Appreciating Macon County

 

            There are those in Macon County who seem to be unable to appreciate the good about our county.  We are growing faster than any rural county in Middle Tennessee, but many fail to appreciate our excellent quality of life.  Some want to dismantle the good and substitute for it that which is inferior.

            Lafayette continues to grow at a rapid rate and can truly boast of numerous quality amenities. 

            Our county would have been nothing if it had not been for Tri-County and North Central.  Both are ahead of the times and are the envy of many rural areas.

            An excellent small hospital, a great ambulance service, and Air Evac have made us more secure and saved lives.

            The two nursing homes and the two assisted living facilities are some of the best in the entire area.

            Though we prefer not to think of funeral homes, but must at times, Anderson & Son and Alexander are owned and operated by some great people.  In RBS, we love and appreciate Wayne Anderson and his wife LeAnn.

            It is unreal how much the Nestle Water Plant has contributed to the welfare of Macon County.  We owe a debt of gratitude to John Cook for his vision and work in recruiting this company.

            The shopping area in Lafayette has brought in thousands and thousands of tax dollars in recent years.

            And I’m not boasting, but stating the fact, there is no better school system in the area than in Macon County.  The majority of administrators and teachers are excellent and work hard.  Some of our students go to top notch colleges and universities.  From RBS, which I know best, students from last year’s graduating class are enrolled at Auburn, Memphis State, and Tennessee Tech.

            And I dare anyone to find better banks anywhere than Macon Bank and Citizens Bank—both have enhanced Macon’s economy.  It was a great day, several years ago, when Bill Green and Charlie Darnell took over the reigns of these two banks.

            Consider also how the young farmers of Macon County have made agriculture a vital part of our economy.  You fellows have my admiration and best wishes.     

Oh yes, thanks to Twenty/Twenty of RBS for the beautiful signs entering the town.

            And thanks to the school in RBS for your recent achievements, we are proud of the RBS School and all the other schools beginning with the excellent school at Westside

And thanks to the Macon County law enforcement officers in Lafayette and RBS who continually put themselves in harm’s way to protect our citizens and this great county.

            All of us, including the Westside community, Lafayette, and RBS must cooperate and work toward a more superior county.  We must be unified and we must develop leaders who are capable of keeping up with our progress.

            One more thing, but even most importantly—don’t forget how Christianity has shaped our county into a better place to live.        

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A Nation That Has Forgotten God

 

            Evolution teaches people to deny God.  We have become a nation that has forgotten God.

            1.  We have murdered 30 million unborn babies in the last 20 years.  We call it abortion; the Bible calls it murder.

            2.  The Bible says that homosexuality is contrary to nature and God (Romans 1:27).  We call it gay or alternate lifestyle—the Bible calls in an abomination.

            3.  The United States uses more grain to make alcohol than to make bread.  For every dollar collected for alcohol taxes, it costs $11.64 to only try to repair the damage done by drinking. 

            4.  The Bible speaks of drunkenness.  We call it alcoholism, sickness, or disease.  The Bible calls it sin.

            5.  Crime in our country costs taxpayers 2 billion dollars per year—53% of all crime is caused by alcohol drink.

                                    From the Voice of Truth, Volume 27

                                    By Kenneth McClain           

                                    Thanks to Mr. McClain for his sobering truths—Jimmy Cook

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Liberal Democrat’s Attack on Christianity

The religious freedom granted by the Constitution is continually under attack by the liberal democrats.  Prayers have been removed from school walls.  Countless school districts have been sued for not complying with anti-Christian rules.  Obama stopped the National Day of prayer.  Obama and his followers leave out the term “under God” when they say the “Pledge of Allegiance.”  The grinning monkey does too; Biden that is, but did he did not leave it out prior to Obama?  Nope!  But forgive him, for he knows no better.

            I don’t appreciate any politician attacking my religion—Christianity and I don’t intend to stand by and allow it to happen; that is, without a rebuttal.

            The liberal Democrats are killing the Democrat party.

            And all who vote to give Obama four more years are voting against both their children and grandchildren.  America cannot stand four more years of what she has experienced.

            Obama cannot bring down America unless we allow him to do it.  If this country falls, it will be our fault. 

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

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Southeast Biodynamic Association

The Southeast Biodynamic Association was formed after our first annual conference in 1987. Realizing the value of shared experiences and observations, we agreed to gather together regularly, we think we are celebrating our silver anniversary, but our accounting may be off. Harvey Lisle called us the rebels, and insisted we hold our own conference. He had been involved with biodynamics since 1950, and was referring to the independent nature of Hugh Lovel, Hugh Courtney and me, who all lived in the south. Harvey’s own open-mindedness, mirth and spirituality certainly guided our group, and he never missed a conference and the opportunity to spring forth new ideas. Hugh Lovel hosted the first nine conferences in Blairsville, Georgia. Each year Hugh Courtney would focus on one of the nine preparations and we learned hands on how to make them. There were other lectures and workshops, and we did not shy away from controversial subjects. Waldorf teachers, Anthroposophical doctors and many other students of Rudolf Steiner kept a lively flow of conversations going. From the very start we agreed on one thing, we had to be on a farm eating our own food. We understand that the bridge between thinking and activity required proper nutrition. It would do no good to offer education without biodynamic farm and food to feel the difference and inspire commitment. Every August I loaded up the pickup truck with melons tomatoes and whatever else Hugh didn’t grow, and made the trip to Georgia. Everything from the breads and beans to the meat and diary was grown on our farms, and the meals were stellar. A festival atmosphere was created, mimicking the words used in the agriculture course regarding their conference. Children playing added to the merriment, and the music and bonfires and eventually a talent show all became as important as the lectures, and the food kept getting better as our soils improved. Forming our association on the last day of our first conference, we agreed on a few principals. The Southeast Biodynamic Association was open to all and required no dues. The conference fee of $100 (which is still the same 25 years later) would be waived if need be. You become a member by attending the party. We organized it using ideas gained from the three-fold social order. On the one hand, free reign was given to spiritual ideas with no strings attached. To do this we use no money, no staff, no newsletter and no rules. On the other hand we promote biodynamics through economics, by creating profitable, model farms. For example, by our farm being Demeter certified for 12 years, the word biodynamic appeared on grocery store shelves all over Tennessee. The many interns from our farms also spread the word, and several now have their own farms and gardens and apprenticeship programs. By 1995 we are hosting the conferences here in Red Boiling Springs. Our association accepts no grants or money, with one exception. The National Biodynamic Association helps us to bring in a lecturer most years. In 2005 we hosted the National Conference, and many folks commented that it was special to be on a farm rather than at a hotel. So here were are 25 years later, celebrating our 25th Southeast Biodynamic Conference. But I think it’d actually our 26th. Were lucky we don’t have accounting to deal with. The word conference has been changed to celebration, and the 150 attending members will no doubt do their best to add to t he festivities. The feeling we have as we go into our 25th (or is it 26th?) year is more of a family reunion. For more info about the conference this weekend can be found at barefootfarmer.com

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“The Way of Man”

“O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Human life is a “way,” a journey, a pilgrimage. But man’s own judgment is not a safe rule to follow. We need guidance from above. We must recognize the governing power of God. No man has the actually power to govern his own life. The problem of today is man’s attempt to live apart from God and his guidance. The politicians in D.C. want us all to live by their guidance and not what God says. For example, preachers are now being threatened, that if on October 7 they preach against homosexuality, of being arrested and the church where they preach of losing its tax exemption on their contributions. You see, there is a movement across the nation for all preachers to denounce homosexuality as a sin on October 7, and the administration in Washington is warning what will happen if and when they do. It is a Constitutional right to preach the Bible, and Romans chapter 1 is part of the Bible that declares homosexuality to be a sin. So what this boils down to is who are we going to listen to, God or the Democrats? It was during the Johnson Administration that this law was passed by the Democrats denying preachers the right to denounce certain sins claiming it to be political and not religious. I’m going to listen to God, not man. What about you? Politicians and their followers can murder babies, encourage same sex marriage, and sell guns to Mexico, which were used to kill Americans and get by with it, but the judgment isn’t being held today, it will come later, and they will not escape. The eleventh commandment is this: “Thou shalt not get away with it.” God Bless America

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Master Gardeners

I love the people involved in the Master Gardeners Program.  Their curiosity has led them to take courses in horticulture from State University professors, and to help out in community gardening projects. I’ve lectured to master gardeners in many of Middle Tennessee.

The extension agent opened up the meeting. They were planning a field trip to Lexington to visit the labs where diseases are identified. The information in the Master Gardeners educational material stems from research on chemicals in agriculture, funded by chemical companies.

Apparently the “Volunteer Gardener” TV show gets aired in Kentucky because they all knew me. I started out by asking for questions, and was still trying to answer them three hours later. These folks came to learn.

I explain botany, microbiology and chemistry in simple examples from the garden. How a plant grows and its interaction with microbes and nutrients is a fascinating subject. Illuminating the causes for phenomenon experienced in their own gardens was deeply satisfying for all of us.

Many took notes. One lady claimed afterward to have five pages of them. These folks were craving information on how to garden organically. There seems to be much confusion about chemicals, and concern over their safety. They said a field trip to my farm would e much more to their liking.

Soil structure differs widely, depending on how we treat our ground. I can feel soil and  tell how it will grow plants. When it’s soft and silky, colloidal and crumbly, and not stuck together in clods and clumps, plants will thrive.

We stepped outside to look at the four by four gardens enclosed in boards and mulched in between by wood chips. The soil was weary from chemical use, packed and crusty, dry and lifeless. I had to look elsewhere to show them what I was talking about.

Underneath a nearby fence I dug out a clump of grass. Here we would see the beginnings of soil remediation. It was latticed with roots and had bugs and worms, but I could tell chemicals had been used.

It’s a shame, but understandable, that chemical companies fund agriculture education.  They make incredible amounts of money in return for their investment. It’s an honor to be able to teach a more natural approach to gardening, and a hopeful sign that people are so eager to learn and pursue it. The extension agent agreed with much of my talk, gave me a hat and made me an honorary extension agent for the University of Kentcky. But don’t tell Monsanto.

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Our Certain World

            Many walk in a world of uncertainty because they are afflicted with Forrest Gump’s attitude: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”  While we live in an uncertain world, but for the Christian it is also certain, for God is on His throne: “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”  (Revelation 19:6).

            Every morning when Christians get up they can know that God is on His throne.  Sometimes we behave as though God has vacated His throne.  It appears to us as though evil is controlling God’s world.

            Things were not good for the apostle John when he wrote the Book of Revelation.  In fact, he was a prisoner of Rome.  He had been exiled to the Island of Patmos because he refused to say, “Caesar is on the throne;” instead he said, “God is on the throne.”

            Some D.C. politician isn’t on the throne.  God is on the throne, and we can count on Him, for He is a high-performance God.  Though we live in a world of many uncertain things, there are certain things we can depend on, and the greatest certainty of all is the fact that God is on His throne, and the final decision as to what will happen to this world is in His hands.

            In the month of November, Americans will decide on righteousness or unrighteousness.  We need to turn to God for help, as we shoulder our responsibility to help get this nation back on track, for right now it is a run-a-way train, traveling on a broken track.

            We cannot afford four more years of the same.  God is on His throne and we must pray to Him for help.

            God Bless America!

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Seven French Fries, But Hold the Hamburger

The lavishly dressed wives of D.C. politicians have decided that the children and youth of America are too fat and they intend to do something about it.  Apparently, some of them haven’t looked into the mirror lately.  It doesn’t bother them when their husband’s pilots crank up the government planes and away they go on a spending spree, including $200 steaks and $100 cocktails, and all at the expense of the American taxpayer, while the poor little children of our nation eat their seven French fries.  That’s right, the do-good liberals of D.C. have exerted enough influence over the federal powers that be to hand down to the school systems of American a daily menu that is robbing our children of food and sending them home hungry.  And when they have hamburgers on the menu they can’t have French fries.  They have to be on separate menus.  Fries, but not with hamburger, and there can be no more than seven fries.  Suppose a compassionate cook were to place 10 fries on a child’s plate, what would be her punishment—10 days in BI without pay?

            I doubt if the President’s family dines without the traditional hamburger and fries.  Keep it up do-gooders, all liberal Democrats, and ya’ll will make Republicans out of America’s children.

            We know being fat isn’t good for us but, the last time I checked, we are living in America.  So living in America we have the freedom to eat what we want and as much as we can hold.  I’m not trying to promote bad eating habits, but I don’t like the direction our country is going—A King, and the rest of us peasants.

            Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but I “ain’t” cooperating.

            Michelle and all the other ladies in D.C. need to come and visit the Upper Cumberland’s poor school children and watch them eat breakfast on a Monday morning after having gone a weekend without food.

            By the way, you Country Club Republicans who have jello in your back bones are no better than the liberal Democrats who have ruined this country and are on the way to destroying it; you should call the hand of the these menu changers.

            These people are an oxymoron—eating the best of foods while America’s children go hungry.  Our government has authorized food stamps for Mexico; but put our children on a low calorie diet—too low.

            Please be advised that the local school system didn’t plan these menus.  No, they were hatched in D.C. 

            God Bless America!

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“The Welfare Kid”

Some have dubbed President Obama “The Welfare Kid” because of his liberal give-a-ways to welfare recipients.  President Clinton cut out much of the waste in welfare and made it mandatory that those receiving welfare had to work.  But a new day has dawned and those on the welfare roll have increased in numbers with 46 percent of Americans getting food stamps.  Furthermore, under the Obama Administration, work is no longer required.  Reading a book is considered sufficient for one to receive welfare.  I can’t help wondering if the reading of playboy magazine qualifies one to receive welfare.  We are told that 40 percent of Americans are now keeping up 60 percent of the American population.  Taking from those who work and giving it to those that don’t is the order of the day.

            While the U.S. is only 400 years old, she has outdone the other nations economically.  France and Britton are 1000 years old, China 3000 and Egypt 5000, but the U.S. economic history is far beyond these nations.  All this time the U.S. has been leading the word politically and economically.  However, the last 4 years have been a disaster.

            No work, only play, has been the cry of a socialist administration.  Four more years of the same philosophy and America will be on its way to becoming a third world
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Fall Crops

By mid-August I have changed my box of seeds. The last of the summer crops are planted, and it’s time for the fall ones. Although a  few rows and beds of cabbage and lettuce are in to make transplants, I patiently wait until August 15 before I go crazy.

The onion field brings fond memories. 50 bushels of large yellow bulbs grew here, many of which are hanging in the barn. Onions must like hot dry weather to cure, because we had very little rotten ones.

After bush hogging the weeds, a bucket of buckwheat gets two double handfuls of crimson clover mixed in it. Then I look in my box of brassica seed, and I choose Rutabega. I pace the length of the field and back, tossing the mixture of three very different species high into the air.

A restful is slowly released as my arm arches through the air. The seeds scatter beneath the sky and fall a few inches apart in a 20 foot wide swath. Four gallons of seed take me down  the field and back, an area of about ¼ acre.

Buckwheat is a fast growing, summer cover crop. In a month it will be two foot tall and full of white flowers. Bees love it, and buckwheat brings in lots of other insects, too. Lime in the soil is made more accessible for the next crop after buckwheat has been grown.

Crimson Clover is a winter cover crop. It is very slow to grow at first and can get taken over by weeds if sown alone. Buckwheat acts as a nurse crop for crimson clover, shading out the weeds and allowing it to get established. As a legume, it adds nitrogen to the soil.

The handful of Rutabega seed is just one of the many kinds of Brassuca family members who love the fall. Frost kills the buckwheat, and the Brassicas take over the field until winter. All along the clover hides underneath the leaf canopy. Awaiting March and April to grow and bloom in its bright red glory.

Long Black Spanish radish is the Brassica that goes into the lower half of the old onion field. I then pull the chisel plow with the spike-tooth harrows behind to cover up the seed. I wanted to follow with a cultipacker, but didn’t get to.

The next fields were where the potatoes grew, and they get the same treatment. Bok Choy, Michihili Cabbage and Calabras sprouting broccoli are in one spot, and collards are in the lower side. Another field has mustard on one side and kale on the other.

An old corn patch is slated for turnips and diakons, but we got interrupted by cattle escapees. Running them out of a field of winter squash was saddening, but planting Red Russian and Siberean Kale cheered me back up. A gentle rain fell last night to tuck the newly planted seeds in their new homes. Good things will happen in these beds under the covers of beneficial, soil improving cover crops.

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Liberals Choke on Chicken Bones

 

All the way from D.C., across the Potomac, down through Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky, multiplied millions were awakened from their sleep to the sound of coughing, gagging, and other unknown sounds. What in the world?  Some asked. It was not until the next morning, when their televisions were turned on to Breaking News which read:  Countless millions of liberals almost choked to death last night when they heard that their plot against Chick-Fil-A had boomeranged. The worst part, reported by some, though not confirmed, was a ‘certain congressman’ sitting on the steps of the Capital, flapping his arms like a chicken, and crowing like a rooster and chanting, “Don’t buy chicken at Chick-Fil-A.”  Upon hearing that the liberal’s boycott against Chick-Fil-A had failed and multiplied millions were rushing to Chick-Fil-A stores, according to one source, the congressman cried, whipped out his cell phone, and called his new wife and said, “honey, get over here quick, we’ve got to organize a “kissing party” in the front of all Chick-Fil-A stores.”  It is difficult for me to believe this story.  Perhaps it was started by the Tea Party.  However, since the congressman said two days before the financial collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack, both were in strong financial condition, I guess I can believe this story.

President Obama, that congressman, and others are killing the Democrat Party with the promotion of same sex marriage. Sixty five percent of all democrats, according to one poll, now support same sex marriage. 

In my opinion, the only way the liberals can clear their throats of chicken bones is by a big dose of Bible knowledge; read Leviticus chapter 18:22 and Romans chapter 1:24-27.  Of course, they don’t believe the Bible, for if they did they would know that marriage is between a man and a woman.

By the way, in the future I’m going to eat at Chick-Fil-A more often.  Liberals, your little ploy against the owner of Chick-Fil-A stores may cost you your election.  Stupidity is the mother of failure. 

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The Garden Changes Unpredictably

The garden changes unpredictably. I wanted to mow seven rows of drought-stricken cucumbers and beans, but save the nearby straightneck squash. By the time we got onions and potatoes up and I had the bushhog ready, the cucumbers and beans had arrived and the squash got mowed.

With the Purcell garden putting out squash at the rate of 20 or more bushels a week, we didn’t need this older planting. Old lettuce beds have new plantings of beans and cucumbers for fall. Beets are in the cave and squash is in their old spot. A potato field is in kale, along with buckwheat, after a thorough subsoiling and composting.

Fall plantings of greens are started in late July. Lettuce, Chinese Cabbage, Bok Choy, and broccoli go in rows, to be later transplanted a foot apart in beds. Turnips get planted in mid-August, probably in the corn field.

As soon as a crop is done, the garden gets a cover crop pf buckwheat, or another vegetable. There is no sense in letting it grow up in weeds. By mid-August through September, we’ll be planting crimson clover for a winter cover crop. We use a nurse crop of buckwheat and daikon to help the clover get established.

A beautiful field now is the June planting of pepper, eggplant and sweet potato. Weed-free, soft soil greets your feet as you admire bright red peppers or dark purple eggplants. The sea of vines guarantees several tons of sweet potatoes in a few months.

Small flower patches grace the edges of the garden. Zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers bring color to the green carpet, waving joyfully above it all. Fragrant herbs, like sweet basil and sill, delight our noses.

An early melon or three were quite lovely, and have us looking for more. The whole melon field has received and is blooming again. Maybe the drought didn’t kill them, but just delayed the main harvest.

Celery, chard and parsley patiently await cooler weather. They are alive and edible, but will really thrive in fall. Nearby, the climbing beans have wrapped around their bamboo poles and are reaching gracefully but in vain for the sky.

Tomatoes and cucumbers are anxious to be put up in jars. It all comes together, the exploding burst of summer’s abundance. Whatever is going on, it will be different tomorrow.

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In Loving Memory of Veronica Snow

The loss of a child is one of the most devastating tragedies that can occur in the human family. It is even worse when it is a small child whose life was cut short as result of a tragic accident. Veronica was only three years old when the accident occurred, and for eleven years she had struggled to survive, but on Sunday morning, July 8, 2012, she had to relinquish that struggle, leaving behind a grieving family and friends. My family has been very close to Veronica’s parents through the years, and we’ve watched the past eleven years as little Veronica suffered and as her parents sought countless medical opportunities to help her. Her parents, sisters, and other family members, along with many friends, loved this sweet little girl and prayed and cried, hoping she would recover, but God knows best and it was time to cease her suffering and to rest for all eternity. The times I visited Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to see Veronica, her mother was always there. When I drove to Lexington, Kentucky to see her in the Children’s Hospital there, her mother was there. All the family worked hard to care for Veronica and we extend to them our deepest sympathy. The following scripture should be a big encouragement to all: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). The suffering is over for Veronica and the memories of her smiles and the big tears in her eyes will never end so long as her family and friends live. “The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

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The World is an Onion

The world is an onion. We peel off layers and shed tears. Something good for us makes us cry. There’s a lot of sadness in the world, but nothing that an onion-filled meal can’t make a little better.

At the first dry spell in March, we are planting onions. Six boxes, with 30 bunches in each, filled up a patch that’s about 1/3 of an acre. The land was composted and rough plowed with a mold board plow last fall. Rebreaking with a harrow behind it was all it needed this spring.

Onion plants are set about six inches apart in rows on our standard 44 inch centers. I sort the bunches and pull out the tiny ones, who will need to grow in a bed before they are set in the field. The others are laid in the furrow and covered up with soil.

Because of their thin leaves, onions require diligent weeding. They don’t shade out competition like a potato or bean plant will. So, before the weeds appear, we hoe out between the plants and keep the middles busted out with the cultivating tractor.

Diversification is the key to a healthy farm. Growing many different kinds of crops and animals follows nature’s way and uses different nutrients and elements. It also spreads the workload evenly throughout the year. We weed onions in April before there is much else out in the garden.

The dry, hot weather didn’t seem to bother the onions. Wet spells before harvest can cause many to start going bad, but they all looked great yesterday as we pulled up eight truck loads.

A little hay was spread out on the barn loft floor and rows of onions were laid out to dry. I want the green tops to turn brown before storage. We either bag them up in onion sacks, or tie them up in bunches to hang up. Sometimes we take the time to braid them, which looks pretty but is time consuming.

Onion sets are simply sown in a furrow and covered up with the tractor. They don’t need much weeding because they come up thick and are marketed early as green onions. We do thin them sometimes to let the remaining ones make bulbs, but these are also marketed directly. Onion sets don’t make as good a storage onion as onion plants, because they are already a year old.

What’s for dinner? Potatoes, and onions. Squash, and onions. Beans, and onions. Italian, Mexican, Chinese, or Southern cusine will all call for onions. So don’t cry about it, keep  peeling those onions, eat well and stay healthy.

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Double-Digging

If you love digging in your garden, you’ll have twice as much fun double-digging.

When we dig into the earth, a change n color and texture can be noticed. Somewhere between six inches and a foot deep, the top soil ends and the subsoil begins. Topsoil is darker, looser and where the life is. The subsoil is lighter in color, an heavier in texture and lifeless.

Imagine your garden with eight inches of top soil and all of the plant roots living there. Then imagine it twice as deep. It’s like having a garden twice as big for the roots, and the plants will respond accordingly. Double digging is an old time method of deepening garden soil.

First, a shovelful of soil is removed from one side of the garden bed. It can be out to the side or in a wheelbarrow. We’ll dig until we hit the subsoil.

Now we break up the subsoil with a digging fork and pick. It feels good to open up this tight ground so our roots can penetrate easily. A root can’t get in here, it’s as hard as cement. We want to incorporate air and loosen her up.

Tennessee subsoil is often acidic so a sprinkling of lime will help to encourage root activity. I swing the back of the fork on the clods to further break them up.

The next step is to scoot over and move the adjacent topsoil onto the freshly dug trench. Once it’s over there, pick up the pick again and work up the lower layer. We want to leave the subsoil where it is, but really fluff it up. Roots need oxygen, and by double digging they can utilize twice as much area in the soil. If allowed to, many plants will send the roots down several feet. Think of all the extra nutrients and moisture they can get.

The last trench gets filled with the soil from the first one. The bed will be slightly higher than ground level because of the new air spaces. Don’t walk on it. Squishing it down defeats the purpose. Make the bed narrow enough, five feet or less, to be able to reach easily into the middle.

I was a back yard gardener long ago, and double dug the beds. Now, as a farmer, I employ a tool to break up the hardpan created by plowing. A sub-soiler is a two-foot long

Shank with a shoe on it. it is pulled through the fields, but only when it is dry. Wet clay will smear and seal back up. I usually do it in August, after a crop is removed and before the cover crops are sown.

The first time a bed is double dug will require the most work. Next year it will be easier. Keep the soil loose up to your elbows and you’ll soon be up to your elbows in vegetables.

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May Flies for Gardeners

May flies by for gardeners. Between planting summer vegetables and hoeing what’s already growing, there is hardly time to pick a salad. But our tiny plants from early May become thousands of lettuce heads by Memorial Day, and everyone must do their part and eat their greens.

We only hoed them once. Dry weather kept the weeds from sprouting, and good soil management insured plenty of moisture for the lettuce roots. I picture a giant sponge underneath our fields, capable of soaking in the winter and spring rains and slowly releasing water to the crops in the summer. Deciding to not hoe it again has now brought up weeds, but the lettuce has made heads and son this field will be plowed and replanted anyways.

There was plenty of hoeing to do elsewhere. Beans, cucumbers and squash plantings have been hoed and thinned. Soil gets pulled in to help hill crops. Potatoes get hilled with disc hillers on the farmall tractor, and this is also how we make the ridges for sweet potatoes. We’ll use them for the last pass through the corn, too.

Beets, onions and carrots don’t want to be hilled. They would rather have their shoulders coming out of the ground. Swiss Chard, celery and parsley like the soil neither higher or lower, although celery can be blanched by mulching deeply.

I’m trying parsnips again, but planting later than I have before. They germinate slowly and often get lost in spring weeds. Planting them in early May got us a good stand, but they still required a lot of tedious hand work.

Several bushels of butternuts were split, yielding a few pounds of seeds to plant about an acre. They would have been easier to plant if they weren’t so sticky. Next year I’ll  try and get the seeds out and dried a few days before sowing.

We rolled out our groundcloth for melons. A dozen seeds go into each freshly worked hill, and later thinned to two. A local sawmill donated slab wood to hold the cloth down, and will be remembered come harvest.

Second plantings of beans, summer squash and cucumbers separate the melons from the tomato patch. We have a row of dill in the center to break up the tomato jungle soon to form. We dug holes four feet apart and poured a half gallon of water in the hole. Then we take our bare root transplants from the cold frames and lay them in the row, roots in mud and stem in furrow, and rake in dry dirt over them. Just the top six inches bends up out of the ground.

Peppers are planted three feet apart, and eggplants slightly closer. Sweet potatoes are spaced at 16 inches. One person lays a plant down and the partner pushes it in with a stick. The stick has a 16'” wire on it, to mark the spot where the next plant goes. Processes like this allow us to move down the row quickly, with less bending over and less decision making.

Flowers get planted on the edges of the fields or on the ends of the rows. I tike cosmos and sunflowers for a tall border, and zinnias and marigolds for a shorter one. Tithonia, or Mexican Sunflower, makes a great accent for special places with its velvet stems and bright orange blooms. White flowered buckwheat is sown wherever we need a temporary ground cover.

As we enter June, the potatoes are laid by and the garlic is topped and soon to be dug. Most fields are planted, but a pumpkin patch is still in the seed jar. Hoeing and harvesting are the daily chores, along with weekly haying. We are also clearing brush from along the power lines on our farm, something I highly recommend everyone do.

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Weather

We talk about the weather often. A recurring spring question for gardeners is, “Has the weather settled?” We want to plant frost tender crops, but we do not know when the last frost will occur. As of May 1st, it is not likely going to frost, but there is still a possibility. About 20 years ago, there was a frost on May 16th. 10 years ago there was one on May 18th. The last frost could, however, be in March.

So, we take our chances. If the seed is cheap and burning a hole in your pocket, go ahead and till the soil deeply and harrow a seedbed. The land needs to be biologically active, mineralized, loose, and weed-free. Before we plant more, all of the spring crops should be hoed and cultivated.

Into the furrows go the alternating rows of beans and cucumbers. These companion plants go in at the same time as a row each of yellow squash, scallop squash, and zucchini. I step on the seed as I drop it, and rake over an inch or so of dry, not cloddy soil. In a few days, I rake directly over the row to destroy weedlings.

As the crops pop up, we rake away from the row. After the true leaves appear, hoeing begins. By planting thickly, thinning is done with the hoe. It is easier to hoe plants than grass and weeds. No weeds are allowed in the garden, period.

Corn is planted a foot apart. Turkeys and crows love to eat the freshly sprouted kernels, leaving a small corn plant on the surface. I have to put up scarecrows. I also dump some corn at the edges of the fields. Birds will eat this rather than dig up the seeds. Pine tar on the seeds definitely defeats the birds, but this method is very messy. Bird life is necessary for the farm, so we have to work with them.

Notice where Johnson grass is and dig it all the way out with a fork. Bermuda grass succumbs to weekly tillage and constant raking of the roots to the surface. It is better to do this a few times and plant later than to plant right into it.

Sow sweet basil and dill into shallow furrows and cover them lightly with fine soil. Zinnias are planted the same way, as is lettuce. Early lettuce seedlings can be transplanted a foot apart into beds to make heads of lettuce.

Winter squashes are planted deeper and get stepped on before they’re covered. They really sprout and take up a lot of space. Shelly beans, like Taylor’s Dwarf Horticulture bean, can go in alternate rows and be harvested before they are overcome with the vine from the squash.

Melons are the only crop we grow on plastic. We get 6 mil, 16 foot wide pieced and cut holes in a diamond pattern 5 or 6 feet apart. 10 or 12 seeds go in each hill and are later thinned to the best 2. Boards weight the plastic down, and it is picked up and stored away right after the harvest, so it will last for several years.

The cold frame is watered, and the tomatoes lifted out. Keeping their roots moist, they are laid down in a furrow and mudded. This means water has been poured into a small hole, making mud, and the bare root of the plant is placed in it. Dry soil is pulled on top. If the plants are long, we lay them down so only the top few inches are above ground. Tomato plants will form roots on the buried stem.

Our last planting is a field of sweet potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Okra, field peas, and our later plantings of beans, cucumbers, and squash will go in then as well. These get planted every 3 or 4 weeks, so a fresh crop comes in when the earlier ones begin to peter out.

Onions are hoed, potatoes hilled, and all the spring crops are carefully tended. We keep a look out for beetles and cutworms on our newly planted crops. Soil is pulled away from beets, carrots, and onions, but pulled toward potatoes, corn, squash, beans, and cucumbers. After the ground warms up, tomatoes will get a thick mulch of hay.

The tomatoes are more valuable, so I do not gamble with them. Except for a row of early ones, I wait until the 3rd week of May to set them out. If frost threatens, we put a reemay over the rows. Crops planted in mid-May often catch up to the earlier plantings anyway. I try to wait, but it is tempting to get some planting done earlier. You can never tell about the weather, no matter how much we talk about it.

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Comparing Obama to Lincoln

What arrogant elitist or egghead professor conjured up the comparison of Obama to Lincoln?  This is the biggest joke of the twenty-first century.  The culprit must believe that the American people are so dense that political wool can be pulled over their eyes with little difficulty.  What gall to compare Obama’s miserable four years of administration to that of Lincoln’s great years of freeing the slaves and unifying the states of this great land?

            Mr. Obama is hot and heavy on the 2012 campaign trail, begging for just four more years to carry out his plans.  Four more years, in my opinion, would finish America “Me thinks he fiddles while Rome burns!”

            Compare Obama to Lincoln and here is what we get:

            Lincoln freed the slaves and unified the States of America; whereas, Obama has introduced the weak-minded to socialism and divided the country.

            Lincoln got his education from borrowed books beside the light of a fireplace; whereas, Obama got his education in the back rooms of Chicago politicians where he learned every trick of the political trade.

            Lincoln gave every poor man forty acres and a mule; whereas, Obama gave so-called stimulus money to every wealthy banker and manufacturer.

            Lincoln promoted the one God; whereas, Obama promotes both Jehovah God and Allah.  Sorry, Mr. Obama, there is just one God (Ephesians 4:5).

            Lincoln stood in the fields of Gettysburg and delivered his famous Gettysburg Address, calling for peace and unity in his beloved America; whereas, Obama stood not in one but many foreign countries and condemned his own country, apologizing for it.  To run down your own country to your enemies is unforgiveable.

            Sorry, I see no comparison between Obama and Lincoln unless it is the fact that both belong to the male species.

            Americans cannot afford to give Obama four more years.  I think too much of my grandchildren to vote to give him four more years.

            God Bless America!

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Look What Radical Liberals Are Doing To Our America

This is our America.  It is the land in which we were born.  It is the land of freedom, of opportunity, but radical liberals are seeking to deprive us of our many freedoms and to micro-manage the lives of the weak that had rather trade their freedoms and opportunities for a “mess of pottage” and wait for the mailman or an electronic devise to reward them.  Folks, no “piece of the pie” is worth losing one’s freedom and opportunity.  Those who seek to rob us of these great blessings are enemies of this country and all who have shed their blood for it.

            Here is one graphic illustration of an upcoming dictatorship.  Last week a marine for ten years was discharged from the Corps because he criticized Obama, and was denied a portion of the income coming to him.   In other words, he was discharged for exercising his constitutional rights, which includes the right to criticize, even the President of the United States.  However, it never includes the right to lie as the present politicians are doing in D.C.

            What about our two Senators from Tennessee and our Representative taking the lead in defending this marine?  No policy supersedes the Constitution and don’t try to suggest it does.  Let every American citizen defend him.

            In June of last year it was found that only a few school children have learned about the history of this country.  Instead, book publishers have been pressured into rewriting history to further the goals of the left socialist agenda.  They publish books with no moral values, and attempt to paint radical Muslims, and not Christians, as the ones who have been persecuted.  These same radical liberals are responsible for advancing the cause of the so-called “Gay Rights” in school systems.  If radical liberal fanatics control our educational system for more than two generations, whey will suffocate the truth about this great land.

            Many of our schools of higher learning have been infiltrated by leftist radicals who lecture our young people on ways to bring about the economic and social collapse of America.

            How long, oh how long are we going to let this radical liberal regime and its cadres control the education of our children from elementary school through college?

            Please, God, deliver us from four more years of these anti-American politicians who want to change America into their godless image.  I read of a politician who had changed his views rather radically who was congratulated by a colleague, who said, “I’m glad you’ve seen the light.”

            “I didn’t see the light,” was the reply, “I felt the heat.”

            When the politicians “feel the heat” things will get better.  It is up to us to apply the heat.

            God bless America!  The real and only God is always spelled G-O-D.  There is one God (Ephesians 4:5).

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Interesting Characteristic

Human nature has the interesting characteristic of an inevitable ability to overcomplicate simple issues.  For example, I could have just said “people make things too complex.” Working with mother nature is so easy that it baffles our minds. I see this often as I consult with other gardeners.

In an urban backyard, a lady has six raised beds, about two feet tall. The plants could be healthier, and I asked about the soil. “It is pure compost,” she said. It looked like undigested organic matter to me.

“Where did you get the ‘compost’?” I asked. “I bought bags of it at the store,” she replied. I felt it and could tell it did not have life. Further inquiry revealed no soil had been used at all.

At this point I dug a hole nearby. As I suspected from the abundant white clover, her soil was naturally rich bottomland, just compacted. I loosened it up, added a bit of sand and her “compost,” and had something plants would love to grow in. A hole dug further down from the house turned up gorgeous soil.

Composting is both a breaking down process and a building up process. The end result is a stable, humus-clay complex capable of holding nutrients and moisture that are slowly released as plants need them. Mother nature is an expert composter.

When left alone, an appropriate amount of fallen leaves, along with other organic materials, gets mixed with the waste products from animals and lays upon the soil. Carbonic acid forms when it rains and dissolves minerals from the rocks.  This results in a beautiful topsoil.

Much of what clients show me as compost has not broken completely down. Bits of wood chips and leaves will rob nitrogen from the soil to continue their decay. This will cause plants to be yellowish and unhealthy.

The building up process requires microbes. Good compost feels silky and soft, and smells like forest soil. Adding good compost to a new pile insures the presence of these microbes, which can then have families and colonize their new home. They need air, moisture, and a few months to build up a stable humus.

The lady spoken of earlier then showed me her composter. It was a plastic bin that can be turned with a handle, and inside it was her kitchen food scraps. Composting was not happening- no soil, air, water, or microbes. I would be much more simple to dig a trench in her beautiful soil and put the kitchen scraps in it every day and kick a little soil over them.

Mother nature teaches us to slowly decompose organic matter. Let life processes arise out of the death and decay processes. We do not need bags of “compost,” which can contain toxic poultry litter, un-rotted wood chips, and products of uncertain quality. We do not need two-foot tall beds, which will have to be watered a lot, or plastic compost digesters. Let’s enliven our soils with good compost, and not confound things. Keep it simple.

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