July 22, 2013 |
A North American bumblebee species that all but vanished from about half of its natural range has reemerged in Washington state, delighting scientists who voiced optimism that the insect might eventually make a recovery in the Pacific Northwest. Entomologists and bee enthusiasts in recent weeks have photographed several specimens of the long-absent western bumblebee ( Bombus occidentalis ) buzzing among flower blossoms in a suburban park north of Seattle. The sightings are evidence of western...
July 13, 2013 |
In the Andean highlands of Bolivia and Peru, the broom-like, purple-flowered goosefoot plant is spreading over the barren hillsides, further and further every spring. When it's dried, threshed and processed with special machines, the plant yields a golden stream of seeds called quinoa, a protein-rich food that has been a staple of poor communities here for millennia. Now, quinoa exports have brought cash raining down on the dry land, and farmers have converted the profits into new clothes, richer diets...
July 5, 2013 |
By night, Mark Mills is apastry chef at Washington's Blue Duck Tavern. But being a fine hand with the icing spatula didn't completely prepare him for his new day job: spreading compost with a shovel on his very own farm near Poolesville. "I've spent my life in kitchens that are 130 degrees, and I'm used to being on my feet for 12 hours at a time, but there is no workout like farming," Mills said recently, staring at the mountain of mulch he needed to move across his freshly plowed acre.
June 13, 2013 |
The farm bills now before Congress — one from the Senate , the other from the House — attest to, if nothing else, the inertia of politics. There is no "public interest" (a phrase often meaningless in Washington) in having government subsidize farmers. Food would be produced without subsidies. The uncertainties and insecurities faced by farmers from unpredictable weather and global markets, though often compelling, are paralleled by the uncertainties and insecurities faced by many industries from disruptive technologies,...
June 12, 2013 |
The most important thing I ever learned about potatoes is that they need lots of water. Never mind that their fleshy leaves show little sign of wilt in dry weather. A potato plant stressed by drought will consume itself, drawing moisture from some of the tubers already formed, so that fewer of them swell to a good size by harvest time. Not only that, the plant will be less able to fend off the pests and diseases to which potatoes are prone. To be sure, rotating your potatoes with other garden crops (so that larvae...
May 17, 2013 |
LENNEWITZ, Germany — Many Europeans see American farming and its reliance on genetically modified crops as more Frankenstein than Farmer in the Dell. Now, the opposition here to U.S. agricultural practices is threatening to become a major battle in discussions starting next month that could sweep away trade barriers between the United States and Europe. Many here worry that a trade pact would ease regulations that have made it difficult for genetically modified crops and products...