Nov 022022

My dad used to always tell me that you should try to learn something new every day, and he said you know that you have really accomplished something in life when you reach the age that your children can teach you something new. I guess I’m there, because while we were visiting my son Travis and his wife Geli in Alabama, I learned all kinds of new things.

As I’ve told you before, they bought nine acres west of Tuscaloosa near the small town of Gordo, and they absolutely love it there. They are both kind of mother earth, back to the land people, and they have made fantastic progress since they bought the place in May.

My father died when Travis was still a little boy, so he doesn’t have many memories of his grandpa. But I think he inherited my dad’s green thumb because, just like Dad, Travis loves growing things. I have been amazed at all of the vegetables he has grown over the years while living at their place in Tuscaloosa. Now he has plenty of room to practice small-scale farming in a way that creates the least impact on the earth.

Unfortunately, the land on their property has a large amount of clay in the soil, which is not good for growing things. They have brought in some fill dirt and are experimenting with different ideas to make the most of what they have while they continue to work to improve the soil.

One thing they have done is create a trellis arbor for climbing plants, and several raised beds, using limbs from trees that they cut down while clearing the area. He has all kinds of vegetables growing in them.

When I first saw these mounds of earth, the old newspaperman in me got suspicious and wondered if my son was a serial killer. But as it turns out, they are part of Travis and Geli’s hügelkultur project. That’s German for “hill culture,” a technique in which they dug shallow trenches and put logs in them, then heaped dirt, wood debris, and compostable material on top, creating the mounds.

This method of growing things has been used in Germany and Eastern Europe for hundreds of years. As the wood decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil, and Travis tells me it is great for growing just about anything he wants to try there. Apparently, the mounds will produce for several years before they have to be recreated elsewhere on the property.

I had no idea my kid knew so much about agriculture. And I’m kind of glad to find out that he isn’t a serial killer, too. 😊 I know his grandfather would be just as proud of him as I am.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – People are like Oreos. The good stuff is on the inside.

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  4 Responses to “The Man With The Green Thumb”

  1. Just curious, does your son sell this produce?
    Do they have regular jobs as well?

  2. Homesteading is getting very popular. YouTube is full of useful videos. I like Roots and Refuge. It’s just a calming way of life. I wish I was 20 years younger!

  3. Those veggies look so good, that I bet even you were tempted to eat some vegetables. Miss Terry was probably loving the fresh produce.

  4. Your son should find a farmer with cows and see if he can take some manure off his hands. A truckload of manure will do wonders for that clay soil. And now is a great time to work it in and let it enrich the soil over the winter!

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