Monday, August 9, 2010


Today is eight, nine, ten. August, 9, 2010. The last time this happened was one hundred years ago. My grandpa was born in 1884 and hadn't moved to Sardinia yet. I wonder what he was doing on this August dog day?

I stopped to visit with him and dad yesterday on the way to Mom's farm. The cemetery was mowed nicely, a little better than dad's resting place in Sardinia. It is so much more scenic there, their grave is right near a big tree near a steep bank down to a creek.

Dad's cemetery is flat with a gentle roll to the north. I have decided that the only thing that matters about your death is how you lived your life. Your resting place should be a place for your friends and family to visit but it really doesn't matter how it is done. If you have the control and the desire to be buried a certain way in a certain place, so be it.

The point of this whole thing is the picture where I first accidentally planted radishes with wheat. The seedbox still had radish in it from Steve Groff near Holtwood, Pennsylvania when I hurriedly dumped the wheat seed on top of it that fall. Look at the difference in color, if you click on my pictures you can see them full size.

Many farmers are interested in this picture. There has to be a relationship between the radishes dying while the wheat goes into dormancy in winter. Usually that is December here but it varies year to year and location to location. The little radish scavanges nutrients and sends a tap root deep and fast.

It dies off, giving energy to the dormant wheat plants that makes more yield the next year when it is harvested. No one has studied it yet so I just speak from my observations. In three wheat crops the yield difference has been about 12 bushels in this area. That will surely vary from place to place but the idea is any living thing affects the growth of another living thing.

Mother Nature puts winter annual weeds in there and we kill them off with Harmony herbicide the next spring. This year my fields were so clean I didn't use anything but still that nasty marestail really came through the wheat late. Even where farmers tried to control it some came through.

I think I am leaning more towards a biological system where plants affect plants and I guide them in a positve direction. It is better for me than applying more chemicals and fertilizers that make a quick response within three years and then are gone. Planting radishes into wheat or whatever seems to make a lasting impact in the right direction.

I have been thinking about how good my crop looks compared to what it could be and I think all the crops I planted have increased my soil biology to the point it works better no matter the weather. I think of Steve's hat that says Soil Was Meant To Be Covered.

That is having a positive impact on me.



  1. I really think there has to be a better way. I'm afraid it involves more tillage however. Something which matches the natural cycles better.
    I was sitting in church listening to a pastor tell how he pointed out to some buddhists that thistles were a result of man's fall in the garden. On the contrary, weeds are plants that grow where you don't want them. Birds use thistle-down for nests, Thistles grow and die and break down and they provide nectar for bees and all sorts of stuff.
    Dang it, I lost my point...
    Yes, I think it would be good to work out a crop rotation that works more iwht natural cycles.
    But... The crop rotation has to be 1. compatible with your farm and region 2. almost profitable
    You could do it with the pre chemical revolution diversified farms of previous generations.
    There is a lot of valuable information in the old books.
    Oh, I'm just going to work. I don't know what I'm saying...

  2. Yes you do, I was raised the same way. Now making a living from it is whole different scenario.

    More tillage? Why not less? The less I do the better it gets. Take the garden for example, deep roto tilled it and the pigweeds took it over.

    The notill soybeans behind it never had near the trouble with pests it did.

    It is too hot to work so I am the Laxy Farmer.