Too much green growth

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An interesting concept, isn’t Green Growth OK?  One problem of the idea of ‘sustainable growth’ is that nobody yet has found a way to ensure that the resource throughputs of an economy are decoupled from its growth, whatever the nature of that growth – that means emissions (and resource depletion) continue to rise, even though an economy gets more efficient in its use of resources.  A further problem is that of rebound: say the use of renewable energy generation rises so much that there is less need for hydrocarbons to run transport and heat houses.  If this boosts consumption, because people have cheaper energy and therefore more disposable income, they are likely to spend it on a variety of things that cause increased resource throughput and ecosystem degradation.  For example they might buy a second car, they might go on holiday abroad; they might eat more meat; drink more wine and eat more exotic fruit, and so on.  All these things cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.  We review this in In Place of Growth, and I also outline the problem in the video below.

I was actually going to talk about my tomatoes, but the headline was too good to just do that.  After years of declining crops from growing them in the border of the greenhouse (even with replacing the soil every so often) I decided to try ‘ring culture’.  This uses the double root system of the tomato. In their native environment in Abya Yala,  the roots near the surface focus on extracting nutrients from the thin topsoil while the tap root system goes down for water.  Ring culture separates these two functions by placing botomless pots of potting soil on a bed of gravel.  You water the gravel and give the pots a liquid feed :I’m using a liquid extracted (another story) from a mix of comfrey and alkanet (pentaglottis sepervirens – the name originally comes from the Arabic; al-ḥinnā meaning henna)-the mixture is meant to be comfrey but I haven’t enough so I supplement it with alkanet that grows profusely and has nice flowers – it’s related and, it seems to work well – the idea is a high potash (potassium) feed that doesn’t have too much nitrogen because nitrogen would give too much green growth! You don’t start feeding until the first fruit are setting, but there was a delay in flowering in some of my plants:  There was too much green growth.  Maybe I planted too soon, but I haven’t found that makes much difference: waiting like you are supposed to for the first flowers seems to lead to weak plants.  Anyway, the plants are beautiful, strong and healthy and after the delay they are producing well.  I’m growing a variety – two French heirloom types from seed saved from toms bought at Unicorn coop, some heirloom varieties from the Garden Organic Heritiage Seed Library, and some more commercial ones, San Mazarno and Golden Sunrise.  It’s great to have overcome the problem with the border soil – now I just have to prevent too much green growth.

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