Sunday, March 29, 2009

Planting time

Yesterday I planted 5 flats, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce.
The tomatoes and peppers were from Johnny's selected Seeds and were some new varieties I have not tried before. I've still got a lot of seeds left to go.

A few days ago I planted some tomato seeds I found in an envelope in my mother-in-law's house. The envelope was marked simply "TOMATOES" so I have no idea what variety - my husband claims they are big boy. I think that's because those are his favorites. Since they're a couple of years old I'm not sure what kind of germination I will get. I'm also planning on planting a few six-packs of tomato seeds I kept from my successful crop of tomatoes a few years ago, I have quite a few left. Mostly they are from the "bloody butcher" tomatoes but since I didn't isolate them from the other tomatoes I planted, who knows what the genetics might be now?

Some of the seeds I planted yesterday were from the seed exchange my Master Gardener's group did in February.

It is hailing! right now. Pea-sized balls of hail. At least it's not snowing. I'm going to curl up with my A.M. Leonard catalog and order some propagation mats and a soil testing tool.

I saved hollyhock seeds and marigold seeds from my flowers last year, I have thousands of seeds. I plan to seed a couple of flats of each and take them to my daughter's apartment building and see if I can give any plants away.

Today is DH's birthday. I'm making a pot roast and a cherry pie. I can't tell you how long it's been since I baked a cake, nobody eats cake around here anymore! Not even birthday cake.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

House Bill 875

If you are interested in sustainable food production, please educate yourself about House Bill 875. See for the full text.

'To establish the Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services to protect the public health by preventing food-borne illness, ensuring the safety of food, improving research on contaminants leading to food-borne illness, and improving security of food from intentional contamination, and for other purposes. 'Bill # H.R.875

This affects you if you are a Food Production facility (defined as follows)

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

I don't see anything in the bill about the size of the farm, or the market it serves. Does this mean an end to farmer's markets?

Perhaps the level of reporting required will be no more onerous than that which is currently required for organic food production, but it does seem to favor the larger producer as opposed to a smaller one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Foremost Soil Scientist to Speak

Dr. Rattan LalProfessor of Soil ScienceSchool of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State UniversityCollege of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Science Dr. Rattan Lal will speak on Wednesday, March 25th at 7 p.m. in Kottman Hall 103. His topic is principles of soil management. Dr. Lal is a world-renowned expert on sustainable management of soil and natural resources, food security, and climate change. His research interests include:
Restoration and rehabilitation of degraded soils including minelands, soil resilience, water quality, soil structure and compaction
Conservation tillage
Natural resources management with emphasis on food security and environmental quality
Agricultural development in the Third World We’re extending an invitation to attend to all interested Ohio Master Gardeners. For more information, e-mail

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Elderly relatives

One country tradition I remember well from my childhood is having neighbors that look in on each other, and in typical small-town fashion, knowing almost everything there is to know about everyone else on the "block" or in the square-miles-wide local farm community. As a teenager I thought this was stifling, but now in my mature old age I see the wisdom of this tradition.

In our fast-paced, high-tech virtual world it seems that we don't have as much time for just sitting down and chatting with each other as we did back then (gosh, folks, I'm only talking 40 years ago!)

These last two weeks my father has been in the hospital fighting for his life with so many problems it was fortunate the doctors knew where to begin. He thought he had a minor infection and fever, went to the emergency room, and had a heart attack there. The initial diagnosis that got him admitted to intensive care was pneumonia, which turned into sepsis. Treatment with strong new antibiotics cleared up the infection, but he didn't improve. After almost 10 days in the hospital intensive care unit they finally realized it was an uncommon reaction to a drug he was taking for his heart arrythmia and had been taking for almost a year.

My dad had been following up with his family physician, but had decided to change from the cardiologist he had been seeing an hour away, to a more local cardiologist. Except he hadn't visited the local cardiologist yet. We are still trying to understand how the information got lost in the shuffle - that patients on this drug, Amiodarone, are supposed to be monitored by both a cardiologist and a pulmonologist. As it states on the link, "since many patients taking amiodarone have a history of heart problems, their symptons are easy to mistake for heart disease (or sometimes, the effects of aging).

This is not the only drug he is taking that has a list of side effects a mile long. At my last visit I noticed how "puffy" he was, but he had a scheduled visit to the family doctor the next day, so I wasn't too concerned. Next thing I knew he was on his way to the hospital in the ambulance.

Please look in on your elderly neighbors. If you don't know who they are, get to know them. Take them a casserole sometime if you have too much (but remember that many elderly are on restricted diets or are diabetic.) Don't be afraid to be nosy.

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