Why I think I Know Enough About Gardening to Write a Book About It

broccoliSince before the beginning of the year as you know, I have been working on a number of articles on Hubpages on the subject of gardening. In the process, I have been rewriting the information and adding additional topics in creating my book Simply Vegetable Gardening different from and more informative than anything that I have online.

You may wonder why I think that I know enough about gardening to write a book about it. Well, I started gardening, specifically organic gardening over 40 years ago when I was twelve years old in my parent’s backyard. I didn’t have much money to work with, so I learned to use what I had. I learned to use what many people would consider garbage, but that the earthworms and other subterranean flora and fauna considered food. I learned that a fancy compost bin wasn’t necessary. Bury household garbage in the ground and in less than a week, where there had been garbage now contained a large earthworm population. I graduated high school, joined the military, and after getting married and having my first son, I had another backyard garden, this time instead of the sandy loam of my mother’s backyard in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I was practically starting my garden on a beach on the Virginia coast. The soil was sand, no loam. I began adding household garbage to that garden as well. Because it was a warmer climate and the soil wasn’t that good, I made the garden smaller and by the time my tour of duty was completed, my garden soil looked fantastic. Next I moved to the Missouri Ozarks where I lived on a commune for several years. There I learned even more about organic gardening. I learned that it was possible to eat what I grew in the garden. While I lived there, I learned that what many people thought was true really wasn’t. Sawdust could be used as mulch in the garden without poisoning the soil. Sawdust just needs to be aged a couple of years before using. After leaving the commune, I lived on rental properties and at every different home, I built another small, organic garden on soil that I often joked would only grow rocks. Every time I left, I had to leave the soil I had created. I learned one thing from all this, mixing my household garbage in the form of compost into my soil worked magic on any soil. It didn’t matter if the garden was already loam, sand, clay or rocks. It didn’t matter. organic soil was the answer to improving any soil type.  In a sense, I had become a Johnny (or should I say Joannie?) Appleseed of organic gardens.

A few years ago, I was in nursing school and one day I was reading an old book by J. I. Rodale from the 1950s which he had written about organic gardening. At the same time, I was studying my anatomy and physiology book and studying about the human cell. Talk about an epiphany! Reading the information in tandem as I was, I discovered that many significant similarities existed between the human cell and the actions of a compost pile. What I realized was that just because we add nutrients to the soil, does not mean that those nutrients will be accessible by the plants in the area. Thinking of the processes of the earth as chemistry, was not accurate at all. As I compared the various organisms of the compost pile and the earth in general with the human body, I realized the synergy that occurs between the various organisms. One cell in the human body had a synergistic and interdependent connection with every other cell. In addition, in the earth, as in the human body a buffering system exists which creates homeostasis. A compost pile will start out acidic, but if allowed to mellow, will neutralize if given the proper elements with which to work. The processes of the earth are biological, not chemical. It is as though, just as the human body is made up of billions of individual cells, because of countless organisms on our planet all working together, earth is truly a living breathing organism.

Though I came upon that realization on my own, I am not alone in this perception nor was I the first to think this way. In 1978, Bill Mollison and David Holmgren came up with the word permaculture which stands for “permanent culture,” as it was seen that social aspects were integral to a truly sustainable system that included humans dealing with nature on its own terms. It is certainly how I see this relationship between the earth and her inhabitants. This idea was inspired by Masanobu Fukuoka’s natural farming philosophy. During the past few years I have also been studying the principles of this philosophy.

On This Date in History as It Relates to the American Revolution

On this Date in 1765, the Britain enacted Quartering Act, required colonists to provide temporary housing to British soldiers. This was a very significant event not only in history, but also in my book Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues. When Phillip returns to Boston as a British officer in 1774, he is quartered at the home of Peter Mayford, a Boston merchant. Phillip specifically positioned himself into that home because he wanted to rekindle a friendship with a young friend that he had met when he was a young orphan boy in the American backwoods. When he is reintroduced after many years to his friend, Elizabeth Thorton, also an orphan living with her sister’s family, he is smitten by her beauty. Little does he know, Elizabeth was spying for the organizers of the uprising that the British government had assigned him to subdue.

If you haven’t yet received your copy of Vegetable Gardening in the Shade, do so now by clicking on this link and receive a subscription to my newsletter Cygnet’s News as well. In this newsletter, you will be able to keep up with events that I will be attending, updates on my books, and articles that bring the conflict of the American Revolution to life as well as timely gardening tips from what to plant, how to plant it using organic methods, how to keep it growing and how to use it after harvest.

Pining For Spring

This winter has been a very hard, cold, snowy winter for many of us who live in the Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. The polar vortex has taken a trip south for the winter so that snow in some areas can be measured in yards rather than inches. Places that usually get snow in the form of lake effect snow, haven’t been getting the snow the usually get because the Great Lakes are frozen over. Europe has been affected by unprecedented flooding, the US west coast in contrast has been suffering a drought.

Food prices, especially meat prices, have gone through the roof. Beef and pork prices have quadrupled. The price of propane has also quadrupled. If the drought along the west coast continues, the price of fruits and vegetables will also rise.

For the first time in years I personally have cabin fever. I have been sitting inside my home day after day wishing that the weather here in Springfield, MO would improve so that I could get outside. I have been pining for spring. Rather than sitting here, simply pining, I have determined that I am going to do something positive about this situation. I have been working on my first nonfiction book, a gardening book which I call: Simply Vegetable Gardening. I am on a mission of sorts. I want to help as many people as possible start their own backyard vegetable gardens to help them off-set the cost of their food. I want to help everyone who has a small outdoor space to grow their own vegetable garden. Even if their gardens are on the shady side, no one needs to be completely dependent on the global food system. To give an idea of what this book will contain, here are a couple of hubs that I have written on Hubpages.

Hot Peppers in the Garden

hot peppers

Get an Ample Supply of Lettuce from Your Garden this Season

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The past couple of days have been better than the previous past two months, but the reprieve from the winter weather has been short lived. This weekend our temperatures will be below normal again and will remain that way until well into next month. So I have enjoyed the past couple of days, and with cooler temperatures returning, I will continue pining after spring by readying  the book Simply Vegetable Gardening. Perhaps it will be ready when gardening season returns.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you haven’t gotten your sweetheart a Valentine’s gift yet, you still have time. Men all around the country are calling florists or stopping by their sweetheart’s favorite candy or jewelry store to pick up evidence to the one they love that they do not deserve to spend the night on the couch. valentines-chocolate

Last night I was watching a rerun of the television show The Big Bang Theory and Dr. Sheldon Cooper said that he could not understand how the execution of a monk named Valentine could have lead to the holiday that we now celebrate on February 14th. For all the Sheldons out there, I researched the story. Today, Valentine’s Day is a day when we celebrate love and romance by giving flowers, cupids  and candy to our sweethearts, however, the origins of this holiday are not so romantic.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

The celebration dates back to ancient Rome when men “hitting on women” was not a euphemism, but was a literal practice. It began as a three-day celebration, February 13-15 when the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia. Men sacrificed a goat and a dog then whipped women with the hides of the goat and the dog. The women actually lined up for the men to hit them because they believed that the practice would make them fertile. Afterwards, the men drew women’s names from a clay pot. The pair would be mated for the remainder of the festival and if the man liked the woman, he would claim her permanently. On February 14, Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine. The Catholic church honored their martyrdom with St. Valentine’s Day. In order to rid the Christian society of pagan rituals, around 400 AD, Pope Gelasius I combined St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia. At that time however, the festival was more like Marti Gras  except people kept their clothes on. Until they got home anyway. It was still, after all, a day of fertility and love.

During the same time, in France, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day which meant the “lover of women”.  Tokens-du-jour, the first Valentine’s Day cards became popular during the Middle Ages. Chaucer and William Shakespeare helped popularize Valentine’s Day in Britain and Europe.

A Vintage Valentine's Day Card

A Vintage Valentine’s Day Card

Valentine’s Day followed the immigrants over the big pond to the New World. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri produced the first factory-made valentines. Valentine’s Day is now big business. Last year, the average American spent $130.97 on candy, cards, and gifts. This year, according to the National Retail Federation,The average person will spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and more.  They expect total spending to reach $17.3 billion. That’s a lot of money spent on a holiday that once involved sacrificing dogs and goats and men named Valentine.

I hope you don’t mind that I went off the track of writing history related to the American Revolution. During the winter months, not much went on militarily and so it makes it difficult to find history to write about during this time of the year.

I wrote two more hubs on Hubpages to share. Simply click on the links to check them out.

Sweet Homegrown Carrots

Plant Sweet Peppers with Basil

Also, I hope you had a good week. I know the east coast has been hit by a massive storm that left almost a half a million people without power or heat. My prayers are with them. I hope the weekend is better for them than the week has been. Here in the Midwest, we are heading into a warming trend, I hope that means that spring is on the way. I have a special surprise to share on Monday. I hope to see you then.

How to Become Successful

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm”-Winston Churchill

This Day in History as It Relates to the American Revolution

On this date in 1778, South Carolina was the first state to ratify the Articles of Confederation. The Continental Congress had adopted the Articles of Confederation on November 17, 1777 and submitted the request to the states for immediate action. On this date (February 5) South Carolina was the first to ratify it, however, other states saw problems with it and asked for changes. On June 26, 1778, The Articles were ordered to be engrossed, but the engrossment was found to be incorrect so a second engrossed copy was ordered.

Articles of ConfederationOn July 9, 1778 second engrossed copy of the Articles was signed and ratified by the delegates from eight states: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and South Carolina.North Carolina delegates signed the ratification of the Articles of Confederation on July 21, 1778, July 24 Georgia ratified, November 26, New Jersey ratified, May 5, 1779 Delaware ratified. On March 1, 1781 Mayrland ratified making it the last of the thirteen to ratify the Articles of Confederation.

The States soon realized that problems existed in the Articles of Confederation so Congress approved a plan to hold a convention in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation.

Failure Doesn’t Have To Be Permanent

The first attempt that the United States made for creating a document to live by, The Articles of Confederation, failed to provide a government strong enough for the country. It wasn’t until the Founding Fathers got together and drafted The Constitution of the United States that it finally found the working document that would catapult the fledgling nation into the greatest country on earth.

Other great events in history did not occur without much failure. Everyone knows that Thomas Edison failed countless times before he invented a functioning light bulb. Everyone has also heard the question “What do you do when you have failed seven times?” and the answer: “Get up an eighth time.”

There are two things we learn from failing. One is that there was something that needs to be changed in order to succeed. We have the choice of either tweaking something in order to succeed or we can do as the Founding Fathers did with the Articles of Confederation and start over. The second thing we learn is whether we are going to become a failure and quit all together, or get up one more time and enthusiastically change the failure into a success. How we react to failure determines whether we remain failures or become successful. It depends upon whether we get up and make the changes necessary to obtain successful results. Quit now and guarantee failure. Make changes and perhaps next time you will succeed.

This week on Hubpages I wrote my 99th and 100th hub

Please check them out as well!

Is there anything easier to Grow Than Okra?

Growing Onions by Using Seeds, Plants, or Sets

This Week’s Results of My Weekly Plan

I have actually been sticking to my weekly plan this week and it has been a busy one. Despite the cold and the fact that my daughter has been home from school most of the week because of the weather, I have had a productive week.  I have been busy with a new online college course that I started. I’m taking physiological psychology and I’m off to a great start. I’ve had to read hundreds of pages in my textbook and related articles. I turned in my two papers and they have been returned to me with grades of 100% each. In addition,  yesterday I received news that in 2013 I won two Chancellor Scholarships at my university!  After this class, I will have just five more classes to finish my bachelor’s degree at Argosy University Online.

A while back I wrote a hub on hubpages called Strategies For Getting It All Done In this hub, I discussed a strategy that I use which uses the acronym SOFF which stands for Start, Organize, Focus and Finish. This works good for every task that I have. However, a lot of what I do are not simple tasks. They are projects that need more than one sitting to finish, so I have break down those projects into simple tasks that I can do at one sitting. In addition, I have learned that I am usually good at starting projects, but I am not so good at finishing, therefore, since I am finishing my formal education this year, I am using this year to finish a number of projects that have accumulated over the years as well.

To finish those projects, I have created a strategy in my plan. I have determined that I will finish as many of the projects I already have started in the past as I can. I explained how I plan to do that in the hub that I wrote yesterday called A Simple Time Management System To Help Me Finish What I Start

I have also been working on the third book in the Locket Saga  A Coward’s Solace. I am currently working on the second draft and while working on it, I took some of the research that I have been doing and wrote a hub about one of real people from history that I am including in this novel. The hub is about An Unsung Heroine-Lucy Flucker Knox

I am trying to schedule my writing for weekdays only so that I can either use the weekends for catching up on anything that I might be behind on (after all, life does happen) and to have more family time. Given the option, I could write 24/7 because I love what I do so much. However, the second part of my resolution “to love more” includes spending more time doing things with my family.

Because I need to write 2800 words per week so I can finish the second draft of A Coward’s Solace by May 1, I am writing 560 words per day Monday-Friday so that I can finish the book by the end of the year making A Coward’s Solace the third book in The Locket Saga. My first two books When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, The Locket Saga Continues  are available on Amazon.