Let It Grow Organic Gardens

And I resumed the struggle. -Vladimir

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bald Tale, Spikey Teeth

The Possum used to have a long, bushy tail, and was so proud of it that he combed it out every morning and sang about it at the dance, until the Rabbit, who had had no tail since the Bear pulled it out, became very jealous and made up his mind to play the Possum a trick.

There was to be a great council and a dance at which all the animals were to be present. It was the Rabbit's business to send out the news, so as he was passing the Possum's place he stopped to ask him if he intended to be there. The Possum said he would come if he could have a special seat, "because I have such a handsome tail that I ought to sit where everybody can see me." The Rabbit promised to attend to it and to send some one besides to comb and dress the Possum's tail for the dance, so the Possum was very much pleased and agreed to come.

Then the Rabbit went over to the Cricket, who is such an expert hair cutter that the Indians call him the barber, and told him to go next morning and dress the Possum's tail for the dance that night. He told the Cricket just what to do and then went on about some other mischief.

In the morning the Cricket went to the Possum's house and said he had come to get him ready for the dance. So the Possum stretched himself out and shut his eyes while the Cricket combed out his tail and wrapped a red string around it to keep it smooth until night. But all this time, as he wound the string around, he was clipping off the hair close to the roots, and the Possum never knew it.

When it was night the Possum went to the townhouse where the dance was to be and found the best seat ready for him, just as the Rabbit had promised. When his turn came in the dance he loosened the string from his tail and stepped into the middle of the floor. The drummers began to drum and the Possum began to sing, "See my beautiful tail." Everybody shouted and he danced around the circle and sang again, "See what a fine color it has." They shouted again and he danced around another time, singing, "See how it sweeps the ground." The animals shouted more loudly than ever, and the Possum was delighted. He danced around again and sang, "See how fine the fur is."

Then everybody laughed so long that the Possum wondered what they meant. He looked around the circle of animals and they were all laughing at him. Then he looked down at his beautiful tail and saw that there was not a hair left upon it, but that it was as bare as the tail of a lizard. He was so much astonished and ashamed that he could not say a word, but rolled over helpless on the ground and grinned, as the Possum does to this day when taken by surprise.

'Myths of the Cherokee,' by James Mooney
Nineteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology 1897-98, Part I. [1900]

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bragging on the Nephew, Once Again

Researchers first assessed brand recognition levels in 38 children aged three to five years old. Mainstream brand logos, like Lego and Coca-Cola, were presented to children on a card. The children’s recognition rates were as high as 92 percent for some of the 50 brands tested across 16 product categories. The most commonly recognized brand was McDonald’s, followed closely by other brands of fast food, soda and toys.
from the University of Michigan
School of Kinesiology

I'd promised a St Johnswort plant to a customer last year, only to find I'd sold out of every one. Or nearly so. Julie and I were in the greenhouse, loading up for market the next week, and I said, "If you see a St. Johnswort, toss it in the van. There's gotta be at least in here." A few minutes later, a tiny voice from beneath the tables says: "There's one. It's right on top of me."
Moreso, he has the uncanny knack, and has since he was about three, of crawling through the weed jungle outside the greenhouse, the tangle of overgrown grass where we usually toss extra starts that don't get planted, and emerging munching on a newly discovered kale plant or collard plant, tossed aside and left to grow in the mess for months.
This morning I couldn't figure out why the cat went insane. She's normally quite docile and mild-mannered, but this morning she was wound up like a meth-head.
"She found the catnip," Isiah said.
"No, it's too cold. The catnip hasn't sprouted yet."
He comes back ten seconds later, with a freshly picked leaf.
Should scholars from the U. of Michigan find this of interest, we can arrange to ship him up there for study. But we'll need him back soon. We can't get any work done without him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

From the Annals of Gardening

we find this

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Peel Me A Grape

Ever wonder where your food comes from?
Me neither.

Monday, March 08, 2010

More News From Appalachia

These are tough times for children. Unemployed parents are in the house all day. Threats of foreclosure loom on the horizon, cars are being repossessed and trips to the ice cream shop are few and far between. Classroom failure is a constant, and success is defined as conformation to a statistic. Their lone pleasure comes from electronic gadgets, and for this adults criticize them. Flak jackets and condoms are standard issue in any lunch box. The world is unfeeling and unjust and just plain mean if you're small and weak. Their reality is a world in which, as the good Doctor said, "Rain is poison and sex is death." And now vultures vomit on them when they go to the playground.
It's starting off slow. It's isolated to a few places in Greeneville. Tennessee. It'll spread. It'll spread like the locusts and the frogs did in days of yore. It'll spread like a plague through London. Like white men in the new world. Kids don't get a break even in the best of times, and in days like these, every one of them is bound to be hit by projectile digested road kill just for playing spud. And the cure is worse than the disease. The Federal Government, in the guise of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, has recommended hanging dead vultures from the swingsets. Their carcasses, dripping maggots, are bound to scare off the other vultures, the reasoning goes. (Ignorant farmer that I am, it was my impression that dead things attracted vultures.)
The point remains that the playgrounds are not safe. There's broken glass and bullies and sexual predators. They now fear even birds. There is no refuge. Nature itself has now turned on the children, and the grown-ups are powerless to help.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


The days are warming up. The soil is drying out. The plants are starting to wake up and grow. In some parts, they call it Spring.
There is the slightest hint of growth at the base of some of the perennial flowers. Future flowers curled up in tiny little baby bundles just below the mulch line and slowly stretching up toward the sun. Anise hyssop, lupine, angelica and columbine all ready to return for another year, along with dock and a dozen other unwelcome weeds. At this stage they are all purples and reds, with just a suggestion of green, usually down near the stem.
The poor little things are cold and they're hungry for any little scrap of heat available, and red leaves absorb more heat than green. They're trying their best to balance the red and the green, the heat and the food, doling out their budget ever so cautiously to cover the basic necessities. Chlorophyll takes back seat to a few other compounds this time of year, to make room for more antho- and caro- and xanthos. With a subsequent shift in hue. It's autumn in reverse. The leaves will become increasingly more green as the days warm - color as thermometer - and these tiny little buds now struggling so hard to stay warm will provide shade.

Friday, March 05, 2010

My Greenhouse Management Technique Borrows a lot From Cezanne.

We're getting down to business here at Let It Grow. It's seed starting time, time for seed starting and starting seeds we are. A bit late this year, well, a lot late this year, but this train is finally starting and it will not be stopped. The incubation house is full of trays and the tables in the greenhouse are filling up. We're starting the usual spring transformation from swaths of brown potting soil to swaths of green seedlings. It's the colors I mostly focus on, and then the shapes.
The UPS truck is showing up just in time this year - I'm walking from the driveway to the greenhouse tables and emptying the box, searching for the right packet and doling out the seeds into their assigned little cells in one continuous motion. I'm patching holes in the plastic as I set trays and repairing heaters as I need them. It's going to be a just in time kind of a year. But God is smiling on us. Yes, we're late getting things started, but we choose the coldest year since the demise of the mastodons to be late. Had I gotten everything fired up when I usually do, I'd had already spent more on greenhouse heat than I did in all of last year. All these disasters disast for a reason, is one thing this farm proves over and over again. I may not want to be in the midst of twisted and unusable greenhouses, nor want the fields to be saturated beyond hope, but it's all pointing me to a place where I need to be. I stopped fighting it long ago - buy the ticket, take the ride. This year its been more challenging then most to stay on the path. I've been close to cashing everything in more than once. But I remind myself to enjoy the ride. I've inherited more than twenty thousand seed trays, and they all must be filled.
Saxifrage is my flower that splits the rocks. William Carlos Williams said that.
I'll start seeds as they arrive in the mail and plow the soil as it dries out. I'm getting the better of the deer. Most of the equipment works.
The greenhouse is atop a muted gray gravel. The tables are brown and angular, pointing up and
aside at the same time. The brown swath is feeling kinds good right now. It'll turn to green.

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