Tag: gardening

My Little Town 20120725: Gardening

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

I have written about Ma’s garden before and shall not repeat that.  If you want to read them, you can look here, here, and here.  What I want to talk about tonight is that I have begun harvesting from my own garden recently, and just Monday got the first large tomatoes and purple hull peas.  I had been collecting cucumbers for a while.

I garden in a rather unconventional style.  For starters, I HATE to hoe and will go to great lengths to avoid it.  I do not mind tilling, but my soil was still nice and loose this year and did not even have to do that.  At least with tilling, you do it once and are finished for the year.

I had a bit of trouble getting the garden started this year because it was wet in the spring (not as bad as last year).  I finally did get it in, though, and my philosophy has changed considerably since I first started gardening living alone.

Building a lifeboat (photo heavy).

There have been worse generations, but none have wasted so much, so fast, for so little.

It’s not clear exactly when America’s stranglehold over the world will be broken,  but American “exceptionalism,” i.e., debt-dollar discipline is being broken, for reals, and for good.  It’s really an amazing point in history.  I don’t know when it will become apparent to all, but that end-time, when we discover Dick Cheney’s real negotiability, the actual mark-to-market value of “The American Way of Life,” cannot be far off.  I’ve seen enough shocking viciousness, lawlessness, and moral depravity from our elites to know the jig is up sooner than later.

At this point, I am pretty firmly in Stoneleigh’s camp that one should be thankful for and use this time of suspended animation, this period of extend and pretend, to prepare for the inevitable and grim future of massive debt deflation.  As she frequently warns, it’s okay to prepare for it too early, but it’s not okay to be late.   In that vein, I offer the following photo-essay.

What’s for Dinner? 20100424: Intensive Gardening

Many people think that lots of space is required to grow a big garden.  This is not always the case.  Part of it depends on what you grow, but another part of it depends on how you grow it.

I have a garden space that is approximately 16 x 16 feet, for a total of 256 square feet.  I chose those dimensions because landscape timbers are eight feet long, but this is not a raised bed garden.

I had originally planned to post pictures of each step, but the weather has been extremely dry in the Bluegrass, and the plat has been too dry to till.  It is now raining, so I can get to it as soon as it stops, although it may take a day to dry out enough first.  I can post pictures as comments during future installments of What’s for Dinner?.

Random Thoughts about Earth Day 20104022

Most of you who read my posts will agree that I prefer environmentally friendly industries, transport, and food.  You also know that I grow quite a lot of my own food, and a guide will be published here, this coming Saturday, at 7:30 PM when I guest host What’s for Dinner.

However, I am not a fanatic.  I understand that there are tradeoffs that are essential to maintaining our standard of living.  One of them is the semi trailer and the truck that pulls it.  Ten or twelve years ago, they were very polluting, but with the new standards for low soot and sulfur emissions, they are not bad these days.

Green Change Blog Action: Bringing sustainability to school

I’m a high school junior, and since I was a freshman I’ve been trying to get my school to be more environmentally friendly.  I’ve tried several different paths.  The first was starting an environmental club – and it failed.  Basically, kids use it to get something on their transcript and we haven’t gotten anything done.  The second major attempt of mine was to go directly to the school board.  I proposed things to them at a meeting that would help the environment and save money.  They very respectfully didn’t act on any of my suggestions – although I did follow up with someone and found out that the school has been consistently reducing their energy usage.

I’ve tried a few other, smaller things, as well, but now I’m working on something that is so close to success I can taste it:  a community garden.

This blog post is for a mini blog action day at GreenChange.org, where I am the “blogging coordinator.”  The theme is taking local action.

Update from the ‘Stead

Organic Diet on a Less Than Whole Foods Budget

I know, I know. There’s Town Hall Madness, high dudgeon political theater, a boycott of Whole Foods, and it’s hot in August. But there aren’t any Town Halls by my rep this year. He’s a blue dog who will vote however the caucus tells him to vote. They never intended to give us shit, the insurance companies just need a bailout and Obama can’t just run that by anybody like he did for Wall Street’s wealthiest and crookedest players. Just another tax hike around here when forced to buy junk insurance, less money we’ll have for actually going to a doctor if we need to. Oh, well.

And there’s no Whole Foods anywhere near me that I know of, so who cares how much of a jerk the CEO may be? Are his employees happy with their health care? Then let ’em keep it. From what I hear it’s purely a Yuppie-Haven, nicknamed “Whole Paycheck.” Out here where organics are a regular way of life, I can say again, who cares? We’ve great farmer’s markets, tailgates, and plenty of small farms everywhere you look where you can pick your own, buy at a stand near the driveway, or off a pickup on the side of the road. Most garden/farm “naturally” even without organic certification. Apples are ripening fast, who the hell would grow a GMO apple anyway, for goodness’ sake!?

We’ve had a cool year. Sure, we get a few hot days, but usually not without a nice rain (we’re averaging an inch a week or more) and it’s never hot at night in these mountains. So the tomatoes have been pretty much a bust all around, only started getting ripe after they’d developed blight. Pumpkins are ripening early, but I think that’s because I planted them early. They’re quite tasty, can keep a long time in the field even after the greenery’s gone. My eggplant experiment doesn’t look promising but the potatoes are going great guns, the peppers are fruiting fine, and the herbs are thick this year.

My apples have been ripening for a couple of weeks. They either have to fall, or I get somebody to shake the tree and I play catch. Granny Smiths and Macintosh, I have used my self-constructed solar dryer – for which I sacrificed no digits to power tools – to dry as fast as they come in. Have jars and jars and several old coffee tins full, I figure a pie apiece if I can keep the boys out of ’em. They consume vast quantities right out of the jar for snacks.

Shares: A No-Hoops Hunger Project

We all know the economic situation sucks. We all know people who have lost their jobs, families – often in our own neighborhoods – who have lost their homes, their means of transportation, their health care, their sense of self-worth and ability to meet basic needs. We all want to help, but if you know anything about “the system,” you also know that politics only decrees focus. It doesn’t exist to actually help people, it exists to see how many hoops they’ll be able to jump in order to get the bare minimum.

And if you’re at all like me and ever dealt with “the system” yourself or for a family member, you also know a good handful of people who will live in a cardboard box before hitting the shelter, will walk double-digit miles to work rather than tell anybody the car’s been repo’d, will go hungry because there’s just no way to get to the county seat on-demand to jump hoops bi-weekly just to get food stamps. Why, you might even know some who have been given help, but are just too embarrassed to use them at the grocery store.

I’ve worked with several hunger projects over the last quarter century, usually grant-supported non-profit based or purely local and supported by area churches, community groups, fraternal organizations and businesses. They all try to reach the people who need help, and the people involved are more than willing to help with paperwork or details in order to make the hoop-jumping easier. But they all know, as I know, that there are many who aren’t reached because they won’t or can’t jump hoops. For any of a number of reasons they don’t want us to know.

It’s Soup Now!

Reading Magnifico’s #2 story about how global warming is affecting the oceans on today’s Four at Four and Inky99’s warning about GM foods (which also came in my Organic Consumer’s Association newsletter today) made me shake my head again at the sheer insantity of how we do things in the modern world. It’s not so hard to get decent food without causing a dead zone or contaminating everybody’s water with arsenic or Building Better SuperWeeds through Genetic Modification and all…

Now that my corner of southern Appalachia is officially no longer suffering serious drought (my place never did, but then again, it is a temperate rain forest by nature), I only get to do my garden chores in between downpours that have my sandals caked with mud, my gloves so slick-wet they give me blisters, and every pair of calf-length jeans I own now brown-red from the knees down. So it has been today.

my adventure in French Intensive/ Biodynamic gardening

This is a pictorial diary in French Intensive/ Biodynamic gardening, as regards the methods I use when working at the Pomona College Natural Farm.  The methods described here are a sort of “working intuition” that I use to pursue my own self-sufficiency amidst general economic dislocation.  The label “French Intensive/ Biodynamic gardening” describes a gardening strategy to coax maximum yield out of minimum space.  This was something I “learned by heart” when I was an undergraduate at the University of California at Santa Cruz; I will just discuss the usual list of things to do here.

(now crossposted at Big Orange)

Sunday Morning Over Easy (More pics Updated)

I spent the better part of yesterday at a Rock Party at Arrowhead Alpines. You know you’re getting old when your Rock Parties involve actual rocks, and you don’t smoke any of the exotic buds you bring home.

They have an enormous amount of plants and exotics. Worth visiting the link, if you love gardening.

It was marvelous. I am such a flower child in the most literal fashion… and yet, as my friend Kate said the other day when she moved this huge rock my husband brought home for me, (pics follow)

“Jesus, why can’t you bring her flowers like a normal husband?”

He knows I’d rather have the rocks. 🙂

Ahh, thanks Mr. Petty, now back to the pictures and story.

Do These Gardening Horror Stories Justify Killing Animals?

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

Today’s New York Times features “Peter Rabbit Must Die”, a compendium of stories of gardeners killing animals which had the unmitigated gall– can you imagine the nerve?– to eat their tomatoes and other plants.  The bottom line?  In the collision between gardeners and wildlife of all kinds, the  animals are killed.  Nothing, it’s claimed, is as effective as clubbing, drowning, shooting.  And, of course, most of these folks claim that they don’t even feel the slightest twinge of guilt afterwards.

What disgraceful nonsense.  Give me a break.

I’ve been gardening for more than 20 years in Columbia County, New York.  Sure the deer have eaten the Swiss Chard and the sunflower sprouts.  Of course the ground hogs have eaten the cucumbers.  It’s sad when that happens.  I get angry, too.  But let’s get a grip.  This garden isn’t necessary to feed me or the people in the Village of Chatham.  It’s not the difference between living and dying, between health and starvation, between prosperity and economic ruin.  It’s a hobby.  It’s something I enjoy.  Yes, I love my lettuce and tomatoes and kale.  So, in fact, do the animals.  But does this give me authority to get a shot gun and blast them away when they browse the arugula?  I don’t think so.

These animals were here long before I was.  They were here long before my 160 year old farm house.  They were eating crops here before Lincoln was president.  They were eating spinach and kale when it was grown by Dutch colonists in the 17th century.  So at the very most, I can take non-violent steps to discourage them.  Urinating on the garden’s boundaries sometimes works.  Letting the dog out sometimes works.  Letting the cats wander sometimes works.  Spraying with cayenne works to a degree.  Being present works.  Weeding works.  Leaving your scent in the garden works.  If I left for a week or 10 days and didn’t weed, the garden would be eaten in broad daylight because it would appear to have been abandoned.

There have always been collisions between humans and wildlife.  I believe in non-violence. And peace.  And equanimity.  I don’t want to think while I’m eating my tomatoes of the dozen ground hogs I murdered to get the vegetables on the table.  I don’t want to pass the lettuce and think about rabbits I garroted.  I don’t want to eat stuffed zucchini and think about how I got a NY State permit to shoot the deer.   I can live very nicely without those thoughts.

There’s a bird family living in the kitchen vent in the side of my house.  I hear the chicks tweeting for food at sunrise.  I see the mother and father bird bringing food and nesting materials into the vent.  I get off the porch if they are frightened of my being there and won’t go to their chicks.  I would never reach in and throw them, their nest and their babies out and stomp them.

How can we expect anything as grandiose as world peace when we cannot find a way to coexist with groundhogs?  Can’t we live and let live?

Pony Party….TITS,ASS

Thursday,  I  Think  Seriously,  About  Self  Sustainability


No one wants to be sick…ill.

And yet we are going farther & farther from what would make us healthy.


fresh veggies

Real food!

Not the agri-corp,  perfectly formed, devoid of vitamins, shipped a million miles stuff, NO.

I’m talking about growing it yourself in your own yard.

Even if you are an apartment dweller….you can container garden a portion of your food.

At the very least find someone in your county that grows Heirloom veggies…Buy Local.