Caleb: Salt of the Earth or 'Condescending Prick'?

There is a so-called “recipe” floating around the internet, especially on Facebook, that drives me crazy. It’s a version of homemade weed-killer called “Kill Them All” or some variation of that, and it calls for mixing vinegar and salt together to pour on weeds.
Weed killer indeed.
I’ve been sounding off about this recipe online for months, at first dismayed and then incredulous as the recipe kept popping up more and more. I belong to several so-called “permaculture” groups that meet online and in person to discuss the concept of permanent sustainable agriculture. Someone on one of these groups posted the recipe for this weed-killer. “This is such a bad recipe,” I wrote on the comments to the post. “I wish people would stop passing it around,”
“Why?” wrote the person who had posted the recipe.
“Because salt is a permanent decision,” I replied. “Gardeners above all others should know this. I don't understand people poisoning their own soil.”
“Well, you are trying to poison a plant,” responded someone else in the group. “I think it would just depend on the concentration of salt that ended up on the ground. It's better than what Monsanto gives us to spray.”
It not better, actually. It’s not better at all -- and if you know me, you know I oppose Monsanto tooth and nail. “It's hard for me to believe we have to have this discussion on (this permaculture site),” I responded. “Makes me depressed that even gardeners see nothing wrong with salting the earth.”
To my surprise, the person who posted the recipe then responded by calling me a “condescending prick.”
“Disagreeing with you isn't condescending,” I wrote. “I'm genuinely surprised because the whole idea of permaculture is to do no harm.”
To which the person responded that I was “arrogant and condescending.”
I’m happy to say that several people came to my defense, but I reprint the conversation here because it was eye-opening to me to see how much education there is left to do, even among proponents of “permaculture,” which I consider to be the highest form of gardening. (Being called names didn’t much bother me -- after all, I’m a journalist by trade, and I’d already been called much worse by far more important people on that very day.)
I fear that a lot of people are seeing this weed “solution” and putting it to use. Here’s why I think that’s a terrible decision:

1. Depending on how much salt you use, salt is a permanent decision. You salt the earth, it will at least be years before you can use it again. What if you move unexpectedly? (If you don’t think people move unexpectedly, you haven’t lived very long.) Are you going to walk the next family over to your garden and explain that you salted the earth for them? What if you decide you need to change things around in your garden? Or what if you read my upcoming book and learn that you can have the easy luxury of a self-seeding garden -- except that you have salted between all your garden beds?

2. Let’s say that you salt the earth and three or four years later, something is able to grow in that space again (Rejuvenation that soon is possible, depending on how much salt you used.) Where do you think all that salt went? Do you think it magically disappeared? I can tell you exactly where the salt went -- it headed into the aquifer underground. Or it was captured in runoff and went toward the nearest body of water. In the county where I live, we have a large fresh-water lake -- a true gem in the middle of the desert. Once upon a time, the south and west shores of the lake were home to groves of commercial fruit trees -- until the water in the lake got so salty that it could no longer be used to irrigate the fruit trees. Even alfalfa fields had to be abandoned because of the high salt content on land that was flooded by lake water in the spring. Salt, as I said, is a permanent decision. Once you put it into the ecosystem, it cannot be removed. It can be diluted, and even a decade ago, water managers used to say “the solution to pollution is dilution.” They don’t say that anymore, after it became obvious that dilution ceases to work once the pollution levels grow to a certain tipping point. After that tipping point, the only solutions left often cost hundreds of millions of dollars -- and now you know why sewage and run-off fees have jumped so much in the county where I live. Short-sighted solution, long-term natural consequences.

3. Salting the earth was a widespread ancient custom after war -- to add famine to injury, the conquering military would salt the land so that the defeated people couldn’t grow food to feed themselves. (The Romans used to salt the earth of their enemies, to name one example. There are also examples in the Bible.) Imagine who is laughing when people decide to salt their own earth. The idiocy is astonishing, if you think about it. It certainly proves true the old saying that those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.

4. In our society that is flush with morbid obesity -- even, and most sadly, among children, why not just get off the couch and pull the weeds? You might need to examine your lifestyle if the only way you can fathom gardening is with a “spray” for every single problem you encounter. I like to call it “going to the gym” when I’m going out to pull weeds. Turn off your television and go get your hands dirty. Go show your kids the value of actual physical work -- if you can get your kids away from the video games long enough to see daylight.

5. Finally, here’s why it’s a stupid recipe: If you salt the earth, you don’t need any of the other ingredients in the recipe -- salt alone will kill the weeds. So if you insist on being stupid, at least be smart about it.

June Color Tour of Caleb's Garden

 Naturalized columbines in white and lavender. 

 More naturalized columbines in yellow and red.

 A showy display of evening primrose.

Blue mountain geraniums.

Purple Dame's Rocket, which I look forward too all year. They get five feet tall! 


These are called blue-and-golds.

Pinkish naturalized snapdragons.

 The herb Hounds-tongue.

 More snapdragons.

A sea of salvia. 

 Close-up of a mountain geranium.

 Wild yellow roses.

 Wild red roses.

The red roses are so nice right now, I had to include two pictures :) 

 Another wild rose hedge. We love this for the rare color. Very tropical looking. 
Have a great day in the garden! -Caleb

You Are Not Gluten Intolerant -- Unless You Want To Be

A week ago, a mother and daughter showed up at my house uninvited (which I’m discouraging, so don’t get any ideas) to thank me for reversing their gluten allergy. This woman’s daughter had read on my blog that natural yeast eats the gluten in flour until it is gone, and the daughter got a yeast start from me and started baking with our cookbook. Then she asked her gluten-intolerant mother to eat some bread.
“I told her no,” the mother said to me. “I didn’t want to be sick. When I eat gluten, I’m sick for days.”
The daughter persisted. After several weeks, this mother decided to try some of her daughter’s natural yeast bread on a Monday “because then I could be sick on Tuesday and Wednesday,” she told me.
She had absolutely no faith this would work. But because her daughter insisted, she eat the bread.
“And I had no reaction,” she said.
So she ate more, over several weeks, “and I had no reaction,” she said.
This woman was sitting wide-eyed on my couch, emotional and amazed. She wanted me to tell the world. She couldn’t believe that reversing gluten intolerance was so simple.
“I am eating wheat flour for the first time in years,” she said.
“I know,” I said. “Hundreds of people have told me stories just like you. I try to tell everyone. Help me!”
I have close personal friends that won’t try this. I don’t judge them because they are tired of being sick from gluten, and have worked hard to convert to a gluten free life.
But if the cure for gluten intolerance is simple, why not cure yourself?
When we remove gluten from our families, we begin to make our kids increasingly gluten intolerant. This puts the kids on a difficult course for the rest of their lives. So I ask again -- if the cure for gluten intolerance is simply, why not cure your family?
Let me ask you a question. Where did your gluten intolerance come from?
For so many people, they just one day begin to feel sick, and eventually figure out it comes from eating gluten. They talk with friends and doctors -- and the doctors immediately say, “Remove gluten from your diet for a few weeks, and if you feel better, you are gluten intolerant. Then you just live gluten free.”
But no one says where this gluten intolerance is coming from. The doctor’s don’t know and don’t pretend to know. You don’t know -- your intolerance just develops one day.
But I know.
Gluten intolerance is a symptom, not a disease. Store-bought yeast does not eat gluten -- it is unnatural and has been modified so that it raises bread quickly, but does not eat gluten. 
When you eat wheat foods made with natural yeast, you are not eating gluten because the gluten is gone. The yeast eats it and turns it into yeast. If you don’t believe this, take some of my fresh yeast to your doctor and they will test it for you (I believe insurance pays for this test in most cases if you have gluten intolerance. Ask your doctor).
Gluten intolerance is very trendy right now. Many, many people have begun diagnosing themselves without even going to a doctor. But if you don’t want to be on an expensive artificial diet for the rest of your life, try natural yeast. If you don’t want to see your kids on a special diet for their whole lives, try natural yeast.
The cure to gluten intolerance could not be more simple. I don’t know what else to say. If you want a FREE natural yeast start, which you can use for the rest of your life, click here. If you would like more information about natural yeast, including how it affects allergies and diabetes and heart burn, see our book at the link below. -Caleb