I'm Going to be Honest

It hasn't been real fun here at The Accidental Agronomist Headquarters lately. I have to admit  I've been pouting. It's not the mature adult thing to do, but sometimes it's all I feel like doing.  I'm behaving immaturely for several  reasons.

My mechanic is mad at The Bitch who has been in the same position for over two weeks. I'm now referring to it as "jacked up" because it literally has been. At this point I would like to sell it to recoup some of our expenses.....my mechanic would like to bury C4 in it and watch it burn. We obviously have to reach some kind of middle ground. He once asked me if I wanted a Cadillac. My response was, "They seem pretentious and overrated." I'm not going to elaborate on my thought's regarding BMW's  right now.

The main reason for my bad attitude is the self-inflicted change in career choices I recently made. I stripped myself of the title of Agronomist at the #1 organic fertilizer company and demoted myself to working for a wholesale greenhouse. But, there's the challenge I'm having. I really didn't want to leave. I made the decision for personal reasons based on the work atmosphere I didn't want to be part of anymore. I actually enjoyed the "job" part of what I did.  I learned more spending time with the farmers and growers I worked with than I did in college. No offense to higher education, I have one. So now not only is my husband, my mechanic, he has now become my therapist. He has explained that it was, in fact, my decision to leave, I need to grow up and life will go on.

Now on to another reason for my bad attitude. The rain..........Can it rain anymore in the state of Pennsylvania? Obviously, it can because they are calling for more as I'm writing. I will state for the record I'll be the first to complain about the hot dry weather once it gets here. The rain has caused havoc in my garden to the point I will be replanting over half of it. Yes, so called educated people in the field screw up too.

In honor of the rain and to talk about what is closer related to all things agronomy/gardening I'm introducing you to my rain barrel.  I know it's not high tech and nor did I need an engineering degree to do it. I simply traded a homemade banana cake with marshmallow frosting for the barrel and cinder blocks. The barrel came with the spout in it. I'm sure only because I put extra frosting on the cake. After dragging all that home for two blocks, I cut the spouting to fit into the barrel and covered the top with  a piece of screen I found in the garage. I made sure the spouting doesn't go the entire way to the bottom of the barrel. This way it is easy to move it to clean it out.

Meet My Rain Barrel

Meet My Rain Barrel

I've done some reading on all things rain barrels and don't want to overstate all the reasons you should have one. I came across an article that pointed out some maybe not so good things you should consider when using the water from your barrel. To be honest, I hadn't really taken it to consideration what the water might have in it from being run off from the roof. I know about the little gravel like crap that fills up the bottom of the barrel, clogs the spout, and causes me to curse every spring when I clean it out. But the fact that there could potentially be chemical compounds that might not be so good for the plants and me, well that evaded my thinking. However, all is not lost and I'm keeping the barrel. If you have moderately healthy soil it should act as the filter it is intended to be and remediate anything that as been added to it by the rain water. In my mind, rain waters positives outweigh the potential negatives.

Check out the following links and tell me what you think.


What do Turkey, Balance, and Agronomy have to do with Each Other?

When you think about it.....nothing unless you raise turkeys that stumble while out foraging. If that's the case you might have more issues then I feel comfortable covering in an afternoon. I know a good agronomist and can recommend an animal nutritionist that would be able to help if your turkey's need it.

What they represent for me is putting together all the pieces of information I dispense to the farmers, growers, and producers I work with and my own philosophical views about the food I eat and feed my family. First, I have been overwhelmed by how personal and decisive the choices we make regarding food are. You tell someone you don't eat pork and you get one label. Tell someone you're a vegetarian and they want to know if you are because you believe animals have right too. Make the decision to eat only organic, than you're a twig and nutter. There's buy fresh buy local, eat raw, eat only what you can grow, go vegan......the list goes on and on. Personally, after the feeling of being overwhelmed, I believe everyone has to choose for themselves and their families. To be honest, at one point in time I have prescribed to one or more of the ideas I listed and probably some others I haven't. Recently my husband said I was one omelet away from being vegan.

Then it happened.....I realized I wasn't practicing what I recommend to all the growers I work with!  I had decided over a month ago to be a vegetarian. Not because I didn't like the fact of eating meat, I was having a hard time buying meat from the grocery store and having no idea where it came from. I had fallen into a rut of running through the grocery store picking up what was convenient and available. Also, I wanted to force myself to eat more vegetables. In my genius mind I thought becoming a vegetarian would solve all my problems. Reducing my need to buy meat from the store and eat more vegetables seemed easy. What I did in fact was eat more bread and Oreo's, totally defeating the purpose. Believe it or not, Oreo's are considered vegan.....if it's good enough for them, it is good enough for me. I was still buying the same meat products for my family.

As Thanksgiving Day was getting closer and closer I started to really think about what I was doing. I had spent half a day looking for Tofurky, only to find it and be astounded at the price.  Then I started contemplating if Thanksgiving Day was going to be as appealing to me cutting into the Tofurky as I thought it would be. While thawing out the turkey, humanely raised by one of my colleagues using organic feed, it happened. Once again, I realized I wasn't practicing what I recommend to all the farmers I work with!

Bob the Turkey

Bob the Turkey

Balance.....you can have your meat and eat it too, if you want to or not, of course. I achieved balance while enjoying the vegetables I bought from a local grower, the raw carrots and celery from the market in town, the bread my husband made, and the sugar/gluten-free organic pumpkin pie I made. We also had chocolate pie that was totally not part of any healthy food choice, but a choice none the less. It represented the processed, sugar laden, and boxed choices we all make at some point in time. The kind my children prefer, which I totally understand however, fight against every day. 

 When working with farmers and growers I can't stress enough to them they have to find balance. Balance has to be found in work, finances, soil fertility programs, expectations for productivity, crop rotations, and management style. This leads me to work with growers on all different levels of experience, productivity, philosophical views, management skills, and traits. I understand not all growers have the market to be certified organic, but still want to provide healthy all natural fruits and vegetables. I applaud the grower who makes the commitment to be certified organic , non-gmo. or both. There is a market for all types.

The balance we find has to be personal and what we are able and willing to maintain. I respect all types of eaters, growers, farmers, and producers. Every time I visit a farm I know I'm there to talk fertilizer, however I want them to be the best at what they are. Once their objective is decided, I want to help them stay the course with a flexible however balanced approach.

I can't wait to talk more about soil fertility. I once made a room full of 200 farmers look up from their nap during a conference in North Carolina when I said, "I make recommendations for custom fertility programs......" Thank goodness they could only see me from my nose up because the podium was so high. It has nothing to do with me being short. Let's get the record straight, it was the podium that was tall. Needless to say, at the end of the presentation I had a line of people who wanted me to look at their soil tests. I think there was something about a girl using the word fertility in a sentence in a room full of guys.....