Macon County Chronicle

Opinions and Blogs

“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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Look What’s Happening in Public Schools

The Muslins aren’t coming.  No, they are already here.  They have weaseled their way into charter schools in America at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.  Many of the charter schools throughout this country are being run by a secretive and powerful sect from Turkey called the Gulen Movement, so named after and headed by a Turkish preacher named Fethullan Gulen who has founded other schools in 100 countries.  The Gulen Movement opened the first U.S. charter school in America in 1999.  Gulen’s schools spread rapidly, when Gulen figured out how to work our system and get U.S. taxpayers to pay for his religious and social movement.  This movement now operates the largest number of charter schools in this country.  In my research I’ve learned this movement has 135 schools, teaching more than 45,000 students in 26 states.  Guess who is paying for this?  You are-the American taxpayer.  These schools have Turkish board members and Turkish teachers who are referred to as “international teachers.”  After the school day is over, before the buses are allowed to leave, the students are taught Islam.  This is brain-washing America’s children, financed by local governments and federal grants.  Charter schools hire and fire their teachers and thus avoid control by educational departments.

            Our dumb politicians are assisting the Muslims in taking over America and slowly turning it into an Islamic state.  Thirty-six Turkish charter schools in Texas have received $100 Million in government funds and 16 percent of the workers are Turkish.

            Don’t let this administration in D.C. steal our heritage.  The propaganda being spread to America’s youth distorts its Founding Fathers, moral values, free market system, and Christianity.  If we continue to ignore this threat, then our children and grandchildren may very well live in an Islamic state.

            Can we afford four more years of mismanagement of the U.S. Government and support of radical Islam?

            I have the constitutional right to believe and say the above.

            God bless America.           

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Spring Brings Beautiful Things

Spring brings beautiful things, flowers and bees and a bird that sings. Gardeners are busier than bees, blooming in their exuberance and humming right along with mother nature’s display. We’ve added necessary minerals, gently tilled the soil, and livened things up with plenty of compost and biodynamic preparations. Let’s go!

If the ground is damp enough to make a ball in your fist that doesn’t shatter when you drop it, we stay out of the field. Compost piles are made for next year. Dandelions need to be picked for preparation. Horns are filled with ground quartz and buried. Tomato cages get made, chickweed is pulled from around the berries, seeds are inventoried and garden plans jotted down.

On April 1, I got the cold frames ready to grow the tomato, pepper and eggplants for transplanting later. Sifted compost, sand and soil makes up the top few inches, ontop of the same mixture (unsifted) to a depth of eight inches or so. A little phosphate, lime and kelp are mixed in, too. I make rows with a stick, three inches apart, and carefully drop seeds an inch apart in the rows. After firming them in with the side of my hand, I rake with my fingers to cover them up.

As soon as the ground is dry enough, onions and leeks go in. Plants are sorted, and the small ones are healed in temporarily to get bigger. The plants are set six inches apart, and two can be planted together. Onion sets, for green onions, are sown and covered up, but in a different garden, to avoid disease.

Potatoes are cut up so each piece is the size of an egg and has a couple of eyes on it. notice the stem end and don’t confuse it for an eye. They are dropped a foot apart in the furrow with the eye up, and then stepped on before being covered.

After two weeks, a harrow is pulled over the rows to disturb sprouting weeds. This does not bother the potatoes sprouting below where the harrow reaches. A tine harrow or rotary how actually goes over young plants without doing too much damage and greatly reduces weed pressure.

A narrow furrow is made for lettuce, parsley and swiss chard. The lettuce will be dug up and transplanted into beds, at a foot apart, in about six weeks, leaving that row for planting a summer crop.  The chard, parsley, and celery go next to each other because they will stay there all year, even over the winter if protected.

For carrots, beets and radish, we make a wide-bottomed furrow and thinly sprinkle the seed. It is easy to get them too thick. I roll the seed through my fingers and watch as it falls, but not at the ground. I want a few inches between the plants. All seeds are pushed in with the back of a rake, stepped on, or rolled over with a wheelbarrow to firm them in. then they are covered with dry soil by raking.

A few warm days around April fool’s day don’t fool me. Every row of the spring crops will get the soil raked away as soon as the sprouts appear. Then they’ll be hoed and cultivated before any weeds are visible. I have x ray vision and can see weeds sprouting underground. It is so much easier to weed them before they appear to ordinary vision.

We tend what we’ve planted before planting more. Warm weather crops like warm weather, so I don’t push my luck. I sacrifice the honor of having the first bean or tomato, and don’t take chances on a late frost nipping tender plants. Enjoy the flowers, and the birds and the bees, and spend spring with the spring crops. In May, when the ground has thoroughly warmed up, you’ll be glad the spring things are well taken care of.

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Lectures

I frequently give lectures as part of my business. It can be to youngsters at Head Start, to an elderly garden club, or to anything in between. I’ve slowly gotten over stage fright and give speeches fairly easily. Although our county executive said my talk to the commissioners fourteen months ago was respectful, he refuses to let me address them again. “We are not talking about chicken anymore, “ he said. People talk to me about chickens all the time.

On March 2nd I gave two lectures in Bowling Green, at the Organic Association of Kentucky’s annual conference. It’s a good bunch of people trying to get more organics going in our neighboring state.

The next day I attended the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show. Many old and new friends meet me there every year for my lecture. It turns into a fun question and answer session. The Davidson County Master Gardeners were represented, and have asked me to speak at their May 19th get together, at the Ellington Agriculture Center.

March 10th found me back in Nashville at Lipscomb University, giving a 3 ½ hour class on gardening. Afterwards, I gave a talk on beekeeping to a different group of people.

The Tennessee Organic Growers Association also hired me to lecture at their annual conference on March 24th. They are a hard working group active in the organic movement in Tennessee, and also had speakers from Pennsylvania and Washington State.

Two local groups, Kirbytown Farm Community and Friends of Long Hungry, still meet regularly to share research on the impact of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) coming into Macon County. We believe our findings would be of interest to our local representatives and policy makers.

Whenever a major industry moves into a rural county, people talk about it. Many of our friends and family have been negatively impacted by the chicken houses next door in Clay County, from what we can tell, the citizens of Macon County are uneasy with the prospect of CAFO communities, and can see the truth in this statement.  But it is never too late to admit a mistake and change direction.

Yesterday, Nashville Public Television came here and filmed three more T.V. shows. I would like to continue operating my business at my home, but feel threatened by the huge Tyson (who owns Cobb) chicken houses being erected 450 feet from my kitchen doorstep.

With 300 acres, there is plenty of room to move them back to 1500 feet away from my 1871 log cabin, the public organic garden and the storage cave. Cobb’s own restrictions are “1500 feet from a public area or business.” The Macon County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution stating CAFO’s must be 1500 feet from a residence. Why are they so close to me?

Hundreds of people visit here every year, and spend money locally. The concern throughout Middle Tennessee, wherever I go, is deeply gratifying. Most importantly, the wide support I have in my local community touches my heart. I didn’t know so many cared so much. As I keep on the lecture circuit and meet all kinds of people, I always can’t wait to get home to my comfortable little neighborhood.

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Variety id the Spice of Life

Variety is the spice of life, and gardeners love to try new things. Here is a list of the vegetable varieties we will be growing this year, most of which I have grown before: Arugula- standard; Bush beans- Blue Lake, Roma II, Cherokee Yellow Wax; Climbing beans- Purple Flat, Kentucky Wonder; Ghelly beans- Dwarf Horticulture, Black Turtle, Soy Butterbean; Beets- Detroit Dark Red, Chioggia; Cabbage (Chinese)- Blues, Rubicon, Michihili, Joi choy, Mei Qing, Bokchoy; Carrots- Danvers Half Long; Celery- Utah; Collards- Georgia Southern; Corn- G-90, Incredible, Silver Queen, Golden Bantam, Country Gentleman; Cucumber- Marketmore 76, Straight Eight, National Pickling; Eggplant- Black Beauty, Orient Express; Garlic- Spanish Roja, Music; Gourds- Dipper, Bird House, Crown of Thorns, Small Warted, Autumn Wings; Kale- Flatleaf, Siberian, Blue Scotch Curled; Leeks- King Richard; Lettuce- Nevada, Magenta, Concept, Red Sails, Tropicana, Buttercrunch, Jericho, Winter Density, Anvenue; Melon- Honey Rock, Green Nutmeg; Mustard- Southern Giant Curled, Mizuna; Okra- Burgundy, Clemson Spineless; Onions- Copra, Walla Walla, Yellow Ebenezer; Parsley- Italian Flatleaf, Forest Green, Survivor; Parsnip- Hollow Crown; Peanuts- Virginia Jumbo; Peas- Sugar Snap, Oregon Giant, Skunkpeas; Peppers- Carmen, Pizza, Olympus, Gypsy, Golden Treasure, Hungarian Wax, Jalapeno, Cayenne; Potatoes- Kennebec, Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold; Pumpkin- Old-Time Tennessee, Cushaw; Radish- Cherry Belle, French Breakfast, Daikon, Watermelon, China Rose; Rutabega- Purple-top; Spinach- Bloomsdale Long Standing; Summer Squash- Early Prolific Straightneck, Yellow Scallop, Sunburst, Gold Rush Zucchini, Trombocini; Winter Squash- Waltham Butternut, Table Queen Acorn, Carnival, Delicatta, Sweet Dumpling, Small Wonder Spaghetti; Sweet Potato- Golden Nugget; Swiss Chard- French Swiss Chard; Tomatoes (hybrids)- Better Boy, Celebrity, Goliath, Big Beef, Pink Beauty, Pink Girl, Fantastic; Tomatoes (open-pollinated)- Delicious, Mortgage Lifter, Bradley, Indigo Rose, Black Trifele, Golden Jubilee; Turnips- Purpletop, Amber Globe, Gold Ball, Scarlet Queen, Hakurei; Watermelon- Jubilee, Charleston Grey, Crimson Sweet, Tendersweet, Sugar Baby, Amish Moon and Stars; Herbs- Large Leaf Basil, Pukat Pill, Sage, Oregano, English Thyme, Sorrel; Flowers- Brite Lites Cosmos, Giant Dahlia mix Zinnia, Giant Sunflower, Tithonia, Rosa Rugosa, Valerian, Tuberose.

Warm weather excites gardeners, but do not forget we often have frosts in late April or early May. April 1st is a good time to start tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in a cold frame. Outside, we can plant onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, lettuce, parsley, peas, Swiss chard, celery, spinach, leeks, and radish. We will wait until May for everything else, and will not plant turnips, Arugula, cabbage, mustard, collards, Rutabega, and kale until mid-August.

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Spice of Life

Variety is the spice of life, and gardeners love to try new things.

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RBS in Retrospect

  Beginning in the late nineteenth century, people, with reasons varying from curiosity to seeking the healing of illnesses, found their way to the valley of “magical springs,” made famous by the founder of Red Boiling Springs, Shepherd Kirby. Soon, the news of the healing powers of the sulfur springs spread far and wide. This resulted in large numbers of people coming to RBS, seeking a remedy for any number of illnesses.

Very few people living in today’s RBS have much knowledge of this little hamlet’s history. I grew up in the mid-forties and early fifties.  As a lad, I was one of the pin-setters at the Palace Bowling Lanes, which consisted of eight alleys. The Smith Chapel Boys, Bobby Joines, Earnest & Doyle Smith, and Billy & Joe Layne Whitley, myself, and others, worked as pin-setters for Clarence McClure and Harold Driver, who were the managers of Palace Lanes.  I earned as much as three dollars on the weekend, beginning Friday night and ending Sunday night, staying open until midnight on Saturdays.  There were not any unions, and each of us was poor and glad to earn a few pennies per week. There were bowling alleys on North Springs Road, near the Arlington Hotel, and at the Cloyd Hotel, known today as the Thomas House, too. In addition to these, there was another at Simmon’s Lake, which was in the lower part of East RBS, along Salt Lick Creek. Bowling was a favorite sport of most tourists. The more lively ones, however, preferred drinking and dancing at one of the two dance halls.

While the Smith Chapel Boys were setting pins, Doyle Gaines was going up and down the sidewalks and porches of the hotels with his now-famous shoe shine box, making a “killing.”  Another well-known boy, Bobby Knight, was popping popcorn at the York Show House.

The crowds were unbelievable, especially on Saturday nights. The Palace Park was always filled with both visitors and local people. Next to the Palace Park was a shooting gallery, operated by King Milles, which attracted large crowds. Across the creek from the Palace Park was a café, owned by the McLerros family, who also owned both the Palace and Colonial Hotels. The café was managed by my parents from April through Labor Day. It stayed open all night on Fridays and Saturdays. An annual summer circus and carnival attracted even more visitors.

There was a time, before the days of which I’ve been writing, when the crowds were so large that visitors to RBS would go out in the county and stay at farm houses.

But time has a way of changing things and communities are no exception. There was a time, in the early twentieth century, believe it or not, when Red Boiling Springs was more popular than Gatlinburg. However as older generations were replaced by younger ones who had little love for the town’s heritage, the handwriting on the wall became clear to those who dared to read it.

More recently, a group of elected officials closed down the sulpher wells and in so doing erased much of the history of our town. Only a handful of elected officials have supported the three hotels which are being operated by three great families. The only thing that could have kept RBS alive, and it is best suited for this very thing, is the concept of a small and desirable place to escape the turmoil of large cities. Perhaps one day, with the support of the entire community, the City of Red Boiling Springs will rise again. Otherwise all that it is, and all that it once was, is in jeopardy.

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Everything in Nature is Related

Recent discoveries in quantum physics, microbiology, and ecology verify something gardeners have long known.  Everything in nature is related.  There are no solid lines between the plants’ roots, the soil, and the bacteria and fungi tying it all together.  To help understand why garden crops do or do not thrive, we are led into the enigmatic field of companion planting.

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Mr. President, Buy Your Energy Secretary A Duck

The story is told of an elderly lady who was in the market for a watch dog. Eventually she purchased what was described as an excellent guard dog. To her dismay the dog had a hard time staying awake. Instead of barking and scaring off varmints and thieves, this highly recommended guard dog would sleep. She told her story to a friend, who quickly solved her problem. “I’ll tell you what,” she said, “I’ve got a duck who is a buddy to my watch dog, and everytime my guard dog tries to go to sleep, the duck pecks him on the nose and quacks.” So she continued, “Come over to my house and get my duck and  he’ll break your dog of his sleepy habits.” She did, and her friend was right. Peck, quack, peck, quack. Soon the dog was weaned from his sleepy habits.

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