Wednesday, October 31, 2012


When we evaluate the things we regularly eat, it includes a lot of grains. Along with the bread we daily eat, we enjoy peanut butter. All of us like it, and it seems we can use a lot of it.

We tried our hand at growing peanuts for the first time this year. We planted the nuts into the newest garden plot, just reclaimed from a bramble and forest. The soil in this plot is very rocky, and has minimal organic content. It is actually much closer to a gravel pit than I had imagined. While the peanut is a warm loving, southern favorite, I think most of our low production volume was related to the soil conditions.

We planted 1 lb of Virginia Jumbo peanuts, and harvested around 5 lbs. Many of the plants simply did not survive, and several had been severely cropped back by grazing deer. Those that did survive looked forlorn and in need of something more than they had. I was not sure if it was general soil nutrition, lack of water or pest pressure. All through the year the plants were small and seemed weak. We were almost resigned to think the crop had not produced at all, till we located some intact plants, and upon digging them up, we found peanuts!

Looking at how large the plants should grow, I think plant spacing should be 10 inches along the row. I think these plants would like long, warm temperatures, and I bet they would really like sandy soil. The areas were we had a lot of clay, they did not seem to do well at all.

The peanut shells are located off of "pegs" or flowering stems and bend down to the soil and the peanut develops under the soil level. At flowering time, you may want to loosen soil to assure the pegs can easily grow into the soil for pod production.

Back to where I started this post: we all love peanut butter. 1/2 a cup of peanut butter has been known to be consumed in at a meal. We prefer to make our own peanut butter by grinding roasted peanuts. After grinding, we place the jars in the refrigerator, and have no issues with the oil separating out. Ground peanut butter is more compact than whole peanuts, so it takes around 2 cups of peanuts to make a cup of peanut butter.

When you consider the work required to plant, water, weed, harvest, shell, roast, salt, store, and then grind; you can see this process takes a lot of work. And when you eat as much as we do, well, it gives you an appreciation of how much effort is required for this food item. We are not discouraged by the effort level, but I do see that we need a lot more land devoted to peanuts if we are to be self sufficient. I also think that if we were truly self sufficient, we would have to use less peanut butter. The total work involved is quite high, and it likely should be a "feast food".

If you have not tried growing peanuts, I would encourage you to try them. They were no problem at all, and just need some good soil. If you live in the north, get them going as soon as you can, as they like a long growing season.


Monday, October 8, 2012

"The harvest is Past..."

October 8, 2012 was judgement day for our summer garden. Temps fell to 31 deg just before day break this morning. Sunshine and I went out early in the morning to see how hard the frost had been. The soft and tender tomato leaves were hard and stiff with ice. It was a hard killing frost.

In past years, we have been spared till later in October, with only very light frosts that the plants could resist. The previous two years, our hard frost date were on October 22.

We walked slowly through the garden, mourning for the burst cells and dying tissue all around us. We looked at green tomatoes, green peppers, tomatillos, late corn, late potatoes, green beans still in bloom, okra, sweet potatoes. All tender and frozen hard. Still green under the coating of white frost, but the hour of judgement had come. Death was in process. When I returned to look at the plants later in the day, the tender leaves were wilted and black.

Sunshine thought of a verse: Jeremiah 8:20 "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." There is a date at which the march of time will pronounce, "now is the hour of your judgement." It will come for you and I just as surely as this morning was a judgement for our summer garden. Our indifference or our lack of heart preparation will not stop the impending date. God's forbearance will have a point at which there will be no further time in which to prepare.

Are you ready for Jesus to come? Are you clean in your heart, and fit for translation? Has Jesus not only forgiven your sin, but cleaned your character for heaven? Judgement is coming. An example fell our our summer garden this morning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I do not yet have any experience planting wheat, but I do enjoy bread. We have decided it is time to learn some things about growing wheat.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall, to allow the seeds to germinate, and set some roots. Then in the spring, it is ready to go. I have read that planting wheat in the fall will offer the farmer a 3 to 4 week head start, with harvest earlier next year.

Wheat does well in the western USA with their dry early summers. This is when the grain is maturing, and a lot of rain in this time period could lead to molds and grain quality issues. Our area is not known for growing wheat, but with global warming and the midwest drought, we may be the next wheat growing belt. Anyway, we want to see how it would go.

Earlier this week, I planted a field with a new kind of wheat: Khorsan, or Kamut wheat. It is a old variety, and reportedly has low allergy symptoms for those who are allergic to wheat. We are not wheat allergic, but it may be a matter of time considering the GMO contamination in the general food supply. There is linkage to GMO foods and general increased allergy response. I am also interested in the wheat as it has a different genetic makeup, and may resist GMO wheat pollen if it were around.

I found some references that called for planting Kamut in the fall, and then another references that suggested planting it in the spring. I had a field ready, so I planted it by broadcast, and I will see if it takes and any comes up. If it freezes out, I will just replant in the spring, so no great loss. To broadcast, it is suggested to put out 1/2 of your seed volume in one direction, and then go perpendicular, and spread the remaining 1/2 of seed. This will help to give an even sowing. A small crank broadcaster is suggested, but in the old days, I am sure people just spread by hand. The more even the sowing the better.

So tuck this topic away in your mind, and we will revisit it again in the spring, and again at harvest time. I look forward to the day when I could make a loaf of bread entirely from wheat I grew. That has long been a wish of mine, like a check box on my life list of things I want to do.

Here goes!