It's simply amazing.

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Mel Bartholomew on Peat Moss: Sustainable or Not?

From Mel's Soapbox:

"...we used to get a lot of letters from the UK saying that peat moss is unsustainable. After we tracked down all of those stories saying Britain had used up and burned all of their peat, we discovered that it was “peat” (an older cousin of peat moss) and not peat moss that had all been burned on the British island. “Peat” takes many years to replace.  Soon after when I traveled to Canada, the Canadians said, “Heavens no, we’ve not run out. We have more peat moss than the world could use in 100 years! Besides that, we’re making more naturally than we’ll ever be able to harvest and sell!” In their minds, there is no shortage.  It’s a business in Canada and in plentiful supply.

To add to that: The SFG [Square Foot Garden] method only uses peat moss once. Mel’s Mix is 1/3 peat moss that will last up to 10 years. Since we’re only adding 6″ deep of Mel’s Mix in every 4×4 box, that’s not very much peat moss. Remember, SFG takes only 20% of the space of a conventional row garden, so we’re automatically using 1/5th of the amount you’d use in a row garden.

The peat moss in our SFG beds lasts for well over 10 years. Our feeling is that there’s not only not a shortage, but we’re using so LITTLE that we’re being kind to the Earth’s supply of this naturally occurring material that’s available from different sources all over the world..."

See the rest of his article here:

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Farmer Dave vs. the Econopocalypse - Episode X: Cassava of Darkness

A little while back I posted a video on how to harvest and process cassava. Here I show you how to plant it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Natural Awakenings Article for December: Square Foot Gardening

In which we look at Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method. (And yes - it does work well even in Florida. Incidentally, if anyone is looking for vermiculite in North Central Florida, Sparr Building and Farm Supply sells it in large bags for a very good price. I think I paid $16 last time I was there for a bag roughly twice the size of a 40lb bag of cow manure.)

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Farm Hand's Companion: Episode 2

Pa Mac has posted a sequel - this time on clearing land. I like the explanation he gives on the messy in-between state of developing forest. (I also like that he attempts to pull out a sapling with a bicycle.)

His style of farming is more traditional than my own permaculture preferences, but it's infinitely preferable to modern GMO/factory/poison farming methods. And he's using the heck out of the wood he's clearing.

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Friday, December 7, 2012

Survival Plant Profile: Canna Lilies

Canna lilies are an almost unknown edible, at least here in the US. Instead, like morons, we use them solely as an ornamental. Of course, as survival gardeners, we can use this ignorance to our advantage. Though someone's likely to steal your tomatoes in a crash... they're a lot less likely to steal your canna lilies. Note: canna lilies are not real lilies. So quit worrying about that and relax.

There are two parts of the plant I've eaten - the blooms and the roots. The former are crisp and lettuce-like and make a colorful addition to salads. The latter are good too, though they contain a lot of fibers. I add them to stews and crockpot recipes. They're filled with starch and taste good cooked - just be prepared to spit out the masticated threads. They're not too bad, but they're there, so be warned.

Cannas are a relative of bananas and really don't like frost, but that's okay - they'll come back if they freeze to the ground. And though some cultivars are better than others when it comes to root size, you don't have to worry about any of them being toxic - the whole family is safe. Just don't get them mixed up with "calla" lilies - those are NOT edible.

Cannas enjoy plenty of water and can grow in shade. I have a bunch on the north side of my house and they've thrived there with little care.

To propagate, just chop into a clump and divide off what you want, then plant out elsewhere. The rhizotamaceous (yeah, I think I made that word up - sue me) roots will make a big mat over time. Harvest as you like and plant what you don't eat.

If you want to start them from seeds, look for the weird tri-lobed spiky seed pods that appear after the flowers fade. As they dry, the sides will split and reveal black or brown seeds that are about the size of buckshot. These seeds are REALLY hard and can apparently remain viable for centuries. They're supposed to be hard to start... but they're not, provided you do it right. Take a pair of nail clippers or a little file and make nips in the sides of the seeds. They're white inside - if you get to the white, you're doing fine. Then soak those suckers in water for a day or two. They'll swell up if you went deep enough with your nicking (which is a bit tough to do, since the seed coats are so darn hard.) The soaked seeds germinate about a week or two after planting. Growth is rapid and the baby plants can be planted out in a month or two. I've got them all over the place now, since a gal at the local ag extension dumped a bunch of seeds on me since they're "too hard for people to start and we don't think we can sell them on our seed rack." Hee hee.

I imagine, if one was creative, they could make vodka from canna roots. The yield isn't all that high, in my experience, but if you grew them for a few years, you could likely pull it off. If anyone tries it, share some with me. Please? I promise not to involve the Department Of Making Things Miserable For Home Distillers if you do.

That about wraps it up for cannas. I have a soft spot for this plant so I'm arbitrarily giving it about a half-spud more than it deserves. So there.


3 Spuds
Name: Canna lily
Latin Name: 
Type: Herbaceous perennial

Size: 1-7'
Nitrogen Fixer: No
Medicinal: No
Cold-hardy: No
Exposure: Full sun/part shade/full shade
Part Used: Roots, blooms
Propagation: Seed, division
Taste: Good
Method of preparation: Blossoms raw, roots roasted or boiled
Storability: Roots - just leave them in the ground. Flowers? Forget it.
Ease of growing: Easy
Nutrition: Unknown
Recognizability: As a flower? Good. As food? Poor.
Availability: High

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Bullock Brothers' Homestead

This is a nice view inside a working permaculture system. Notice how they don't fight nature so much as build upon it. These guys have a humble yet brilliant approach to growing food long term.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Extreme Composting III: Humanure Composting System

Simple and effective:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Brilliant and Simple Aquaponics System

Nice setup. Bonus: I can't understand a thing he's saying!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Farmer Dave vs. the Econopocalypse - Episode IX: A South Florida Food Forest

This is a short tour through a mini food forest I've been developing in a Ft. Lauderdale backyard. No Bob Ross impersonations, dialog from Winky or stupid jokes. Just raw, unadulterated tropical goodness.

(I really wish I was in this growing zone - though I wouldn't want to live in the city.)

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dow AgroSciences Wakes Up?

Dow AgroSciences professes concern for the land they've been poisoning.

Did they wake up? Or is this damage control? 99% odds on the latter.

They're making toxic crap that poisons plants for years, yet they have the gall to claim they're "Protecting, Conserving, [and] Preserving the Land."

If they really cared, they'd stop selling this stuff altogether. There's no easy way to keep track of what manure, compost or hay/straw has been contaminated. As I've written before, EVERYTHING is now suspect, thanks to Aminopyralids.

Remember, employees and owners of Dow AgroSciences: 

You will one day stand before God and answer for what you've done. (Though you may answer to an angry mob first.)

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