George Washington Carver

Courtesy of the USPS

George Washington Carver, USPS Stamp

I’ve been thinking a lot about this guy lately.  Have you heard of him? George Washington Carver was one pretty amazing dude.  He was a botanist that pretty much saved southern American farmers.  He was an inspired inventor who turned down tons of money to become an educator.  He’s an inspiration… to me.

Born in 1864 to parents whom were slaves, as an infant his family was kidnapped by slave traders.  His original “owner” could only negotiate the release of baby George.  This was right at the time slavery was ending and his owners became his family.  They raised George as their own and taught him the importance of education.

Education was difficult for George.  His long fight to attend school as a kid paid off.  In 1891, he became the first black student enrolled in Botany at Iowa State’s Agricultural College.

Fast forward ahead: George studied soil and noticed how the cotton crops were failing because of depleted nutrients.  George is credited for introducing crop rotation, a method we organic gardeners rely on today.  His crops to rotate primarily consisted of cotton, soy, sweet potatoes, and peanuts.  These four crops rotated regularly cleaned and naturally fed the soil saving farmers, especially in our southern states.

So what do these farmers do with all of the extra soy, sweet potatoes, and peanuts?  Leave it to George to invent ways to use the extra harvest.   Things like bleach, axle grease, instant coffee, synthetic rubber and a whole bunch of other genius uses for his new cash crops.

Later in his life, George passed up the opportunity to become a big business inventor to settle for the life of Head Professor at Tuskegee Institutes’ Agricultural Department.  He taught future generations of farmers his crop rotation techniques essentially making our world a better place.

George Washington Carver was one awesome gardening dude.  Look him up, there’s so much more about him to learn.

GW Carver

Carver’s Virtues


The Super Soggy Gardener

Pacific Northwest friends, I know you are just as tired as I am of this nasty constant downpour.  My very best rain gear is getting it’s booty whooped. That’s OK, because we shouldn’t be out in our gardens right now.

One thing we have going for us, is our dry indoor oasis.  Now for our soil, that’s another story.  You can see the warning signs.  Look for the worms (ooohh, the poor wormies).  They’re crawling up the walls of our houses to get away from the wet soil.  They’re drowning in masses.  It’s very sad and I’m not even kidding, because worms are our soil warriors and they aren’t doing so great.

This worm state of emergency is our biggest indicator to stay off our soil.  When our lawns and gardens are so darn saturated, even a few footsteps can cause soil compaction and damage to your soil that will show up in the spring.  Our plants little roots are drowning right now too, and there is nothing you can or should do about it.  The best thing you can do is to stay away.  But you don’t have to take my word for it.  Check out this article by the Washington Post: click here or search for yourself.  It ain’t pretty folks, but we just need to ride out the storm and let our soils get some drain time before we venture back out into our gardens.

Rainy Window

Looking through the window at Clover. Clover is the name of my truck, not the name of my weeds.

Here’s a helpful list of things you could be doing while we wait out the storm:

*Clean and organize your seed starting supplies.

*Seriously consider inventing worm protection housing to be used in the garden during rainstorms.

*Clean and sharpen gardening tools.

*Order umbrellas and heavy duty stands to rescue soggy Rhododendrons.

*Tune-up garden-mobile.  Change the oil and vacuum out all of the loose potting soil just once this year.

*Check greenhouse and potting sheds for leaks (but stay on the garden path when traveling to and from such structures).

*Build an Ark.

*Consider adding a greenhouse and potting shed to the Ark.

Happy super soggy season friends.  Stay dry and stay off that soil.