Category Archives: Vegetable Gardening

A Warning to Vegan Converts

Worried 002 I am reading (actually, listening to) Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked.  Am I enjoying it?  Well, yes and no.  “Yes,” to the expanding of my foodview (I think this is a new word I’ve invented but not yet patented…so use it without charge) but “no” to my vegan commitment.  Halfway through the book I have learned so much about what it means to actually cook my own food.

            We do a lot of cooking around my house.  My wife is a gourmet-quality cook.  She loves to make tried and true recipes and to try new recipes.  Alas, she is in poor health and I have taken over a lot of culinary responsibilities.  So, I was very interested in what one of my favorite authors had to say about the subject.  As with all Mr. Pollan’s books, I am enlightened, inspired and encouraged to keep the culinary faith.

            I became a vegan after doing a lot of research about what clogs up the circulatory system of Americans.  (You may know that heart attacks are the leading cause of death for those who eat the American way.)  I found that I have a lot of plaque in my veins and arteries and decided to look into ways to reverse the condition.  That led me to begin eating a no-fat (or very low fat) plant-based diet.  It is satisfying, inexpensive and delicious.  But, you see, I am a convert to this way of eating from the vein and artery-clogging omnivorous way I have eaten for decades.  That means that my mouth still waters at visions of various forms of meat.  I am eating the no-fat plant-based way for health reasons only. 

            If you fall into my category, it means you retain strong memories of succulent sausages, bacon, steaks, barbeque ribs, lamb chops, roasts, etc.  After listening to the first part of Mr. Pollan’s book, I wanted nothing more than to find a whole-hog barbecue joint and chow-down.  I wanted to find me some good Texas brisket or cabrito and, fat dripping from my chin, enter into a kind of carnivore nirvana.  Be warned: Michael, a committed omnivore, will make you think twice about, well…sinning.

            I am happy to report that I have righteously remained vegan…so far.  One day at a time.  We all have to die of something but I would like to be as healthy as possible and then, when my time comes peacefully, painlessly drop dead.  At my age, departure is not too far off and I could say I prefer to leave this life with fried chicken in stomach.  But, since I am already noticing some benefits of veganism, I think I will continue with the oats, peas, beans and barley…etc.

            My garden will help.  In spite of the funky weather and bad knees, I am steadily getting things planted.  I look forward to harvesting baskets of summer fruit.

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Filed under American Diet, Book Review, Book Reviews, Cardiovascular Concerns, Diet, Food, Heart, Home and Garden, Vegan, Veganism, Vegetable Gardening

Enough Protein?

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Filed under Diet, Food, Organic, Vegan, Vegetable Gardening

From Committed Carnivore to Voracious Vegan

When you have open heart surgery (better known as the open chest surgery) they insert an instrument in an artery that is super accurate in measuring blood pressure.  After my surgery they told me that they had trouble trying to use my wrist because of the plaque buildup.  So they had to go elsewhere to find an artery to use.  I concluded from that bit of bad news that, in addition to the blockages they were bypassing, I have plaque buildup in all my circulatory system.  My brother-in-law had mentioned a book to me (see below) that I might be interested in.  I got it, read it, and realized that I might have avoided surgery all together if I had read it earlier.  Now, following further research, I have cut out all meat and dairy products.

So, my vegetable garden has become a lot more important since I became a vegetarian (actually a “no-fat vegan”).  I expect the garden will become my primary source of food.  In the meantime the produce department of the grocery stores has become the most important section.

We are fortunate also to have two sources of organically grown vegetables in Abilene and a three-times-weekly farmer’s market (mostly offering non-organic produce).

Why did I become a vegetarian?  Well, it certainly was not because killing animals and eating their meat disgusts me.  It was not because I came to the conclusion that eating only vegetables would save the planet (even though there may be some truth in that).  My mouth still waters at the thought of fried eggs, bacon, sausage, steak, pork ribs, fish, seafood, fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, barbeque and meat in general.  I love all kinds of cheese and other dairy products.  No one could love those delicacies more than me.  It took some powerful scientific facts to shift me from a carnivore to a herbivore.

If I had the power, I would command everyone to immediately read two books: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. and The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D.  The China Study is billed as “The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted.”  It is informative, disturbing and hopeful.  I say, without reservation, it can save your life.  In addition I would require everyone to watch the videos Forks over Knives and PlaneatAfter that, if you still want to eat meat and dairy, that’s your choice.  My goal is to educate.  If, in that process, you are converted then praise the Lord!

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Filed under Diet, Food, Health Care, Heart, Home and Garden, Organic, Vegan, Vegetable Gardening

The Grassroots Imperative

Big “agribusiness” is not about to change its ways.  They are greedy profit-driven monsters with enough lobbyists in Washington and courtroom lawyers to keep the government and the courts off their backs.  They are big bullies that are too powerful to defeat.

Just think about it.  To put these bullies in their place would require equal justice in the courts and a majority of ethical senators and representatives.  Don’t hold your breath!

So, what’s left?  Only ourselves and our small farms and backyard gardens.  We must start growing as much of our own food as possible.  Take out those lawns and put in fruits and vegetables.  Get some chickens for eggs and maybe some meat and, if you have room, a milk cow or goat.  Get the rest from local farmers and organic food stores.

If you can’t defeat them, desert them.

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Filed under Awareness, Courage, Culture Wars, Current Events, Economics, Food, Freedom, Good & Evil, Home and Garden, independence, Initiative, Integrity, Organic, Politics, Vegetable Gardening

From Waterbed to Website

As readers of this blog will remember, someone stacked a pile of junk lumber in front of my shop.  In case you missed it, you can see it here.  All of it is destined for the fireplace or, in the case of the plywood, fiberboard, chipboard etc., the garbage.  That is, all of it except one board, which knew a former life as a frame for a waterbed.  It was pretty thick, crack-less and with only two knots.  So, I decided to do something with it.

I wanted a unique header for my refurbished gardening blog: “West Texas Gardener” and, since I am a woodcarver, I decided a hand-carved sign might be nice.  So, I set to work cutting the blank, sanding, routing, applying polyurethane, masking, applying the pattern, carving, staining the incised letters and, finally, outlining the letters to make them stand out.

As I carved, I remembered why I hate carving regular pine (as opposed to sugarpine which carves quite nicely).  It is an unpredictable wood, often brittle, and will sometimes “shred” under the sharpest of tools.  The knots are almost impossible to carve without them crumbling like a cookie.  But, I eventually finished the process, photographed it for my garden site, and I hope you like the result.

Another photo taken in the shop on the easel

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Filed under Blogs & Blogging, Carving, Home and Garden, Signs, Vegetable Gardening, Whitsett News, Woodcarving

The Dirt on Soil

Scene: Produce section of our local grocery store in their tiny “organic” section.  A middle-aged man and woman are having a conversation my wife overhears.

He: “What the h**l does ‘organic’ mean?”

She: “It means it grows in the soil.”

When Brenda related this conversation to me I laughed at first.  Then I thought, “They don’t know what ‘organic’ means?  At their age?  Do they live in a cave somewhere?”  If this kind of ignorance exists in our media-saturated age, then I’m afraid the organic food movement has a long way to go.

Here’s the dirt on “soil.”  It may be fumigated with fungicides and “fertilized” with chemicals made from petroleum.  That strawberry you are about to put on your cereal may have been grown in “soil,” but it may also be genetically altered and sprayed with potentially carcinogenic pesticides and herbicides.  That tomato you are about to slice may have been grown in “soil” but what was done to the soil it grew in?  What was done to it while it was growing?  How was it handled after it was harvested?  Until you know, do you really want to put that in your mouth?

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Filed under Awareness, Food, Home and Garden, Ignorance, Organic, Vegetable Gardening

A Lesson from the Carrot Patch

carrots-in-love-2One of my favorite parables of Christ is found in Matthew 13:24-30

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, “An enemy has done this!” The slaves said to him, “Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?” But he said, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

My carrot patch (the picture above is of carrots I harvested today just in time for Valentine’s Day!) started out pristine – weeds were not allowed. After the seeds came up I faithfully pulled each weed and laid mulch between each row of carrots. It was beautiful. Then, I got busy elsewhere and the weeds took advantage of my distraction.

Now, the carrots are finally ready to be pulled but it’s hard to tell the carrots from the weeds. But, know what? It’s not a problem. When we need carrots, I just go out and pull both weeds and carrots. It’s easy to tell the difference – the carrots have those long, orange roots (you know, the part we eat) while the weeds don’t. So, I quickly sort the carrots from the weeds and take the former into the house to prepare for a meal.

While this method won’t work for most vegetables, this is how I would love to garden…just let the weeds grow! Then, when it comes time to harvest, sort it all out.

In the garden of the world that’s exactly what God does. He asks us to sow the seed (word of God – the gospel), plant and water (1 Corinthians 3:4-9). The resulting growth is His work, not ours. In every case, some weeds will come up. Thankfully, it’s also not our job to discern the weeds from the wheat, that’s God’s business. At harvest, He takes care of the sorting.

When we try to do God’s work and pull up the weeds, precious souls are damaged. We’re terrible at it. Yet, that’s exactly what we spend a lot of time and energy doing…deciding who’s in and who’s out.  The results are predictable: disunity, denominational polarization and isolation, anger and disgust by those who observe.  Men and women are drawn by the cross but  repelled by our actions.  Satan loves it.

Let’s leave the weeding up to God.

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Filed under Christlikeness, church, conversion, Kingdom Growth, Preaching/Teaching, Religion, Salvation, Satan, Vegetable Gardening