Macon County Chronicle

Opinions and Blogs

Protecting The Crops

Last year I made the raccoon families happy. This year our club of 200 families rejoices instead. Four stands of electrified wire encircle the entire sweet corn patch within a foot of the ground. Baited with a dab of peanut butter in aluminum foil hanging on the wire, the fence was a shock to the annual  ‘coon corn convention.
Continue reading
  168 Hits
  0 Comments
168 Hits
0 Comments

The Potato Crop

Potatoes here, potatoes there, potatoes everywhere. This is what happens when you plant 1300 pounds of seed potatoes into a well-composted field. With a lot of help from our friends, 300 bushels are out of the field and ready for their next stage sorting.
Continue reading
  211 Hits
  0 Comments
211 Hits
0 Comments

The Bright Side

Dark clouds have a silver lining, and there is a bright side to everything. As gas prices rise, so does the cost of produce grown elsewhere. The demand for locally grown food dwarfs the supply, especially if the fertilizer has been cow manure. For the first time in my short farming career (35 years), the prospects for the small organic farmer are blooming.
Continue reading
  224 Hits
  0 Comments
224 Hits
0 Comments

How I Grow Carrots

Five years ago I produced a TV show about carrots, in which I made a “carrot box”. This was for home gardeners who had trouble raising carrots in heavy, clay soils. The box was filled with sand, compost and good soil. I took the opportunity to explain rock dusts, such as rock phosphate, granite meal and lime. But it’s not the way I raise carrots.
Continue reading
  280 Hits
  0 Comments
280 Hits
0 Comments

Picking Beans

I’m notoriously known to disappear during bean picking. It’s easy to find something else to do. But there were many long rows for the workers to harvest so I jumped right in there, in an effort to keep myself from planting more beans. It didn’t work.
Continue reading
  218 Hits
  0 Comments
218 Hits
0 Comments

Blueberries

Blueberries are a wonderful crop for Tennessee. They were virtually unheard of here when we started fooling around with them 30 years ago. Times change, and blueberries are here to stay.
Continue reading
  267 Hits
  0 Comments
267 Hits
0 Comments

Onions

The onion makes the meal. It’s one of the oldest domesticated plants, and the many different varieties of alliums are4 all easy to grow. Garlic, the strongest member of the onion family, can be seen hanging around the drying shed, while the storage onions cover the floor.
Continue reading
  251 Hits
  0 Comments
251 Hits
0 Comments

Lettuce Varieties

We love to plant many different varieties of each vegetable, in an effort to find out which does best. Lettuce is a good example, and I like the summer crisp, or Batavia, kinds. While the romaines and others are bolting, during the first week of summer, the summer crisps are still crisp.
Continue reading
  209 Hits
  0 Comments
209 Hits
0 Comments

How To Prepare The Rows Before Planting

Hilling the rows helps the plants to grow. By throwing dirt up on the base of the plant, small weeds are smothered and soil moisture is conserved. The ridge also holds the stalk upright so it doesn’t bend or blow over with the weight of the crop.
Continue reading
  222 Hits
  0 Comments
222 Hits
0 Comments

Preparing & Planing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are the last of the summer crops to get planted. The soil was prepared a few weeks ago and had turned green with weeds. I was so glad it wasn’t planted yet. A run through with the re-breaker and harrow took care of them.
Continue reading
  245 Hits
  0 Comments
245 Hits
0 Comments

The Sierra Club's Visit

The Sierra Club called and asked if they could come out for a visit, and of course I said yes. Folks routinely drop in to see the pretty gardens that have been on TV over the years.
Continue reading
  250 Hits
  0 Comments
250 Hits
0 Comments

The Importance of Hay

A garden needs farm, so last week I shifted focus a bit and cut hay. We make hay while the sun shines, but it gets rained on sometimes. It’s an important crop for a variety of reasons.
Continue reading
  244 Hits
  0 Comments
244 Hits
0 Comments

Normal Weather

This year’s spring has been abnormally normal, like the old springs of yesteryear. It didn’t turn hot in March, or dry in April, freeze hard or late, or do anything except be a nice long spring. Maybe we’re making up for the last few lost springs.
Continue reading
  189 Hits
  0 Comments
189 Hits
0 Comments

Freedom

The question of freedom comes up when we wonder how an impulse to action arises in us. What compels us can be regarded as necessitated by nature, or as a free decision on our part. To further complicate matters, sometimes we know why we act, and other times our actions surprise us. On the farm we prioritize the things to do, routinely change the plans, and ponder how these decisions come about.
Continue reading
  166 Hits
  0 Comments
166 Hits
0 Comments

More Planting

Plowing and planting, we put in overtime last week to get 30 more bunches of onions planted, along with 30 bunches of leeks. More carrots, beets and lettuce get sowed while the peas and celery get hoed. An endless cycle of vegetables in, vegetables out during the course of the year keeps us busy, and wondering.Are there crops, which are only planted once? The answer is yes, the fruit crops.
Continue reading
  237 Hits
  0 Comments
237 Hits
0 Comments

Patiently Waiting

When the ground dries out we’re going to be really busy. Until then we’ll patiently await the appearance of peas. With hoes in hands, the young seedlings will get their due care. The heavy rain beat upon the freshly planted garden last week, and there is always the gardener’s anxiousness about whether those seeds will rot or sprout.
Continue reading
  227 Hits
  0 Comments
227 Hits
0 Comments

Tomato Patch Plantin' Time Again

It’s time to plant the tomato patch. The plan has been to set them out in the late afternoon, and water them well. This lessens transplant shock. Ours are bare-root from the cold frame, and will need a bit of tender loving care.
Continue reading
  200 Hits
  0 Comments
200 Hits
0 Comments

Making Compost Piles

I love to make compost piles. Compost enriches the earth far better then anything else because of the microorganisms involved. By piling up layers of organic materials, manure and soil, we are essentially growing beneficial bacteria, fungi and protozoa. When spread onto the fields, these helpers form soil humus and make sure the plants are healthy.
Continue reading
  190 Hits
  0 Comments
190 Hits
0 Comments

What is the difference between organic and biodynamic?

Both are farming methods which contrast drastically with the conventional, chemical agriculture so common today.
Continue reading
  203 Hits
  0 Comments
203 Hits
0 Comments

Onion Planting

Onion planting was just a warm up. We snuggled in a few thousand plants and dropped 36 pounds of sets one afternoon, yet my mind was on bigger things. They say onions make the meal, with which I concur, but onions aren’t the meal. On the other hand, potatoes are.
Continue reading
  201 Hits
  0 Comments
201 Hits
0 Comments