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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Terra Cyclce Sued by Scott's

Okay, here is an update on the Terracycle Saga. Big bad Scott's/ Monsatan is indeed sueing this grassroots company. We need to boycott Scott's products (MG, Grass seed, Preen. etc.,) and also contact PBS and tell them to drop Scott's from being a sponsor of such shows as Victory Garden. As well as contacing any other programs that have Scott's as a sponsor. And of course we should keep on buying and reurning Miracle Gro and perhaps other Scott's producs. If we do not there will be other small companies that will be desroyed by these folks so they can mainain their monopoly on gardening supplies. As it stands, Monsatan owns over 75% of the world's seed supply and promotes the use of toxic chemicals in all US households.

Do we want this sort of thing to coninue?

* Sues By Scotts
Sued By Scotts, 7/23/2007
Straight to the Source

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, a $2.2 billion assets giant which has at least a 59% share of the relevant market, has sued tiny TerraCycle, Inc., an inner-city company founded by college students to create an eco-friendly business. TerraCycle manufactures all-natural garden products by feeding organic waste to worms and bottling the resulting worm poop compost tea as ready-to use plant food in soda bottles collected by schools and other charities across North America. TerraCycle is located in the Urban Enterprise Zone of Trenton, New Jersey.

Scotts claims that the two companies' products look similar and will confuse customers because some TerraCycle plant foods have a green and yellow label with a circle and a picture of flowers and vegetables on it.

Scotts also objects that TerraCycle says its plant food is as good or better than "a leading synthetic plant food" and is refusing Scotts' demands that TerraCycle hand over its scientific tests conducted at the Rutgers University EcoComplex to Scotts' scientists and lawyers. Scotts refuses to turn its tests over to TerraCycle.

To download the entire complaint, click here.

TerraCycle's Answer with Affirmative Defenses and Counterclaims has denied Scotts' claims that TerraCycle's advertising is untrue or that consumers will be confused by TerraCycle packaging. TerraCycle alleges that Scotts' trademark and trade dress claims are being used to maintain its monopoly power when it already has a market share estimated to be between 59% and 85% in published reports. TerraCycle alleges that Scotts has abandoned, misused and/or mutilated its green and yellow box trademark registration and should therefore be cancelled and that Scotts' claims are barred by the doctrine of unclean hands.

TerraCycle's filing includes examples of numerous competitive garden products packaged in green and yellow and of Miracle-Gro®'s use of other color schemes in its packaging.

To see the entire answer and exhibits, click here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Organic Farming Builds More Soil Organic Matter Than No-Till

I am glad to have some proof on this, at last.

Organic Farming Builds More Soil Organic Matter Than No-Till
A long-term study by USDA's Agricultural Research Service shows that
organic farming can build even more soil organic matter than no-till
farming practices. The study showed that organic matter added by manure and
cover crops more than offset any organic matter losses due to tillage
to control weeds. The research is reported in the July 2007 issue of
Agricultural Research
( magazine.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Navin, You Were a Good Friend

We took Navin in to the Vet yesterday to be euthanized. He was struggling for every breath he took and had lost interest in food on Sunday so it was time.

It was a hard thing to make an appointment to kill him. When I hung up the phone I picked him up and burst into tears and held him for a half hour while he gasped and purred on my lap. Than I went looking for Eugene to tell him we had a 1:45 pm appointment at Alta View in Richmond.

We moped around the farm all morning trying to get hings done but had no heart for it. Eugene did some tilling and I cleaned German white garlic and hoed some beans waiting for the time to take the cat to the vet one last time.

The time came and I wrapped him in a blue towel and we go in he van and drove westward. Navin showed some interests in the ride over and when we drove into the Vet parking lot he seemed o realized something was up. I was relieved to see we were the only ones there as by this time we were both crying. The women that worked there gave us sympathetic looks and ushered us quickly into an exam room and left us alone with Navin and a box of tissues. We said our good byes and Dr Koester came in and gave him 2 shots, one to tranquilize him and he other to stop his heart. It took about 3 seconds for Navin to die peacefully so I would say his body was ready to rest, even if his spirit still wanted a little more time.

We wrapped him in the towel and I carried his corpse to the van and we drove home very subdued. Got home and showed him to the dogs. Danny thought I was giving him a yummy toy. Nate smelled his body all over. Arlo took one look and walked away, he wanted nothing to do with the death of his cat buddy I guess. I put Navin's body on a chair while we did hings like weed eat he grounds, harvest onions and clean garlic. Finally, at sunset we dug a hole between the two old apple trees and laid him to rest with a bit of catnip with all the other animals in attendance and a beautiful sunset gracing the skies.

Navin you will be missed.

Prepping Onions for storage

Walleye asked for as primer on prepping onions for storage. This is pretty simple to do.

First grow the right kind of onion. Yellow and red onions are great candidates for storage. Sweet onions, not so much.

What we do is cure them before we store them. This involves pulling the onions when the greens have fallen over. You can wait up to a week after the greens have fallen before harvesting. We put the onions on a drying rack of some kind until the greens have turned brown and dried up. Once this has occurred we clean up the onions by removing the top layer(s) of skins that are dirty (but we are careful not to remove too many layers because the onion needs the skin for protection while in storage) and removing the roots by hand pulling them. Be careful with the onions as they do bruise fairly easily and once bruised will not store for more than a few months before rotting

A drying rack is anything that will allow air to circulate all the way around the onions. Eugene made a nice rack last year out of old fridge racks and wood, it has 6 shelves about 1.5' apart and stands about 7' tall. Before that we used hammocks made from chicken wire and other small fencing. This year we will probably have to make a few hammocks out of plastic snow fencing because I have already filled up the drying rack with just 2.5 beds of onions out of 15 beds (we have a great crop this year and planted a lot more this year than in the past). It is essential the onions be in a dry airy place out of direct sunlight that is protected from rain. Onions cannot get wet while curing. A garage or barn is great. In your house would work but know this is a dirty process and you will end up with lots of dirt, onion skins, dead greens and dust all over the place. If you are a married man thinking the house will work for curing remember this sort of thing will piss off your wife. Trust me on this, I have a very, very high tolerance for dirt in the house (we used to bring chickens in on occasion, store all sorts of produce and even clean onions and garlic in the house) and I would never let Eugene cure onions or garlic in the house. Indoor curing could cause divorce so keep this out in the garage, barn or shed.

Once the onions are cured we store them in bushel baskets, these neato waxed produce boxes, that were given to us last year by a friend who trucks items including produce, or plastic produce crates. I would not use 5 gallon buckets as they do not breathe well enough for onions.

Onions are still alive so need a cool/cold place that is dry. They like it between 32F and 50F with humidity around 50% to 70%. If it is too warm (above 50F) they will sprout early and than rot. They can freeze as long as they are not disturbed while frozen and be just fine. If you move them while frozen they will bruise and the bruises will rot and ruin everything.

Sweet onions such as Ailsa Craig, Walla Walla, Vidailia, Granex, Superstar, etc., are not suitable for storage. These onions will a best store 3 to 4 months in he fridge or 2 months at room temperature so we do not bother curing them. We just pull them and cut off the greens, remove the outer skins and the roots and use. We store these onions in the fridge unless they will be sold/used within a week or three.

Another note on cooking onions. For some reason the sweet onion PR folks have been telling the public that sweet onions are great for cooking. They have even duped chefs, who should know better, into believing this. So unsuspecting home cooks now believe that Vidailia onions are a great cooking onion because the Food Network and other places have been telling hem this is so. They are not, sweet onions do not have the sugar content a good storage onion has, which is a big reason it will not store long term. They also do not have the chemical that makes you cry when you cut into one which is why they taste sweet and mild when eaten raw and do not give one heartburn. But when cooked sweet onions, because they do not have much sugar or the crying chemical, are insipid. They cannot caramelize due to lack of sugar (which is why most modern recipes call for the addition of up to a 1/4 cup of sugar in most modern onion recipes) and because they are lacking other chemicals found in abundance in a good yellow (hot) onion have insipid flavor. My favorite cooking onion is Copra, it has fabulous flavor. Unfortunately I will not be growing this onion after this season. Varsity, a new variety for us, also has great flavor when cooked and prince is almost as good. None of these varieties ever need the addition of sugar to caramelize and lend intense onion taste to any dish. Sweet onions should be used raw on sandwiches, burgers, hotdogs and in salads.

Monday, July 23, 2007


We have the best onion crop we have ever grown. Lots of nice 3/4 pound yellow onions. I believe we have around 2400 yellow onions. 3 kinds IIRC. We grew 3 kinds Copra which is a favorite of mine, excellent flavor and storage ability, Prince which we grew last year and stored quite well and Varsity which is new but producing some very nice onions that cook well. We will be dropping Copra after this year (unless I find a bunch of tiny onions I can use for sets for next year) because they have become a Monsanto holding and I will not buy seed from any company associated with Monsanto

We also have a buttload of red onions. One is a hybrid called Mercury which is a nice red onion. The other is an heirloom called Red Weathersfield that is dark purple, almost black, and flat. The taste is excellent-nice and sweet- but the onion does cause a lot of tearing action when cut. And we have Redwing which seems similar to Mercury. The next thing is the get all the onions harvested and cured and than see how well they store over winter.

One thing I know is dry weather is good for onions and we will have a good crop to sell for the rest of the summer/fall markets and at our winter markets

Monday, July 16, 2007

Death is Near

Got Navin back from the vet and it was not good news. Seems he has a huge tumor pressing down on his trachea and it is growing. Since I did not order a biopsy Dr Koester cannot say for sure it is cancer but off he record he says it is more than likely cancer. I saw the x-ray and what ever it is it is big-takes up about a third of his body and it seems to be growing aggressively.

I could spend many thousands of dollars, I do not have, to take the cat to Ohio Sate and see if they can operate for at best, an additional month or two more of life for the cat but it would be a bad life of pain and drugs. Since we all have to face death I have decided to let him live out his life here at home. When he gets too uncomfortable Eugene and I will take him back to the vet one last time and have him euthanized (unless he decides to die in the night a home). Than we will take him back home and bury him, plant a tree over him and drink some home brews in his honor.

I am worried about Arlo who is terribly close to Navin and has been since we got the dog. Arlo does seem to realize something is really wrong but I don't hink he realizes Navin is dying and won't until Navin finally kicks the bucket. Than we will have depressed humans and a very depressed dog who not a spring chicken any longer.

It's not helping matters any that we are killing all the meat chickens on the farm (48 or them) which gets all the dogs depressed for a few days because they lose their main job and reason for being

Navin has been a good friend and I will deeply miss him when he goes but for now he is still alive and kicking and I do get to say good bye

A Strawberry Crisis of Minute Proportions

We had a very busy weekend that was quite profitable for us. Kona Bistro in Oxford does an annual local/organic foods week at the restaurant and ordered a lot of food from us and he Saturday Farmers market in Oxford was busy as well. That mean harvesting double the usual amount of food and having no strawberries for Saturday's market which bummed a lot of people out.

Harvest started on Thursday, mainly for the store (which is open Thursday, Friday and Sunday 11am 'til 7pm) because we were short on some things, like strawberries (because I made jam out of the ones picked over the past weekend and early in the week that did not sell at the Tuesday market) and onions which are just starting to come in and beans because beans need picking every other day or so.

The store was reasonably busy Thursday. 6 people came in most wanting strawberries which has never happened before. Usually the berries are a slow seller. I didn't care because I had already sold 15 pints to Kona and any extras would sell at the Saturday market. Than I start getting emails from farmers market customer ordering large amounts of strawberries, Again, something that has not happened before. Than I go out in the late afternoon to pick more berries and find the patch that has been giving us 11 to 13 pints per day can barely cough up 6 pints. OH NO! We have hit he mid summer lull. So I quickly go back to the store and pull all the berries off the shelf, now realizing I will barely have enough to fill Kona's order and none extra for market if I sell any more at the store. I tell all the emailers that I will not have any berries at market so cannot reserve any for them.

Friday I go out late in the day to harvest more berries and once again find the harvest is low. But I do get enough berries to fill the restaurant order and all is good.

I should have gotten the berries in the morning but I had to harvest and pack a lot of chard, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, carrots, peas, green beans, beets, basil and other items for both Kona and the Saturday market.

At 6am Saturday Morning I load the van with a lot of food and we drive down to Oxford and set up and sell a lot of produce at market, despite having no berries. After market we stop at the Top O' The Hill Day lily farm and buy a couple of expensive lily corms (which we will pick up next Saturday). I had never been to this farm since it stopped being a horse farm. I was well aquainted with it as a horse farm as I boarded a horse there in the late 1980's.When I was a little kid all the teenagers in my neighborhood (the subdivision across the street) had horses and boarded them here. And that starerd my addiction o horses which is in a lull a he moment. After the day lily farm we picked up our raw milk and han went home. Took a nap and than got back in he van and drove back to Oxford for a pool/dinner party at our friend Chuck's. Had a great time swimming, eating and communing. It was good but long day and we will do a virtual repeat next week minus a big restaurant order-have to pick up the lilies, and milk and in the evening we go to Lisa Biales's CD Release party in Oxford

Feline Woes

We still have had virtually no rain.

Navin, my oldest cat is sick with something stuck in his trachea. He has been wheezing and retching as if he has a hairball from Hell stuck down there. He has been to the vet once and is going back this morning for X-rays and probably an extraction of whatever is stuck in his throat (a feather? a Bone?). This whole cat affair has been extremely worrisome to me as I have had Navin since he was 4 weeks old and we are tightly bonded. I also has been hard to sleep with the cat sitting next to me on the bed wheezing and hacking all night. At least this is not likely to be fatal (he does have to be anethesized and there is some risk in that with a 15 year old feline, no matter how healthy the cat is) like Feline Leukemia or FIP would be. I am hoping they find the problem quickly and remove it so in a day or two Navin is back to his old, non wheezing ornery self.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harvesting for Winter

I am waiting for rain that is not coming. A cold front is moving through the region this morning and it was supposed to bring a lot of rain our way but it seems that the rain has fizzled out. C'est la vie. The market garden will have to continue to depend on well water irrigation for now.

It is Wednesday and we have no markets to deal with today and we did not sell many strawberries yesterday at the Tuesday market so today I am going to make strawberry jam, something I have not done in years. I think I will also freeze some green beans and can the apple sauce Eugene made last night since it is going to be reasonably cool today and tonight.

A big part of gardening is being able to put food up for winter. This seems to be a foreign concept to most Americans and that is a huge shame. When I had a CSA, early on I would purposely give members a lot of food and instructions on how to freeze, dry or can the extra food so they would have pure local food in winter time, thus stretching their food dollars. In the ten years I ran a CSA I had maybe 3 members who got that idea. Wot a shame.

I take great joy in putting food by. Yes, it takes time and is often hot sweaty labor but come winter when we are feasting on beans, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, corn, pesto, dried herbs, garlic powder, peas, jams and jellies, applesauce, etc., it is well worth the work done in the heat of summer. It saves us boat loads of money in winter when money is always in short supply for us and we do not have to worry about where our food came from or with what it has been adulterated. That and it is very satisfying to have shelves full of beautiful jars of homemade food and freezers full of produce and chicken that we raised.

If you raise a garden and do not already can dry freeze and otherwise preserve your harvest you should start because otherwise you are not taking full advantage of what your garden is producing. If you buy at farmers markets buy extra and freeze or can it. If you belong o a CSA and cannot eat all the food each week, instead of giving it away or trashing it, put it up for winter. It takes just a few hours per week to do this. Your co-operative extension office will have loads of information on putting food by.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tue Mkt Treated Badly by Oxford, OH

Yesterday I found out just how much Oxford, Ohio values is farmers markets-Very little.

Tuesday has been farmers market day in Uptown Oxford for the past 12 years-That's right, 12 years. We set up this market on the north side of the Memorial Park and have so for as long as he park has been in existance. We have filled out and filed with the city the proper permits to do this market legally.

And yet yesterday afternoon when we showed up in Oxford a 4:10 pm (we were a bit late as we were planting some sweet potato slips we had grown) the park was being used for a 3rd of July festival (why this was not done on the 4th is beyond me) put on by the Parks and Recreation folks. And the market was banned from setting up in he park. his would not have been so bad if someone from the Parks and Recreation dept had contacted either me or Debra Bowles about our site being used for the day. If they had we would have either cancelled or better yet, asked if we could be a part of the festivities-afterall what is more American than a farmers market? And I do not know why this did not happen as there has been a partnership formed between the P&R dept and OFMU, the Tuesday market's governing body. So in theory, if the P&R was really taking the farmers markets in Oxford seriously, we should have been involved in his event. Bu obviously the Oxford P&R (and I believe the City as well) are not taking the farmers markets in Oxford seriously and that is a shame as they are totally missing the point that farmers markets are always an asset.

Okay, so we get here, Debra sees us and tells us that we are to set up in the back of the public parking lot where we have our Saturday market. Don Schwab is already set up there. He tells us a tale of getting rudely kicked out of the park by the P&R people (who should be welcoming us, especially since they are stepping on our toes by usurping our rightful territory). I later find out that the City had made no contingency plan for the Tuesday market and wanted to just cancel us.

Fortunately Oxford has Diana Durr who runs the Visitors and Convention Bureau and is a champion of Farmers markets. She told the city they had to allow us to set up in he public lot since we had permits and OFMU does pay to use the lot. So she got them to okay the parking lot at the last minute and we were allowed to set up our market. She is also the only person to apologise for the mix up (which was not her fault). It would be nice to also get an apology from the P&R people where were less than pleasant to the Tuesday market and who also did not tell us that there would be a conflict. Wotta bunch of Maroons (as Bugs Bunny would say)

So here we are set up away from he festivities, barely allowed to set up our farmers market signs so that our public could find up now that we are a 1/2 block away from our normal haunts (and studies show moving a market just 100' will mean a major decrease in sales). The market was set up 45 minutes behind schedule and sales were slow-the slowest in 4 or 5 years. A few of our customers did indeed find us bu mos did not and so we pretty much wasted our time sitting out behind a big festival that we should have been included in had anyone associated with this event had a functioning brain.

Call me very pissed off about this whole thing