Summer, Tomatoes, Water, and Backpacks for Cows


After a cold wet spring which was great for my lettuce, summer and the occasional 100 degree day have finally arrived. It is too warm for new plantings of lettuce to germinate, but as the picture to the left of my first tomatoes shows, there are other garden crops starting to com on. Of course with the warm weather come tomato diseases, Cucumber Beetles and Squash Bugs. Because I avoid chemicals in my vegetable garden, I plant extra tomatoes, pick off the squash bugs until they get to the point where a spray of weak soap is necessary, and live with the Cucumber Beetles. The beetles seem to be almost kept under control by the birds anyway.

Yesterday while weeding in the garden, I saw many beneficial insects including, Lady Bugs, some kind of small parasitic wasp, and a Praying Mantis. Last night when out there with a flashlight, there were worms and night crawlers all over the place. All of these are signs of a healthy garden and soil and might not be present in healthy numbers in a garden where chemical fertilizers and insecticides are used. Using chemicals in your garden can cause trouble for many more species that the intended target.

On another note – My last post on water being the next oil was viewed by a few thousand readers over three days. The topic must have hit a nerve, am I am flattered that so many people read it, but I was still surprised by something I have noticed a few times before. Lots of readers does not necessarily translate into lots of comments. In addition to comments from a few regular readers, the post did get three comments from new people who have not commented here before. Their comments were great and I do hope they continue to read and voice their ideas. But here is the reason for even bringing this up….

I had at least a dozen email contacts from new people who had something to say about the post. This has happened before and has made me wonder why these obviously articulate and opinionated people decide to email rather than comment? Anyone have any ideas? Maybe they have had problems with commenting on other sites and are just gun-shy. Or maybe in the case of one reader who I will describe below, he just did not want to be critical of the post in the comments. In case anyone else ever feels this way, critical is OK. Fire away! If there are holes in my reasoning or facts, I sure want to know. And, if their are holes in your critique, I sure want to let you know!

One of the emails said that they thought the post was “stupid” because I was saying in part of it that we should limit water to agriculture and industry so that homeowners would have more water available to water their lawns and fill their swimming pools. There was a comment on Stumble Upon to this effect also. This makes me realize I should follow up with a post being specific in my ideas and opinions in that area, but for now, here is what I meant in the post by saying “We can conserve, and even better, industry and agriculture can be forced to conserve, but we humans will always need a certain amount, beyond what we drink, just to survive in a modern world.”

Human society needs a certain amount of water to survive. Some may, but I don’t include lawns of pools in that amount of water. But we could cut off all water to any uses but industry and agriculture tomorrow. No toilets, tap water, lawns, pools, showers or baths. That would still not even make a dent in the U.S. consumption of water because most is used by industry and agriculture. I will research the actual figures and do another post on this aspect of the issue.

Now as to those cows with the backpacks. Thanks to JD, I was alerted to this story. I wonder if PETA knows about this experiment? There must be something unethical about embarrassing cows in this manner. I also think each animal needs a sign on both sides saying “no smoking allowed”! Don’t miss reading the comments either…

A fart tax???

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Will Sig
1 Steve

hi Will, congrats on the beautiful tomatoes! We’ve been picking a few for about two weeks, and expect to be flooded in tomatoes shortly. If I could only grow one thing, it would be tomatoes. It’s the one vegetable that is always better “home grown”. I’m curious what variety you grow and what is in the picture? And thanks to JD and the link to the “cows with backpacks” news story. Too funny! Makes me glad I’m not a cow! ~ Steve


2 Will

Steve – I grow two or three plants of about about 6 or 7 varieties. Those first tomatoes in the photo are “Oregon Spring”. Our climate this far north is very different than Santa Barbara. We had our last freeze in mid May this year.

I think there is some truth to the rotation of tomato plants to avoid disease. The infections seem to be somewhat random, though. Often one plant will be healthy and right beside it another of the same variety will be sick.


3 Steve

hi Will, 3×7 = 21 tomato plants. Wow. That’s a lot of tomatoes! I do feel lucky (climate-wise) to be in Santa Barbara. I grew up in Reno, NV, and we had a backyard garden. I remember snow on the ground and the occasional late frost playing havoc on the fruit tree blossoms and subsequent crop or lack there of. My dad still lives there and I sometimes rib him on beating him with first tomato of the season. That said, Santa Barbara is relatively cool, and I’ve never gotten as many tomatoes as I think one can get in a climate with hotter summers, even if you have to wait a month to get the first tomatoes. As to the virus/disease, I think there are many of them. It must be frustrating to lose one plant and have the one next to it be fine – but I think one must look at the glass as half full (you still have the healthy plant). I’ll have to consider an “Oregon Spring” for next year if I can get the seed. It looks good! ~ Steve


4 Andrew Flusche

I’m glad to hear that your post about water & oil was so widely read. It’s an incredibly important topic that we all need think more about.

And congrats on the beautiful tomatoes!

Andrew Flusches last blog post..Debt Collection Made Easy


5 Anna

Hi Will, I used to grow tomatoes on my front yard, and every person who walked by would say: Are these tomatoes? lol, I guess every one expected flowers. Yes we got most of the sun in the front and they came out great, however, I stopped as we got some animals that dig around and left droppings all around. No bugs, however, on the back we have life of its own as we don’t use anything to spray our garden. Lots of exotic bugs, and scary bugs….It is great to know that you don’t use any pesticides, all natural, that is how I grew up when I was young – eating a worm was very common, yeah extra protein will not kill you, lol. Thanks for sharing, read your water story, scary thought. Anna 🙂

Annas last blog post..There are Always Bugs, Sunsets, and Flowers to Photograph


6 Will

Hi Anna! Welcome back to you and Matthew. Before you know it he will have his own MySpace and computer, and not want Mom looking over his shoulder! I am glad to see your comments, although Bob might not be. I think he was starting to entertain thoughts of catching up to you!


7 Steve

hey Anna, I liked your comment. We grow tomatoes in the front yard too, and for the same reason (more sun). They are orange sungold (aka orange candy, aka orange cherry) tomatoes, and are PROLIFIC. Anyone walking by is welcome to take a handful – we can’t keep up with them when they really go off. Anyway, I think tomato plants look great, and go well with the sunflowers. No one else one our street or in our neighborhood has copied us yet, but who knows? ~ Steve (aka Mr Trade Show Booths, aka Mr Tomato)


8 Anna

Thanks Will, oh I am enjoying every moment with Matthew, he grows so fast, he is 15 lb and grew 10 cm since birth [97% percentile] – everytime we go to doctor, he says – and this is all breast milk, lol. I am having the best time of my life, and no body told me it can be that wonderful. I don’t want to think about when he grows up, you are right, he may have his own MySpace one day, and I will be looking over his shoulder, lol. BTW funny you say about the top commentators, everytime I show up to your blog I actually check first who is catching up to me, however, I am glad to see that the numbers are growing….Anna 🙂

Annas last blog post..There are Always Bugs, Sunsets, and Flowers to Photograph


9 Grace Wismer

Your post about oil and water has been read by many people just in three days?!Congratulation! And this post is worth reading, too.


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