Gene Logsdon and Friends

Cover Crop Frenzy

In Gene's Weekly Posts on September 2, 2015 at 9:10 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

I get chided sometimes for harking back to the past too much but I can’t avoid it. Much of what constitutes farming today is harking back to the past. No better example is the increasing interest in cover crops, a practice as old as the hills. Instead of leaving crop fields bare over winter, they are planted in late summer or early fall to vegetation that keeps the soil covered until planting time the next spring. All kinds of advantages accrue. Protection against erosion of course, but also the cover crops take up soil nutrients that might otherwise leach away over winter and then release them back into the soil for crop plants to absorb the next year. Needless to say, what makes the practice especially attractive is that it is not only environmentally beneficial but almost immediately profitable since the government pays about half the cost. One of my favorite farmers likes to say when he thinks no one is listening except me, that he can’t understand why so many of his brethren are anti-government conservatives. “Taking advantage of government programs has been the key to our success,” he says.

Cover cropping is certainly a good thing as long as farming depends so completely on annual cultivation. (It is too much to hope that humans will ever be wise enough to keep most of the soil in forage and tree crops but at least there ought to be cover crop subsidies for hay and pasture too.) I will pretend to ignore that thought right now in favor of telling you about an almost hair-raising adventure that cover cropping provided me recently, if I had any hair to raise. More…

Two Peachy Economies 

In Gene's Weekly Posts on August 26, 2015 at 9:28 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

I cheer for the local food movement  every chance I get, but I’m a little uneasy with the word “local.”  Just as all politics are local, as someone famous has said, all food is local. And like politics, just because it’s local does not necessarily mean it’s good.  I recently ran into an example that addresses this conundrum.

I got a phone call from a friend in Kentucky and she was all excited because what she referred to as “the peach truck” was in town. She had just come home from buying peaches from The Peach Truck (first letters all capitalized), the best peaches in the world, she declared. “There were 40 people lined up in front of me to buy peaches and just as many behind me. I counted them,” she said. Pause. “Guess what they were selling for.”

I had no idea of course and nearly dropped the phone when she told me. “Thirty nine dollars  a HALF bushel.”

She thought that they are worth it. They come from a specific farm in Georgia, the Pearson Farm, that has been raising them for years. (You can find this all on Google.) The Peach Truck is the brainchild of a couple in Nashville, Tenn., Stephen and Jessica Rose, who knew about those peaches. They are picked just before they are fully ripe, loaded on The Peach Truck, More…

Basket-less In the Garden

In Gene's Weekly Posts on August 19, 2015 at 10:06 am

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From GENE LOGSDON

Carol ambled in from the garden recently with enough vegetables balanced on her left arm to feed us for a week. A cabbage head, a cauliflower, a swatch of lettuce, four carrots, and a zucchini tucked up under her arm. For some reason we all resist taking a basket to the garden to gather stuff. Or we forget. Or we go there with the intention of bringing back a tomato and end up with eight ears of corn teetering on a forearm. It is the eighth ear that causes the problem. It falls off on the ground. As you grunt your way down to pick it up, ear number seven falls off. You stoop down again for it and six and eight both fall off.

One time-honored way of avoiding a basket is to use your shirt front as a sort of shopping bag to tote produce in from the garden. This works okay except that it renders you one-handed and as you use the other to gather in food, you have no way to swat at mosquitoes and flies. Moreover you end up with a dirty shirt.

A hat balanced in a hand makes a fairly good basket substitute but leaves you even more vulnerable to bug attack with a bare head when the other hand is busily occupied, searching out pea pods or some such. Also if you reach a bit beyond a sturdily balanced stance, a hat full of pea pods or some such tends to cascade into the jungle below and retrieval is almost as time-consuming as picking them in the first place. More…