The Yearly Optimist

The 2018 master plan

Standing in the kitchen, each with a cup of coffee in hand, we stare at the plan. “I want tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes”, she says. And, you will have them, I reply, grandly.

But, you will also have beets, mustard, turnips, peas, kale, chard, onions, garlic, cabbage, lettuces (lettuce is good, she says), collards, black beans, October beans, cowpeas, lima beans, sweet corn, cucumbers, melon, okra, watermelon, eggplant (yes, eggplant, lots of eggplant, she adds), crookneck and winter squashes, and, certainly, sweet potatoes. There will be a small field of mangles and hickory corn for the pigs, as well. And, a sorghum trial plot. Oh, and the buckwheat for the bees, I finish. That covers spring, summer and brings us to fall.

“Enough”, she says. She does not want to hear about the fall garden. “As long as there are tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes”, she adds, again.

“Seems like an awful lot, who do you think will eat it?”

We will. And if our customers picking up pork or lamb need a mess of greens or beans, well, Bob’s your uncle.

“Who is Bob”?

What? Nobody.

“Then why do you say, … oh, never mind.”

Never mind indeed, I say… well, I think.

And, we can feed the excess to our pigs, I throw in for extra weight.

Besides, if we grow it they will come.

“Who said that? You got that from that movie.”

No, I didn’t. I made it up.

“No, you didn’t, he said, ‘if you build it, they will come’.”

Well, that is completely different, he said ‘build’ and I said ‘grow’.




Reading this weekend: Sheep Farming in America, by Joseph E. Wing (1908)

17 thoughts on “The Yearly Optimist

  1. Do carrots fit in the fall garden? I didn’t see carrots. Surely carrots are fine for a Tennessee garden, no? They come in multiple colors, are wonderfully nutritious (and any wastage would surely be appreciated by fowl and porkers alike…. Broccoli… – no broccoli? Are you a communist? [actually I should retract that last part… having broccoli might insinuate you are a communist… I can’t keep track]

    And the onions, I missed the onions. How can one start a big kettle of oxtail soup without first simmering some onions and carrots in the bacon grease left from yesterday’s bacon and egg breakfast??

    A fine list, a great start. Larder fillers all around. And buckwheat – a smart addition.

    • Alas, poor Carrot! I knew him, Clem, a vegetable of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy, that I can grow not. So, my good friends in the next valley supply all our culinary needs. Onions I have scheduled for an internment on March 7th. Broccoli, cauliflower and their kin, I seek as refugees, transplants, as you will. Let others toil with their tiny seeds. Give them to me already reaching to the sun. But, yes, we will make space for a few.

    • BTW the (1908) was inserted for your pleasure, Clem. One should know that the biblio-agrarian challenge continues. And, you, dear sir, fall behind.

      • Oh dear, falling behind… Hmmm, should I go further back in time? Let us peruse the 1891 46th Annual Report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture.

        This tome of more than 700 pages includes a serious section full of “Selected Papers from County Institutes”; of which a cursory examination renders titles such as:

        How to Keep the Boys on the Farm, by C.T.Northrup
        Country vs. City, by Carrie M. Ellis
        Necessity of the Farmer’s Library, by Mrs. M.S. Bohl
        The Educated Farmer, by Miss Flora Reed.

        For context we might surmise much of the contents of this hard bound periodical were proffered by folk with first hand memory of the conflict between the States. Agrarian to the root.

          • Don’t be too green… you can find many of these annual reports online at:


            These are scanned versions, but fascinating at any rate. In the 1857 volume (first one on hand at the site above) there is a farmer’s farm budget (pages 69-72) that includes a page or more of his comments about his livestock, his crops, etc. He even suggests that potatoes are to expensive to use as feed, but mangel wurtzel (fodder beet) is just the ticket. Great stuff.

  2. I have just almost completed my first draft of the final seed list.
    I have in it identified the friends and and those obstructionists I don’t like to spend too much time with.
    I have also read this post after drinking the aforementioned bottle of cider and whilst listening to Madness…disturbing…broccoli?

    • Actually, I just seeded my first 72 cell tray for the grow light. Tomatoes – Juliet’s, Cherokee Purple’s, Sweet Million’s and Chocolate Cherries. Praying for a good stand.
      Tonight I will probably start another 72 cell tray of cucumbers, Louisiana Long Green Eggplant, Yellow and White patty pan squash.
      It’s still in the 40’s low 50’s consistently at night and very wet…late last week we had 2-3 inches of rain at the house and other places around had over 10 inches. It has been a very cold (three snows!) and wet winter for us.

    • I’m suspicious of leeks, transplants that they inevitably are.
      Their onion cousins will have to appear as disciplined sets to get access to the beds. Control control control.

      Salads come in too many colours for my liking, and they’re too thin-skinned to not be trouble(d).
      I shall have to limit them to the pluckable ones; lack of pluckiness is unacceptable, for I am their bed and their breakfast!

Any thoughts or questions?