Soil, not dirt

So I spent my morning trucking soil ( not dirt ) from the back parking pad into the newly placed raised bed. I mixed the Alberta Gold Soil that Eagle Lake Turf Farm dropped off in my back yard. A cubic yard of soil sounded like a little, it’s not, it’s quite large. I still have about 1/4 of it left after filling the bed.

The bed is only 10 inches high, and I am just laying it on top of the lawn. Most instructions online and in the Square Foot Gardening books I’ve read suggest laying down landscaping fabric beneath your soil. Well that stuff costs money, so I did a poor-man’s solution. I used the Saturday edition of the Calgary Herald, most if it is adverts and stuff about Lindsey Lohan anyhow. The flyers, entertainment section, business section, classifieds, and sports were enough to do newspaper 3 layers deep. Between each layer I sprayed the paper with water. It should make a solid barrier for the grass, and over a year rot away. This way the grass and soil below the bed can be used for nutrients by deeper rooting plants like carrots and beets.

After that is was truck soil back and forth for an hour and a bit. First layer of soil was mixed 50/50 with my compost. Second layer was 30% compost from my bins, final layer was just the soil. I’m not sure what the Eagle Lake soil mix is, looked to be about 1/3 cured steer manure, 1/3 compost, 1/3 peat moss. What ever it is is very loose, and holds water like mad.

I gave each layer of soil a spray with the hose, and gave the whole works a soak at the end. Mostly I want the weight to mush down any air pockets and lift from the grass below, and to make sure the stuff isn’t bone dry and blowing away.

Artwork Artwork Artwork

The garden experiment begins

It has taken much longer then expected for us to put in anything garden related. Between fixing the problems that come with buying an older home and what can only be called the year of chaos ( or choas ) I’ve not been able to get at much in the yard, let alone start a garden.

But this year I had some spare time between trips to Europe and the hospital. I was able to put together a really super cool 3 bin compost setup ( 81 cubic feet of capacity ). Because I like my neighbours I took the time to stain it all pretty. The bin was up and running in mid July, and the first batch of compost is ready to use. Batch number two is starting to cook.

Compost Bin Shots

Garden Picture
Garden Picture
Garden Picture
Garden Picture
Garden Picture

With Autumn rolling in I put in the first garden bed. I’m going with a modified ‘Square Foot Gardening’ bed. It’s 4 feet by 10 feet, which should give some serious veggies come next year. I’m modifying ‘Mels Mix’ to include less vermiculite and peat moss, and more soil & compost. Still waiting on the soil to be delivered, but the bed should be all ready to go come spring planting time.

Garden bed and proposed layout

Garden Picture
Garden Picture
Garden Picture

The Internet loves a straw man

Straw Man Argument : A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by substituting a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

For most of the life of my blog I have opened with the definition of a word. I left this practice behind about a year ago, but I am reviving it today not for a word, but a debate tactic. The Straw Man Argument has a long and illustrious history online. Your typical online discussion ( argument ) flows like this:

  1. Someone makes statement in a blog and provides some form of information or justification for a position.
  2. People disagree with that statement, and find a component element in the blog post to refute the entire blog post. They then attempt to invalidate the whole with the part.
  3. Debate shifts from the topic of the post to the minutiae contained within the post.
The Straw Man Argument is a standard in the political world as well. The media and politicians love to sidetrack people into these largely pointless debates around components of a statement in order to invalidate ( or distract ) from the original matter at hand. Friday [September 03, 2010] on #yycvote ( myself included ) fell under the sway of the Straw Man.
Mediamindjen posted a challenge to mayoral hopeful Naheed Nenshi on her municipal politics blog. It was a challenge based on unclear statements made by Nenshi and his public relations/marketing team across multiple media outlets. Nenshi, in an interview with Fast Forward, is quoted as saying he would be disclosing donors as he got them. A week later Fast Forward posted another article indicating that in May, when Nenshi announced his candidacy intentions, that he would “immediately” ( yes in scare quotes ) announce donor lists. On Mr. Nenshi’s website it states he will disclose his donors when “campaigning begins”. In the Calgary Herald he is quoted as saying “weekly” as far back as late May. Nenshi started asking for money on April 13th, 2010 via his pre-campaign announcement video on YouTube. On Twitter a member in Nenshi’s camp ( and Nenshi himself ) stated they would disclose donors on September 20th.
Now this is the heart of Mediamindjen’s blog post: We have a mayoral candidate, who is running on a political platform heavy on transparency issues being anything but transparent. If anything Nenshi and his team, either through obfuscation or incompetence, have managed to make themselves very opaque in the media when it comes to their campaign finances.
What did people from Nenshi’s camp pick up from Mediamindjen’s post? Her admittedly napkin calculations on price-point for direct mail campaigns. This then became the debate for a good part of the day while this issue was trending on Twitter. Price point. Clever use of a Straw Man Carter_bbold, I must commend you.
But the point still stands, we have Naheed Nenshi campaigning on a platform of transparency, being anything but clear in the media. Nenshi started campaigning in April as far as I am concerned. The moment he started up a Facebook group and twitter stream geared towards his political intentions his campaign was on in my opinion. The moment he announced his candidacy in May, it was official in the eyes of the public. When he submits his paperwork on September 20th, it will be official in the eyes of the law.
Now here is the question I have around all this campaign funding transparency issue and Nenshi: Has the 2010 campaign for mayor of Calgary started, and if so where is the disclosure that has been promised during the campaign?
For me, at a youthful 31 years of age, an arbitrary date for paperwork is not the indicator that a political campaign has started. Signage is a pretty good indication that the campaign is on. Facebook groups tend to say “yup, I’m politicking”. Regular participation on twitter and commentary on political opponents in the media sounds a lot like campaigning.
Am I taking crazy pills here or has Naheed Nenshi’s campaign for mayor started? If so, where is the transparency and why is there such resistance to transparency for the entire campaign, including the buildup to the day we all know Nenshi’s paperwork will be filed?  These two questions lead back to Mediamindjen’s original post, and it’s point.
How do you trust a candidate running on transparency policies when they themselves are not acting with transparency?