Some Things
For The End Of April

Dateline: 28 April 2016


Well, April is almost over and things are getting busy around here, what with the garden and Planet Whizbang sales ramping up. Besides that, tomorrow I'm going to launch into phase-two of my three-phase (three year) house re-roofing project. Back in the day, I could have re-roofed my house in a weekend. Now it takes me three years.

And I'm still making Classic American clothespins, or trying to. I'm now up to customer #44 on my waiting list of 376 people.  

So I'm going to take a little break from this here blogging for a week or so. In the meantime, here are some things to read, and think about...


Everett In The News


Everett Littlefield, a frequent commenter on this blog, was in the Block Island Times recently. You can read about him and his 48 x 30 greenhouse at this link: A Satisfying and Self-Sufficient Life.  It was a pleasant surprise to see my Garden Idea Book mentioned in the article. Thanks, Everett. 

Oh, and for those who missed it, Everett sent me a picture of himself wearing his Planet Whizbang hat. I've posted it at the bottom of This Web Page. I dare say, Everett looks better in his Planet Whizbang hat than John Wayne does.

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Hernando Presbyterian 
Links To This Blog!


As far as I know, this is a first... Hernando Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Hernando, Mississippi, has added this blog to it's Links page under the "Creation and Family" category (Click Here to see). My thanks to Pastor Gary L. Jones for doing that.

I thought it might be interesting to see if there were any Presbyterian (ARP) churches around me. It turns out there are only a handful of them in the whole state of NY, and none anywhere near me. 

I'm curious... does anyone reading this knows of another church that has links or articles related to Christian agrarianism on their web site?

~~~

Why The Amish Don't 
Pay Into Social Security 
(Or Obamacare)


The Amish don't pay into Social Security and they don't have to deal with the government-enforced socialized health insurance scheme (a.k.a., Obamacare) currently being perpetrated onto the rest of America. 

How can they get away with that? Well, it's an interesting story. You can read the history at this link: Valentine Byler vs. The IRS.

I'm delighted to see that the Amish do not have to participate in such foolishness. You would think that more Americans might think about becoming Amish to escape the onerous Social Security tax. But the Amish don't let just anybody into their sect. Besides that, precious few American families would really like to be free from the responsibility of taking care of themselves and their own family in old age, without collecting a monthly Social Security check.

~~~
The Pension Crisis Deepens


Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. That familiar phrase certainly applies to American pension systems, private and public. They're all in trouble, but some more than others. This ZeroHedge Article on the subject is well worth reading. Even if you are not personally connected to a pension, you will be affected by this crisis. 

~~~

Middle Class Crisis



I read The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans this morning.  The secret shame is that they are broke, or nearly so. The article is a lengthy but interesting story of one man's upper middle class struggles.  A quote...

"I never wanted to keep up with the Joneses. But, like many Americans, I wanted my children to keep up with the Joneses’ children, because I knew how easily my girls could be marginalized in a society where nearly all the rewards go to a small, well-educated elite. (All right, I wanted them to be winners.)"

His two girls went to private schools, and expensive colleges. Another quote...

"I don’t ask for or expect any sympathy. I am responsible for my quagmire—no one else. I didn’t get gulled into overextending myself by unscrupulous credit merchants. Basically, I screwed up, royally. I lived beyond my means, primarily because my means kept dwindling. I didn’t take the actions I should have taken, like selling my house and downsizing, though selling might not have covered what I owed on my mortgage. And let me be clear that I am not crying over my plight. I have it a lot better than many, probably most, Americans—which is my point. Maybe we all screwed up. Maybe the 47 percent of American adults who would have trouble with a $400 emergency should have done things differently and more rationally. Maybe we all lived more grandly than we should have. But I doubt that brushstroke should be applied so broadly. Many middle-class wage earners are victims of the economy, and, perhaps, of that great, glowing, irresistible American promise that has been drummed into our heads since birth: Just work hard and you can have it all."

The author is a professional writer. He and his wife have no retirement savings because, in his own words...

"...because we emptied a small 401(k) to pay for our younger daughter’s wedding."

And then this insight...

"But lack of money definitely ruins everything. Financial impotence casts a pall of misery. It keeps you up at night and makes you not want to get up in the morning. It forces you to recede from the world. It eats at your sense of self-worth, your confidence, your energy, and, worst of all, your hope."

When I read those three sentences, I stopped, and read them again. And again. I've been there. I know that feeling. Thankfully, it is behind me. I hope never to go back there. I feel sorry for the author.

~~~

The Appearance Of Affluence


The Millionaire Next Door is a book worth reading. I no longer have my copy but one thing I remember very well was the part about how many people who live an upper middle class lifestyle really can't afford it. It looks like they have a lot of money, and they may even make a lot of money, but they live beyond their means, just like the guy who wrote the  Middle Class Crisis article above.

And surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly) many of these upper-middle-class-in-appearance-only people are sustaining their lifestyle habits with a regular influx of monetary help from their affluent parents.

Which makes me think that if you ever visited my home you would realize very quickly that I do not have the appearance of affluence, and for good reason. Thankfully, that has never been important to me.

~~~

I Agree With Franklin



Jonathan Cahn's Harbinger book, along with John Hagee's blood moon prophecy are so "last year," but we really shouldn't forget them. Not because of what they predicted with such certainty, but because they are such perfect examples of what Christians should avoid buying into when the next Christian "authority" comes out with another solved mystery or revelation of some big, world-changing event.

My history with such books goes back to my teenage years, when I read Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth. I swallowed that book's message hook, line, and sinker. And followed similar authors in the years ahead. Then came  Edgar Whisenant's insightful little book: 88 Reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988

It's a wonder I'm still a Christian when I consider all the dire predictions from Christian "authority figures" that I believed  back then, and that never materialized. I'm sure it's the grace of God that has preserved my faith, and the eventual realization that these biblical prognosticators were all perpetrating "another gospel." 

When I read my Bible (the New Testament in particular) it is all about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who willing gave his life to pay the penalty for the sins of those who would believe on Him. That penalty is death and separation from God. But because of Jesus Christ, there is personal salvation (from the consequences of our sin) and life eternal. That's the good news.

But there's more... also in the New Testament, I read a tremendous amount of instruction about how followers of Christ can and should live an authentic Christian life

As an interesting aside, I find almost nothing in the New Testament about the importance of, or need for, evangelizing and proselytizing (a.k.a., "soul winning") by the average Christian believer. 

This matter of living an authentic Christian life is all through the New Testament teachings of the apostles (read I John if you'd like an example of what I mean). 

With those thoughts in mind, I firmly believe that any preaching or teaching that veers away from the message of Jesus Christ and the pursuit of authentic Christian life is a shallow religious diversion. And this is especially the case when such teaching revolves around some gnostic insights about the future.

I'm rambling here, and I've probably upset a few people (again). All of this  has come to the forefront of my thinking after reading Franklin Sanders's excellent review and analysis of The Harbinger. He wrote it in January of 2015. But I just read it the other day. I strongly recommend Franklin's book review to fellow Believers: The Great Evangelical Distraction.

~~~

Last Words

"Tis well."

Have you ever wondered about the last words uttered by America's presidents? Well, it's downright interesting to read them, and you can do so At This Link. I must confess, I got a lump in my throat when I read the last one (Ronald Reagan).




The Planet Whizbang
Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch...
One More Time

Dateline: 27 April 2016


My wife got a kick out of the "Hands-Free!" part of my recent Whizbang Toe-Tapper Faucet Switch Video when I posted it a few weeks ago. In fact, she jokingly imitates me at opportune times, with her hands up in the air. Then she laughs at how clever she is.

It's good to laugh. And I like it when my wife laughs. It makes me laugh to see her in such a jocular mood. I only wish I could secretly film her making fun of me.  :-)

So, I guess I was a little animated in that film clip. Talking about a nifty new invention has a way of getting an amateur inventor and entrepreneur (even we of the introverted)  kind of excited, don'tcha know?

Anyway, I'm blogging today about my Toe-Tapper here one more time to let it be known that the official Whizbang Toe-Tapper web site is fully up and running. You can now buy assembled Toe-Tappers. Or you can buy Toe-Tapper specifications and make your own Hands-Free! outdoor faucet switch. And if you choose to make your own, I also have parts kits available.

For some historical perspective, I've just posted a 2-minute video to YouTube showing my very first foot operated (Hands Free!) faucet switch. It was NOT a Whizbang...



In time, I will add a page to theweb site showing lots of inspiring outdoor sink ideas, like this one...

Clever. An umbrella would be nice.

Just remember...

Hands Free!

:-)



Almonzo & Laura's America
(Read It And Weep)

Dateline: 26 April 2016

The fictional Almonzo & Laura Wilder.

"When Farmer Boy, Almonzo Wilder, was being raised in Upstate New York, on the farm, or prairie girl, Laura Ingalls, was raised out in The Little House on the Prairie, there were no gay and lesbian networks in the one-room school houses in New York State.  They didn't know about transgendered kids and I'll bet they didn't own iPads. They didn't have teen idols. They worked side by side with their parents every day throughout the year. 80% of the teenage boys were not addicted to pornography. There was no Internet. No television. No movie theaters. No sex education classes in the high school, abstinence or otherwise. There were no Plan-B pills for the sexually active 15-year-old girls. Abortifacients were only known in the dens of the prostitutes in the large cities. Almonzo Wilder and Little-House-on-the-Prairie-Laura had never met a teenage girl with anorexia. Not a single child in their neighborhood was placed on prescription psychotrophic drugs. Illegitimacy existed in some of the larger cities— 1% but it was almost unheard of in the small towns. Popular songs would not make even a single mention of the F-word in the 1880s. Katy Perry wasn't encouraging 14-year-old girls to lesbianism and EM&EM wasn't referring to his mother as a female dog. The most popular song in the 1880s was My Grandfather's Clock...

So that's the way things were 120 years ago. Now, I have simply one question for you all. Do we live in an insane asylum, or what? Has this entire society gone more or less insane? That's my question. Yes or no?"

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"At one time there were social restraints to keep things from getting as bad as they possibly could. We're there now...we're as bad as we possibly could be as a society. Friends, we're looking at the entire destruction of sexuality—the entire destruction of entire civilization."

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The above quotes are from Kevin Swanson on today's broadcast of Generations Radio. You can listen to the whole 1/2 hour show at this link: Disney Turns Snow White into a Lesbian.

Kevin makes the point that cultures are not changed by politics, they are changed by media and educational inputs.  An hour of Sunday School once a week doesn't have the moral persuasion over children like many hours of media and government-school indoctrination.

I'd say that we are all being scientifically manipulated by the media. But of course, children are the most vulnerable targets. The power of media to change culture is discussed in Kevin Swanson's provocatively-titled book, The Tattooed 'Jesus.'

The nice thing about Kevin Swanson is that he doesn't just point out how bad things are. He also offers solutions. Biblical solutions. These solutions begin with individuals and families. I encourage you to listen to today's show.

Moral relativism always leads to destruction—personally and nationally. Barring a true revival in America (a nationwide re-embracing of God's transcendent standards of morality), this country is destined to fall, as have so many proud civilizations before us. I'm inclined to think our time is short.

But God always preserves a remnant of his people. I'll have more to say about this subject someday soon.

The real Laura and Almonzo Wilder in 1942








Planet Whizbang Hats
Now Available
Right Here

Dateline: 25 April 2016
click on pictures for enlarged hat views

Futureman, and a side view of the Planet Whizbang hat.

Futureman was with us last week for a mere 4.5 days. We had not seen him for six months. He just turned four. It was a short but sweet visit. 

This only grandchild (for now) came to us wearing a Detroit Tigers hat, which was apparently pretty special to him. 

On day two of his visit I showed him my hat with the Planet Whizbang Logo and said, "See, it's a beet.... with golden Saturnal rings."

His reply surprised me... "I like beets."

I wasn't sure I heard him right. "What did you say?" 

"I like beets."

To which I replied, "Oh, what a dear boy you are!"

So I asked him if he wanted a beet-hat like Grampie's (he now calls me "Grampie," instead of "Boppy"). He shook his head no and informed me. "I have Tiger hat."

"Oh. Okay."

Well, on the morning of day three, seeing an extra "beet-hat" on the table next to where he and I were sitting, I adjusted it to fit him and put it on his sweet little head. It stayed there for the rest of the visit.

On the afternoon before he left us (to return to Ohio) I decided that we needed some beet-hat pictures. I've had a supply of these wonderful hats for months and it's high time I made them available to the world at large (and that's what I'm doing here now). But first, I needed some good pictures...

In this picture you can see Futureman with that ridiculous "tiger hat" of his. The old codger with the camera is me. We are driving through my field. All little boys love to ride in the back of a pickup through a bumpy field on a sunny spring day.


Here we are sitting in 12A, the old New Idea manure spreader I restored to a wagon back in  2012 (I have cropped the old codger out of the picture). This gives you a nice view of the embroidered Planet Whizbang logo.

Here you can see the hat worn with a stylish twist. We don't want the brim too far too the side. And we certainly don't want the brim aimed backwards!

Hmmm. Here we see the juxtaposition of age and youth, which is both frightening and delightful. And a little bit of the hats.

Another juxtaposition shot. The codger isn't so frightening when he smiles. I'm tipping Futurteman's brim down so the logo can be seen.

This is a truly happy child. Wearing a Planet Whizbang hat will do that. Sitting on Grampie's tractor helps.

And here I have captured a moment of pure joie de vivre.
Once again.... the hat. :-)
This is a front view of the official Planet Whizbang hat that you can purchase today. It is a one-size-fits-mostl hat. Click the picture to see a larger view.

This is a back view. Velcro strap closure.

If you would like to purchase an official Planet Whizbang hat, you can do so right now... 

Price: $14.95 (plus $3.00 for shipping)

Availability: In stock and ready to ship.



Quantity





Planet Whizbang Hat Sighting 
on YouTube...

David the Good sporting a Planet Whizbang hat!

Imagine my surprise when I saw the famous Florida gardening guru, David Goodman, wearing a Planet Whizbang hat in his Marmalade and Campari YouTube Video. But I was even more surprised when he actually took a moment to show off his Planet Whizbang hat in his video titled Larry's $150 Chicken Tractor. Very nice!


Planet Whizbang Hat Sighting 
On Block Island!
It's Everett Littlefield....
looking very sharp in his Planet Whizbang hat.
The perfect attire for  greenhouse gardening.
And there's a Planet Whizbang Trellis Span in the background! 

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If you have a video or pictures of the Whizbang hat being worn in your food forest (or maybe at some other special location) and you'd like to share them with the world here, just e-mail the picture to: Herrick@PlanetWhizbang.com








Rediscovering And Restoring
The Multiplier Onion

Dateline: 23 April 2016

Photo Link
(click for information about multiplier onions)

One of the great things about writing this blog is that when I share some of the things I know, or believe, or have experienced, I hear from readers who know, or believe, or have experienced something different. Such feedback is often instructive or edifying, and that is the case with multiplier onions (a.k.a., potato onions). 

After reading my previous post about my failure at growing onion sets from seed, I received an e-mail from Jim, a fellow upstate NY gardener who introduced me to multiplier onions. 

The great attraction with multiplier onions is that they are a sustainable onion variety. By that I mean you plant the onion sort of like you plant a garlic clove, and from that one onion you get an average of 6 more onion bulbs each growing season. You then eat some of the crop and use some of the crop to replant each year. There is no need to buy sets each year, or buy seeds to raise your own sets. 

The problem with potato onions is that they are often disappointingly small. However, there is speculation that this smallness may be due to a multi-generational buildup of viruses in the clonal planting stock. A similar virus buildup is what causes potatoes to "run out" after a few years of replanting. Which is to say, your potato yield drops each succeeding year, as the virus builds up in the potatoes. Certified virus-free seed potatoes have been tissue-cultured and carefully raised to eliminate the virus, and potatoes raised using virus-free seed stock will be much larger.

In the case of the potato onion, the virus buildup is eliminated by planting true seed (from pollinated onion flowers) instead of the onion bulbs. And when this is done, the resulting potato onions are much larger. That's the condensed story of potato onions.

If you are interested in learning more about potato onions, I'm reprinting the two e-mails I received from Jim. I have put a hot link in the text to Kelly Winterton's web page. Mr. Winterton appears to be the potato onion authority, and is at the forefront of an effort to restore this old variety to it's former satisfying largeness. 

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Hi Herrick, 

I enjoy your blog and am a Whizbang plucker builder/user.   Sorry for the email,  but I don't really like posting on a blog.

I wanted to throw out some thoughts as to the onion post.   Have you read any of the relatively recent online discussions/information by Kelly Winterton and multiplier onions (not Egyptian walking onions)?   These propagate vegetatively like garlic.   Unfortunately,  most heirloom strains produce very small onions.  It appears that this is because of long-time virus accumulation,  but now there appears to be an answer to that.

If you google Winterton and multiplier or potato onions,  you should find lots of info. [Kelly Winterton's Potato Onion Page]

I live northwest of Albany,  NY.   Winterton lives in VT.   He talks about how he had a bloom event several years ago when his multiplier onions ("MOs") set copious seed,  and he started planting the seed.   It appears that by going back to true seed,  he has cleansed accumulated viruses and [this] allows for renewed genetic potential.   He notes how planting true seed will allow for production of one single really large bulb the first year (uncommon for a biennial onion),  but that if the large bulb is replanted,  it will nest out with multiple smaller but good sized bulbs the second year.

I bought about a half dozen of his Green Mountain onions and planted them last spring and got about 4 onions on average for each bulb,  which I harvested in August.   Most of these also sent up flower stalks and produced seed as well.   I collected seed from these and kept all of the bulbs for replanting this spring.   I actually planted half my stock in the fall,  like garlic,  to see if that worked better.

My fall planted bulbs are now well along this spring,  just like the garlic.   I planted the bulbs brought indoors a couple of weeks ago,  and those are still dormant.

But I planted lots of true seed a month and a half ago and now have over 300 new little sets to plant out.   All of these have new genetic potential, but according to Winterton will generally produce rather large bulbs in this first year.

If this is true,  then these onions can really be a problem solver in that one can produce lots of big bulbs for eating in one year but still easily plants lots of fall bulbs for rapid production in the spring.   And,  with the true seed onion sets,  you are increasing genetic diversity and creating new strains that nobody has ever seen before,  some of which may turn out to be fantastic for maintaining vegetatively as clones.  

If you are interested in this,  Winterton sells bulbs and seeds to get started.   Eventually,  I will gladly share myself,  but I'm just trying to ramp up to full production for our family first.   If I get lots of new seed set this year,  I would gladly share a lot of that,  depending on how well this experimentation goes.  

Winterton believes that after a dozen to two dozen vegetative propagations,  viruses start to accumulate,  reducing vigor and size of the clones and also reducing the plant's ability to predictably send up new seed.   Thus,  it makes sense to always keep some true seeds going as well, recognizing that any good clone strain has a limited life expectancy before it becomes too small to be desirable.   That's what I plan to do along with selectively saving and replanting bulbs that seem to have good qualities (like keepability in storage over the winter).  

There appears to be a big debate as to whether it is best to plant MO in the fall or bring them inside and store like potatoes.   I plant my onions and garlic in a bed with lots of wood chip mulch.   Those fall planted onions did just fine.   Granted,  we didn't have a very cold winter in NY this year,  but there also was basically no snow for us,  and with no snow pack,  the ground can actually get even colder.    So,  all I can say is that these fall planted onions seem to have worked just fine,  just like garlic,  and that solves completely the storage issue for replanting.

I hope that info helps.   Thanks again for a great blog and other info/ideas that you put out.  

Regards, 

Jim 

========

Herrick,

I forgot to add that similar progress is being made with garlic and potatoes.   Have you read any of the work being done by Tom Wagner and his true potato seed work?   Potatoes are even more interesting in many regards because of their extra chromosomes and the extreme genetic diversity when achieved with going back to true seed.  

The garlic examples can be seen here:

One common effect with all of these is to cleanse off virus accumulation from decades of cloning.

Everything I am doing is technically organic,  but I want to go beyond organic and remineralize the soils.   I have been experimenting with the same soil amendment mineral balancing that you described in your gardening book.   I've also been using Michael Astera's work in doing this.  

As much as I think that will help,  I think that bringing back genetic diversity can also help greatly in achieving the health of our plants in organic farming so as to be resistant to bad bugs, viruses,  bacteria,  fungi,  etc.   This is a fundamental shift to how most of our farming and gardening has emphasized genetic selectivity.   I'm trying to build more genetic information back into plants with true seed,  thus hoping for better strength,  vigor,  and plant self defense mechanisms.

I've also just started experimenting with my own true potato seeds,  some of which I got from Tom Wagner.

So,  you may get some feedback on the blog about people thinking that multiplier onions are too small to be of use or to waste effort on it,  but the reason that is so is apparently because of the long-time virus accumulation (and probably a God-created design that never intended for vegetative reproduction to be the primary driver in passing on genetics).

As we move beyond pure vegetative cloning and recapture a more natural seed system,  we can recover that original Creator inspired genetic potential,  and then put vegetative cloning into its proper perspective with those plants that utilize it.    It's there.   It can be utilized,  but it is a mistake to elevate cloning above seed reproduction.

I happen to believe that we small farmers/gardeners have the keys necessary to sustain true food security in a world where the state/corporate elite are trying to control everything,  including our food.  

Some people growing new seed-derived multiplier onions are getting first year onion bulbs as big as softballs in some cases with good fertile soil,  and that's pretty amazing for a biennial onion.

I'll let you know how my first seed attempts do this year as those seedlings mature. 

Jim

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