When I first started writing this blog I was more inclined to discuss heated political and social issues. Seems like as a nation we’ve become so polarized, so divided, so nasty  (for lack of a better word) that I’ve tended to steer clear of things that inflame the senses of the various competing political and ethical camps. Maybe I was afraid of the repercussions. Maybe I was just tired of trying to explain simple positions. It does get old defending what seems to be the most pure and logical assertions from the barrage of criticism and fired up vitriol. Everyone has an axe to grind! Thus I have kept my comments and analysis to my gardening, sports and music.

The recent controversy over the flying of the Confederate flag over state capitol buildings begs a comment or two.

Confederate Flag

Honestly I never have understood why it was necessary to somehow glorify an obvious symbol of a long gone era. An era in which human beings were routinely bought and sold in a country that espoused freedom and liberty. It was a paradoxical time in the history of this great human experiment we call America. It was a time when many of the simple truths this country was founded on were being shaken to their very core. Ultimately many thousands of men would lose their lives over these fundamental issues and in the end the Union was preserved.

Apparently there are many people in this modern era who have fostered an almost mythic reverence for the ways of the Old South, that in their eyes, has sadly been lost forever. The representatives of the southern states who have persisted in flying the flag (and their supporters) like to point out that their doing so is a simple homage to their brave ancestors who fought and died for their beliefs on the battlefield and not to glorify that world view. That would seem like a reasonable explanation but if one digs a bit further into the actual events of the time, and the comments made by the combatants as to the real reasons for the Civil War, it becomes crystal clear why the continued presence of this Confederate symbol on state grounds is such an affront to the African American community and many other people with a conscience.


In his famous “Cornerstone Speech”, then Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens attempted to clear up any misunderstandings about what the Confederacy stood for and why the Civil War was inevitable.


Accordinging to WIKIPEDIA, Stephen’sspeech explained what the fundamental differences were between the constitutions of the Confederacy and that of the United States, enumerated contrasts between U.S. and Confederate ideologies and beliefs, laid out the Confederacy’s causes for starting the American Civil War, and defended slavery.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I’d like to thank my old and dear friend Paul “Broke” Brokaw for bringing this speech to my attention. Though I was a Civil War buff as a child, I guess I never fully grasped the magnitude of Stephen’s oratory until just these last few days. Stephens made this speech a few days after Lincoln was elected President.


The new Constitution has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions—African slavery as it exists among us—the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old Constitution were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”

Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.


The Confederate flag therefore is the banner under which thousands of people fought and died to promote and defend this outmoded and universally rejected ideology. They were trying to reshape the world to perpetuate their own racist order. Can there be any more compelling reason to forever retire this symbol of white superiority to the museum case and eliminate it’s presence from the halls of state governments?


It has been said that if American slavery had existed, and the Civil War and been fought 1000 years ago, then perhaps the pain and suffering of those many innocents would be a distant and detached history lesson, dulled by the passing of time. That is simply not the case. In the discourse of the 21st century there many citizens who have had grandparents and great grandparents who were the victims of the crime of slavery. Must we continue to fly a flag that serves toremind them of a time when they were considered no more than property? To be bought and sold like cattle?



Removing the Confederate flag from government should not be seen as a political battle between the left and right but rather as a move toward greater understanding of all our people’s feelings. It’s a step towards bringing greater decency to our society and healing some of the wounds that still remain after 150 years.

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Talking About The METS Makes Me Tired…

Talking About The METS Makes Me Tired….

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Talking About The METS Makes Me Tired…

I am so TIRED of talking about what the METS could do…should do…won’t do…have to do…do do do do do do…ehhhh I’m sick of it. Year after year…the same BS.  This year the MEts seemed to have an outside shot at a wildcard playoff run.  Then in typical Mets style, a Flushing curse of huge magnitude descended upon them with swift and dire consequences.  Wheeler…out for the year.  Parnell not ready until recently…Wright…out indefinitely…Murphy in and out…Cuddyer bangs up his knee…Edgerin out indefinitely…Vic Black out indefinitely…travis D’Arnaud out indefinitely a second time!

I get it.  Injuries are part of the game but are The Mets playing football or baseball?

Mets logo

I was listening to Mike Francesca. He being the well known WFAN afternoon host and Yankee fan. He has had his moments with the METS for sure but in a recent discussion of the many woes out in Flushing, Mr. Rant and Rave laid out the simplest and most perfect plan for the Mets to make a run in 2015 and bolster the team for future years.

1-Platoon Duda and Cuddyer at first. They are both stinking it up this year.  Let he with the least stink have the job the rest of the year.


2-Go get a slugging outfielder and put him in left (or in right and put Granderson in left)

3-Put Murphy at third (if he can stay healthy long enough)


4-Put Tejada at short.

5-Put Flores at second.

Wilmer Florees

So simple it seems almost impossible but is it? There are going to be plenty of bats available as teams begin to fall out of contention. The problem that the Willnots, uhh I mean the Wilponzies, I mean the Wilpons WILL NOT pull the trigger on a deal that would give the team a chance to contend THIS YEAR because they won’t, don’t, can’t spend the money needed to make this happen. And so we are once again looking at next year. I’m tired of looking at next year. If these were the Yankees we were talking about Gee would have been traded, Niese would have been traded and a bat would have already been signed. I’m not asking for miracles. Just get a couple of MAJOR LEAGUE players on the roster. This ragtag bunch of Double A guys is a joke of an offensive lineup. Everyone knows it from Alderson down to Terry Collins down to the bat boy. Look at the numbers.I’m too tired to talk it anymore. The numbers are a disgrace. They are averaging 1.3 runs per game or some ridiculous thing like that. And don’t tell me they are still in the race, just a few games back. The Nationals are poised to make a run and when they do the 2015 Mets will be just another after thought.  I’m sick of this crap. If my kids hadn’t given me Mets tickets for Father’s Day, it would have been another season of me staying away. But I will enjoy my time at Citifield. The bats may be cold as ice but at least so is the beer.

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Tomatoes & Peppers..Summer Can’t Be Far Behind!

As discussed in the last episode, this past week we prepared the soil for the tomato bed and then this weekend we planted the tomatoes and peppers.

homegrownSanMarzano  planting tomatoes 2


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Another warm weather crop is the eggplant. We usually plant these at home because the farm plot suffers from small black mites that eat the leaves of the eggplant down to a stud. By planting at home on our composite deck, the plants roots stay toasty warm and there are no mites around here to damage the leaves.  This year we planted a Japanese variety (ichiban) two black Italian types and a purple variety.


We did some research with long time farmers and we found that these nasty little dudes morph into a flying insect of some sort and are usually done by mid June. If you don’t have a convenient deck to grow your eggplant, just wait till the middle of the month when they are gone before you put your plants in the ground.

Time to plant your peppers as well.  We like to plant our larger growing vegetables in plastic containers with the bottoms cut out.  This serves to collect the rain water,  and the water from our hoses, in a concentrated area above the roots making sure the plants get a good soaking drink.


While the warm weather plants are going in now, there are some of the earlier cool weather crops reaching their prime time.  The lettuce has been great this year and the snow peas are getting larger everyday.  Peas will be appearing withing 10 days.

Lettuce  LETTUCE


MESCLUNGREENS  MesclunGreens:Garlic

Snow Peas

It’s important that you keep your vegetable plants well watered during the warmer months. It is best to soak the plants early in the day or later in the afternoon after the strongest heat has subsided. This gives the water a better chance to soak into the ground rather than evaporate.

This year we planted Dinosaur kale,  an hierloom italian variety that tastes great in smoothies, in soup, salad and in a pan with garlic and oil.  It’s a cool weather crop that keeps rolling along when the summer heat arrives.

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NEW YORK METS REPORT – A June Swoon or a Hot Summer Season…?

NEW YORK METS REPORT – A June Swoon or a Hot Summer Season…?.

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NEW YORK METS REPORT – A June Swoon or a Hot Summer Season…?

Mets logo

I predicted the New York Mets would win 86 games this year. That’s 10 games over the elusive .500 mark. I thought that might be realistic considering the great pitching and the improved lineup. So far I’ve seen an epic winning streak and a few nasty slumps here and there.  Maybe 86 wins was a bit optimistic but maybe not. 86 wind would probably put a smile on Sandy Alderson’s face but I think they team needs to find a more consistent groove if they expect to reach that level.


Of course no one can ever accurately account for the injury bug. The 2015 version of the DL mosquito has bitten this team in a major way this year.

Wheeler gone for the year.

Zach Wheeler

Still waiting on Parnell.


Black and Edgerin in limbo.

Dillon Gee has missed time.

David Wright

David Wright out indefinitely with an assortment of weird ailments.

Dilson Herrera comes up and promptly hurts himself.

And it hasn’t been all injuries. When the pitching is great they don’t hit.And when they hit the bullpen blows leads and games. And as much as I like Terry Collins, he continues to make more than his share of head scratching moves.

Wilmer Florees

And what’s the deal at shortstop? Sure Mr. Flores whacks the ball pretty darn good but can you catch a ground ball and make a good throw to first? Eeeeeesh. With this pitching staff the Mets need quality middle infielders. Maybe someday that will happen. I guess the ultimate plan was Herrera at second and Flores at short. Who knows if that’s the answer or not. I like Murphy but his glove just ain’t gonna cut it.  I still think they should have brought in a major league shortstop.  And just this week Reuben (what position do I play?) Tejada became the third baseman in David Wright’s absence.  REALLY?  When you think about it what else can they do?  The Eric Campbell experiment has proven to be a flop.

I have a feeling as the season wears on this team will find a way to hang around (which is a whole lot more than they’ve been giving us in recent years)  but I’d be surprised if they make the playoffs, and if they do, I can’t see them getting too deep into serious October baseball what with pitchers held to pitch counts, a questionable defense in the infield and erratic offensive performances..

Of course I’ve been wrong before and I hope I’m wrong again.

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The Veggie Garden 2015-continued

It’s beginning to look like the 2015 growing season is going to be another excellent year! It’s been a little dry in the early going which has resulted in more trips to the plot to water, but overall the plants look really strong and healthy.

So far we’ve picked about 70 asparagus stalks. We’ve let some of the stalks grow to full size to insure that the plants are strong and healthy. Can’t just keep cutting and cutting! Eventually the plants would become week and not produce as well.


This week several of the plants in the plot have really popped. Here we see mesclun field greens on the left and healthy growing garlic on the right.


Sweet potato vines are starting to show some growth too.  First time we’ve ever done them.  I’m told they’re easy and we love ’em so I guess we’ll see how they turn out.


The weather has now warmed to a point where next week we will put in the tomatoes and peppers. But the ground has to be worked before you can plant. I ran my tiller through the area and then added Tomatoes Alive…an organic fertilizer I get from the company Gardens Alive.


I also mixed in some horse manure that the town provides, and some leaves collected last fall. Once the ground has been worked we water it down, cover it and let it sit until next week when we plant.

Tomato bed after tilling

We’ll see you when the next batch of plants go it.

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Lettuce, beets, kale, mesclun greens, snow peas, cabbage and other cool weather crops should in the ground now. The tomatoes and peppers are still in the hardening stage.  They’ll be ready in about 10 days. Here are some shots of what’s doin’ in our veggie garden.

The town supplies us with wood chips, mulch and horse manure. I brought manure over to our plot.


I stacked it and wet it down. You need to be careful. Manure that is too fresh can harm fragile plants. I like to let it sit in the sun and wet it every so often for a few weeks before I use it. And I use it sparingly until the plants are larger and robust. Once the plants are strong manure helps them grow quickly.


Here’s a shot of the mesclun lettuce coming up. We did seeds and this mix is so easy to grow ANYBODY can do it and it tastes great!


This is onion grass…a perennial herb that gives delicious mild onion flavored leaves in abundance. You just cut off some handfuls of leaves and toss it in your salad or stir fry. Yummy!





We have an asparagus bed that we created 3 years ago…17 x 5 feet. Asparagus is also a nice perennial. It’s only May and we’ve already harvested over 50 spears. This is going to be a great year for asparagus! The plants send up numerous spears (which if left un-cut) will grow into leafy frilly bushes. It’s best to allow some of the spears to go to seed so the plant stays strong and healthy and you can keep picking spears all summer to eat.


The garlic we planted last September is doing very nicely now and getting taller every day. This was a really tough winter on Long island. We were concerned about the plants but they came through in great shape. We will pick the bulbs around July first. You let them dry out in a cool dark place or hang them in a netted bag. After a few weeks when the greens shrivel up, you cut them off and you’re left with delicious home grown garlic.


We planted 18 heads of lettuce about 3-4 weeks ago and as you can see we are getting ready to take some this week to eat. Love that red romaine! The little dude is a common toad. We usually have 2 or 3 in our 20 x 40 plot each year. They are organic pest controllers…eating their weight in bugs! In areas where farmers use poisons to control weeds and bugs, you won’t find too many of these critters. They are not immune to poison!

Next installment will deal with planting the tomatoes and peppers.

Don’t forget to water! It’s been pretty warm here in Huntington and you don’t want your baby veggies to dry up and blow away! 😉

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If you are a serious vegetable gardener on Long Island you’ve probably put lettuce, beets, kale, mesclun greens, snow peas, cabbage and other cool weather crops in the ground.


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Red and green romaine, butter crunch lettuce, parsley and beets in the ground

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The tomatoes and peppers are still in the greenhouse or indoors as they go through the hardening stage (leave them out in the sun for a couple of hours each day and then bring them inside till they are ready to go in the ground around Mother’s Day)  Usually they will start to get much larger when given some outside time and you will have to transplant them into larger cups.  Use the the kind that melt down and become soil after a few weeks in the ground. You can find them at any garden shop or home store.




And if you haven’t started outside yet BETTER GET MOVING! You’re running out of precious growing season . If you have a tiller (I use a small compact MANTIS…it works great) work the ground into a nice loose consistency.




That brings in plenty of fresh air and allows the rain to soak deeply. It also makes it a lot easier for your plants to root freely. We don’t want highly compacted soil.


You can add some organic fertilizer before you put down your seeds or live plants. . I use VEGETABLES ALIVE from the organic catalogue GARDENS ALIVE. It’s easy to find online.

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Once you’ve got the ground ready to go you can plant seeds and or plants already started from the local nursery. We like to do both.



Swiss chard, Rosemary, cabbage, curly kale and beets from the local nursery already started


Somethings are better from seed and some of the plants I get started do really well. We like FORT HILL NURSERY on Route 25A in Huntington. Year after year we do really well with their beets, swiss chard, curly kale, and different types of romaine and butter crunch lettuce.


This year we planted seeds for Dinosaur Kale…a variety we really like.  It’s actually an Italian heirloom that we got from BURPEE.

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We always try to plant in long rows whenever possible with about 10 inches between the rows so we can get in there with a tool and keep the weeds to a minimum. Once the plants get tall enough we mulch the areas with a good organic compost. This feeds the plants and also keeps weeds away. Make sure your plants are strong and healthy before you lay down a few inches of mulch.  If they are weak or not firmly rooted the mulch can kill them.

In a few weeks we’ll be planting the warm weather crops…tomatoes, peppers, basil and eggplant.  We’ll update you then.


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