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Jeff’s Schedule for 10/31-11/5/2016

This week, I’m in Carthage, NC, working at The House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of this beautiful old home, come visit with me. I’ll be here on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here’s more information on The ‘Shoe.

Later in the week, I’m headed back to Patrick County, Va, for some private projects. But I can always make time to help YOU be a Successful Gardener! Whether you live in the Sandhills of NC or the mountains of Virginia, I can help you enjoy your garden more. 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, 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 some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Jeff’s Schedule for 10/24-29/2016

I begin the week in Patrick County and Floyd County, VA, teaching a class and working on some personal projects. I’ll also be working in The Living Garden trial gardens, where I fine tune the gardening skills and knowledge that I share in my Successful Gardener classes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2016, 6:00—8:00PM
The Successful Gardener
Reynolds Homestead, 407 Homestead Lane, Critz, VA, 24082
An Apple A Day: Fruit Plants For A Healthy Family $10.00
Here’s more info: It’s really easy to add fruit plants to your garden or home landscape. Not only is fruit good for you, fruit plants can have beautiful spring flowers, great fruit, and good fall color. Join us for the basics of adding fruit to your garden!
Contact: Lisa Martin (276)694-7181 ext. 22 or martinlm@vt.edu

Later in the week, I’m headed to Carthage, NC to be a part of the Candlelight Tour at The House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site. Here’s more information.

While I’ll be pretty busy this week, I can always make time to help YOU be a Successful Gardener! If you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. 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, 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 some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Change The Story

Changing “What I have to do” to “What I want to do” or “What’s (im)possible for me to try” opens up a whole new world of choices. While this might seem radical or even dangerous, for most of us ( me in this case) it’s not the extremes that make us uncomfortable. It’s the simple things like letting somebody help you with the kind of project you’d always done yourself. Or letting go of something that you really wanted to do that somebody else “got to do” instead. Stuff that seems simple or even trivial to others might be earth-shaking to you!

I’m thinking of a character named Sheldon in a TV show titled The Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is a genius who has so many quirky, obsessive behaviors that he drives everybody crazy. Over the years, Sheldon has opened up to various other characters in the show. Some small thing happened years ago that affected him so deeply that a certain action became an obsession to him. He absolute cannot do something any other way. On the show of course, this is played for laughs, as both the obsession and his eventual letting go (or changing the obsession) of the obsessive behavior are exaggerated for as many laughs as possible. But I think Sheldon is a part of all of us.

We all have things that are supposed to be a certain way. We all have beliefs that are Absolute Truth. When those things don’t turn out that way, we feel betrayed. When those Truths turn out to be much less than absolute, we may react in fear or anger. But so often these Truths are so personal, you may be the only person on the planet that is affected by it. That doesn’t change the discomfort you feel. What to another person is an everyday occurrence, is a mind-blowing change in your existence. Like Sheldon, we have all been formed by the stories we’ve been told, the stories we tell ourselves, and the experiences we’ve had as a result of the stories. That’s what I call our Personal Mythology*. This collection of thoughts, beliefs, and perceptions shapes our world.

When you change a part of your Personal Mythology, you open yourself up to a new experience. That experience might change your Life. Sometimes these changes are encountered, like the downsizing so many of us have experienced. But we can change our Personal Mythology as well. Sometimes it’s as simple as, What if…?” By taking a different perspective, you open yourself up to new opportunities. These opportunities might be big. Most of them are the small things that are so central to our Life. But it’s in opening up to those opportunities that can bring us unexpected joy. Letting yourself do something other than what you’ve always done may be the thing that brings you the Peace of mind that you’ve looked for, but never felt. In the spirit of full disclosure, it can also bring you pain and discomfort. That discomfort might be the path to your Peace. It can also be a sign that your new story needs work.

Let’s go back to the start of this post. Change “What I have to do” to “What I want to do” or “What’s (im)possible for me to try” opens up a whole new world of choices. I understand commitments to family and the like. I’m not talking about living Life selfishly. Allowing yourself to see Life differently isn’t inherently selfish, it’s just different. By taking that different perspective, you open up a whole new world of possibilities. Possibilities that can change your Life in big ways or small. It’s in changing the story that changing our Life begins.

REMEMBER – I AM writing the story of My Life.
And So It Is!

~ Inspired by events in My Life and watching too many episodes of The Big Bang Theory

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

*Myths are not lies. They are the stories of our lives, the poetry of our existence, the epic that allows us to navigate this vale we call our Life. The amazing thing is we can change our experience of any of it. We can write, edit, re-write and publish new stories. We do it every day.

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Being Open To It

In this bitterly divided political season, too many of us are closing ourselves to “those people”. I understand that you might feel very strongly about a particular cause or political party or candidate. I understand that you may believe that the Republic may fall if one of “those people” get elected. But do we really need to bring this level of hate and vitriol to such a personal level? No, we don’t. It happens because we close ourselves off to “those people”, not just their beliefs. We just don’t seem to be open to anything other than what WE believe or who WE support. And the country is the worse for it.

We’ve spent the last few presidencies looking down our noses at “those people”, regardless of how progressive or conservative or Christian or fill in the blank with whatever belief system you might have. It’s really quite selfish, when you look at it. And more than a little hateful. The election will be over in a few weeks, and we will have to find some way to make America great again so we can move forward together. Or we move forward together so we can make America great again. That’s about as even handed as I can do that, OK?

Being open to new ideas, new information, and new experiences will allow us to come together, not as one religion or one political ideology, but as one nation. And that openness will come if we bring Unconditional Love into our beliefs. I know that every post I share ends up with Unconditional Love as the key to Heaven/Paradise/Nirvana, but that’s because I truly believe that approaching almost any situation with Love presents the opportunity for a solution. The mindset we bring to any situation can be based in Love.

So what might that look like? Will we have to let everybody walk all over us with a smile on our face and a song in our heart? Not necessarily. Here’s a translation of what the Apostle Paul had to say about Love. It’s from The First Letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 3-7, if you prefer another translation. I chose this one not for poetic language, but for its common sense description of Love.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Before you start pointing fingers at other folks on how THEY don’t Love, it works a lot better if you get your own shit straight first. Yes, I know that benefits others and inconveniences you, but I refer you back to the passage above. Plug in your name wherever you see the word Love. How you doin’? Does it make you as uncomfortable as it does me? You can change that.

Here’s a practice that’s working for me. Write each of the statements as an “I” statement. Put it where you see it daily, and read it at least once a day. It helps to read it out loud.

I never give up.
I care more for others than for myself.
I don’t want what I don’t have.
I don’t strut,
I don’t have a swelled head,
I don’t force myself on others.
I’m not always “me first”.
I don’t fly off the handle.
I don’t keep score of the sins of others,
I don’t revel when others grovel.
I take pleasure in the flowering of truth.
I put up with anything.
I trust God always.
I always looks for the best.
I never look back.
I keep going to the end.

If you stick with it, you’ll begin to write those phrases into your Personal Mythology. And when you do something at odds with that statement, you’ll find yourself saying, “ But I don’t give up” or “I take pleasure in the flowering of truth”. And you change what you do. It ain’t magic, it’s simply adding a new neural pathway in your mind.

If things are gonna change, somebody has to go first. It might as well be you. Because it’s always one or two people that start changing the world.

REMEMBER – I AM changing the world by changing Myself.

And So It Is!!!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

 

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Jeff’s Schedule for 10/17-22/2016

Monday, I’m completing farm and consulting projects in Matthews, NC.

Tuesday through Friday – In the Garden
Valle Crucis Conference Center, Valle Crucis, NC

I’m doing garden maintenance at the Conference Center for the balance of the week. If you live in the Boone, NC, area and you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. I’m familiar with mountain gardens, their challenges and their beauty. 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, contact me here.

As a farmer and NC Cooperative Extension agent, 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.

I’m a certified small business consultant as well. In these times of great opportunity, 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! If you’re interested, contact me here.

Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, I’m headed back to Patrick County, VA, to teach the last of the 2016 Successful Gardener classes at Reynolds Homestead.

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 10/10-15/2016

I’ll be returning to the Charlotte, NC area, providing farm, business, and home landscape consultations.

I’m in Patrick County Virginia Tuesday through Thursday. I’m getting the Living Garden trial gardens and The Successful Gardener demonstration plot ready for winter. I’ll be planting cover crops, spreading organic mulches, planting some hardy perennials, and taking up the last of the food crops. I have a spot still open on Wednesday afternoon if you’re interested in a consult. Contact me here.

On Thursday evening, I’ll be teaching The Patrick County Extension Master Gardeners class at a Reynolds Homestead in Critz, VA. The class is full, but the group is always looking for more volunteers. If you’d like me to speak to your Master Gardeners or your garden club, check with me on availability. Contact me here.

On Friday afternoon and Saturday, I’ll be working at Renfrow Hardware, in Matthews, NC. Renfrow’s is an old-time hardware store with an emphasis on Local Food Economies. They have the best selection of vegetable seeds in the Charlotte area. Fruit trees and plants, cover crop seeds, and growing supplies are always available in the store. You can get chicks in the spring, and poultry supplies and feed are available year-round. Find out more about Renfrow Hardware here.

Saturday afternoon, and Sunday are set up for consultations in the Charlotte area, and I have some spots open. If you’d like me to come by and help you with a garden consultation, I’d love to do it. 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, 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 some time this week!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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Here’s Where I’ve Been

You might have noticed that I haven’t posted a schedule or even written much of anything for the last 2 weeks. My Practice has gotten off kilter. It’s as simple as that. I’d never realized it before, but I am very much a creature of habit. My routines are how I organize my Life. When I go off those routines, things tend to slip through the cracks, even things that I find important or enjoyable. While this reads like an excuse, it’s just what happened. The question is, do I need to change this? The answer, and this will surprise no one who’s worked with me, is, “It depends”. But that’s a tale for another day.

Much of what I’ve done over the last 10 days has been related to my Living Garden trial gardens in the Virginia mountains and The Successful Gardener demonstration garden at Reynolds Homestead in the Appalachian foothills. While the work in those gardens is certainly related, The Living Garden is much more experimental, while the demonstration garden is to teach what I’ve learned.

So what are some of the things I’ve learned this season? Here are the highlights.
• Using aromatic herbs, grasses and flowering plants shows real promise for controlling stink bugs. For the last few years, I’ve worked with 5 groups of plants that I think have some effect in managing the damage from stinkbugs. Notice how I wrote that. Managing the damage from a pest, not the pest itself. Essentially, I am encouraging predators in the garden, not killing stink bugs. The 5 groups are aromatic herbs like Basil, Daisy-flowered plants such as Daisies or Asters, “umbrella”-flowered plants like Yarrow and Fennel, nectar plants like salvias, and ornamental grasses . These plants provide food and shelter to all kinds of beneficial insects. I also encourage using mulches to promote predator beetles in the garden. I haven’t seen a single stink bug in the garden this season, while the area around the house has had stink bug populations all season long. Next year will see different kinds of those plants to measure their effectiveness against stink bugs and other critters.
• Four legged pests are not affected in the least by all this interplanting. Rabbits and groundhogs have been a pestilence of biblical proportions this year. None of the plant groups mentioned above have had any effect on them, not even the oft-mentioned marigold. Deer and dogs have been problems, too. Deer netting was a simple and quick fix to the deer damage, but stubborn dogs have torn through the fence in several places. The use of cages has been somewhat successful, depending on the size of the openings in the fence. Poultry netting (chicken wire, as I’ve always called it) 3’ tall with a 1” mesh has been quite effective. Fencing with 2” mesh has NOT. Next year the outer fence will be considerably more substantial. I’ll probably trial some cage designs, too.
• Pesticides are a last resort, not a magic potion. Even the mildest pesticides have negative effects on many of the beneficial insects The Living Garden promotes. With all of the predators in the garden, very few pesticides should be needed. But if you feel the need to spray, know which pest is causing the damage, and have a good notion of what will happen if you spray. By that I mean, identify the pest as much as you can, use a selective insecticide for that type of pest if at all possible, and know what other insects and critters will be affected by it. Don’t spray when bees are in the garden. The flowers, herbs, and grasses are home to lots of critters that are killed by pesticides, so don’t spray those plants. I’ve had to use Thuricide or Dipel, both forms of Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) for cole crops. The adult moths don’t seem to have any effective predators, and the larval populations increase too quickly for predators to manage the pests. Bt has been very effective when applied regularly. I’m very careful not to spray any of the beneficial plants so I don’t inadvertently kill butterfly and moth larvae. I’m thinking that increasing the beneficial plant numbers in the cole crop planting might help with the management. I saw a trial plot at Virginia Tech that planted a full row of beneficial plants for every 2 or 3 rows of broccoli. They got excellent control of most pests, and damage was minimal.
• Biologically active compost is vital to the health of a landscape. When I say “biologically active compost”, I mean compost that isn’t pure humus. Dark, earthy-smelling humus is good in lots of ways but the presence of all the microbes in the composting process brings an extra effect to soil. Think about the leaf litter under trees in a wild forest. You have new material being added, material being decomposed, and the end result of all of that biological activity, that dark, crumbly organic matter. That’s one of the things that keeps a forest healthy, and it can help your garden as well. This can be as simple as keeping organic mulches on your garden beds all year long, or as aggressive as sheet mulching all your garden and kitchen waste right into the garden. You’ll need to chop all that material as fine as possible, and cover the kitchen scraps to keep “icky” sights and smells to a minimum.
• “Inoculating” your soil with beneficial microbes does seem to have some fungicidal effects. There’s been some research on the fungicidal use of compost teas, but what I’m talking about is adding specific microbes, such as Bacillus subtilis, to the soil in order to help control pathogens. In one instance, applying microbes seemed to have as much effect as spraying a fungicide. Early blight seemed to be managed on tomatoes. Late blight was not. The microbes were not applied ahead of infection. The microbes were applied by watering can onto the foliage and the soil. Next year, I’ll introduce the microbes as early as I can, and create as good a habitat as possible. In other words, biologically active compost.

I’m really encouraged by the results of this year’s trials. Next year, I hope to have a Living Garden in the Piedmont and maybe even the Coastal area. One thing that needs more research is in numbers of beneficial plants needed for control. And just how close does a plant have to be for optimal benefit?

So that’s where I’ve been for the last few days. With frost due in a week or so up on Locust Ridge, that garden will be slowing down soon. The Successful Gardener series at the Homestead wraps up next month, so I’m letting that garden rest til next spring. That gives me more time to write and teach about The Living Garden!

Please remember to enjoy your garden. Because THAT’S what makes you a Successful Gardener!

Peace, Grace, & Love,
Jeff

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