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Brad Boydston

Living life in the slow (but steady) lane

Updated: 2018-03-18T04:29:46.786-07:00


Broccoli microgreens


I planted a tray of broccoli seeds six days ago and we harvested our broccoli microgreens into the salad that we had for dinner this evening. Last week I laid out a few paper towels on a clean reused plastic food container. There is no dirt involved in this approach. I then covered the towels with seeds that I had previously soaked for about 5 hours. (I bought the pack of 10,000 seeds for $5.50 through Amazon and probably used only 20% of them with this planting.) I then misted the seeds with a spray of hydrogen peroxide (less than $1 at Walmart) to kill off any pathogens that might have attached themselves to the seeds along the way. After the one time application of hydrogen peroxide I misted the spread of seeds on the towels with water -- but not so much as to soak the towels. I just wanted to keep them mildly damp.I then covered the container so that the seeds were in darkness and continued to mist every 5 or 6 hours. Because the humidity is so low here in the Arizona desert, extensive misting is necessary. People living in more humid places might be able to mist just a few times a day.After two days the seeds had started to sprout and I removed the dark covering. I then left the tray out in the open, uncovered, and throughout the days continued to mist with water as before. I have added nothing to the water -- no nutrients or fertilizer. And while the tray is sitting next to some plants with grow lights over them, the broccoli is only benefiting from that indirectly. Most of the light is natural sunlight coming in through the window.Harvesting requires a pair of sharp scissors. This is a really inexpensive and simple way to add some nutritious and tasty greens to the diet. I'm told that the microgreens are more nutritious than if I were to plant in the soil and allow the plants to mature. But I don't know if that is true.The lettuce in our salad tonight was also grown indoors using a counter-top Miracle-Gro aeroponic growing system. The jury is still out on the Miracle-Gro system but the microgreens on a paper towel worked great. Both the broccoli and lettuce tasted good. (I have not yet been able to get any of the leafy plants started in the outdoor garden for the winter. The heat still lingers here in the upper 90's. And we're over halfway through October!)Many people are farming microgreens from home to sell to high-end restaurants. I'm not one of them. I'm interested in gardening methods for people without a lot of cash. Of course, if they sell microgreens to restaurants they may become flush with cash but others have developed that model.More experimentation ahead.[...]

Patriotism -- let's cut each other some slack


(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
When someone voluntarily stands for their national anthem to express gratitude for the gift of country, that is patriotism. When someone is pressured or coerced to stand for their national anthem to prove that they are patriotic, that is nationalism. But if someone declines to stand, it could easily mean that they are expressing gratitude for the gift of country in a different way.

Tax cyclists?


Bike-friendly Oregon has added a tax on new bicycle purchases. A state senator from Grand Junction, Colorado is pushing his state to do the same.

To many cyclists, this appears to be a silly and petty attempt to get them off the road and into cars "where they belong." But really -- a $15 tax isn't going to stop too many people from buying a bike. (Although, it's going to cost the states more to collect the taxes than what they receive. Still, it's the principle that counts -- right?)

But maybe this is the very kind of thing that would legitimatize the presence of cyclists on the road -- at least in the minds of some drivers. If bikes had a license plate with tags they would be screaming -- "Look! I belong here, too!"

The deeper more troubling issue is our incessant worrying over someone getting a "free ride" in society. Will we start taxing walking shoes because pedestrians should have to pay for sidewalks? We don't have enough collective sense to realize that society as a whole reaps a plethora of benefits when individuals leave their cars home to walk or pedal -- 

  • less stress on the transportation infrastructure, 
  • healthier population needing fewer hospital beds,
  • increased mental health levels,
  • reduced criminal activity (cyclists and pedestrians are more tuned into what's happening on the street than drivers), 
  • less dependency on dirty fossil fuel -- foreign and domestic, 
  • reduced carbon footprint, 
  • cleaner air, 
  • clearer thinking which adds to the national productivity levels...

Personally, I wouldn't mind the $15 tax but let's look at the bigger picture before we jump too quickly onto this tax train. There is more at stake here than a few tax dollars.

Teaching English without Teaching English


Brilliant TED talk

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Permaculture in Development


I want to make sure that I can find this great intro to permaculture from the fine folks at ECHO. So, I'm archiving it here. in DevelopmentAn introduction to permaculture and its application in agriculture developmentBy: Brad WardPublished: 2017-02-02From: ECHO Asia Notes | AN Issue #30 an-issue-30.pdf[Editor’s Note: Brad Ward, a member of the ECHO Florida team, wrote a great article on Permaculture in Development for a recent edition of ECHO Development Notes. We receive many inquiries about permaculture and how it may be used in agriculture development, so have decided to re-print it here as a potential interesting and valuable option for your work. We look forward to your feedback.]The permaculture-designed community garden space at ECHO. Source: Betsy Langford.IntroductionThe word permaculture is mentioned with increasing frequency in speeches, books and magazine articles on sustainability and food security. What is permaculture? Is it a movement? A philosophy? Simply a set of design tools? In this article, I answer the above questions by looking at permaculture from a variety of angles. First, I briefly describe permaculture’s history, underlying ethics, and key principles and common practices. Then I discuss common criticisms of permaculture and explain the underlying perspective that shapes its use in addressing a community’s food, water and shelter needs (i.e., the lens through which a permaculturalist views development). Finally, I share how permaculture has influenced my own life and work, both as a Christian and as an agriculture development worker.DefinitionsThe word permaculture, coined by its co-founder Bill Mollison, is formed from the words “permanent” and “agriculture.” The concept of permaculture is difficult to explain in just a few words, because the term is used to describe (usually simultaneously) both a worldview/philosophy for living on the earth and a set of design principles and practices.Bill Mollison emphasized the philosophical aspect in his defi nition: “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single-product system” (Mollison 1988).Rafter Ferguson, a well-regarded permaculture researcher and practitioner, has an elegantly simple way to frame the many aspects of permaculture: “Permaculture is meeting human needs while increasing ecosystem health” (Ferguson 2012). To guard against reductionism, Rafter adds a cautionary statement to his concise defi nition, saying, “I’m all for shorthand defi nitions in the right context as long as it’s being used to communicate a principle rather than obscure fundamental complexity” (Ferguson 2013b).My own defi nition of permaculture is as follows: Permaculture is a cohesive set of ethics, principles and practices that help guide the stewardship of an ecosystem to ensure resilience and abundance to all its inhabitants.Permaculturalists and Permaculture DesignersThe permaculture movement is very open-source and non-centralized. A person wanting to call him/herself a Permaculturalist or Permaculture Designer is expected to complete a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) led by a teacher or group of teachers with sufficient training and experience to teach the course. Courses are off ered through universities, at small farms that have been designed around permaculture principles, and even in the backyards of urban/peri-urban permaculturalists. Each course includes 72 hours of instruction based on the main themes laid out in Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison (1988). Courses can be structured many ways: intensive courses take place over nine consecutive days, weekend courses take p[...]

"Evangelism and the Five Spiritual Worlds"


Dr David Durst's "Evangelism and the Five Spiritual Worlds" resonates with me.

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Loud tough talkers


Historically speaking, loud tough talkers end up creating more long-term problems for themselves and others than they solve.

Banana Bed


This is my latest attempt at growing bananas. One of the problems I've had in the past is the hot arid wind in Phoenix. The banana leaves are so large that the dry wind quickly sucks all the moisture right out of them. This time I've got a masa goldfinger up by the house protected by straw bales. I water the bales in order to raise the humidity level around the bananas. Eventually, after they are conditioned I'll plant veggies in the bales, too. I currently have a couple of potted pineapple plants in the banana bed as well. I've never seen either the bananas or the pineapples happier.

Roy Goble's Junkyard Wisdom -- Review


Roy Goble is a down-to-earth kinda guy with a fun and wacky sense of humor. Yet, he also has great business sense and now -- a big bucket of money. Roy’s recently released book Junkyard Wisdom is the transparent and often humorous story of his wrestlings. In light of what Jesus says about money and wealthy people, is it even possible to be a faithful but wealthy follower? What would be the best way to benefit the poor, while protecting his own soul? Maybe he should just give it all away. One of the problems of money is that it walls the poor off from the wealthy. Out of sight, out of mind. The rich unintentionally end up suffering a kind of amnesia in regard to those on the margins. But Jesus seems pretty adamant that following him involves welcoming the poor and marginalized into your life. All that sounds pretty messy and as Roy struggles -- it is. Roy tells his story -- stories -- starting in his father’s San Jose, California junkyard, which became the seedbed of his own Goble Properties real estate empire. The journey moves in an engaging way through rural Belize, the ghettos of Thailand, and back into the affluent San Francisco Bay Area. There is a sense of playfulness throughout -- including a cameo appearance by radical Christian activist Shane Claiborne in one of the footnotes. Shane indirectly calls Roy out on one of his ideas. Goble and co-author D. R. Jacobsen are able to maintain tension as the story unfolds, finally finding a sense of resolve in the end. Yet the question remains for the reader to decide whether it is adequately resolved. The fact is that this book would not have appeared on my radar so quickly except that Roy wrote it. We grew up eight houses down from each other in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. He was best buds with one of my younger brothers throughout elementary school and was nearly a family member in our house during those years. I’ve enjoyed knowing him as an adult through his blog and Facebook posts. He has become a spiritually insightful story-teller. Junkyard Wisdom is Roy at his best with relevant questions, clear thinking, and application -- even for those of us who don’t have the wealth-generation gift. And you certainly don’t have to know him to realize that this is a unique book filled with fodder for necessary discussion. But I’m pretty certain that after reading the book you’ll feel like you know him, too. frameborder="0" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" scrolling="no" src="//®ion=US&placement=1940269970&asins=1940269970&linkId=a3f50e0c12d83347bbac17e48cd81dd8&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=&title_color=&bg_color=ffffff" style="height: 240px; width: 120px;"> [...]

Brad Lancaster models desert sustainability


Water capture, desert gardening, and tiny house -- all in urban Tucson

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Fascinating. Definitely not a tiny house, but...


Not a mansion -- not anything I've seen before. Interesting way of living.

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India is full of undiscovered creativity


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Innovations which change the world tend to surface on the periphery.

Indian Fig


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The birds have long been at it but I've finally harvested my first tuna (fruit) from our huge Indian Fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) at Boydston Manor. They do require special handling to avoid the glochid tufts (spines). But it is easy enough slice the skin off the tuna.

The tuna has a pleasant fruity flavor -- perhaps a cross between a strawberry and a fig. The texture reminds me of a kiwi and like the kiwi there are plenty of seeds. But they are easily separated from the fruit in your mouth.

Ideally I would allow the fruit to ripen more before harvesting. But the birds have been aggressive.

I planted this Indian Fig from a paddle cutting I got from someone six years ago and this is the first year it has fruited. If anyone would like a cutting I'm happy to share. This cactus is native to central Mexico.



"Truth is not at risk because we express it in love." ~ Art Greco

And if I might be so presumptuous as to add, a truth spoken apart from love is never completely true.



My sense of the situation is that much of what we think and do is motivated by fear -- fear that someone is trying to take our place in line. But that very fear prevents us from realizing that we're standing in the wrong line and that the only reason others are interested in the line is that we're standing in it.
The Lord is on my side,
and I am not afraid
of what others can do to me.
With the Lord on my side,
I will defeat all
of my hateful enemies.
It is better to trust the Lord
for protection
than to trust anyone else,
including strong leaders.

~ Psalm 118:6-9 (CEV)

Svensk uppfinningsrikedom


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Quinoa Experiment


There has been considerable interest in my quinoa experiment. I'm trying to figure out if it can be grown in the low desert and if so, what would be the best planting rhythm. This is the cherry vanilla variety. It's now up to 22 inches and is starting to develop flowers. I planted in the second week of January. At this point we have not yet had any days over 100°F.

Google's Self-Driving Bike


Google is not only clever, but they've also figured out that things work better when the company doesn't take itself too seriously.

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Groningen: The World’s Cycling City


I'm inspired each time I watch this video.

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Murder mystery in our garden


Crime Scene
I'm stupefied.

While tending the garden last evening I encountered a fledgling pigeon hopping around on the ground. He could fly -- but only about six inches before each crash landing.

My first concern was that he'd be easy prey for the neighbor's cats, which hunt in our yard. So, with the best of intentions I easily captured him and jailed him in a large bird cage that my neighbor Al gave me a few weeks ago. (I plan to paint it and fill it with potted plants.) Even though the lock on the cage doesn't work it is heavy duty and very secure with two concrete blocks wedged in front the door.

I gave the bird a pan of water, some seed, and a handful of straw. Then I covered the cage with an old bed sheet to help keep him warm in his first night out of the nest, which is in the eaves of the house about eight feet away.

(image) This morning I went to the garden to free him from protective custody -- but the jail was empty! The sheet had been jostled. However, the blocks securing the door were still in place. There was a small blood stain on the wood floor in a corner of the cage. Assorted gray pigeon feathers, along with a portion of a wing, littered the ground about a foot away from the cage.

I've concluded that my attempt at protective custody failed. But I don't know why. There is no way that he could have gotten out on his own. And there is no way that a cat maneuvered into the cage -- unless the feline also returned the two 20 lbs blocks to their exact position in front of the door after gobbling up the young pigeon.

I wonder if a small snake squeezed in between the heavy duty bars. But if a snake ate the bird in the cage, how could the reptile, with its expanded girth, get back out? And why were there feathers outside the cage?

I'm stupefied.

"Buy a Gun -- Piss Off a Liberal"


Perhaps even more dangerous than the proliferation of guns is the proliferation of attitude. 

It's hard enough to make things work when we are unintentionally pissing each other off. We certainly damn ourselves when we become intentional about pissing off those with whom we disagree -- be they conservative, liberal, or whatever.

Tumble Weeds


The Laveen Conveyance Channel, just a few hundred feet from our house, is one of the great features of Laveen. It is a 5.8 mile walking, running, and cycling path along a canal that runs with irrigation water most of the year, provides flood control when it rains, and during storms collects tumble weeds. We had some significant wind with the half inch of rain that fell last night. And as I was riding home from my first errand this morning I discovered the tumble weeds and ducks along the way.

Tokyo farm in an office


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This Tokyo farm in an office is more than a novelty or gimmick. It is an attempt to integrate more nature into the live of employees in order to boost their health -- and to rove that it can be done.

Is there a market for this?


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There are 7.3 million vegetarians (including vegans) in the US -- 3.2% of the population. About 10% of the population says that while they occasionally eat meat they lean toward a vegetarian diet.

Islanders worship


I love it when Pacific Islanders feel free to dance and worship in their own way. It often resonates more with me than Westernized music -- even though I'm Haole.

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