About to Spring

Leaving our valiant hero, locked in mortal combat against the forces of darkness, we return now to gardening that is now in progress <fade out>
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<http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20110318/LIFESTYLE/110319608
Planting season
By MEG McCONAHEY THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
It's the first full weekend of daylight savings and the beginning of the vernal equinox, igniting that primal urge to plant.
After months staring at dismal planting beds, the seed catalogs and garden centers are as irresistible as a plate of fresh brownies on the kitchen counter.
But experienced gardeners warn eager newbies and those who falsely think getting an early start is the secret to growing success to resist the seductions of planting and instead, do their spade work.
³Everybody wants to put their tomatoes in now. But not now. Not now,² chuckles Mary Frost, a private garden tutor who coaches people one-on-one.
The dirty truth is that the first couple of weeks of spring are best spent cleaning up and getting your ground, irrigation system and tools ready.
While the date of the last frost varies from year to year, in Sonoma County it's generally regarded as April 15. Plant your warm, summer crops before that and you risk losing them. Or at best, they won't do anything, wasting time that could have better been spent weeding, building up your soil and doing the last of your pruning.
When it comes to happy plants, so much of your success will get down to one thing ‹ the quality of your soil.
³You're going to be wasting your time and wasting your money if you don't get your soil prepared. Dirt is dirt, but soil is filled with microbial life, insects and earth worms breaking down organic matter and feeding your plants.²
The way to add microbes to your soil, she says, is through compost. There is healthy disagreement over whether rototilling is necessary or even good for most gardens. Spiegelman maintains that just a thick layer of good compost ‹ about two to three inches ‹ just laid on the top of the soil, is all you need to do in most cases. Spread it out now and then wait a few weeks, letting the micro-organisms and earth worms time to do their job.
³I call microbials your people,² she laughs. ³They're doing all the free labor for you.²
In fact, if you've got worms, be flattered. It means you've got great digs for growing.
Compost really has many advantages. Not only does it increase the percentage of organic matter in your soil, says Alan Siegle of Sonoma Compost, but it also builds up soil structure, makes heavy clay soil easier to work and drain better and improves the moisture-holding capacity of your soil, cutting down on water use and making plants happier.
At the same time, compost can serve as a slow-release fertilizer by adding nutrients and minerals to your soil and plants as it breaks things down.
³Adobe tends to eat up organic matter. Clay soils are generally incredibly rich but the nutrients are bound up and not always available to the plants,² says Siegle. ³If you don't have enough mulch or compost added it can turn into brick very early in the spring and just makes it very difficult to plant.²
It's wise to have a sense of the soil you have, to help determine what compost might be best.
You will also want to choose a different soil for shrubs and perennials. Vegetable gardens need more nitrogen while shrubs do better with a lower-nitrogen soil.
Experts say that it's not a good idea to work your soil while it's wet. Add your compost and after any rain, let it dry a bit. Meanwhile, tackle another dreaded task that will pay off later ‹ weeding.
It's not just for appearances. ³Weeds steal nutrients and water from your desirable plants. They compete and they usually win,² says Frost, who does her weeding the old-fashioned and healthy organic way, by hand.
Wait a few days after a rain when the soil is damp but not soggy. You don't want to be removing big clumps of your soil. But if its slightly damp you can get at those big tap roots. Moderate your time spent pulling. Ten minutes here, 20 minutes there to avoid injury.
While you're waiting to plant you might also check your irrigation system for leaks and finish pruning.
And if you simply can't wait to put something in the ground, hold off on your tomatoes until April or May and start with cooler weather crops. Spinach, radishes, turnips, beets, peas, carrots, cilantro, Asian greens and potatoes can be sewn into the ground now. You could also plant from starts lettuce, leeks, onions, brassicas, peas and Asian greens.
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Yea, it is time for your boys to stop the Sci Fi doomsday stories and finally get back to gardening. Your "brothers bill" posts really are getting stupid. Perhaps something more mainstream than your usual cut and paste moral stories fromthe ecowarrior news service?
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I love science fiction, current reading "ECHO by Jack McDevitt". So far an excellent book as the valiant hero Alex Benedict and his assistant Chase Kolpath embarks on a voyage of great discovery and danger!
Yes! spring is coming and today I turned my compost piles for first time since November. The ground is still soggy and cannot do much outdoors. Indoors all I do is look at my seedlings growing under lights. I look forward for my Cow Bessy to have her calf in May and have my first garden fresh salad, all radiation free of course :)
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Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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So wat'cha growin'? Any thing different, or are you going for as much of what you want as you can? (That's a sentence, isn't it?)
I know it's just you, but how many do you grow for?
I got onions coming up. The kale get bigger every day. The borage is up. The potatoes are up, and pesky. I tried to rotate them, and it isn't working out very well. They'll stay in the same bed every year now, until I have a problem with them.
The bed I had them in is my best bed, and I presently have it seeded with rye and buckwheat. It will be tomatoes and peppers, this year, and next year I'll be able to do a proper rotation.
"Tickle the earth with a hoe, it will laugh a harvest." - Mary Cantell
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Not much different than last year for the veggie gardens. i probably will not grow carrots or potatoes this year, so cheap in the stores and I do use that much. Fewer tomatoes and more lettuces, cucumbers, green beans and peas. I am going try more fruits like blackberries and blueberries.
In my veggie seed kits right now are peppers, King of the North (new for me), Orange bells, Purple beauty, Banana and Jalapeño. Tomato: Roma, Cherry 100, Bonny best, beefsteak, and I will try once more brandywine.
Next week will start my lettuces in seed kits: Butercrunch and Romaine. Other kitchen lettuces like Arugula and other will be direct seed in the ground. I think i will have a section 4x4 feet just for spinach, for cooking and fresh eating. My chickens love lettuce so I will grow lots of it.
Flowers in kits now in 48 cells each: Coleus (scarlet yellow), Blue trailing petunias, Red Salvias, Big Red Geranium, Impatiens (wild thing), impatiens ((cherry splash), marigold (lemon), marigold (disco), Zinnias (Mixed). The marigolds and zinnias were seed saved from last year, too easy to do.
After buying hay from others during the winter. I have noticed some hay is better than others. I will looking at ways to improve my own hay fields. In the past my seventy year old neighbor was taking care of it because I did not have the equipment. I will be taking over that task now that I have a cow. So I will be looking a ways for improving the soil for the hay field in the future. I do not have enough chickens to help spread the cow patties. I am thinking about a manure spreader. Since retirement my funds are really really tight. Not to mention about getting home milk pasteurizer, yogurt and cheese making equipment. Bessy is expensive, I just do not know a about her worth.
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Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved: Inside America's Underground Food Movements by Sandor Ellix Katz
<(Amazon.com product link shortened) 392118/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid00729707&sr=1-1> (Available at better libraries)
pg. 165 - 168
A Brief History of Mandatory Pasteurization Perhaps you are wondering how raw milk came to be illegal and associated with disease if all these virtues I'm singing are for real. The reality is that not all milk is created equal. Traditionally, cows have been pastured (not pasteurized), given plenty of space to graze on grass. This is how ruminants thrive. This practice makes for mostly healthy animals and safe, nutritious milk. Ruminants evolved grazing, and milk (as well as meat) from grass-pastured animals is rnore nutritious than that from animals fed primarily grain, especially in terms of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and a nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an important omega-6 fatty acid that is found in milk from grass-fed animals in concentrations up to five times the amount found in milk from grain-fed animals. As a result of rapid urbanization, particularly during the nineteenth century, many dairies expanded their herds to meet rising demand for milk, while simultaneously pasture land was getting crowded out. This forced urban dairies to search for more space-intensive methods. ' Meanwhile a domestic liquor-distilling industry began to develop in the United States, which produced lots of waste in the form of spent grains known as "swill" or "slop." The urban dairies found in the distilleries by-product a cheap alternative to pastures for feeding their cows. The two industries coined together, first in New York City, and slop dairies became widespread around the United States by the 1830s.
Slop diets kept cows lactating, but it made them unhealthy. "The milk was so defective in the properties essential to good milk that it could not be made into butter or cheese," writes naturopathic doctor and dairy farmer Ron Schmid, author of The Untold Story of Milk." Instead of keeping cows outside grazing in pastures as cows always had been, the new dairy industry confined their cows and fed them slop. Their feces were concentrated rather than dispersed, and they wallowed in it. Nonetheless the milk produced by the slop dairies was popular, because it was cheap. By 1852 three-quarters of milk sales in New York City were of slop milk. Problems were developing as well, specifically rising mortality rates among infants, leading to debates over "the milk problem."
Two distinct milk reform movements emerged in the 1890s. One, advocated primarily by medical doctors, called for "certified milk." The "milk cure" was a long-established healing regime prescribed by many medical doctors of the time, and good-quality milk was regarded by the profession as an important factor in maintaining health. Milk certifying commissions were formed by medical associations in many areas. The commissions established hygiene and care standards for farms, per-formed inspections, and gave their seals of approval to milk from farms meeting the standards.
"The other reform movement advocated pasteurization as the most effective means of making the milk supply safe. The two contrasting approaches to safe milk—certification and pasteurization—are not mutually exclusive. It is possible to have a regulatory scheme in which some or most milk is pasteurized (and clearly labeled as such), while other milk that meets some specified standard can be sold raw (and clearly labeled as such). Such is the situation in California and several other states today, and historically, both regulatory schemes overlapped in most places.
Pasteurization is simple, and it dramatically improved infant survival rates. A powerful advocate for pasteurization was New York philanthropist Nathan Straus, a partner in Macy's department store. Straus funded the establishment of "milk depots" around New York, where slop milk was pasteurized and sold cheaply starting in 1893. Between the milk depots and the new system of chlorinating the New York City water system, the epidemic of infant mortality rapidly receded. The diseased milk from the slop dairies was rendered safer by pasteurization, but still it lacked the nutrients, enzymes, and bacteria found in raw milk from healthy pastured cows. Pasteurization was and is "a quick, technological fix.""
Quick technological fixes have their appeal. New York's success with pasteurization spurred its rapid spread. In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt, an old friend of Straus, ordered a study of milk pasteurization, and the Surgeon General declared: "Pasteurization prevents much sickness and saves many lives." A 1911 National Commission on Milk Standards recommended mandatory pasteurization—except for certified milk. By 1917 pasteurization was legally required or officially encouraged in forty-six of the fifty-two largest U.S. cities, and over time, systems of milk certification gradually died out in most places.
The rise of mandatory pasteurization solidified the myth that raw milk is inherently dangerous—regardless of the conditions of the animals it comes from. This has become dogma. The people charged with protecting the public health are so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that raw milk is inherently dangerous that raw milk is always the presumed culprit if someone who has drunk it falls ill. "Allowing the sale of raw dairy products goes against everything I ever learned and everything that public health stands for," said Suzanne Jenkins, head epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health, in 2004." Public health authorities have a difficult time recognizing that the quality of the milk is determined by how the animals are kept.
As the pasteurization-promoting Straus said, "If it were possible to secure pure, fresh milk direct from absolutely healthy cows, there would be no necessity for pasteurization. If it were possible by legislation to obtain a milk supply from clean stables after a careful process of milking, to have transportation to the city in perfectly clean and closed vessels, then pasteurization would be unnecessary." A hundred years later, we have refrigeration, and it is possible to obtain pure, fresh milk that meets all of Strauss criteria. When healthy cows are removed from confinement and allowed to graze in pastures, their milk is healthy and safe.
Unfortunately, most places do not permit or regulate the retail sale of raw milk. In most of the United States and much of the rest of the world, it is simply illegal to buy or sell raw milk. As more and more' people learn about the benefits of raw milk and want to start drinking it, a grassroots underground has emerged, linking consumers directly to dairy farmers with small, pastured herds.
à ta santé
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Many of my neighbors have drank raw milk with no health problem at all. Even an article in the last issue of Hobby Farm Magazine had an article from Joel Salatin from PolyFace farm drinks raw milk. However, being new at this game I will play it safe and if I have company i certainly will play it safe. It is not just feed, one has to clean the udders before milking, if this is not done correctly one can get sick, pasteurization will help. None of this will be for sale. However, people have gotten sick from drinking raw milk, I have read about a dozen people per year.
I know I do not need expensive equipment. I can use my Canning equipment for the slow and an low heat method. Just put a temperature probe in the center quart jar of milk of the water bath or a double boiler and hold at 150 degrees for twenty minutes. I have not done this yet. What I do believe is not good is the Homogenization of milk. The machine I was thinking about getting is for the lazy in me. http://www.lehmans.com/store/Kitchen___The_Home_Dairy___Other_Supplies___Home_Milk_Pasteurizers___P3000?Args
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Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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http://www.lehmans.com/store/Kitchen___The_Home_Dairy___Other_Supplies___Home_Milk_Pasteurizers___P3000?Args =
That link did not work, someday I use tiny url.
http://www.cheesemaking.com/store/p/80-Home-Milk-Pasteurizer-110-volts.html
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Enjoy Life... Nad R (Garden in zone 5a Michigan)

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THe French complained bitterly when the government force Camembert producers to use pasteurized milk.
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