Saturday, March 17, 2007

On the hardiness of cold frames

We started seeds on the 4th, letting them germinate in our kitchen window and moving them out to a strawbale coldframe shortly after. I find it's easier to use the sun's light and the straw's warmth than to try to replicate those conditions inside. I think it helps prevent legginess and to make hardening off easier. So, we tossed together 4 bales of straw and threw a window we removed from the barn when we built the coop on top to create a quick and easy coldframe. We were planning to have several long old Victorian style windows from my father-in-law as he's been replacing all their old windows at the beach house. Imagine my shock and dismay when he told me he'd put all those beautiful windows out by the curb for trash pick up!

To the right is the coldframe this morning after 6 inches of snow and temperatures in the 20s. I was hopeful, but not confident as I went out to check on them this morning before feeding and watering the animals. Here are the seedlings as happy and warm as can be!

You can see peas and broccoli raab poking their heads toward the sun. I'll probably shovel some snow back on top this evening to help insulate through the night, as our temps are supposed to drop again. My biggest concern was the fluctuation, as we enjoyed temps in the 70s last week. Thankfully, the earth was nice and warm, which probably helped these little guys weather the storm in their nice cozy straw house. Those three little pigs gave straw a bad name!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

What do you get when you cross a human with a grain of rice?

No, really, it's not a joke, and there's no punch line—unless of course, one finds humor in the exploitation of the sick, the tired, the poor, the hungry, the teeming masses, get it, I'm sure.

The first genetically modified food to contain human genes has been developed by the California-based Ventria Bioscience company and is set to be approved for commercial production, as the USDA has approved preliminary production in Kansas. Researchers have managed to create a rice that produces some of the proteins found in human saliva, tears and breast milk, touting the creation as boon to treating children with diarrhea, a major killer in developing nations. Indeed, a recent company-sponsored study in Peru conveniently found that children with severe diarrhea recovered a day and a half faster if the fluids prescribed were spiked with the same proteins engineered into the rice.

According to a recent article in the British Daily Mail by Sean Poulter, "The rice is a major step in so-called Frankenstein Foods, the first mingling of human-origin genes and those from plants. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture has already signalled it plans to allow commercial cultivation."

Not to be outdone, Japanese researchers are developing rice with human genes that act as protection against agricultural herbicides by enabling the plant to break down harmful chemicals applied to soils.

Read more:
Washington Post
Daily News
Independent Science Panel
Live Science
Science News Online