Keep Close to Nature’s Heart

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to the body and soul.”

“Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountain is going home; that wildness is necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”        

— all quotes by John Muir

[John Muir was one of the first modern preservationists.  His letters, essays, and books telling of his adventures in nature, and wildlife, especially in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, have been read by millions and are still popular today.  His direct activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley and other wilderness areas.  The Sierra Club, which he founded, is now one of the most important conservation organizations in the entire world.]


Microbe Helping Gray Mold in Table Grapes?

ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2010) — Small but mighty, a beneficial microbe called Muscodor albus may help protect fresh grapes from troublesome gray mold.  Experiments conducted over the past several years by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) plant pathologists have shown that M. albus can combat Botrytis cinerea, the organism that causes gray mold.

California Table Grapes

Gray mold can ruin the taste and appearance of fresh-market grapes, according to Smilanick. For organic growers, Botrytis is especially troublesome because these producers can’t use the typical treatment, sulfur dioxide, to quell it. That’s why, if commercialized, M. albus could benefit conventional and organic growers alike.

The ARS San Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center near Parlier, Calif. collaborated in Muscodor experiments with other microbiologist and industry colleagues.

Muscodor acts as a natural fumigant by emitting compounds, harmless to people and animals, that can kill or inhibit the spread of certain other microbes, such as B. cinerea.  For example, in experiments with packaged Thompson Seedless grapes, investigators found that Muscodor reduced the incidence of Botrytis-infected grapes by up to 85 percent.

A recent article in the journal Plant Disease documents their findings.  ARS and the California Table Grape Commission funded the research.  ARS is the chief intramural scientific research agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The Muscodor research contributes to international food security, a USDA priority.

Healthy Carbohydrates

The Healthy Eating Guide.  2009.  Carbs have been the topic of much discussion the past few years, with the Atkins and South Beach Diets gaining popularity. Carbs provides the “fuel” for your body and are the primary source of energy. They are found in fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, grains, legumes, and sweets. You DO NOT have to cut carbs out of your diet in order to lose weight. 

Medium Grain Rice, Marysville, California

The carbs you want to be avoiding are the refined and processed foods such as white bread, white flour, white rice, white pasta, sugary sodas and snacks, and other processed foods. These have been stripped of their natural whole grains and much of their nutritional content and may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss, and promote diabetes and heart disease.

Carbs that are part of a healthy diet plan include fruits and vegetables, beans, and whole grain products such as oatmeal, whole wheat and multi-grain pasta, brown rice, and whole wheat bread.  The higher the fiber content the better.  Some people consider potatoes to be a source of “bad” carbs because of their high starch content but potatoes are actually very high in vitamin C and potassium so they are okay as long as you eat them in limited quantities.

Soil pH [part 1]

I continue to get a lot of soil pH questions.  Growers need to realize that soil pH values, to a certain degree, are empirical.  That is, no one pH value can be declared and affirmed to be ideal or optimum for all mineral soils, and the same can be said for organic soils.  There is always room for flexibility.

A Typical Mollisol Profile

With this in mind, it is safe to say that most crops/plants are best suited to a soil pH value of 6.4 with temperate mineral Mollisols, and likewise, most plants are best suited to a soil pH value of 5.5 with temperate organic soils.  However, the older the soil, i.e., the more weathered the soil (especially pertaining to tropical soils) the lower the optimum soil pH value.

 Optimum Soil pH Values For Plant Nutrient Availability


Optimum pH

Temperate Mineral Mollisols


Temperate Mineral Alfisols






Temperate Organic Soils


For the western United States, most Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington agricultural soils are Mollisols and Alfisols while most Hawaii soils are Ultisols and Oxisols.

More on soil reaction (pH) soon.  And send me your pH questions….

Daniel Webster on Farming

“Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth is the most important labor of man. When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization.” — Daniel Webster 
Cultivated Chardonnay near Lockeford, California

Anyone Can Give Up

Anyone can give up, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength. — Unknown

How To Speak “Southern”


Aig – What a hen lays
Aints – He’s got aints in his paints [Paints: what cha put on your laigs of a mornin]
Arn – Ma’s tard of arnin
Bag – He bagged her to marry him
Bobbed – A bobbed wire fence
Bresh – He had a bresh with the law, and the law won.
Bub – the light bub burned out
Cheer – What you set in
Crick – A small stream
Clum – He sure clum that tree fastern any ‘coon
Chiny – country over in Asia
Chuch duds – Sunday go-to-meetin clothes
Core – He got hisself a new Ford core
Cyow – Animal on Farm
Deppity – He helps out the shurf
Dribbed – He dribbed milk on his shirt
Dainz – Satidy night social
Ellum – A graceful tree
Fanger – What you put your rang on
Faince – Whats round the hawg lot
Far – What get the brandin arn hot
Furred – He got furred from his job
Flar – A rose is a purdy flar
Frash – Them aigs ain’t frash
Furiners – All non-‘bamans
Further – Hits ten miles further to town
Grain – She was grain with envy
Hail – Where bad folks go
Hep – Poor George, he can’t hep it, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Hern – It aint hern, it’s his’n
Hilbilly – People in the next county
Hollar – Whats between the hills
Hard – Got a brend new hard
hand Tar – His core blew a tar
Laymun – A sour fruit
Laig – Most folks have two of them
Lather – What you climb up
Liberry – Where you go to check out books for larnin
Mailk – what you get from cyows
Mere – What you see your self in
Minners – Live bait
Misrus – Married Woman
Nar – Opposite of wide
Nayk – Your head sets on it
Nup – No
Orrel – Them hinges need orrel
Ormy – What the sojers go in
Pank – A light red color
Parch – Sit out on the parch and watch the grass grow
Petition – What separate the rooms
Poke – A paper bag or sack
Pokey – What the shurf and deppity puts crimnals in Poke
Salit – A green vegetable
Puppet – What the preacher is in
Purdy – She is purdy as a pitcher
Purt near – Almost he purt near caught that greased pig
Rang – You wear it on your fanger
Rut – That there tree sure has long ruts
Rah cheer – I was born rah cheer in town
Rainch – A big cow farm
Rat – Do it rat now!
Rench – Rench the soap yourself
Roont – She plum roont her shoes
Salary – A stringy vegetable
Soardeens – Small canned fish
Shar – A light rain
Gully Worsher – A medium heavy rain
Toad strangler – A heavy rain Sody
Pop – A soft drink
Sprang – Water out’n the ground
Shurf – The Shurf put Clem in jail
Storch – This here aprn has to much storch in it
Skeered – that plumb skeered me to death
Thanks – He shore thanks he’s smart
Tho – Tho me the ball
Thoat – I shore got a sore thoat
War – A bobbed war fance
Worsh – Go worsh your face
Warter – What you worsh your face in
Yurp – A continent overseas

Soil Conservation

… soil conservation is not just an incidental bit of the mechanics of farming; it becomes part and parcel of the whole business of making a living from the land, and is the only way by which we may have permanently productive land for a permanent agriculture to support a permanent nation.–Hugh Bennett, Founder of the Soil Conservation Service