Friday, March 27, 2009

It's HERE! I can SMELL IT!!

I have my organic Grafitti cauliflower, my Walla Walla onions, and my organic biodynamic spinach in cells awaiting germination! I have my Thompson's organic brocolli ready to cell up tomorrow and do the same! My peas aren't planted, but I intend to plant them tomorrow, even in the rain! My new 50' X 20' garden is only awaiting some dry days and sunshine --and of course, germinated seeds-- to embrace veggies! My tomatoes and peppers are about an inch and a half tall, and some even have the beginnings of their second true leaves! (these, of course, are still in the greenhouse. They won't be planted until Mother's Day)

But it's HERE! I see my Flowering Quince's buds swelling. I see flowering cherries in town, one tree is already in full regalia! My weeping pussy willow has a few fuzzy yellow catkins peeking and meowing at the day. My peach trees are swelling, as are the plums.

I have given my garlic and bulb boxes a nice feeding of bone meal. I still have to take the chainsaw out and top the apple trees of their more exuberant growth, and spray them with Neem for the season, but it's been too rainy to spray.

Glory! Spring is Springing!!


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bloom Day!

May Dreams Gardens Bloom Day! I had to cheat, because I couldn't get my pictures from my garden developed in time.. I have a lavender tulip! and a cluster of beautiful purple whozeewhatsis bulbs peering up at me.. BUT! until I get my film back (drat that my digital died, and double drat that I can't seem to get my new camera to WORK! *bah*) I have to settle for flowers at work.

I'm cheating, of course, since these are all at work.. BUT they ARE in bloom, and they DO remind me that it is almost here, that season of joy and work, and Godliness.

Orange Sedge & pansies. Soon these will be planted in a pot. The snowy ice crystals were just too fun to let go unphotographed!

sweet daffodils in a nice little pot.

Happy Bloom Day! Happy Gardening!


Saturday, March 14, 2009


I am overwhelmed I am carrying a weight of the Atlantians, of a Herculean responsibility. I Voted for MY PRESIDENT, for my Congress... for my Representation, & I find that I need to dedicate a part time job's worth of ... "following" ... "Following" which means -- to be responsible-- the time it takes to read CAREFULLY all senate/house/state/federal Bills, recommendations, suggestions regarding ..... oh everything I might someday be involved in.

Like gardening. Like owning an animal of any kind. Like Farming. Like Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Happiness.

And I can't rely on "someone else" (that so -marvelous "Royal We") to translate the incredibly complex, verbiose, detail-oriented language of the Bills, of the DESCRIPTION of the Bills, of the presentation of the Bills ---let me remind myself that you CANNOT do a "animal rights bill" Google search, because the animal rights activists TERRORISTS hide their lobbying under "agriculture" and other totally incomprehensible sub-titles that regular American College Graduates cannot possibly keep up with.

and I am overwhelmed..... I find myself juggling the welfare and happiness of myself & my animals -- who are the only Family I will ever ever have this lifetime -- with survival....

No wonder I have to take a moment an hour a lifetime worth of consideration that this is a Good Day To Garden. and let me be fertilizer.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

CALL TO ARMS! Man your pens!

AACK! I am drowning in a sea of legislation!

First off, there's Oregon's STUPID Exotic Pets ban! Senate Bill 391. Oregon already has a superb and well-thought-out common sense Permit system, but HSUS, PETA, API and the other Animal Rights Terrorists from out-of-state don't think that's good enough. Since they actively wish to ban the ownership & use of ALL animals, what better way to go about it than starting with the "unpopular" pets?
Read more about this Bill here, and PLEASE write your Congressperson and ask them to OPPOSE this Bill! Oregon’s Anti Exotic Pet Attack

and NOW good ol' Monsanto is at it again. That Evil Empire Demon Spawn has come up with a new plan to control our food sources: Make Small Farms and Farmer's Markets basically illegal. Tree Huggers has a very good write up about this:
Stop HR 875, HR 814, SR 425, And Soon, HR 759

No matter what your political leanings, these kinds of Bills are BAD BUSINESS! We broke Ma Bell up because it was a monopoly, and now we are allowing a monopoly to lobby into our food source! HEY! FARMERS! Backyard Gardeners! Everyone who owns a chicken and gives away eggs to their neighbors or zucchini to their postman! WE CAN'T LET THIS HAPPEN!

PLEASE I beg you, please write your Congressperson, your Representative, your Governor, and anyone else you can think of, and stop these terribly wasteful legislative idiocies! Our freedoms are at stake here, by the very peoples who would seek to take control over what and how you eat, and who and what you choose to live with! TAKE BACK CONTROL!


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Put a Little Love in Your Heart!

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Think of your fellow man
Lend him a helping hand
Put a little love in your heart

You see it's getting late
Oh please don't hesitate
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Another day goes by
And still the children cry
Put a little love in you heart
If you want the world to know
We won't let hatred grow
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see
Wait and see

Take a good look around
And if you're lookin' down
Put a little love in your heart

I hope when you decide
Kindness will be your guide
Put a little love in your heart

And the world will be a better place
And the world will be a better place
For you and me
You just wait and see

Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in your heart
Put a little love in -
Put a little love in your heart...

Out of the darkness, and into the Light, we must shine, shine, shine, shine with every fiber of our beings, shine with every kindness we can muster, shine with all the love we have available. Give it away! Pass it along! Just try to deplete the resevoir of love and kindness within your Spirit, and watch it multiply, watch it blossom, watch it propogate into wee small baby kindnesses sprouting willy nilly all over, to cover the Earth with a foggy blanket of Loving Kindness, so thick you can touch it, if only we try.

Here, Gentle Reader, allow me to touch you, allow me to spread the Love in my Heart from my One Mile Radius to Yours. Allow me to infect you like a plague of gentle smiling.

I make this Vow, that I will try to be fertile with Love, pregnant with Kindness, pollenated with Life. Happy Gardening! Sow the Seeds of Joy! Go Forth and Multiply!

(Tomorrow I get to plant peas! WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!)


Monday, March 9, 2009

More Snow! Tomatoes & other yummy dreamings

BOY! That derned Punxsutawney Philsure got it right! He's SUCH an accurate groundhog! It is snowing like crazy here, big fat rich snowflakes that look like Boraxo soap flakes. The ground and all the limbs are dusted with frosted flocking.

In the third greenhouse at work, we have nestled within a hoophouse-within-the-greenhouse, where lies tender young tomatoe seedlings many of which are still dreaming of sunshine on their shoulders, but some brave seedling souls have pushed their little cotyledons above the soil to peek at me with anticipatory glee. "Lookie Lookie Ms. Cookie! Me's'a gonna be a TOMATO some day!"

We have had to throw a wee heater in that greenhouse just in case it needed a bit of extra warmth, seeing as it got in the high 20's here last night, all covered in snow. I love my work, I love my job, but there are times like these where I could right happily dream by the pellet stove and stay at home watching snow flakes linger on and gracefully fall from the sky.

Happy Garden Dreaming!


Monday, March 2, 2009

Reprinted with permission:

Dear Kitchen Gardener,

What’s a home garden worth? With the global economy spiraling downward and Mother Nature preparing to reach upward, it’s a good question to ask and a good time to ask it.

There isn’t one right answer, of course, but I’ll give you mine: $2149.15. Last year, my wife Jacqueline suggested to me that we calculate the total value of the produce coming out of our garden over the course of the growing season. Initially, the thought of doing that was about as appealing to me as a recreational root canal. I remember replying something like: “OK, so let me get this right: in addition to raising three busy boys, managing two careers, volunteering in a school garden, and growing most of our own produce, you’re proposing that we weigh every item that comes out of our garden, write it down in a log book, and spend a few leisurely evenings doing math?” Jacqueline, an economics major in college and a native French speaker, answered with a simple "oui" and so the project began.

There was a lot of work involved, mostly for Jacqueline, but as with gardening itself, it was work with a purpose. It didn’t take long for our log book to start filling up with dates and figures. Although we started eating our first garden salads in late April, we only began recording our harvests as of May 10th, starting first with greens and asparagus. Our last weighable harvest was two weeks ago in the form of a final cutting of Belgian endives forced from roots in our basement.

By the time we had finished weighing it all, we had grown 834 pounds and over six months worth of organic food (we’re still eating our own winter squash, onions, garlic, and frozen items like strawberries, green beans, and pesto cubes). Once we had the weights of the 35 main crops we grew, we then calculated what it would have cost us to buy the same items using three different sets of prices: conventional grocery store, farmers’ market and organic grocery store (Whole Foods, in our case). The total value came to $2196.50, $2431.15, and $2548.93 respectively. For the other economics majors and number crunchers among you, you can see our crunchy, raw data here.

There are things we didn’t include like the wild dandelion greens which we reaped but did not sow, the six or so carving pumpkins which we ultimately fed to our compost pile, and the countless snacks of strawberries, beans, peas, and tomatoes that never made it as far as our kitchen scale. There were also things we forgot to weigh like several pounds of grapes which turned into about 12 jars of jam. As with any growing season, there were hits and misses. The heaviest and most valuable crop was our tomatoes (158 lb/72 kg for a total value of $524). In terms of misses, our apple tree decided to take the year off and very few of our onions started from seed made it requiring me to buy some onion plants.

On the cost side, we had $130 for seeds and supplies, $12 for a soil test, and exceptional costs of $100 for some locally-made organic compost we bought for our “This Lawn is Your Lawn” frontyard garden (normally, we meet most of our soil fertility needs through our own composting). I don't have a scientific calculation for water costs, but we don't need to water much and, when we do, water is relatively cheap in Maine. Also, I mulch my beds pretty heavily to keep moisture in and weeds down. Let's say $40 in water. So, if we consider that our out-of-pocket costs were $282 and the total value generated was $2431, that means we had a return on investment of 862%. The cost of our labor is not included because we enjoy gardening and the physical work involved. If I am to include my labor costs, I feel I should also include the gym membership fees, country club dues, or doctors’ bills I didn’t have.

If you really want to play around with the data, you can calculate how much a home garden like ours produces on a per acre basis. If you use the $2400 figure and consider that our garden is roughly 1/25th of an acre, it means that home gardens like ours can gross $60,000/acre. You can also calculate it on a square foot basis which in our case works out to be roughly $1.50/ft2. That would mean that a smaller garden of say 400ft2 would produce $600 of produce. Keep in mind that these are averages and that certain crops are more profitable and space efficient than others. A small garden planted primarily with salad greens and trellised tomatoes, for example, is going to produce more economic value per square foot more than one planted with potatoes and squash. We plant a bit of everything because that’s the way we like to garden and eat.

Clearly, this data is just for one family (of five), one yard (.3 acre), one garden (roughly 1600 square feet), and one climate (Maine, zone 5b/6), but it gives you some sense of what’s possible. If you consider that there are about 90 million households in the US that have some sort of yard, factor in the thousands of new community and school gardens we could be planting, this really could add up. Our savings allowed us to do different things including investing in some weatherization work for our house last fall that is making us a greener household in another way. Some might ask what this would mean for farmers to have more people growing their own food. The local farmers I know welcome it because they correctly believe that the more people discover what fresh, real food tastes like, the more they'll want to taste. In our case, part of our savings helped us to buy better quality, sustainably-raised meat from a local CSA farmer.

The economics of home gardening may not be enough to convince President Obama or UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown to plant new gardens at the White House or 10 Downing Street, but the healthy savings their citizens could be making and then reinvesting in their local economies could.

In the end, it might come down to the language we use. Instead of saying "Honey, I'm going out to the garden to turn the compost pile", perhaps we should say "Honey, I'm going outside to do a 'green job' and work on our 'organic stimulus package.'” I bet that would get the attention of a few economists, not mention a few psychologists!

Happy, healthy March,

Roger Doiron

PS: Garden writers and bloggers: feel free to republish the text and photo above with a link back to KGI. Thanks.
The Kitchen Gardener

PPS: Do you have some home economics or a comment you want to share? That's what our forums are for.

In today's economic crunch, this is really good news! Happy Gardening!