Sunday, February 26, 2017

Covering fruit trees from spring frost

Peaches & Nectarines covered, but I did not cover 2 of the big Peach trees
 Although Friday was an 80 degree day, the following Saturday was bitter cold and the night into the early Sunday morning was supposed to be in the low 20s. I'm not sure how cold it got last night, but I made sure to cover the fruit trees that were smaller because most of the had started to bud out. For example the Pear trees were about to bloom. I barely got the Pear trees covered though, and I could not cover the two large Peach trees nor the large Plum tree. Those trees I worried about because they are ready to bloom as well where the weather is tricking them into thinking it's late Spring.

Figs, Cherry, & Plum covered but I did not cover the big Plum tree

Here, the Cherry tree to the left is covered, & Pear trees are barely covered because they are large

Friday, February 24, 2017

Growing Cabbage, broccoli, & Onion in Polytunnel greenhouse

Today while the weather permitted, my partner and I got a truck load of compost to go on one of the gardens. The truckload of compost cost $37 after tax. Before spreading the compost, we made a polytunnel using water pipe attached together and held in place with small pieces of rebar in the ground. Afterwards, we assembled cardboard in the shape of the polytunnel and then spread 6 inches of compost on top of the cardboard. We collected rocks and lined rocks around the bed to contain the compost.
Then we transplanted cabbage, broccoli, and onions throughout the compost bed and watering with rain that was collected on site. Because we are transplanting in late February when the nights are still between 20-40 degrees, we went ahead and covered the poltunnel with plastic and secured the plastic with long pieces of rebar and rocks. I will have to make sure to uncover the polytunnel on hot or warm days or use garden cloth to cover the tunnel. The idea behind constructing tunnels over the garden beds is to use plastic when it's cold and then use garden cloth when it's hot and to keep bugs out.
Below are some photos I took of the bed to show you the first garden we have put out this year. Although I have had some plants growing throughout the winter, it feels like I'm actually gardening now that I'm transplanting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Give people land (Redistribute land!)
In this essay I discuss the historical ways land and resources are taken away from people while they are exploited for corrupt means. Our history has created systematic disadvantages for the poor people of color. This system is environmental racism-- where the poorest persons of color are segregated and red-lined into the worst schools, worst neighborhoods, and worst environmental conditions. Another example of this environmental racism includes deforestation in Central Africa (Congo) and South America, and pollution/contamination (e.g. Flint water crisis) affecting poor people and people of color, on a global scale (an international division of labor).

Consequently, not many people know of the United States' terrible history of buying up land and exploiting it, nor do people know the extent to which this affects the present state of affairs. One thing that impacted the most was Land lotteries which prompted Indian removal. Land lotteries was simply giving away land to white immigrants like in Georgia. Another impact was creating systemic racism in the form of African/African American slavery. Even after slavery, Black families were not allowed to get loans to make small payments on property, Blacks were segregated, and now there is a phenomenon now that keeps Blacks segregated called Redlining. There are many systematic factors that contributed and still contribute historically to the racist policies, laws, customs, mores, etc which keeps people of color from owning land in the United States.

Those in rural areas were greatly disenfranchised during the Industrial age in Appalachia because of coal mining and timber companies. For example the expansion of surface mining leveled thousands of acres of mountaintops because the coal industry benefited from mountaintop removal (Eller, 2008.) Additionally, corporate chains like Wal Mart affect small local businesses in those rural areas of Appalachia, especially when the profits do not trickle down into the community because they go out of the region. The Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force found that large corporations and land companies controlled up to 90 and 100% of the surface land and the mineral resources in 80 Appalachian counties (Eller, 2008.) This was a significant study during this time and it's shocking information. Other data the study found was that 8 million acres—more than 40% of land surveyed—was owned and operated only by 50 private owners and the federal government (Eller, 2008.) 

Another example of this is that for 14 West Virginia counties, 25 companies owned 44% of the surface land, yet only assessed for 20% of the area’s taxes (Eller, 2008.) This means that taxes from these large corporations are not going to the community while the poor community pay higher taxes or more taxes to support it's own community. Likewise, these systems of racism has led to the extreme wealth of a select few white families. Today, the median wealth of white families is 20 times greater than the median wealth of black families (and 18 times greater than Latinx families). 
Subsequently, some of the programs put in place to aid those disadvantaged did nothing to help disadvantaged people of color. In fact, FDR was able to pass the New Deal including Social security and other beneficial programs, as long as they excluded domestic service workers and agricultural workers (which meant predominantly people of color.) This gave preferential treatment to whites. Secondly, the dream of home ownership granted mortgage loans to Americans, where 98% of all recipients were white. Third, GI bill was passed to give low cost mortgage, living expenses paid, and paid tuition for veterans, which exclusively benefited whites, and excluded black veterans. 
Additionally, The 62 of the richest billionaires own half of the world’s poorest populations. Those that have accumulated all the world's resources simultaneously destroy natural resources at an alarming rate. Those richest people are the ones that destroy the land (trees, soil, crops, air, water, animals/aquatic life), those people buy all the land, and try to keep people from being truly free. We do NOT live in a free and equal opportunity country, and it is essential that we (the 99%) take back stolen land, take back our stolen creativity and individuality. In an effort to save, protect, and preserve nature and all its species, we cannot continue to deforest the planet, pollute, and kill off ecosystems.

Moreover, the middle class own more land, but it's usually for farming, growing soybeans or corn for livestock to eat, or for hunting grounds (more family owned operations). I'm not sure how anyone figures they own the oceans, but they also wreak havoc on that too, and capture to exploit and kill aquatic life. Those who own the majority of land on this planet are the rich who exploit it for drilling and fracking, mining, infrastructure, etc. In fact the families who own most of the world's resources are the reason the number of trees has fallen by 46% since the start of human civilization. There are over 20,000 different kinds of trees in the world. Actually, 3 trillion trees are left on the Earth. Somehow these same people who don't own land will go to different countries in Africa or South America to mine for gold. And they too are part of the destruction of land, trees, wildlife, and the last remaining tribes.

As mentioned, all of these examples are the many ways land and resources are taken away from the poor and persons of color, and consequently, this land is often used for big business, corporations, coal mining, logging, or fast food chains. What's truly depressing is that absentee owners of land have taken thousands of acres while rich families keep land in the family for to be passed down through generations. I'm not sure redistributing land (redistributing wealth) is feasible, but it sounds effective. And in fact when I think about the few people that own half of the world, this wealth disparity is unfair, and simply unjust. This cannot be normal, this cannot be how the system works. There is much land to be "bought" but there is much land already owned on a large scale.

Simply, if all people were given land to build their own houses and grow their own food, there would be less corporations, less logging, mining, fracking, pollution, etc. If all people had an acre, no one would want to cut down all the trees on their property for a quick buck. People would perhaps use their land to make a home business and then this would create a local economy where everyone had a service to offer. This isn't about poor people paying taxes, because in fact the tax system is not fair for the poor to begin with. Poor people shouldn't pay taxes, only the rich! Poor people pay the same tax rate as the rich, if not more taxes. And something most people don't realize is that half of the US budget goes to funding the military. So, clearly the tax system is not fair for the poor, but it should be used to regulate the rich because they are clearly exploiting people, resources, polluting land, and those are the people that came from money that was passed down to them through the generations of a system that favored the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.
I am one of the many people who do not own land. Even if I bought land, I still do not "own" any of the trees, the sky, the birds, the deer, the soil, rocks, and rivers. People often talk in terms of ownership like "my girlfriend", "my daughter," "our Earth", "our galaxy", "my America." I find this to be problematic because this suggests that we have a culture that cannot look outside of capitalism, imperialism, and colonization. I fear that if the culture continues to use rhetoric that reflects ownership and possession, then it will be one where the disparities, inequality, destruction will be even greater as civilization ages within this world. But, if those of us don't collectively buy up land to take away from capitalists, then what will be left for those of us that want to protect it? True equality is the providing access to healthy living conditions, healthy food and land to grow food, and education for everyone. 


Eller, Ronald. D. (2008). Uneven Ground: Appalachia Since 1945. Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Press.

Rosenberg, Matt. (2016). Refugees: The Global Refugee and Internally Displaced Persons Situation. ThoughtCo.

Re-wild yourself Part II: Hike in the woods naked

The Hyacinths are popping up, along with the tulips, and daffodils and crocuses have already presented themselves with their delicate petals. On a day like today where it's a overcast, 70 degrees in Kentucky in late February, I find that it's the right time to rake up some brush around the flower
bed so I can mulch soon.
But also on days like this, I go into the woods to my sacred spot that I have dedicated to meditating and sunbathing. Here in the woods I re-wild myself when I take off my shirt, pants, briefs, and boots. My bum is bare to the smooth cold rock shaped perfectly like a bench. The tree above me has its roots wrapped around the rock where my feet are dangling and I'm rubbing my soles on the smooth bark of the Elm. A Hawk calls above me and circles the hillside. Other birds make cute little playful sounds like they're saying yes to the coming Spring. And I spread my body like the flowers emerging from the soil, stretch like the tree, arms out like the hawk, and the fungus growing.

In my previous post on Re-wilding yourself talked about eating wild edibles and some common wild edibles in the woods near you. So I wanted to share with you another way I re-wild myself often throughout the year. Because there is something pleasurably freeing being naked in the woods, I also suppose this experience makes me feel hat like I am reverting back to my animal. I feel that this practice is like therapy in that way.

 I must say that it is a privilege to have access to woods, forest, trees, grass because in urban areas, it's an industrial waste site. And I'm even more privileged because I have woods behind my house. But, try this practice of hiking naked in the woods if you have woods near you, and document your feelings and reactions. There are many things you can add to your meditation practice like standing erect with your back against a tree and holding the base of the tree like you're giving a reverse hug and imagine and exchange of energy being transferred between you and the tree. I tried this today as well and I found it very comforting and healing. So experiment with those holistic practices as well as see if they work for you. Many people require some form of rejuvenating or healing period in their life--and some people call it a vacation--but I tend to create my own retreat when I go into the woods.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Indoor Starter Plants with LED grow lights (Mid-February 2017)

Below are updated pictures of the indoor starter plant garden. I have LED 4 foot lights attached to two rubbermaid shelves. Growing on the top shelf is Swiss chard germinating in recycled strawberry/blueberry/kiwi containers. I buy a seed starting mix, or will mix my own potting soil with vermiculite, perlite, and peat moss. On the second shelf is Cherry tomatoes and Beefsteak tomatoes growing almost directly under the grow lights.  The tomatoes were sown 6 days before they sprouted, and now they are at least an inch tall. Beside the trays of tomatoes are a Goji berry in the orange pot and a Pineapple plant to the right. Below on the 3rd shelf is another goji plant in the orange pot with a tray of onion seed germinating, then Beets, lettuce, Artichoke, Brussels, Broccoli, and Cauliflower growing in the second (middle) tray. To the right is a tray of Radish growing. The radish are becoming quite leggy despite putting them directly under the grow light like with the tomatoes.

Cherry Tomatoes

Radish (right)

Goji berry

Goji berry

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Indoor Growlight Starter Plants & Greenhouse in Early February (Winter)

In the Indoor garden, there are LED grow lights above the starter plants (seen above). Some of the plants sprouting are radish, lettuce, broccoli, and beets (seen below). Those that I sowed are Onions, Beefsteak and Red Cherry Tomatoes, Artichoke, and Cauliflower.

Basically I turned the porch into a greenhouse to keep the outside animals warm in the winter. And of course it works as a place to start cold weather crops in the late winter and early Spring. Below I took pictures of the greenhouse I assembled using materials I had on hand. Because it was warm for the last two days in Kentucky, I put the tropical plants outside in the greenhouse. You may have seen in the past that I have Pineapples growing, as well as Snake plant, Aloe, and Cactus. The tropical container garden is dwindling considering the inside and outside cats tore up many of them or "fertilized" the plants to the point that they killed many of my indoor plants. But of course I am collecting and growing more.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What's growing on in the Winter Garden 2017

Now that Spring is closer upon us in the US, I'm cleaning up the garden mounds to be mulched soon. Today I'm starting some seeds indoors in my mini greenhouse with grow lights. Some of the plants I will be starting is a Artichoke, Lettuce, Brussels, Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, and I want to pick up some Radish seed to start growing them early indoors. Then towards mid-March or early April I will transplant these in the garden. Before I transplant though I want to have composted and mulched the mounds and made polytunnels to protect the plants. Afterward that point, I will start Tomato and Pepper plants indoors to be transplanted in May. I hope to have mulched and composted the mounds for these plants, then in May I will directly sow Squash, Melons, Gourds, and other things in the garden.

As of now, I have been growing a couple of rows of Arugula, Collard greens, lettuce, and carrots in the Hugelkultur garden. There is some cilantro and Red Russian kale growing among the greens as well. Because here in Kentucky the winter has been mild, the greens have been growing with little protection from now in the beginning of February from September. All I have used to protect the greens from the cold and snow is cloth row covers like garden canvas. I have been able to have greens to eat in salads or eaten fried. I also harvested a couple of carrots that I noticed were a decent size to pull up. Today I had a surprisingly long carrot that was growing in one of the garden mounds. Below are photos of the winter garden and the carrot harvested today.



carrot harvested
row of Carrots

row of Arugula & Collards

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

20 Little known garden facts

(1) black walnuts put off a neurotoxin known as juglone which inhibits growth for surrounding plants.

(2) tomatoes are perennials, however they are short lived perennials. Most farmers/gardeners cultivate tomatoes as an annual.

(3) bananas which contain potassium act as a nutrient & fertilizer when mixed with mulch around plants/trees.

(4) Bamboo is the fastest-growing woody plant in the world; it can grow 35 inches in a single day--which makes bamboo a great resource for garden projects such as trellises. also commercial use of bamboo would ease the destruction of the old and living trees.

(5) During the 1600s, tulips were so valuable in Holland that their bulbs were worth more than gold. The craze was called tulip mania, or tulipomania, and caused the crash of the Dutch economy. Tulips can continue to grow as much as an inch per day after being cut.

(6) Small pockets of air inside cranberries cause them to bounce and float in water.

(7) Peaches, Pears, apricots, quinces, strawberries, and apples are members of the rose family. So are ornamental species such as spirea, mountain ash, goatsbeard, and ninebark.

(8) Peanuts are not nuts, but legumes related to beans and lentils. They have more protein, niacin, folate, and phytosterols than any nut, according to the National Peanut Board.

(9) Nectarines are actually peaches that have a recessive gene that makes them grow without the fuzzy skin. They are not actually a different kind of fruit.

(10) There are more microorganisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth.

(11)  Plants respond to sound and in fact react by growing better when listening to soothing music and other sounds, but reacts and grows slowly or stunted when plants "listen" to hard, loud, and chaotic music.

(12) A sunflower consists of 1,000-2,000 individual flowers where the fuzzy brown center and the classic yellow petals are the individual flowers held together on a single stalk.

(13) Baking soda sprinkled regularly around tomatoes in the garden can reduce the acidity and make the tomatoes much sweeter in taste.

(14) Hydrangea flowers color can be altered by the pH level of the soil. For example, a more alkaline soil will result in pinker blooms, while a acidic soil will produce blue blooms. To facilitate a blue color, add more organic matter to your soil, like coffee grounds (though the acidity in used coffee grounds can vary greatly, so you might try a high-acid fertilizer, too). The change won't happen overnight, but eventually you should succeed in manipulating your soil's pH level.

(15) Archaeologists have uncovered evidence that grapes were grown to make wine about 8,000 years ago in Mesopotamia (today's Iraq), although the ancient Egyptians were the first to record the process of making wine about 5,000 years ago.

(16) The first potatoes were cultivated in Peru about 7,000 years ago.

(17) The average strawberry has 200 seeds. It's the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside.

(18) Trees are perhaps the longest living organism on Earth. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is one of the oldest living tree species; it dates back to about 250 million years ago. Dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is another ancient species; it dates back about 150 million years. Both were known in the fossil record before they were found alive. The world's tallest-growing tree is the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens), which grows along the Pacific Coast of the United States, mainly in California. Interestingly enough, it's not the world's oldest-growing tree; that award goes to a bristlecone pine (Pinus aristata).

(19) Figs were the first domesticated crop in the Near East about 11,400 years ago!
Archaeologists found carbonized figs in a village north of ancient Jericho, and compared the fruits to modern specimens. Through this comparison, they determined that the fruits had been intentionally propagated.

(20) Earth worms have the power to move stones that weigh 50 times their own weight. They love coffee grounds. They ingest soil and organic matter equal to the amount of their body weight each day. They also help with your compost pile; when you turn your compost pile and find a lot of earth worms, you know that your compost pile is working and that you will have great top soil for plants.