An Amazing Journey Into Understanding

To say that I am constantly amazed at the information about life that we pick up in bits and pieces along the way—even in our later years—would be an incredible understatement.

It seems that if we stay connected and keep our ears open, something of interest will inevitably pass our way.

As I have mentioned several times before, vegetable gardening is something that I have done ever since Sandi and I moved to North Carolina in 1978. Our collective journey has been both humorous and highly satisfying. From those early five inch tall corn plants that we didn’t fertilize, right up to this years strawberry harvest and beyond, we have continued to learn the process of growing your own food.

This year, we bought a small greenhouse and began to grow our own plants from seed—a process that we have tried and failed at several times before. It is not that the information for success is not available—it is just spread out over many different sources and people.

What motivated us to plunge in again and get our hands dirty is as simple as it is complex. We have depended on other people for many years to provide something that—given the right political/economic atmospheric conditions—might not always be available.

Big seed companies have created vegetable hybrids that will not continue to produce after their own kind—so saving seeds from your garden year after year has been largely lost to most gardeners. This has spawned a small but growing movement towards open-pollinate/heritage seeds that can be collected and saved year and year and traded with others.

I guess it may be called sustainability.

Anyway, during the process of growing our own plants this 2010 gardening year, I came across a factoid which in turn can be discussed far beyond the scope of this current blog post.

And the fact is that we may be doing things backwards in terms of how we end up growing anything. The culture that I live in is mostly devoted to using chemical and/or organic compounds to feed our plants. This, rather than feeding the soil and letting the soil feed and grow our plants and vegetable crops. It seems that building up our soil for this and future generations has taken a back seat to using 10/10/10 to create a short term green-revolution which is destined to deplete our top soil and increase our dependence on the big oil companies who create these types of chemicals.

What I am saying is that I became aware of the fact that we have slowly lost the ability to really be “self-sufficient” by accepting this approach to gardening and overall farming. We are dependent upon the big growers to provide our local stores with plants, which we put into the ground and feed with stuff also produced by others, ad infinitum.

According to a recent article in “Mother Jones” magazine, we are losing topsoil at an alarming rate and with this loss the ability to continue to provide food for all the people who are alive today and will be born tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
Once this topsoil is gone, it is very difficult to replace. Composting is one way to sustain our gardens and our planet, but this is not practiced on a scale that will change much of anything.
One is reminded of the great dust bowl of Woody Guthrie’s day. 
“The Dust Bowl or the Dirty Thirties was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936 (in some areas until 1940). The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation, fallow fields, cover crops or other techniques to prevent erosion.” (Wikipedia)
The so-called “Green Revolution” which saw a consolidation of family farms into a corporate conglomerate and the overall increase of food production due to chemical fertilizers is now leveling off and beginning to see decreased crop yields.
I guess what I am trying to wrap my head around is the thought that as a people group, we have more or less lost a measure of control over our future by our dependence on big business to provide our meat and potatoes. Kids today think that milk comes from the grocery store and hamburger from Mickey D’s.
Prophetically I believe that the time has come to take back some of what we have given up—even to the point of creating “top-soil” farms that can begin to create the very stuff that will be blown away due to farming practices that continue to feed the plants and burn out the soil. Soil which in turn leaches nitrogen into our streams and lakes and depletes the oxygen which that part of the food chain lives on.
I think the most frustrating part of all this is the fact that while we can change the way we do things on an individual basis, changing the way our culture approaches this whole deal is a different matter. Just as you can’t legislate true morality, how can we hope to affect change in an arena where we have very little control.  
Until we begin seeing television commercials that shout “Save our Topsoil” we will have to continue learning the secrets to being self-sufficient and accumulate the knowledge that is part of the oral tradition from which our ancestors learned to plant and harvest. To every thing there is a season. Have a good ride today.

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4 Responses to An Amazing Journey Into Understanding

  1. Carey says:

    Seems like heresy to see “10/10/10” and “green revolution” in the same sentence.What you’re doing now is the real green revolution. Keep up the good work.It’s a long row to hoe, but future generations will thank you.

  2. ded says:

    Hey!! Great to see you posting a blog.As we look around us, every topic seems to be ringing its own alarm bell. We enjoyed the prosperity of the Twentieth Century, but now it is clear, those years were a prosperity produced from harmful practices in way too many areas.

  3. Terry Henry says:

    Thanks for stopping by. Speaking of 10/10/10, I do need to get out and fertilize my corn and water the tomato plants.

  4. Terry Henry says:

    And that my friend, just about sums it up. Everything seems a little to overwhelming and one thought leads me to another and another and another. Most times I don’t know where to even begin knowing that I will not be able to cover much of what I am feeling in the few words that blog-world provides. Hope your summer is going well.

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