An Early Summer Tour
Of My Garden

Dateline: 3 July 2016 AD

First An Update...

Last month this blog passed the 11-year mile marker.  Occasionally, I'll go back and read something I wrote long ago and had completely forgotten. I can't help but see that my early writings were undertaken with much more skill and contemplation. That was the case, no doubt, because I had far more  time to think and write when I worked at my state prison job.  Though I do not miss that job at all (3.5 years after leaving), I do miss the contemplative opportunities it afforded me.

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't blogged here much lately. I'm not sure how much I'll be blogging here in the future. For this month of July, I may dig up some of my posts from past years and repost them. We'll see.

About The Garden Tour...

I decided that I would create a simple video tour of my garden here in early summer. That's it up top of this page. It's a simple production. Some will find it too boring to watch through. Others will stick with it and, hopefully, come away with some possible ideas to use in their own gardening pursuits.

My garden is, essentially, a large kitchen garden. I am growing primarily for two people. Marlene cans and freezes quite a bit. I usually grow enough onions, garlic, and potatoes for us to last the year. I try to get enough carrots planted to last us a whole year too. Our objective is not to grow all the food we need, but to grow a lot of wholesome, healthful food so we can, hopefully, have wholesome, healthy bodies that continue to work well for years to come.

In the event of a significant social/economic crisis, you can bet my gardening efforts would ramp up in response. Every square foot of available and suitable yard space would get planted and seriously tended ( I would also establish garden areas on our 16-acre field, which is a short hike away from our house). 

I've developed the needed gardening skills over the years (I've gardened since I was 16), and I have the tools and materials to expand.  I also have tools and materials for my sons, who are not, sad to say, much interested in gardening at his point.

My Next
 Gardening Book

I am in the very early stages of putting together another book on the subject of gardening. Specifically, I'm working on the outline. The book will not be out anytime soon. I am thinking it will be published in the spring of 2018 or 2019.  

So many gardening books have been written over the years, and there are so many gardening books being published all the time. I own many of them in either pdf or hard copy. None that I've seen thus far have been written from the perspective, and with the specific focus, that my next gardening book will have.  That's all I'll say for now.

Book Giveaway...

Speaking of gardening books, there are only 3 days left in Planet Whizbang Giveaway #4.  I'll be giving away 3 copies of the above book, which is a great book for anyone who has an interest in gardening. Go to the web site link above and get yourself entered. It's a simple thing. No strings attached, as they say. You can enter once a day if you wish, and that will, of course, increase your chances of winning the book.

An Economic Note

From my perspective as the owner of a small-scale mail order business, I see evidence of economic decline. My sales are definitely down from previous years. It may be due, in part, to more people now selling the products I sell. But there is something else going on, for sure.

It's not a crisis for me to have reduced sales. We have no debt.  We have some savings. We don't live high on the hog.  And we have land to draw more sustenance from (than we already are). I'm more concerned about all the others "out there" (average Americans?) who are in debt-slavery and almost totally dependent on not only the industrial providers, but a continually expanding economy to keep themselves and their families sheltered and fed.

The fundamental problem is, of course, that we now have an economic system that is based on ever-expanding debt that can never be repaid, AND the system is predicated on the premise that the economy will always be expanding.

There is no precedent in nature or history for continual expansion. The natural pattern of life is growth and decline, followed by growth and decline. 


Shawn Martin said...

Nice post. Down here, garden season closed out the first week of June.

I too see the economic downturn approaching. Unfortunately, I recently came down with a heart condition, and even with insurance, ended up 30,000.00 in debt. I am 54 years old, and probably have worked my last job. I still am able to run my catering service, but do not know how I will be able to regain debt free status before my time runs out.
(My company found an excuse to let me go as soon as they found out I was a medical liability.)

I would be interested to have an update on your son's venture. People like him are an inspiration to those of us that are needing some hope.

Everett R Littlefield said...

Hi Herrick, Loved the video except it was not long enough! I wanted to go up and down every row to see the various things that you grow. I did notice that you grow and abundant crop of rocks though! It looks like shale.

Ahem, that wheel hoe needs a little more than some air! I'll come up with my Whizbang handle rub and grease it up for you. I use that stuff on every single wooden handle that I have. Even scraped off what was left of the poly on some tools and rubbed on the beeswax/turp/ linseed oil mix. Even all the little hand tools.

My bunching onions are coming in the fall , can't wait! Got a question, I have 18 onions saved from last year and replanted for seed. Each one put out three bulbs and about three seed stalks per bulb. The little domes on the end are beginning to split open. Question is, do these turn into flowers? And do I wait till they are about to fall off the plant to collect the seeds? I would assume so, but don't want them to fall off and be lost!

Was looking in the background to see if you were growing any corn for canning or for just eating but didn't see any. I usually do a couple of 8, 25 foot rows in two spots. One for summer eating and the other for canning for the winter.

My wife and I just put up 20 pints of side beets this AM! Took about four hours from pulling them to setting them on the shelf. Lot's of good eating on those cold winter nights!

Found four silver plated forks at a yard sale and made myself four more of the pocket cultivators. I am getting so forgetful about where I leave them, that I now have one or two in each of the separate gardens sitting in a tin can screwed to a post and sunk in the ground, right by the gates. Only trouble is they keep trying to congregate in one can!

Well take care and don't you dare stop blogging till I am DEAD! Best Regards, Everett

James Johnson said...

Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
Yes, Herrick, don't stop blogging, ever. You can never have too many gardening books for other people's ideas, but yours is my favorite blog and book as resource for ideas in my garden. Your tried and true and experimental ways always get me to thinking, the way good friends do when they get together and talk. I enjoyed the video very much, and the many reminders. I like it when you share exactly the name of vegetables you are trying out, and for what reasons. Some issues you clarified for me about the string trellis vs. the wire trellis, esp. growing tomatoes. When you finish a season, what do you do with the straw under plants that is on top of plastic? Dig it into the ground under the plastic? Why do you use comfrey in your compost pile? And, I never heard of a bush cucumber! Also, now I know why my indeterminate tomato plants kept growing far and above my six foot trellis...because it's supposed to be an eight foot trellis!! Please let us know how your Green Mt. potatoes turn out. Best summer wishes to you and Marlene.

James Johnson said...

Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
I also meant to ask about your "orchard" on the sixteen acres, before I saw you mentioned the acreage. We have more than 30 trees now and through these years are learning how to better to care for them. Takes plenty of frequent visits and attention. Better get started on yours so you can give us your tried and true methods for trees!

Lorrie K. said...

Herrick, please carve out some time to post informational topics again about the economy and cultural trends in society and government. Updates on your garden are nice but do little to bolster the confidence of your readers in this unsettling time in history. You have much wisdom and knowledge that would be useful at this time. I know you are busy, but....

FatJuniesFarmette said...

I absolutely love your posts so please find a moment to share your perspective and wisdom. Eager for a copy of the next book, too.

James Johnson said...

Elizabeth L. Johnson said,
I, too, echo Lorrie and FatJunie. I definitely want to see everything you post about every "garden" thing. Please add more of your thoughts about the economy, etc. I'm not listening to the media a whole lot anymore and so appreciate your warnings and thinking, because I thought nothing was happening any more.

Keevan Abramson said...


First a couple comments about the technical aspects of this video. The quality is outstanding with a beautifully clear picture. Also your ability to hold the camera steady, while using your other hand to demonstrate specific plants or garden accessories, while at the same time narrating clearly is also quite remarkable. Hats off! What kind of camera do you use?

I am curious why you expressed reservations about using the weed fabric with holes for future gardening. I took your leed earlier this year and have been growing Copra onions (also your recommendation) in the holes and have loved the decreased weeding this has afforded me, sharing this info enthusiastically with gardeners that visit me. I also grew some kohlrabi and broccoli in the 4" holes, again with minimal weeding. I used a light mulch of wood chips to possibly decrease UV deterioration of the fabric and that probably modified the heat absorption of the black fabric. The onion tops are just now turning brown.

I have your book and just love picking it up from time to time to read a chapter or two and the historical notations.

Pam Baker said...

Thank you Mr. Kimball for taking the time to share your garden with us. I do so LOVE to see vegetable gardens and hear the gardener talk about them. I had to wait until tonight to watch this video as I cannot watch any at home due to download restrictions. So I was almost like a kid on Christmas morning when I got my first break to watch this.
I too was wondering about your comment at time point 16:39 where you state you may not use the plastic with the holes.
Would you be able to elaborate on this please?

Will you be watering your garden since it's been so dry?

And finally, have you read in your vast library, that watering overhead promotes powdery mildew? I wondered because logic tells me, that's what nature does so why would it be a "thing to avoid"?

On a personal note, I was quite giddy yesterday to discover something on our property. And, as no one else in my daily encounters would care, I share it with you...and your readers. I have three or four wild elderberry bushes along our driveway. I am ecstatic. No need for me to plant any, just protect the ones already mature and full of blossoms.

Again, thank you so much for sharing. It's how learning used to happen...back before the electronic age. Farmers and gardeners talking to one another, sharing successes and failures, ideas and inventions.

Herrick Kimball said...

Shawn Martin—
I'm sorry to hear about the heart condition and debt. You have a hard row to hoe ahead of you. So if I were to offer any advice, it would be to focus on what you can do instead of what you can't, and take it a step at a time (see The Sermon I'll Never Forget).

Your catering service sounds like a viable option. My son and daughter-on-law are doing well with the small-town diner. It has been six months since they took over the operation. It is a LOT of work, and a lot of hassles with various government regulations. They are off to a good start. Thanks for asking.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Everett—

I've gotten most of the rocks out of my garden after so many years of working the soil. But small ones still crop up.

Yes, that wheel hoe is in rough shape. It has never had a drop of Whizbang handle rub on it. I have a much nicer Whizbang wheel hoe I keep stored in a shed.

I don't know what to tell you about the onions. It's probably too lat now, but I believe that people put bags over the seed heads and tie them at the bottom so the seeds are not lost.

I did plant a small patch of sweet corn. But I made the mistake of buying the seed at my local hardware store and precious few seeds germinated. That was discouraging. I wouldn't want to show a corn patch with almost no corn growing in it. I plan to cultivate and sow it to buckwheat.

The old silver plated forks are excellent for making pocket cultivators.

Thanks for the comment. Stay well.

Herrick Kimball said...

If the straw is not broken down too much, I'll resume it for mulch the next year. The straw on my garlic bed is two years old. I have put leaves in the fall under the plastic bed covers some and that seems to be a good idea. But I'm more inclined to put most organic matter into my compost piles and then into the garden beds. Comfrey leaves are high in nitrogen and help a compost pile heat up. The roots also go deep and mine minerals into the leaves. The bush cucumber seeds are from Burpee seed company. My apple trees are doing pretty well for themselves (last I checked). But they are just too far away from my house for frequent attention. Wish I could grow Eureka lemons here in upstate NY, like you are doing in Jefferson.

Herrick Kimball said...


Thanks for the film critique. I'm getting a little better at making movies. But not a lot. I bought a Canon Powershot G7X camera awhile back and am really liking it. It's the first kind-of-expensive camera I've ever owned. Business deduction. :-)

Gardening in a large sheet of black plastic (Tom Doyle's "Plant and Pick" Vegetable Gardening System has worked pretty well for me. I think it has a lot of merit. And I think it would be an excellent way for a new gardener to get started. In fact, I've told two of my sons that if they want to start gardening (they occasionally express an interest) Tom Doyle's Plant-and-Pick approach is the way to go.

However, in my case, I laid out three large sections of the plastic in my garden and I think I overdid it. I violated one of the rules that I often tell others.... Try new ideas on a small scale before you fully adopt them.

I removed one large sheet this spring and MAY remove another in the fall, leaving one in place. I'm partial to the 30" wide beds, with 18" plastic-covered walkways. Instead of raised beds, which I have in much of my garden, I'm trying flat beds. With flat beds, the walkway plastic is buried along the edges, instead of using the Mark Albert string-and-clothespin hold-down method. Flat beds will work for me because I have a sandy/silty soil that is well drained.

I intend to modify my Doyle-Plastic sheets to make the holes larger in diameter (10" to 12"). Larger holes will allow me to get more compost on top of the soil around the plantings. It will also allow for large root systems to be removed in the fall, which I found to be almost impossible to extract cabbage and broccoli roots with the small holes. I don't mind cultivating the soil around plants a little and I think the plants benefit from such cultivation. I think your idea of covering the black plastic with wood chips is excellent. I'd like to do that.

All of which is to say that I'm continually experimenting with various ideas, looking for best approaches. In many instances, I've settled on techniques that are, to my way of thinking, great ideas, but I'm still searching in other areas.

Some of the great ideas that I'm persuaded are best practices are the tire sidewall cloches and t-post trellis spans. I also think the combination of 30" wide beds with 18" walkways is ideal. And black plastic in the walkways. And occultation covers for the fallow beds.

Herrick Kimball said...

Hi Pam—

I have been using bucket irrigation to keep some plantings watered in this very dry year. See my new YouTube video: Whizbang Bucket Irrigation For Gardeners

Congratulations for finding the elderberry bushes on your property. Now you can make elderberry tincture.

I'm sorry to report that the four medicinal elderberry bushes I planted in my garden, and that I harvested so many great berries from last summer, have DIED. I have no idea why. Only one is sending up shoots for next year. It's a total mystery, and powerfully disappointing.

That is the way it goes with gardening. You win some and you lose some.

Fortunately, I planted 5 elderberry bushes this spring on our 16 acre property (different varieties than the ones that died). And we have scoped out some wild bushes (now in blossom) in our area to gather berries from. We are fully persuaded that elderberry tincture is a very powerful antiviral. Marlene and I used it all last winter whenever we felt like our immune system was under attack, and we got through without any sickness.

Overhead watering could promote mildew. That makes sense to me. Natural or artificial overhead watering, and no immediate drying of the leaves is what promotes all sorts of blights. I am hoping that one of the benefits of this very dry year will be a tomato crop unaffected by blight. I can water at the base of the plants and the leaves stay dry.

Smoop said...

I miss the extensive commentaries on the family economy, historical op-eds, wage slavery musings etc. But you probably have covered those topics enough.

Do you know of any gardening books that are designed for strict self reliant gardeners? By that I mean, gardening with no use of unnatural resources. For instance, plastic mulch might be great, but if we get accustomed to producing yields using such materials, what happens in a economic crisis where we the country is no longer producing this product? I bought Steve Solomon's Gardening book, and its entirely dependent upon buying minerals and such that one could never source for themselves in a major financial collapse. (Maybe I mistakenly assumed it was aimed at the self reliant/ prepper community?)

I think its OK to use modern convenience (I use a gas powered tiller), but I also recognize that I am not practicing a pure form of self reliant gardening. A garden book based on that might be unique.