what’s growing and recent reads

Recent good rains have juiced my crops.  We thought by now the tomatoes would be done, and some are, but others keep producing.  Most everyone complimented the taste of the small tomatoes.  We feel the larger tomatoes are less tasty probably from too much rain. Muscadine season has almost arrived and the black ones above although sweet, will be sweeter still when they roll into my hand and do not have to be tugged.  But then there will be many yellow jackets at the smorgasbord and M. developed Read more [...]

gumption and the intermittent failure

If the South's summer heat and humidity bear any consolation, it is that I have to seek shelter in the house for much of the day and thus am able to extend my reading. I enjoyed the first third of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig but struggled as the protagonist ascended higher into the mountain and into rarefied philosophical issues for which I was not prepared.  Now in the last third of the book the running is easier.  His thoughts on gumption and practical issues of machine Read more [...]

ideas from the past – the kang

I am reading the F. H. King classic "Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic Farming in China, Korea, and Japan" written in 1911 and there are so many nuggets of useful information, including the "kang". He observed the  kang  during his visit to Mongolia and his commentary  made me think of the rocket mass heater (now popular in permaculture circles)  with which it shares a number of features. He describes several kangs - in one case it was 7ft by 7ft and about 28" high and "could be warmed Read more [...]

DIY and its virtues

I just read a good essay in the New York Times - "A Nation that's losing its Toolbox" by Louis Uchitelle (July 21, 2012).  He laments the loss, not only of factories and good manufacturing jobs, but also "mastering tools and working with one’s hands is receding in America as a hobby, as a valued skill, as a cultural influence that shaped thinking and behavior in vast sections of the country. "  He says that manufacturing is important, not just to create jobs and reduce the trade deficit and help Read more [...]