Over the years I have been asked to paint Thai palaces and Parisian street scenes–dragons, monkeys and the river styx. Usually things as unfamiliar to me as three headed camels. Last week I was asked to paint native Texas plants on some cabinets. This was great because I understand the way a petiole on a trumpet flower attaches to the stem. I was pruning persimmon trees the day before I painted one on a door. It is much better when you understand something than when you only see its shape.
In Austin in 1974 I was designing and building the scenery for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at Zilker park while working on the scenery concept for my next project, A Man’s a Man by Bertolt Brecht at the University of Texas. I left the park heading for the UT library to research 1930’s train cars, one of the visual concepts I had for the Brecht play. Walking back to campus I was stopped by a train at Town Lake. I stood impatiently, wanting to get to the library to see photos of trains and–wait–this is a real one. At that point the whole concept of the play changed. It was not a photo that made a railroad, but the noise, the rhythmic clanging, flying pebbles, dirt, soot, and power that defined the concept. And I could add the smoke they had in 1926. The director and I developed a solid concept to present this rather rough-hewn script because a train stopped me from keeping my hectic schedule.
When I work to understand something, not just react with an accepted quick cure, everything comes together. A spot on a leaf or insect damage are a clue I need to decipher, not a call for a bottle of chemicals. This weed tells me of a potassium deficiency, that sheep is not acting like the others. Oh no, not enough calcium in the tomato’s root system. I have to observe to be successful on the farm. Just like an artist. So the next time someone asks me to paint a Parisian street scene, I will have them send me to Paris.
Kenan Rote will teach an introduction to Earth Qi Gong for Women. Instructor Tina Chunna Zhang’s says “This special medical Qi Gong was originally developed and perfected over the course of 1700 years by Daoists, Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) doctors and Qi Gong experts in China. It integrates the principles of TCM with the classical internal arts to feed the needs of a woman’s unique anatomy.” http://www.qigongforwomen.com/Home.html
Class begins at 2:00 Sunday April 6. $45
Kenan is a certified instructor who trained under Tina Zhang.
Tomatoes are now available. Do you want a tough, organically grown plant that is ready for the real world?
Most nursery plants are grown in artificial conditions in a sterile environment with heavy applications of nitrogen fertilizer and synthetic fungicides and pesticides. This intensive care system eliminates natural soil biology, creates a dependency on artificial stimulus and discourages the plant from developing the extensive root system it needs once it is out of the ICU. You purchase a poorly adapted, chemically dependent plant not capable of fending for itself.
We start with a special organic soil mixture, organic plants and usually certified organic seed or saved seed. We inoculate the plant roots with mycorrhizae fungi and add natural minerals that promote root growth. We start with very little nitrogen fertilizer because we do not want to promote excessive green growth early in life. Once the root system is well developed we begin to limit the water and add a bit of nitrogen in the form of fish emulsion in our compost tea. The result is a plant that is ready to head out on its own and produce.
Our plants are grown outside except for the frost sensitive ones that sit out our short winter in a cozy greenhouse. We are one of the few sources of organically grown (though not certified) plants
Our standard potting mix starts with compost, perlite, vermiculite and mulch. We add the following to this mix:
Compost tea from vermiculture
We use a better draining mix for the succulents, lavender, thyme and rosemary. We usually use recycled pots. I have the formula we are currently using here
Today I pay homage to my grandfather, James Miracle and my grandmother Myrtle. They had a tractor and a 1949 dodge ram car which made the 5 mile trip to town once a month. They went to buy toilet paper, corn flakes, flour and sugar.
They raised cattle, tobacco, corn and a large garden, bigger than my market garden. They fertilized with manure. No feed bags nor outside hay ever had to be unloaded. If you need it, you grow it on the farm, putting up hay, corn–jams and beans. Milk came from cows, eggs from chickens, vegetables from the garden or the cellar, and the freezer was always stocked with your meat. Feed for animals came from the earth.
I drive a pickup truck. I have a long way to go to reach the heights of my grandfather. Someday you will know I have arrived when I no longer own a truck.
I will be presenting the class on organic fruit tree management that I did at the Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners annual conference. The class will be at our farm on Sunday Feb. 23 from 2 pm until 4:30 pm. We will discuss chill hours, root stock, grafting, planting, variety selection, soil reports, soil amendments, fertilization, pest control, compost tea, beneficial insects, pruning, and a lot more.
We will plant fruit trees, berries, and muscadines. We will prune fruit trees and vines. There will be time for Q & A.
This class will not include production of annual fruits like tomatoes, melons and strawberries.
Classes are outdoors so dress appropriately. No pets.
Register by email http://thelaughingfrogfarm.com/contact/ Price $45.00
Next week Kenan Rote will present “Earth Qi Gong for Women”
Our tomato plants are growing out well. The extended weather forecast suggests now is a good time to plant in Houston. You will probably have to cover them once or twice, but early tomatoes are worth the work. These plants are raised from organic seed by organic methods. I will have some at the market this Saturday.
We have 6 varieties this year.
Tomato prices are $2.00 each–
18 plants for $28–
Great snacking tomato
One of the best to sun-dry.
great snacking tomato.
Celebrity disease resistant
72 days, good for containers
For hot , humid environments
Please see the pdf of my brochure for more information
Fruit trees and berries are mostly propagated by asexual methods. It is rare to grow these plants from seed. We use grafting, budding, layering, division and cuttings at the farm. Participants will perform a cleft graft, do stem cuttings of figs, grapes & pomegranates, leaf & petiole cuttings of herbs, root divisions & tip layering of blackberries, air layering on muscadines, and mound layering of rootstock. Each participant will leave with a tree they graft and the cuttings they have potted. The next class is Sunday March 9, 2:00 at Laughing Frog Farm. You can register by email $45