Potting-up, Burlap Bags, and a Dearth of Perfect Love

Notes from the Garden

Happy first birthday to my granddaughter, Edith (Stein . . . but she’s not Jewish). I’ll be growing pumpkins for the grandkids for however long my ghost breathes.

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The May Gardening Push continues. This unbelievable cold snap has pushed back growing and planting, forcing me to “pot-up” my tomato plants (a chore I enjoy “in the moment” but that seems like a waste of effort . . . if I could just “time” the initial planting with the passing of all frost).

For non-gardeners: The act of “potting-up” means taking plants from a smallish container and putting them into a bigger container, so you can later put them in yet a bigger container or the ground.

Like I said, a waste of time, but fairly important or the plants’ growth will be permanently stunted.

One thing I like about potting-up, though: I am occasionally able to salvage two or three plants from the same small plant, creating two or three large pots. Over the past few days, I have potted-up 30 tomato plants from about 20 small containers, and they all look vibrant and healthy.

I continue to plant potatoes like a mad-man, though I’m a bit concerned at how bad the (very) expensive seed potatoes look. They’re soft and the sprouts have black tips. Neither, apparently, are a cause of concern, though, based on what I could find on the Google Machine.

I planted ten seed potatoes in burlap bags last night. While at the coffee shop with Meg (of Hillsdale College), I saw they were selling their old coffee bean bags for $3. I searched … Read the rest

Econ Saturday: Buy Stuff Now

Unemployment and Crytpo

I’m disgusted that the federal government refuses to acknowledge that its federal unemployment benefit program is killing employers. It’s simply disingenuous to claim that people would rather work for $10 an hour when they can get $7.50 an hour for doing nothing.

In my corner of the world, COVID has been virtually non-existent for the past six months. It hit us pretty hard in the second half of 2020, and I knew a lot of people hospitalized with it (and had five clients die of it . . . or something like it), but since last December or so? It has been a non-factor, but fast food restaurants can’t keep regular hours because they can’t find staff.

How bad is it? My law firm can’t find a receptionist and the workload is humongous. We have been forced to adopt summer hours. Instead of being open to the public for 45 hours a week, we are now open only 31 hours a week.

Dogecoin mania continues. I bought a small chunk at less than 4/10ths of a penny. I cashed in this week and am spending the profits as fast I can: a nice dinner, donated money to restore our local auditorium, bought Marie a very nice bike, invested in agricultural stocks, bought a leaf mulcher, bought more Bitcoin and Ethereum, gave each child some extra spending money.

As millions of Americans have experienced, Dogecoin has been great fun.

But what does it say about our economy when billions of dollars are flowing into a joke cryptocurrency (“They’re all jokes, Scheske!”)?

It tells you that there’s so much money sloshing around the system, … Read the rest

I was Tortured and Killed for Wrong Think

Well, not really, but I survived a totalitarian regime

If you listen to only one Joe Rogan Experience episode, make it episode 1639, Dave Smith. It came out last Friday. It’s three hours long. I’ve listened to 2.5 hours (out of three hours).

Smith is a comic and a libertarian. He also has a podcast (that, for some reason, I can’t warm up to).

But I definitely warmed up to this episode with Rogan. They covered an array of matters, with Dave Smith channeling Murray Rothbard, Tom Woods Scott Horton, and other alternative thinkers.

The COVID discussion was really good. At minute 33:48, Smith pointed out something I hadn’t thought of: We lived under totalitarianism in 2020, at least those of us who live in a blue state.

Now, it may have been good totalitarianism. It may have been necessary totalitarianism. It was “soft” totalitarianism (no one was arrested, tortured, and killed).

But it was totalitarianism: suspension of the Bill of Rights; governors ruling by fiat, often with apparent whimsy; rulers playing by a different set of rules; heavy propaganda, groupthink, and censorship (by private corporations with ties to government). Everything you’d expect from totalitarianism, we had here in 2020.

This doesn’t mean it was bad, incidentally. It simply means many of us lived under totalitarianism. The choices were (supposedly): die of COVID or live under totalitarianism. Okay. Given those options, I choose totalitarianism. Many of us did. Just because it was totalitarian doesn’t mean it was wrong. It just means it was bad, but not necessarily as bad as the alternative (dying of COVID).

Of course, we now know those weren’t really the only … Read the rest

Schlitz is a Business School Case Study

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never knew what happened to Schlitz. When I was a little kid, I remember seeing Schlitz all over the place and thinking it was “the” beer. By the time I started drinking, it was one of those beers I’d drink because I could get a case for $5 (in the 1980s), putting it in the category of Buckhorn, Blatz, Red White and Blue, and Beer (the generic “brand”).

It isn’t just my murky childhood memory. Schlitz was the beer. In fact, for much of the twentieth century, it and Budweiser duked it out for top beer in the United States. But then Budweiser took over that top spot in the late 1950s with effective marketing, and Schlitz fell decidedly to number two.

In response, it decided it would become the most profitable beer in the U.S. and started to slash production costs (now called the “Schlitz Mistake”). When drinkers noticed and its sales plummeted, it responded with an awful marketing campaign that seemed to threaten viewers (now laughingly called the “drink Schlitz or I’ll kill you” campaign).

It’s all laid out in this article that I stumbled across last night.Read the rest

Wild Gardening Notes

Note One: I need to come up with a better name than “Wild Gardening”

I’m greatly encouraged by my wild garden experimentation.

But I need a different name. “Wild gardening” is already being used, and it generally denotes something different (lots perennials, edible weeds, etc.). That’s not what I’m doing.

My concept: Allow greens to go to seed and blow all over the place. Leave vegetables like tomatoes on the ground to be reabsorbed by nature. Ruthlessly take out weeds before they go to seed. Eventually, the “good” plants will outnumber the weed plants and give me a great harvest every year with little effort.

The initial results are greatly encouraging. As of right now, I have at least 75 volunteer lettuce plants: 30 Jester, 30 Black Seeded Simpson, and 15 Salanova. The volunteers will probably produce about 50 pounds of lettuce, which translates to about $250 of produce . . . .with virtually no effort. I also have more cilantro plants than I can count. And that’s just after my first year in my  new garden that was entirely lawn at the end of 2019.

A few notes:

1. The cilantro thrives in the wild garden. I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes over everything, but that’s alright. People love cilantro and it’s easy to yank out. If I see it crowding my lettuce, the cilantro gets yanked like a weed.

2. I use a lot of tarps during the winter to kill vegetation and preserve the soil. Tarps and wild gardening are, presumably, antithetical. You can’t do both. My plan is to keep about 1/3rd of my garden wintered with leaf mulch … Read the rest

The Left’s Slow Shift on COVID


The Left’s dogma on COVID is slowly—oh so slowly—changing.

Governor Whitmer last week held a press conference to address Michigan’s surging COVID numbers. She said she wouldn’t impose more restrictions because they’re not working. Here’s her actual quote:

“Michigan still has some of the strongest protocols in place — capacity restrictions, we’ve still got a mask mandate. Other states have dropped all of these things. We still have them in Michigan, and yet, we have high positivity.”

Welcome to the reality, Governor. Tom Woods has been preaching for at least eight months that COVID is going to attack whoever it wants, regardless of restrictions. There’s been zero correlation between restrictions and COVID cases.

And then yesterday, Slate (!) ran an essay by a senior editor that suggested that wearing masks outside isn’t necessary.

When it comes to coronavirus spread, evidence shows that being outdoors is very, very safe. A paper published in Indoor Air looked at 1,245 cases in China and found just one instance of outdoor transmission, which involved people having a conversation, which means they had to be close to one another for some period of time and face to face. According to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, shared earlier this month with the Irish Times, of 232,164 cases in Ireland, just 262 were associated with “locations which are primarily associated with outdoor activities.” That is, about 0.1 percent. A meta-analysis published online in November in the Journal of Infectious Diseases suggests it’s possible the upper bound of cases potentially contracted outdoors is higher; it estimates that the total is less than 10 percent. 

Again, welcome to … Read the rest

Cryptocurrency isn’t in a Bubble

It might be terribly overvalued, but it’s not in a bubble

The cryptocurrency market was a lot of fun this week. The Coinbase IPO drove interest and prices to all-time highs. The leader: Dogecoin, which went from six cents to 50 cents in a wild frenzy (it has since settled in the upper 20s).

Dogecoin isn’t sustainable. Its creators have minted over 100 billion coins, they mint millions more every year, and they aren’t committed to capping it. It’s like the Federal Reserve.

Bitcoin, however, is different. It’s capped. Supply will run out. Other than land, it’s the only asset that can claim such a thing.

I hear two vigorous objections to Bitcoin:

1. “Each coin is worth $60,000. How are you supposed to buy a pack of gum with a $60,000 coin?”
2. “Bitcoin is in a bubble.”

Both of these objections, I believe, are bunk. I think there are other valid objections, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Bitcoin is extraordinarily overvalued, but those two objections don’t cut it.

1. Look at the edge of your coins. You notice the serrated edges? That’s a holdover from the days when the king had the right to take chunks off coins (or “criminals” did it), in order to create sub-specie that could be used to buy small items (or melted down with others “bits” and recoined). I don’t know of any reason Bitcoin couldn’t be used like that. In fact, right now, I own Bitcoin: about 5% of one Bitcoin. My account breaks it down to the seventh decimal. Call me crazy, but I suspect these newfangled computers could break it down to the 100… Read the rest

Garden Writing is About More than Plants

The biographical, philosophical, meditational, and countercultural world of American gardening literature

Riddle: What literary genre has historical roots that predate Socrates; features hundreds of American writers including Thoreau, Washington Irving, and Edith Wharton; and is a genre that you’ve probably never even heard of?

Answer: American gardening literature.

Don’t roll your eyes.

It’s a thing.

American gardening literature is a blend

In fact, American gardening literature is a big thing.

I have three volumes of gardening literature anthologies in my home library alone. Amazon has an entire department dedicated to “Gardening & Horticultural Essays.” Yes, just “essays.” It has two dozen other departments dedicated to gardening and horticulture in general.

The genre of American garden writing runs the gamut from technical to inspirational, from garden bed blueprints to meditations on weeding.

There are, for instance, seed catalogs that merely list seed specifications. They hardly qualify as literary endeavors. And then there are literary seed catalogs . . . those rare (and free!) publications that are informational, occasionally witty, and serious about their prose (one of my favorites is published by Wild Garden Seeds in Oregon).

Among contemporary books, you have The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, which is my standard “go-to” book but hardly qualifies as serious literature. And you have Inheriting Paradise: Meditations on Gardening, by theologian-gardener Vigen Guroian, which might be lovely but scarcely talks about gardening techniques.

And then you have The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by Carol Deppe, which is a beautiful hybrid: mostly how-to gardening advice, but laced with a meditational bent that, though rarely overt, informs the book as a whole.

Deppe’s book is what I mean by “American … Read the rest