Archive for March, 2010

The BIG movement has been completed!

March 10, 2010

Whew! Boy was that a pain! No I’m not talking about THAT kind of movement.  What I’m talking about is my recent move to Alabama. We are all but finished moving in to our new home. Well, I’m almost done. I did put “most” of the boxes IN the house as opposed to leaving them in the dry van. I think I did MORE than my share. Besides, I don’t know where all this stuff is supposed to go. That is the job for my better half; the one with the superior spatial perspective. Don’t know what “superior spatial perspective” is? Well, I didn’t either, but my lovely wife insists she has one and while finding it might be interesting, I’m actually MORE interested in getting my garden area cut up and finishing my chicken house. Course the way this blog is going I had better make it extra nice as I might be spending time out there. 

Seriously though, we are happy to finally begin making fertilizer. Some of the equipment has been purchased, with more on the way. A local grading contractor is coming out tomorrow to give me a quote on getting the process yard graded as well as grading the area where the process building will be constructed. As an added bonus, he is supposed to quote me to deepen the lake on the property. Now there IS a real “need” for this other than the fact that I want the water to come up closer to the house. I need the 5000+ yards of dirt to fill in a low spot where we are going to put the EcoPods. So, I get the best of both worlds. I get the pond moved WAY closer to the house AND I get the soil needed to correct the low spot. Now THAT’S effective management. 

Now back to the important stuff – getting my garden in shape. The soil here is a mixture of sand and loam, setting on a red clay base. The soil fertility looks to be pretty bleak, due to the broom sedge growing everywhere. But, I know someone that makes fertilizer, so I don’t think “soil fertility” is going to be a concern.  After I get the soil somewhat broken up, my plan is to (1) send off a soil sample for testing (2) amend the soil with high calcium lime (3) add 150# of trace minerals (4) add copious amounts of composted poultry litter that I just happen to have stored over in Mississippi and finally (5) cover the whole garden with 4” of hardwood sawdust mixed with lime and poultry litter fertilizer. That way I can start getting the soil into good shape for spring planting.

I also plan on planting a SMALL “conventional” garden using synthetic fertilizer and no mulch, just to demonstrate the superiority of the permaculture method. While it is possible the conventional will do better, I just don’t think so. 

I also plan on regularly checking the Brix levels of both gardens to determine which veggies are actually more nutritious. But an explanation of Brix is a subject for another day.

In the meantime, I am a man “outstanding in his field”. Too bad it is raining like crazy, which doesn’t speak to my upbringing. I mean, what kind of man doesn’t know when to come in out of the rain? Until next time…

Can magnesium deficiency be causing your problems?

March 3, 2010

This is a quote from what looks to be a really good blog devoted to health and well-being associated with good health.

The following quote is from the post on magnesium deficiency. I post this because he references artisanally grown foods using heirloom varieties grown in “better soil”. This has been my take all along. As Hippocrates stated, “Let food be your medicine”. Of course what he left out of this oh so famous quote is this. Food grown on deficient soils produces deficient “medicine/food”. Take care of your soil and your soil will take care of you. Mineralize your soil; add organic materials, good fertilizer, and copious amounts of mulch on the surface and the veggies from that soil will truly be medicine that will do your body good.

Now the quote from the Whole Health Source blog. Thanks go out to Stephan Guyenet, the author.

Speaking of nutritious diets, how does one get magnesium? Good sources include halibut, leafy greens, chocolate and nuts. Bone broths are also an excellent source of highly absorbable magnesium. Whole grains and beans are also fairly good sources, while refined grains lack most of the magnesium in the whole grain. Organic foods, particularly artisanally produced foods from a farmer’s market, are richer in magnesium because they grow on better soil and often use older varieties that are more nutritious.

The problem with seeds such as grains, beans and nuts is that they also contain phytic acid which prevents the absorption of magnesium and other minerals (16). Healthy non-industrial societies that relied on grains took great care in their preparation: they soaked them, often fermented them, and also frequently removed a portion of the bran before cooking (17). These steps all served to reduce the level of phytic acid and other anti-nutrients. I’ve posted a method for effectively reducing the amount of phytic acid in brown rice (18). Beans should ideally be soaked for 24 hours before cooking, preferably in warm water.

Industrial agriculture has systematically depleted our soil of many minerals, due to high-yield crop varieties and the fact that synthetic fertilizers only replace a few minerals. The mineral content of foods in the US, including magnesium, has dropped sharply in the last 50 years. The reason we need to use fertilizers in the first place is that we’ve broken the natural nutrient cycle in which minerals always return to the soil in the same place they were removed. In 21st century America, minerals are removed from the soil, pass through our toilets, and end up in the landfill or in waste water. This will continue until we find an acceptable way to return human feces and urine to agricultural soil, as many cultures do to this day.

Another good link about letting food be your medicine can be found here.

Americans are literally STARVING themselves by eating foods that are devoid of the necessary nutrients their bodies need. Most commercial farm land in the US has been sub-par for almost 100 years, and the USDA KNOWS IT! The gov’t makes NO distinction between fully mineralized, nutritious food and the industrial swill that passes for “food” in most US grocery stores. The large scale commercial farmer is NOT compensated on the QUALITY of his produce but rather the QUANTITY of his crops. So what is the solution to this quandary? GROW YOUR OWN!

Because remember, “Only YOU can prevent personal starvation”.

I would say these are just my “opinions” but that would not be the case. This is the TRUTH about our food system, from a man “out standing in his field.”

Why do we garden?

March 2, 2010

I get this all the time. Why do I garden? Why do I labor out in the hot sun, working to grow my food when I could just as easily—okay, WAY more easily—go down to Kroger and buy all the veggies I want? That’s a valid question. Here is the answer I give. Well, sometimes I give an answer. Other times I just look at the questioner like he has two heads, which really messes with his head, ‘cause I think he can actually READ my mind and then he starts to see himself the way I see him, which is with two heads, and that REALLY messes with his mind—but I digress.

The answer I give is this: “Have you tasted the veggies that come out of Kroger?” Probably not, because they taste like, well, NOTHING. Sure, they look good and they are HUGE, but there is no taste. And taste developed to let us know when the food we are eating is actually GOOD for us. If it tastes like ^#@^&, then it is probably only good for the compost pile. So, the primary reason I grow food is because I want my veggies to taste like food is supposed to taste. The carrots are sweet, (look, don’t let my wife see this part, since I have her convinced I don’t eat carrots, which is true, since I don’t eat the carrots out of the store), the cilantro is, well, pungent. Okra is slimy—I mean even right off the plant, which is how I like it. And the tomatoes, well, let’s just say they taste like the tomatoes in Kroger only WISH they tasted. The point is that home grown veggies taste like they are supposed to taste.

The other reason I grow food is because it is COOL! For the first time in I-don’t-know-how-many centuries, growing food is COOL. Now I don’t know what word they used back in the 1800’s, because back then growing food was simply what everyone did. Growing food was the equivalent of “not HUNGRY!” But even then it wasn’t COOL, like it is now. I mean, go to a dinner party and bring along a bucket of fresh, home grown tomatoes, and you are the LIFE of the party! It is the equivalent of showing up with a case of beer when you were, oh, 18! Now, as an adult, fresh veggies are the best way to get … well, you know—noticed at a party.  And you don’t even have to wear a wife-beater undershirt or spend time at a smelly ol’ gym.

No, you can show up with a farmer’s tan and a bucket—let me interject here that when you bring fresh veggies, bring a LOT! Don’t be skimpy with it. You are all about ABUNDANCE! Show it! You not only produce home grown veggies, but you produce them in copious amounts, yeah verily, VOLUMES. So, you stride in all confident, with your muscled bare arms all tanned, your hair highlighted from the sun and in your BUCKET a veritable cornucopia of garden delight. You bring tangy tomatoes, hot peppers, pungent cilantro, crisp onions and, voila! Pico de gallo! That’s like showing up with crack. Well, maybe not exactly like that, but amongst a bunch of foodies, it’s pretty close.

So this is why I garden. It is something I enjoy. It’s not fattening. It’s not addictive (okay, that one may not be true). It is something I can talk about with others who are interested in food and good health. And it makes me cool. More than that, gardening is how I relate to the world around me. I have been doing it for many years—gardening, that is—and I am still fascinated with how it works. When the soil is right and when everything works together, I can grow nutrient dense food that tastes great and did not depend on a bunch of synthetic fertilizer or chemicals. It is earth friendly, which is how EVERY gardener wants things to be, since, why would a gardener want to hurt Mother Earth? I mean, she is the one who makes it possible for us to grow what we grow and get the recognition we get. ‘Cause, let’s face it, even though we would garden even if no one noticed, the accolades are pretty sweet, just like our produce.

And that’s just my perspective, from a “man out standing in his field.” That’s me, the one with the huge, uh, cornucopia. 