Posts Tagged ‘home garden’

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. 

michael@plusminerals.com

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Growing Hemp for Fun and Profit

February 26, 2010

Now that I’ve got your attention, what in Sam Hill am I talking about? Am I advocating growing the “demon weed” in defiance of DEA edicts? This is a GARDENING blog, not a drug advocacy rant. Okay, I have to digress here and say that “weed” is a naturally occurring plant and as such should be left out of drug policy, but that’s just my own libertarian tendencies sneaking out when I wasn’t looking. But seriously, what “hemp” am I talking about?

First, I hope we all agree that bare ground is a bad idea. It is wasteful for solar energy to fall on bare ground with nothing present to capture it. It (bare ground) is susceptible to erosion, compaction and temperature extremes. So, cover crops are mandatory in order to collect solar energy, keep the little beasties in the soil happy and fed, and protect bare soil from erosion and compaction. Most importantly, cover crops are a CHEAP method of putting valuable nitrogen into the soil for just the cost of seeds, plus you get THOUSANDS of pounds of organic matter for FREE! It’s MUCH easier to grow your own organic matter in the soil than it is to buy it and HAUL it. Let nature do the work for you. Remember, we want to work WITH her not AGAINST her. She can be a great friend and helpmate or a cruel bitch on an enemy. Kind of like… well you know. 

Okay, back to the original question, “what hemp am I talking about?” That would be Sunn Hemp or for those who can actually READ Latin, (Crotalaria juncea L.).

These are some links to web sites advocating the growing of hemp, and just so everyone is clear, nowhere in these links will you find a reference to websites advocating the growing of the “other” hemp. So, just so I am CRYSTAL CLEAR, these are RESPECTABLE references with details about a valuable agricultural crop. Damn, no matter how I put this I just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Okay, here are the links.

This is a US government agency advocating the growing of hemp. 
http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/hipmcrb8433.pdf

This is a link to a main stream agricultural magazine detailing the advantages of growing hemp. 
http://southeastfarmpress.com/cotton/nitrogen-sources-0925/

And finally a link from the USDA, a gov’t agency that is always looking out for the American farmer. 😉
http://soils.usda.gov/sqi/management/files/sq_atn_10.pdf

Just to briefly summarize the benefits to growing hemp, they are, in no particular order:

1. Production of up to 200 pounds of organic nitrogen per acre every 60-90 days
2. Production of up to 6000 pounds of biomass per acre
3. Suppression of noxious weeds
4. Suppression of nematodes
5. Improved soil properties and water conservation
6. Reduced erosion and soil compaction
7. Has potential as a forage crop, paper fiber and as an alternative fuel

Who should use Sunn Hemp? Anyone who has soil that needs to be improved. The crop can be used by conventional as well as organic growers. Sunn Hemp ‘Tropic Sun’ works very well as a precursor crop for small grains (winter wheat/oats) or as a legume to restore soil fertility and to increase organic matter. Just think about it. You can turn 50# of seeds (15000 seeds per pound) into 6000 pounds of organic matter without having to pick up a shovel or use a wheelbarrow. And, as a BONUS, you get 200# of organic nitrogen, ready for plant uptake!

You can proudly proclaim that you are a producer of AMERICAN HEMP for both FUN as well as PROFIT!

Just be prepared by keeping copies of ALL seed receipts as well as copies of ALL gov’t recommendations to actually grow the variety of hemp I am advocating. I would not want you to be the victim of confused drug enforcement agents who don’t have the good sense to read useful and informative blogs such as this one. 

All kidding aside, Sunn Hemp is a completely LEGAL plant, not even in the same family as Cannabis sativa L. commonly called marijuana or pot. No, Sunn Hemp has REAL value to farmers and gardeners in the south.

I proudly proclaim myself to be an advocate of growing American Hemp, but that’s just me, Michael LaBelle, “a man out standing in his field.” Just don’t tell the DEA WHICH field I am out standing in. I wouldn’t want them to find out where I am after this blog hits the net. 🙂