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The Reactionary Times

I let other folks make me very angry the other day. It affected a lot of my work throughout the morning, and into the early afternoon. That anger just simmered the rest of the day.

I didn’t understand what was going on until later the next day. And I’m having trouble writing it out now. It seems to be a trouble with reaction. I’m reacting to everything negatively. Even with all of the work I’ve done on this, it’s really pushing hard against everything else. So much so that my Creative Energy is being tied up by dealing with reactions.

It’s happened again. Yesterday I was working on a home repair project, and things weren’t going well. I reacted to this by letting myself get more and more frustrated. Which led, of course, to my getting more and more angry. This time I can tell you exactly where all this reaction came from. My need to do everything perfectly the first time and every time. (Yes, I know that perfection isn’t possible, but you tell that part of me that. I’ve been having that inner discussion for years.)

I’m more aware of all this reaction because I began to cultivate Equanimity in My Life a few weeks ago. That sense of inner calm, even in the midst of all the sound and fury of modern life. Uncertainty is rampant in Life these days, as reactionary forces tear at the fabric of the social contract constructed for US citizens (and people coming here, yearning to “breathe free”). Navigating this uncertainty successfully is more about your mindset than about circumstance. A Peaceful mind is essential to this. Which led me to Equanimity.

To this point, cultivating Equanimity is like plowing new ground; a lot of unexpected stuff gets turned up in the process. What’s turned up in my case is every mistake I’ve made, every regret I have, and the pervading sense of failure that I’ve had to deal with all my life.

While these are difficult things to face, it’s actually a positive thing. I have the chance to deal with them now. They aren’t buried deep in my unconscious anymore. They haven’t been easy to deal with, especially in a year as busy as this one. Because to deal with them, I have to look at how I see the world, and how I see myself. All this anger and frustration comes from My Personal Mythology, the stories I tell myself about me and the world. How do I do that? Ultimately, by changing those stories. Not to lower standards or to lessen the quality of My Life, but to replace emotional reactions with Creative energy.

It’s surprised me to realize that a lot of that calmness I’m looking for comes from Unconditional Love. When you Love someone or something without expectation, with no attachments, and no excuses, there’s no need for reaction. Things are as they are. People are the perfectly imperfect beings they have always been, including me. There’s an old gospel song with the line, “The sweetest words I ever heard was I forgive”. I’d add to that, the sweetest words you’ll ever SAY are I forgive, especially if you’re saying them to yourself.

Here’s the point. In order to Live a Peaceful Life, we start within ourselves. All of the attachments, expectations, and experiences that have gone into creating our Personal Mythology needs to be recognized for what it is. Is it Love or is it fear? Does it Create or does it react? Is it Life or is it simply sound and fury?  Forgiveness is a practice that can help you answer those questions.

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for May 21-26, 2018

I’ll be at Lomax Farm in Concord,NC twice this week. On Tuesday morning, I’ll be checking out the latest organic farming research. Thursday, I’ll be teaching folks how to grow good food organically. Details are below.

This week’s tip

Last week I gave you the basics of growing more good, fresh food in less space. This week. I’ll share with you a couple of harvest-increasing practices you can use. Both of them are common-sense ideas that I have learned in over 30 years of gardening.
First is a type of companion planting that lets you “stack” crops in a space. Europeans learned this from Native Americans over 300 years ago. It’s a planting technique called “the three sisters”. Corn, beans, and squash (pumpkins) were planted in the same space. Corn is planted first, then beans are planted at the base of the corn plants when corn was about knee-high. Squash was planted close behind the beans in order to offer a living mulch. You can do the same by using a tall plant, a vining plant, and a running plant to cover the ground.
Another way to increase yields is an accelerated succession planting. Plant your next crop just before you harvest the current crop. This is especially helpful when you’re planting a cool season crop in late summer.
Want to know more? Sign up for my next class, “More Food From Less Space”. The class will be at Renfrow Farm, 630PM, on June 12. Details are here.

 Where I’ll be this week

Monday, May 21
I’m in Patrick County, VA, working on personal projects

Tuesday, May 22 CFSA Farm Field Day 830AM-12PM
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Register here
From the website: “Join us to learn about the new research study being conducted at Lomax farm, Evaluating the Efficacy of Organic Pesticides. We will also be delving into practical applications for cover crops in small scale vegetable production. Finally, we will discuss safety procedures for using certified organic pesticides, including inoculants for legume cover crops. Lomax is a certified organic incubator farm located in Concord, NC. We will have the opportunity to learn about the farm, educational programs and tour the facility. This field day is approved for Pesticide Credits D : 3, N : 3, O : 3, X : 3.”
While I won’t be presenting at this Field Day, CFSA’s work has informed mine for years. I’ll be there to keep up on the latest research on organic pesticides.

Wednesday, May 23 Renfrow Farm and environs
I have several projects I’m working on, so if you need me, it’s best to contact me and confirm where I am.

Thursday, May 24 Matthews, NC Sustainable Ag 102 600-900PM
Lomax Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat.  Before you register, call me and let’s chat about about your experience. Details and registration here.

Friday, May 25, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 26, 2018 9AM-12PM, Matthews, NC
This time of year I may be at Renfrow Hardware, working at the Farm, or simply enjoying a coffee at Brakeman’s. Regardless of where I am, you can always stop by and find out more ways to enjoy your garden. Come see me!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for May 14-19, 2018

For those of you in the Charlotte, NC area, this week starts a new session of Sustainable Ag training at Lomax Farm. I’ll be sharing knowledge gained from 30 years of experience in growing good food organically. Details are below.

This week’s tip

Most folks have small areas for growing food for their families. With just a little planning, you can increase the amount you harvest without increasing the area you cultivate. It all starts with what your family likes to eat, really. Think about all of the fruits and veggies that you buy. What are your families favorites? I’m not talking about all those foods that are “good for you”. I mean, what foods does your family eat “by the handful”. Make that list first. Now it’s time for research. Will those foods grow here? If we’re talking mangoes, better move on to something else. What about strawberries? Now, you’re talking! How much space do they take up? Quite a bit, over the years. How many berries do you get per square foot? It varies with type, the weather, and frankly, how good you are at gardening. Regardless, the season is very short, so set that aside for a bit. How about tomatoes? Of course! Tomatoes have a long season, produce a lot of fruit, and have lots of nutrients for your family. The kids love grape tomatoes, and you like a good slicing tomato. There’s the first part of your garden!
After you make your selections, it’s time for some priority setting. Get a garden calendar, and determine when each of your selected veggies will grow. In NC, we essentially have a cool season for vegetables, then a warm season, then we repeat the cool season again. With our mild(ish)winters, often you can let some plants overwinter. Are there opportunities for multiple crops from the same space? If so, you just increased your harvest.
There are lots of ways to increase your harvest even more. I’ll write about some of them next week. You can also sign up for my next class, “More Food From Less Space”. The class will be at Renfrow Farm, 630PM, on June 12. Details are here.

Where I’ll be this week

Monday, May 14
I’m in Patrick County, VA, working on personal projects

Tuesday, May 15 600-90M Sustainable Ag 102
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC
Register here
NOTE: After this first class, we will resume a regular schedule of Thursdays at 600PM.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for hot, humid weather. Closed toed shoes are required on the farm. This is a hands on class. Be prepared for most of the class to be in the field. Your own water bottle is recommended, as is sunscreen and a hat. Details and registration here.

Wednesday, May 16 Renfrow Farm and environs
I have several projects I’m working on, so if you need me it’s best to contact me and confirm where I am.

Thursday, May 17 Matthews, NC
I’ll be working ON my business as opposed to IN my business.

Friday, May 18, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for May 7-12, 2018

Organic gardening and farming are on tap this week. I’ll be teaching “Organic Gardening 101” at Renfrow Farm on May 8, starting at 630PM. It’s a primer on organic gardening techniques and philosophy. You can sign up here. Beginning on May 15 is “Sustainable Agriculture 102” at Lomax Farm in Concord, NC. This is a series of classes based on organic principles. You can join us even if you didn’t take 101. It’s a hands on course that will definitely get you grounded in organics. Here’s more info.

This week’s tip

Organic gardening is all about creating. Creating healthy soil, creating habitat for beneficial insects, and creating plant diversity. This week, I’ll offer some tips on plant diversity. If you look at an unmanaged meadow or patch of woods, you’ll see all kinds of plants. Annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, and even some vines. Sure there may be a certain plant, or maybe 2 or 3, that predominate, but usually, plant populations are quite varied. They “work together” to create a habitat protects its plant members by spreading them out. We can do the same thing while creating our organic garden.
In a small garden, if you’ve added the flowers and herbs I talked about last week, you’ll be well on your way toward creating diversity. Another thing you can do is to spread your vegetable plants around in the garden. There are several ways to do this. First, don’t plant all of a certain crop together. If you plant 3-4 tomato plants, plant them in different beds. At the very least, don’t plant them side by side. A second way to create diversity is to split larger crops, like beans, into several plantings. This gives you second and third chances for harvest, even if you have a pest problem. For instance, plant a smaller crop of green beans, wait 2 week’s, then plant more. Green beans can be planted every 2 week’s until a month and a half before frost. And last, move your annual crops from place to place each year, creating different groupings of plants. This confuses the pests and pathogens that cause so much havoc in our garden. Oh, there’s another way to have a more diverse garden. Planting different varieties of the same crop helps plants resist pests and disease. A real benefit of this approach is a longer harvest. For instance, tomato harvest dates range from 55 days to 80 days or more.
All of these techniques create an environment of health and diversity. Combined with the rich soil you create by composting, cover cropping and mulching, plus the wide variety of herbs and flowers that attract so many beneficial insects, you are well on your way toward creating an organic garden that feeds body and soul.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday May 7, I’m in Matthews, working on my business, as opposed to in my business.

Tuesday, May 8, Renfrow Farm and environs
I’ll be around the farm most of the day, preparing for class.

Tuesday, May 8, 630-830PM Organic Gardening 101
Renfrow Farm, 409 West Charles Street, Matthews, NC.
Ever wonder exactly what “organic” means? Come join us for a primer on how to create your own organic garden. Sign up here.

Wednesday, May 9, On the road

Thursday, May 10, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 15. Sign up here.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Friday, May 11, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 12, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for April 30 – May 5, 2018

Well, Spring seems to have taken hold of Piedmont NC. Everything is lush and green and there is a lot to do. As a recovering perfectionist, I can tell you that stressing out over what you don’t get to will only drain your energy. Make sure that you see what you accomplished every day, including what happens in the garden. If you didn’t get to a particular task, appreciate the abundance of the garden and landscape. So much beauty occurs with no assistance from humans. Taking this approach to your gardening helps you enjoy your garden more, or at least, to appreciate it more. And that’s the key to becoming a successful gardener!

This week’s tip

I’ll start this week’s tip section with a couple of shameless plugs for my classes, since they tie in nicely with the information. I’ll be teaching “Organic Gardening 101” at Renfrow Farm on May 8, starting at 630PM. It’s a primer on organic gardening techniques and philosophy. You can sign up here. Beginning on May 15 is “Sustainable Agriculture 102” at Lomax Farm in Concord, NC. This is a series of classes based on organic principles. You can join us even if you didn’t take 101. It’s a hands on course that will definitely get you grounded in organics. Here’s more info.
Now, this week’s tip. Remember that I wrote last week that organic gardening is all about creating. Creating healthy soil, creating habitat for beneficial insects, and creating plant diversity. Beneficial insects help us in so many ways. As pollinators, they help us grow our food. Predators consume many of the pest insects that we struggle to manage. Parasite insects help with insect control as well. You can attract and support all of these critters by doing things that are beneficial to the garden anyway.
Herbs and flowers provide shelter and food for beneficial insects. Bunch grasses, preferably ornamental grasses, provide shelter for beetles that eat stink bugs and other pests. “Chunky” wood chip or bark mulches give beetles a place to hunt the juvenile stink bugs that live in the mulch. It’s quite simple, really. Plant more herbs, grow daisies and yarrow, add a couple of grasses, and mulch the garden with old wood chips or bark. If you want more details on any of these approaches, come to one of my classes, or schedule a consultation at your home. Here’s how to do that.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday April 30, I’m in Matthews, working on my business, as opposed to in my business.

Tuesday, May 1, Renfrow Farm and environs
After another rainy spell, I’ve got some catching up to do. If you miss me at the farm, contact me here

Wednesday, May 2, On the road

Thursday, May 3, 2018 Farm Business Management Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC **This is a curriculum course and registration is closed for the semester. I teach Farm Business Management at CCCC, based on my work, Cash Crop: Cultivating Profit In Your Farm or Food Business. You can cultivate profit in the same way you cultivate your crops. Good planning helps you work ON your business as much as you work IN your business. Creating and analyzing enterprise and whole farm budgets cultivate the farm’s operation in order to grow your farm’s profits.
This class can be offered at your community college, too. Contact me to find out how.

Thursday, May 3, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Registration is now CLOSED. Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 17. More info here.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Friday, May 4, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, May 5, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for April 23-28, 2018

We’re still in an unsettled weather pattern, but we seem to have enough good weather to get some gardening tasks done. Last week, there was a chance of frost in Piedmont NC, but I don’t think we had any in the Charlotte area. We’ve also had some very warm days, sunny enough for that early Spring sunburn. Oh, well…That’s Springtime in North Carolina!

This week’s tip.

Do you know what the word “organic” means when it comes to gardening? Most folks define it in limiting terms, by what you don’t do. “You don’t use pesticides or fertilizer.” That’s not true by the way. More on that later. I haven’t found a definition that I like, so let’s move on…
Organic gardening is all about creating. Creating healthy soil, creating habitats for beneficial insects, and creating a diverse plant population. All this creativity provides an environment where plants and people can thrive. I’ll be teaching “Organic Gardening 101” at Renfrow Farm on May 8, 2018. I’ll teach you how to create a great garden of your own!
Organic gardeners know that any garden begins with the soil. In most of Piedmont NC, we have some type of clay soil. These soils are usually low in organic matter, that dark brown stuff that everybody mistaken calls soil. It’s certainly a big part of a healthy soil, but it’s not the only part. Clay is actually a good soil to grow in, as it tends to retain nutrients and water. It’s just difficult to work with because it compacts so easily. To solve that challenge, we have several practices available to us.
Compost is the solution most people choose. Making your own compost is easy, and we have plenty of things to compost. It’s also a post for another day. You can buy plenty of good compost these days, in bag or bulk form. Just add about 2” of compost each time you plant, along with a mulch of organic material, to begin to create a rich soil, full of microbial life that benefits all the plants in a garden.
Mulches are organic materials used to build soil slowly, keeping weeds reduced and moisture in the soil. Applying 2” of mulch every year gives the plants new organic matter the same way Nature does, slowly and from the soil surface down. Shredded leaves and wheat straw are the most often used mulches in the garden. FYI, plastics are often used by organic gardeners, but only as a temporary measure. They don’t build soil, and can often slow the process down. They also add a LOT of waste to the landfill.
Cover crops and “green manures” are plants that you grow in order to build soil. The roots grow down, loosening the soil. The roots of “Green manures” are on plants that convert Nitrogen from the atmosphere to a form plants can use. When you mow and/or till the soil, the plant foliage rots down to add more food for the microbes in the soil. Some cover crops include clovers, vetch, annual grasses, buckwheat, and most any of the peas and beans.
Doing any, and preferably all, of these things provides a rich environment for all of the microbes and other critters that live in the soil. This living soil provides all of the things plants need in order to feed themselves.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday April 23, I’m in Matthews, working on my business, as opposed to in my business. You have to do both to run a business.

Tuesday, April 24, Renfrow Farm and environs
The weather forecast isn’t looking good, so I may or may not be around the farm. If you need me, contact me here.

Wednesday, April 26 On the road

Thursday, April 25, 2018 Farm Business Management Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC **This is a curriculum course and registration is closed for the semester. I teach Farm Business Management at CCCC, based on my work, Cash Crop: Cultivating Profit In Your Farm or Food Business. You can cultivate profit in the same way you cultivate your crops. Good planning helps you work ON your business as much as you work IN your business. Creating and analyzing enterprise and whole farm budgets cultivate the farm’s operation in order to grow your farm’s profits.
This class can be offered at your community college, too. Contact me to find out how.

Thursday, April 25, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Registration is now CLOSED. Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 17. You can register NOW!
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Friday, I’m available for home and Farm consultations. Contact me here.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for April 16-21, 2018

As I write this, heavy rains and high winds are hammering the Virginia Mountains. We just got power back after a five hour blackout (Thanks to the linemen who did the repairs!). Spring continues in its unsettled manner.

This week’s tip

“Should I replant?” I’ve been asked that question a lot lately, and as with so many questions, the answer begins with “It depends.” So here’s a brief run-down on how to make that decision.
If the plant was only slightly damaged, but not killed, by cold, just be patient. It certainly might grow out of it as the weather warms. If most of the leaves are undamaged, wait a week and see what the new growth looks like. If over half of the plant is damaged, it will probably still be OK. We just won’t want to wait for it to recover. Any more than that, and I’d send it to the compost pile.
Insect and disease damaged plants have a little different set of thresholds. You can tolerate a lot of insect damage if you simply want food to eat. I’ve eaten many a delicious apple using a pocket knife to cut out all the imperfections. I’ve eaten half a tomato, cutting out damage from feeding pests, though I seldom eat a tomato with any disease symptoms ( not on purpose, anyway). The point is, what are you looking for from your food garden? Perfect looking food, or healthy, fresh food? Healthy plants produce healthy food. Healthy plants come from healthy soil. Good health seldom has anything to do with perfection. And in the garden, perfect appearance too often comes at the cost of heavy pesticide applications.
Poor seed germination happens to every gardener from time to time. The reasons would fill another article, but suffice it to say that timing is the solution here. In other words, did the crop failure happen early enough in the plant’s growing season that you have time for a re-planted crop to grow? If you do, go for it. If not, plant something else.
If you lose a vegetable crop to a disease (and that can happen), should you re-plant in the same spot? I wouldn’t recommend it, especially if it’s a soil-born disease. And I wouldn’t use that space for that crop for at least 2 years. You can always plant something else there. For instance, if you have disease problems with your tomatoes, plant beans or peas or squash there for the next few years. At the very least, move your tomato plants to the other end of your only raised bed, swapping ends each season. That’s not an ideal solution, but it helps.
Those are the most common reasons for re-planting. If you have a different situation, ask about it in the comments section.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday, I’m on the road.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018 630-830 PM
The Successful Gardener: Soup & Salad Gardens.
Renfrow Farm, 409 W. Charles St., Matthews, NC
One of the easiest ways to eat seasonally is to create lots of soups and salads from the fresh vegetables you grow. But not every vegetable that you use in a particular recipe is available year round. We’ll look at garden plans, soup & salad recipes, and planting guides to learn how to lay out a tasty garden.
I’m expecting this class to sell out, so register soon!

Thursday, April 18, 2018
Farm Business Management
Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC
**This is a curriculum course and registration is closed for the semester. I teach Farm Business Management at CCCC, based on my work, Cash Crop: Cultivating Profit In Your Farm or Food Business. You can cultivate profit in the same way you cultivate your crops. Good planning helps you work ON your business as much as you work IN your business. Creating and analyzing enterprise and whole farm budgets cultivate the farm’s operation in order to grow your farm’s profits.
This class can be offered at your community college, too. Contact me to find out how.

Thursday, April 18, 2018 6:00-9:00PM
Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Registration is now CLOSED for 101. BUT Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 17. Sign up now!
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Saturday, April 21, 2018 11AM-3PM
An Afternoon at Retreat: A Living History event.
House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site
More info here.
It’s 1811, and former governor Benjamin Williams is the successful owner of “House in the Horseshoe” and its surrounding property, which he has renamed “Retreat.” Come out and explore a very different side of the site’s history, when farming was a scientific venture and cotton reigned king. Demonstrations, activities, and lectures will take place throughout the day. This special event is free, and open to the public.

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas do, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for April 9-14, 2018

As I usually do, I’m starting the week in Virginia, and then traveling to Matthews. Weather forecasts for Piedmont NC are looking good, with temps warming up and rain holding off a bit. Should be a decent week for planting.

This week’s tip

We’re moving into the planting times for warm-season crops, like tomatoes, peppers, and snap beans, in Piedmont NC. I’d still be a little cautious yet. We could have some rough weather yet. I’m gonna try to put in a last planting of lettuce, maybe more radishes and carrots, too. I’ll wait at least a week before I start planting tomatoes unprotected. There are lots of good garden calendars out there, like this one and this one. I’ve used them both at some time or another.
If you want to plant some fruit trees, berries, or grape vines this Spring, you’d best get it done, and be prepared to water this summer. I don’t use a lot of amendments when planting fruit trees, just some organic mulch on the soil surface. Same with grape vines. Make sure your planting holes are as deep as the container is tall and as wide as the container’s width. Loosen the root ball, so the plant’s roots will spread faster. I like to water the newly planted trees a good bit, too. That gets the plants off to a good start.
I like to plant blueberries in raised beds, better called raised wide rows, and you can add compost to those beds to help raise them. And you want to mulch those plants, too. Just like the fruit trees, you want to loosen the roots of the berry plants when they are planted, and give them a nice drink of water. That gives the blueberries a good head start in the clay soils of the Piedmont.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday, I’m in Virginia, then headed south to Matthews.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018 Renfrow Farm and environs
In the Spring, there’s always lots to do on the farm, and this year is no exception. I have 2 projects I’m working on this year. One is The Successful Gardener display garden, where I demonstrate and test all the methods I teach. The second is a new project that I am developing. Based on the concepts of Permaculture, we will be developing a “food forest”, an area planted into trees, bushes, vines, perennials, and a few annual plants, all grown to provide food for a family or community. As you drive by the farm on Charles Street, keep on eye out for this new project.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 Farm Business Management Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC **This is a curriculum course and registration is closed for the semester. I teach Farm Business Management at CCCC, based on my work, Cash Crop: Cultivating Profit In Your Farm or Food Business. You can cultivate profit in the same way you cultivate your crops. Good planning helps you work ON your business as much as you work IN your business. Creating and analyzing enterprise and whole farm budgets cultivate the farm’s operation in order to grow your farm’s profits.
This class can be offered at your community college, too. Contact me to find out how.

Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Registration is now CLOSED. Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 17.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Saturday, April 14, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Early Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. As new growth sprouts all over, new ideas sprout, too. But you may not know if they will work. That’s where I come in. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for April 2-7, 2018

I’m starting this week in Virginia, taking care of some personal projects. I’ll be on the road a bit this week, as I so often am in the Spring. But you can always reach me through the website.

This week’s tip

With Spring finally here, I’m going to put our discussion of canning on hold for a bit. What everybody in Matthews is asking is, “Are we gonna have any more cold weather?” That’s a good question, and I have NO idea. The question is really about planting, so here’s my take. For gardeners thinking about tomatoes, peppers or sweet basil, I don’t see the need for any rush. The soil hasn’t warmed enough for good growth, so waiting a couple weeks won’t make that much difference. Any plants set out later, say, on 4/17 (this year’s Tax Day, and close to the average last frost in NC), will probably catch up to those planted now. Personally, I’d plant another round of lettuce, greens, carrots or radishes. In fact, that’s exactly what I did in The Successful Gardener display garden at Renfrow Farm last week.
If you just can’t wait any longer to plant tender vegetables, if it gets into the 40’s, you’ll need to protect your plants. An old sheet or a plant bed cover should do it. If you use plastic, keep it off the plants. Frost can burn a plant right through the plastic.
Another thing that helps is to acclimate your new plants to the unprotected space of the garden. Most bedding plants have spent their entire short lives in a greenhouse, first heated, then unheated. Hardening off, as this acclimation process is called, is simply leaving the new plants outdoors over a period of days, a little longer each day. Maybe an afternoon the first day, all day the next (weather permitting, of course), then into the evening. Eventually the plants will be fine left out over night. Then it’s much safer to plant them into the garden. BUT…frost tender plants like tomatoes, once planted in the garden, will still need to be protected from frost or cold wind. It’s just the nature of that plant.
In the long run, patience pays off in the garden. Hmmm…that’s a good lesson for Life, too!

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

Monday, I’m in Virginia, then headed south to Matthews.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018 Renfrow Farm and environs
In the Spring, there’s always lots to do on the farm, and this year is no exception. I have 2 projects I’m working on this year. One is The Successful Gardener display garden, where I demonstrate and test all the methods I teach. The second is a new project that I am developing. Based on the concepts of Permaculture, we will be developing a “food forest”, an area planted into trees, bushes, vines, perennials, and a few annual plants, all grown to provide food for a family or community. As you drive by the farm on Charles Street, keep on eye out for this new project.

Thursday, April 5, 2018 Farm Business Management Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC **This is a curriculum course and registration is closed for the semester. I teach Farm Business Management at CCCC, based on my work, Cash Crop: Cultivating Profit In Your Farm or Food Business. You can cultivate profit in the same way you cultivate your crops. Good planning helps you work ON your business as much as you work IN your business. Creating and analyzing enterprise and whole farm budgets cultivate the farm’s operation in order to grow your farm’s profits.
This class can be offered at your community college, too. Contact me to find out how.

Thursday, April 5, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Registration is now CLOSED. Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 17.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Saturday, April 7, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. Last year’s growing season is behind you, and with leaves not out yet you can see the architecture of your landscape clearly. You can get a head start on Spring or finish up those Fall projects. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for March 26-31, 2018

I’m writing this post from my new office. It’s in my new (to me) home in Matthews, NC. You folks in the Charlotte area have embraced the ideas of the Successful Gardener so warmly and enthusiastically that it just makes sense to make the area my base of operations. Thanks to all of you that take my classes, schedule a consultation, or keep up with me by social media.

This week’s tip

Last week we learned a lot about canning jars, so this week, we’ll concentrate on the workhorse of the canning kitchen, the canner. Basically, there are 2 types of canners, the water bath canner and the pressure canner. A water bath canner is essentially a big, deep pot. The jars full of food go in, water is added, the lid placed on the canner, and it’s put on the stove to heat. That’s vastly oversimplified, BTW.
This is a good segue to the main canning methods. They are the boiling water bath method and the pressure canning method. I’ll let the National Center for Home Food Preservation give you detail on each method. Boiling water bath method can be found here and pressure canning here.
Modern pressure canners have a locking lid and gasket to maintain pressure, along with a dial or weighted gauge that regulates and maintains the pressure. If you use a pressure canner, make sure your seal is in good shape, and have the canner pressure tested every year or so. If you do this, your canner should give you good service for a long time.

Here’s where I’ll be this week.

I’m in the Mathews area all week. It snowed in Virginia, so I didn’t get to make that trip last week.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018, 6:00-9:00 PM,
The Cash and the Cost-Share.
RCCC’s Cabarrus Business & Technology Center, 660 Concord Parkway N., Concord 28027
This is a FREE seminar! Here’s more info
Ag Entrepreneurs, or Agripreneurs create new ways of solving problems and creating value while using and protecting our natural resources. They meet the needs of our society while nourishing our families and developing our communities. They may create new production methods, or even new ways to do business. Tonight we’ll look at the financial aspects of farming; enterprise budgets, cash flow projections, tax strategies to help you keep more of what you made, and the surprisingly numerous ways that Federal and State governments can help you do some things with your business.
EVEN IF YOU HAVEN’T BEEN TO ANY OR ALL OF THE CLASSES, you can come to this class. And remember, it’s a FREE class!

NO Farm Business Management Class this week. Central Carolina Community College, Pittsboro, NC **This is a curriculum course and registration is closed for the semester. I teach Farm Business Management at CCCC, based on my work, Cash Crop: Cultivating Profit In Your Farm or Food Business. You can cultivate profit in the same way you cultivate your crops. Good planning helps you work ON your business as much as you work IN your business. Creating and analyzing enterprise and whole farm budgets cultivate the farm’s operation in order to grow your farm’s profits.
This class can be offered at your community college, too. Contact me to find out how.

Thursday, March 29, 2018 6:00-9:00PM Sustainable Agriculture 101
Elma C. Lomax Incubator Farm, Atando Road, Concord, NC Registration is now CLOSED. Sustainable Ag 102, Field & Greenhouse Management, begins May 17.
Demand for sustainable or organically grown products continues to increase. USDA Certified Organic produce is in short supply at all major grocery stores. Opportunities abound IF you can produce a quality product, grow in sufficient quantities, and know the proper marketing channels. I’ve been teaching farmers to cultivate profit since 1996. Come join us at the Lomax Farm to learn how to grow good food in a certified organic farm. We’re going to be on a working farm, so dress appropriately. That includes dressing for wet, cold weather.

Saturday, March 31, 2018 9AM-2PM, In the Greenhouse at Renfrow’s!
Renfrow Hardware, 188 North Trade Street, Matthews, NC
More info here.
Come see me for all your gardening needs, from fresh transplants, great products for the garden, or the best selection of seeds in the Charlotte region! Got a problem? Bring it to us. Need to understand a soil test recommendation? We’ll interpret it for you. Come see us!

How can I help you?

Late Winter/early Spring is a great time to take stock of what’s going on in the garden and landscape. Last year’s growing season is behind you, and with leaves down you can see the architecture of your landscape clearly. You can get a head start on Spring or finish up those Fall projects. I’ve designed and installed all kinds of landscapes, from formal herb gardens to Permaculture homesteads. In an hour, I can solve problems, identify plants, show you some opportunities, and help you enjoy your garden even more! If you’re interested in a home landscape consultation, contact me here.

I farmed and operated a plant nursery in NC for 15 years, and was an NC Cooperative Extension agent for 8 years. In that time, I learned a LOT about farm production and farm business management. I can help you with organic certification, transition to organic practices, and marketing your farm and food products. To learn how to cultivate profit on your farm, contact me here.

In these times of great opportunity for small business owners, strategic planning is essential for success. I can help you write a business plan, construct enterprise and cash flow budgets, and do market research. Individual consultations and group trainings are options for getting the information you need to succeed! To take advantage of the opportunities that are available to small business owners, contact me here.

Remember to enjoy your garden, because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener! Hope to see you sometime this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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