Friday, May 10, 2013

Atmospheric CO2 breaks 400 ppm

A rather auspicious day, which only the climate change nerds are paying any attention to.  Oh, it will drop back down below 400 as the Northern Hemisphere growing season goes on, but the number of days below 400 is definitely limited.  Soon it will be a distant memory, just as 350 now is, but I don't think there will be an organization called "" trying to raise political awareness of this as an issue. 

What's the significance of this?  Not much immediate significance, and for that reason, we will probably have business as usual for the next couple of years.  The really big jolt to the climate is going to be the first summer that the Arctic Ocean is ice free.  I expect that once that happens, a hysteresis effect may set in, and it will suddenly get much more difficult for the Arctic Ocean to freeze over completely from Siberia to Canada.  Just a hunch on my part, and I haven't seen any serious talk of it from the climate modelers.  But if and when that does happen, it will certainly become topic #1 of climate change conversation. Be that one year from now or five years, it IS coming, so I will continue my efforts to divest myself from any reliance on commercial agriculture and make myself food secure.

I had a surprise when I went out to check the garden this morning: I saw two colonies of the "dog vomit" fungus.

I've had a visit from Fuligo septica before, last time on a pile of wood chips.  But this one was encircling the base of this scrawny tomato that I had nursed through the winter, so I had to move it to one side, just in case it had evil intentions. It is probably a good sign though, indicating that the hugelbed has plenty of moisture in it to allow visiting spores to go through their life cycle.

I make it a policy to welcome all fungi to my garden.  In a future post, I will have to chronicle the lengths I go to in order to get more fungal diversity into the garden.  More diversity means more competition and pathogens can spend less time on the attack when they have to compete for their dinner.  My first season on this piece of dirt, I lost an eggplant seedling, probably to Fusarium, in less than a week.   I'm hoping I have increased the fungal diversity in the garden now to the point that if there are any Fusarium spores still waiting around, they will be bullied into submission by the other saprophytic, beneficial, and mycorrhizal ones.

How did some spores of Fuligo septica find my hugelbed?  Not a big mystery.  When I was building it up, I noticed that a few hours after I added a fresh layer of dirt over the organic matter, the whole mound was buzzing with fungus gnats.  Somehow they must sense the freshly disturbed dirt and be able to decide whether it has enough decaying biomass to make it worthwhile for them to start a brood there.  And when they land to lay their eggs, they probably bring new spores in with them.  I'll take it as a compliment and a validation that I am doing this hugelkultur thing right that my hugels were being  swarmed by them. 

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