No Stink Bugs,
No Cucumber Beetles,
No Flea Beetles,
And No Insecticide!

Dateline: 23 July 2014

A view over my cucumber bed.
Sweet potatoes in the background.
(click pictures for enlarged views)

This is the first year in four decades of gardening that I have not had any damage from flea beetles, cucumber beetles or stink bugs. It is something akin to a miracle. I have seen a couple of cucumber beetles, but I've not seen a lot of them, and there is no visible damage.

I planted the cukes in plastic.
No weed competition.

I have a theory about why I'm having such a healthy, insect-free garden this year. Two years ago I mineralized my garden. I took a soil test, sent it to a lab, hired a soil mineralization expert to give me a mineral prescription, and I followed through with the application of the prescribed minerals.

I explain all of this in The Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners. But when I was writing the book, I had yet to see if the minerals would make a difference in my garden. Well, I think I'm seeing it now.

A proper balance of minerals is supposed to result in healthy plants, more nutritious food, and significantly less insect damage

I'm a believer.

Squash blossoms in the morning.
Sans the usual infestation of beetles.

I have started to make a YouTube video about soil mineralization. It will be an introduction to the subject.  I'll  read from the chapter in my book, while showing pictures from my garden. 

I also plan to put together a Part 2 to the Four-Day Carrots video I recently posted to YouTube. I'll show how I thin the tri-plantings, answer some questions that have come in, and I'll show the carrot bed at 3 weeks.

Stay tuned.

The Way We Were

Dateline: 22 July 2014

Winnowing away the ephemera of my life brought me back to some of the best memories of my life. Many of those memories center around the sweetness of a young love that has now endured the test of time.

The picture above shows Marlene and I as we were 38 years ago. It was taken in the hall outside the auditorium of our high school. We were voted "class couple" in our senior year. I'm not sure how that came about, as there were much more popular couples in our class. 

That picture was taken for the yearbook, but it never made it into the yearbook. Somehow I ended up with it, and I will keep it as long as I live. 

I'll also keep the girl in that picture as long as I live, or, as the covenant vow we made states: "till death do us part." 

Many of you have read my story of young love, and marriage, and continued love in The Wife of My Youth. That essay mentions Marlene's smile—how it "makes my heart glad and lifts my spirits."

Marlene at Owasco Lake Park in 1977

Well, there it is. That's the smile that, when directed at me, made me feel like I was the luckiest guy in the world. I realize now that I wasn't lucky. I was profoundly blessed.

This next picture shows yours truly in the summer of 1977…

Ed and Me in my parent's yard, just before heading up to Vermont.
My dog's name was Shadow.  

I'm with my buddy, Ed Bais. If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you might recall the story I wrote back in 2005 about the time When Me & Ed Made Apple Cider

Ed and I had been classmates at The Grassroots Project in Vermont. School was over (it was a one-year program) and everyone had gone home. But some of the students planned to go back to Vermont in the summer for the Craftsbury Fiddler's Contest. Ed borrowed his sister's car, drove from Ohio, and picked me up in New York. 

We camped out one night at the fiddler's contest and spent the whole next day there. It was the closest I've come to a Woodstock experience—not what we expected for a fiddler's contest. We decided it would be best not to camp at the contest a second night and, instead, to stay with my friends, Bruce and Patty Womer, in Craftsbury Common.

I had written Bruce and Patty (this was in the days before cell phones and e-mail, mind you) to let them know I was coming back to Vermont, and Patty had written back offering me a job working for them for the rest of the summer. So Ed headed for Ohio without me (and I haven't seen him since). 

That summer of '77, living and working with Bruce and Patty, would prove to be a life-changing experience for me. I wrote about it In This Essay.

It is bittersweet to be 56 years old and look at the fit and trim me when I was 19 years old. I was like a race horse in the gate at the start of a big race. I had a lot of strength, energy, stamina, and determination. 

In my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian, in the chapter titled Rediscovery and Remembrance, I wrote the following:

I think to myself how strong I was as a younger man. I think to myself how young men delight in the strength of their youth. I think to myself that old men delight in the memory of how strong they once were. And what of middle-aged men like me? We are looking back and looking forward and just trying to hold on to what we have, to not let it slip away.

I wrote that back in 2005. I think I've now moved beyond middle age.

I'm in good health, and mighty thankful for that…. but age is hard to take—especially when I look at the old pictures.

The Ephemera
Of My Life

Dateline: 21 July 2014

The recent death of my mother-in-law has led me to confront some of my past, and prepare for the future. 

First, I asked the undertaker who the person is that I should contact about buying a final resting place for Marlene and I at the local cemetery. It has been on my mind for some time to do this. I got the name and will follow up.

Marlene's parents had a place and a stone all set, years ahead of time, for their certain departure. Most of the old-timers were good about taking care of such things. But the undertaker told me that very few people nowadays buy a plot for themselves.

As far as "confronting the past" goes, I decided to winnow away the ephemera of my life. Ephemera is written or printed memorabilia. For three days, as I've had time, I've focused on sorting through three large boxes of old papers, photos, and such as that. My intent was to cut it down to a single, relatively small box of pertinent memories. I succeeded in reducing the mass of matter to less than 1/4 it's original size. The closed and open box pictured above and below show the results of my winnowing. 

Pictures were selected, sorted, and grouped into envelopes. I wrote on the back of every picture that didn't already have information on it. I put various categories of papers into separate files. What remains will be passed onto our children when Marlene and I are gone. They won't have to sort through boxes and boxes of papers that mean nothing to them.

What did I toss? Well, I threw out three copies of the following magazine…

My children will not need or want three copies of an old magazine with me on the cover. So I tore the front cover off one, removed the pages with my article, stapled them together, and put it in the box. Good enough.

Sidenote: I also threw out the contract for that 1998 article. The magazine took care of my expenses to fly out to Minnesota and stay a couple days, and they paid me $1,300. 

I did the same with my first article for Fine Homebuilding magazine back in 1992. I also saved the acceptance letter I got from the editor for that article. 

After years of doing physical work to make money, it was a whole new experience to get money for just putting words on paper. That magazine article was a turning point in my life. I would write several more articles before writing three books for Fine Homebuilding. It was an exhilarating experience. 

Even more amazing (to me) was when three different magazines contacted me asking if I would be interested in interviewing for a job as an editor (I declined all three).

Some examples of things I threw out

I decided that I did not need to save every cancelled check I wrote from 1976 to 1980, though I did give a last look through them. I had forgotten that I paid my parents $30 a month for rent in the years I lived at home after high school. And there was the check in 1976 to Albert Wayne for $200, which was for my first car (my father made me return the car the next day). Then, two years later, there was the check for the first car I bought and kept ($2,237.50 to Ames Chevrolet).

My grade school artwork was all tossed, as were all my report cards and Cub Scout/Boy Scout paperwork (except for two small membership cards). I kept a few homemade cards and notes I gave to my parents as a little boy. 

I wrote quite a few letters-to-the-editor of local newspapers back in the mid to late 1980s and kept a single copy of each, along with a single copy of a weekly home improvement column I volunteered to write for a local paper.   

I threw out maps, magazines, brochures, church bulletins, duplicate pictures, fuzzy pictures, and pictures I didn't like. I threw out all greeting cards with just a signature. I evaluated all letters and kept only those with pertinent information, or insightful sentiments.

I kept a folder of selected examples of my children's earliest artwork. I saved all genealogical paperwork passed on to me. I kept Josephine Jordan's Diaries (of course), as well as some of my mother's journal writings, and my own. I saved the amortization paper from Jay Myers, my father-in-law, for the $10,000 loan he gave Marlene and I to build our home back in 1983. Jay noted each payment on the paper and that it had been paid in full. I attached a note explaining to my heirs what it was all about.

And so on. You get the idea. It's done, and I feel good about it. 

Now I can die. :-)

Oh, wait, I still need to get the cemetery plot.

And Marlene needs to do her own winnowing. She has a lot more boxes of ephemera than I did.

America's New
Declaration of Independence

Dateline: 18 July 2014

"War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength."
—George Orwell (1984)

As one more evidence that America has fully entered the world of Orwellian doublespeak, I offer the Independence Card shown above. It is the state of Maryland's version of an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card.

An EBT card is the modern equivalent of what used to be known as food stamps. The government issues the card to people who are needy. The people take their card to stores and use it to get "free" food. A recent statistic I found stated that 20% of Americans now use EBT cards.

238 years ago, when America's Declaration of Independence was signed, the word independence meant something different than it apparently now means in America. According to Noah Webster's 1828 dictionary, this is what the word "independence" used to mean:

"A state in which a person does not rely 
on others for subsistence; ability to 
support one's self."

This brings to my mind an interesting reality…

Back during The Great Depression, needy people in America did not have EBT cards. There were soup kitchens set up to help feed the poor…

In the current form of economic depression America finds itself in, soup kitchens are not necessary because the poor (20% of America) now have EBT cards. And EBT cards can be used to buy a lot more than just soup…

This blog post is not being written to disparage all people who use EBT cards. I know friends and family who use EBT cards, and need the assistance. 

My purpose here is to point out that America is truly in an economic depression. Besides that, I just want to make it clear that people who are dependent on the government for their subsistence are really not independent.

"In a time of universal deceit, 
telling the truth 
is a revolutionary act."
—George Orwell 

Economic Chatter

Dateline: 17 July 2014

I don’t think a day goes by that I’m not listening to one or more discussions about the past, present and future state of the national and international economy. 

I have no interest in listening to the myopic mainstream media economic discussion, and I’m surely not going to waste my time listening to any government representative. The mainstream media are agents of misinformation, and I figured out long ago that most politicians and bureaucrats really don’t know much about economics. So, instead, I listen to a bevy of independent-minded economists on the internet.

Greg Hunter at USA Watchdog and Elijah Johnson at Finance & Liberty present a steady stream of interviews with independent-minded economic people on their YouTube channels. I appreciate the perspectives and opinions presented by the likes of Paul Craig Roberts, John Williams, Chris Martenson, James Rickards, Jim Willie, G. Edward Griffin, Nomi Prins, Andy Hoffman, Mike Maloney, David Stockman, Alasdair Macleod, and others. I never miss the McAlvaney Weekly Commentarywhich, in my opinion,  presents the most thoughtful, intelligent,  measured perspective of all the alternative economists. 

I think I’m mentioned here in the past that my interest in economics began with my interest in history. This interest must be genetic, as my grandfather Kimball was an avid reader of history books. Though I never discussed history with my grandfather (he died when I was 7), he left an extensive personal library, which I perused at length during the summer vacations of my youth (I was a bookish youngster). My grandmother let me have any and all of his books that I wanted. 

I also had a 7th grade teacher who made American history interesting. The two-day field trip our 7th-grade class took to Sturbridge Village was somewhat life changing for me. One thing led to another and, on my own, pursuing my yen for historical understanding,  I soon came to the unavoidable truth about paper currency and central banks (check out my essay titled, Andrew Jackson Hated Paper Money)...

In short, every economy in the history of the world that has utilized a paper currency has eventually collapsed (check out This Excellent YouTube Movie for some history of paper money). Such collapses bring social upheaval, despair, ruin, poverty and death. Often an economic collapse (or even the possibility of an impending collapse) leads to war.

All of which is to say that America’s economic system is destined for collapse. Prior to the mini-collapse of 2008, when I wrote my essay titled, An Agrarian-Style Economic Self Defense Plan, most Americans were pretty much oblivious to America’s economic peril. A lot of investors lost a lot of money. But I think it was all chump change compared to the losses that are coming.

Our economy has limped along since 2008 and never fully recovered. A perfect anthropomorphic analogy for our present economy would be a terminally ill person getting blood transfusions to extend their life for a little while longer. The economic transfusions are mind-boggling amounts of American dollars being created and fed into the world economy. This “quantitative easing”  has not stimulated economic growth, and it never will. The creation of so much more American debt has only enriched international bankers at the expense of "main street" Americans. 

Unfortunately, I think most Americans are still oblivious to the seriousness of the economic metastasis that is taking place in the worldwide economy. They are thinking that the future will eventually be like the past. They are clinging to the old economic paradigm. They may be uneasy about the economy but they are hesitant to make any significant changes in their lifestyle and investing strategies to deal with emerging new realities. I suspect that they aren't all that interested in what history can teach us. Besides that, the stock market is soaring to amazing new highs. That's a good sign, right?

Well, if the stock market were soaring to new highs because of economic growth, that would truly be something to celebrate. But our economy is not growing. Recent stock market gains do not reflect economic reality. 

[Sidenote: David McAlvaney's Most Recent Program discusses the current stock market boom (bubble). The McAlvany investment strategy has been described as 1/3 stocks and bonds, 1/3 cash, and 1/3 precious metals, but David appears to be advising stock market investors to cash out now.]

Different economists have different opinions about the current state of our economy, but among the alternative media economists I’ve been listening to, the consensus is that the 1944 Bretton Woods Agreement (which established our current world economic system, with the American dollar as the world currency) is badly broken. The American economy was booming back in ’44, and our dollar was “good as gold.”  But that is now no longer the case. Not even close.

Thus it is that there will be a new world economic system. How soon, no one knows for sure but the groundwork is being laid out now. The rest of the world is growing wary of the dollar. Confidence is eroding. This situation is causing all sorts of serious underlying problems. 

When the American dollar is no longer the world reserve currency, America will face an economic crisis like it has never before experienced.

With all of that in mind, there seems to be a heightened “chatter” of concern lately among the alternative-media economic analysts. They are expecting something serious to go wrong with the economy relatively soon. 

They may be wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. Economists are often wrong in their predictions. But sometimes they are right. 

No economic crisis in history has come as a total surprise. There have always been those who saw, and understood, and prepared for what was coming. Such people were (and are), of course, maligned by those who don’t want to face reality, or who have a vested interest in the status quo. 

In the final analysis, I always return to the historical precedent

All paper money schemes in history have run their course, and eventually collapsed. The American dollar will be no exception, and it will be an epic collapse when it happens. I think this will happen sooner rather than later. Maybe it won’t be real soon, but I’d rather be prepared (as well as possible) for this eventuality years early instead of one day late.

If you have not already done so, I recommend that you read my Agrarian Style Economic Self-Defense Plan, and my six-part series, How To Get Through The Coming Hyperinflation

I wish you well.

Four-Day Carrots
(My First YouTube Video)

Dateline: 14 July 2014

I have long thought that I should be creating YouTube videos. But I haven't made any because I knew nothing about the process, and I've been hesitant to invest any time and effort in the learning curve. 

That being the case, it is kind of a big deal (for me) to finally put together Four-Day Carrots, my first YouTube film clip. 

It took me around 10 hours, over the course of about a week, to surmount enough little obstacles to produce the 15-minute movie above. I used the iMovie software that came with my computer. The film is heavily edited to eliminate the worst of my verbal shortcomings, and to condense it into the 15 minutes allowed by YouTube.

It's a good feeling to have taken this first step. There is surely a lot of room for improvement, but hopefully I can stick with this and get a little better with each movie I make.

If you watch the movie at YouTube (Here is The Link) and like it, please click the "like" button. Then let your gardening friends know all about it.

And I thank you.

About "Four-Day Carrots"

In my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners I write in the Introduction that "ideas beget more ideas, and even the best of ideas can often be improved on." 

With that in mind, "Four-Day Carrots" shows how I've refined my tri-growing carrots idea (on page 87 of the book) by planting them in a bed that has been "conditioned" with an occulation cover. I learned about the occulation cover idea from Jean-Martin Fortier's book, The "Market Gardener," and wrote about it back in May At This Link.

The other improvement on the idea is to plant into a bed that is covered with a black plastic mulch, similar to Tom Doyle's system for "Plant and Pick" gardening, which I blogged about Here and Here.