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July 29th, 2008

Every now and then, I like to browse the newspapers from Arizona, the place I think of as “home” although I don’t live there now and didn’t grow up there.

Today I was shocked, but sadly not surprised, to find this item in the Tucson Citizen about the methods Sheriff Joe Arpaio is using to identify illegal immigrants in Maricopa County (where Phoenix is). Racial profiling, illegal searches and detainments, civil rights violations — these are all routine for Sheriff Joe and his deputies. It’s shameful.

Even my current local paper, The Washington Post, recognizes Sheriff Joe’s methods as an outrage. The articles mention the most recently filed suit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department, which could cost taxpayers millions — but Arapio has already cost Maricopa millions in various law suits, some of which were settled by the county, some of which went to court, but all of which betray a pattern of discrimination, harassment and macho-fear-mongering that the people of Maricopa could really do with out. But will they vote him out? Probably not — Sheriff Joe is absurdly popular, at least among white Phoenicians.

He’s got swagger and style and gruff charm, and he’s got pink prison undies, and he’s comforting to people who are afraid. And even more sadly, he seems to be laying the groundwork for a run for governor, including many events in Pima County (where Tucson is), the other large population area in the state.

Now that I think of it, I guess I’m glad I no longer live at home.

Food Ick

July 23rd, 2008

People in Iowa who are dealing with the aftermath of flooding most likely have far greater issues than their gardens to worry about.

However, I know how my garden provides a kind of refuge for me, a place where things make sense, I’m safe, and no one is yelling at me. So I was very sad to learn that people who’s gardens were flooded have probably also lost that refuge.

According to several local county extensions in Iowa, any vegetables growing in a garden that was covered by flood water should not be eaten, due to likely contamination from sewage and other sources. The contamination can last for some time, so the soil should be regarded as contaminated for at least 90 days, if not longer.

As I said, I know many people are dealing with far larger problems — but the loss of all these gardens and the comfort they may have provided breaks my heart a little bit.

Ka-ching

July 15th, 2008

I didn’t plant a garden to save or make money. I planted it because I love homegrown tomatoes and have been fantasizing about growing my own for years. I came across an article on the Vermont extension service website about intensive gardening, and it included a list of the 15 most economical plants to grow in a veggie garden, based on their price in the grocery store at the time of harvest, the yield per square foot of garden, and the time it takes them to mature. I discovered that I am already growing (or planning to grow) 13 of them. Here’s the list:

Tomatoes
Green bunching onions
Leaf lettuce
Turnip (greens + roots)
Summer squash
Edible podded peas
Onion storage bulbs
Beans (pole, bush)
Beets
Carrots
Cucumbers
Peppers
Broccoli
Head lettuce
Swiss chard

The two I am not growing are peas and cucumbers. The site only lists four low-value veggies, but it is not surprising that they take up a lot of room in a garden:

Corn
Winter Squash
Melons
Pumpkin

I’m not growing any of the low-value veggies.