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Man in Overalls - Fork in the Road

A month ago, I told stories from Florida Theater's stage : stories of family, stories of our backyard farm , stories of where we've been and where we're growing. In the month since then, even as we continue to support others to grow their groceries at home, team Overalls received 95 neighbors & community supports for our Farm (2) Raising , and, together, we built our 2nd "​ unlimited urban uPick ​" neighborhood farm. Farm Three is already in the works. It's an exciting moment to be wearing Overalls, so I want to share the backstory with you.  Just below, you'll find the video , or if you'd prefer to read, look just scroll down. - - - - - - My name is Nathan Ballentine. Folks know me simply as Man In Overalls .  Last Sunday, I spot Charlotte, our 3-year-old neighbor, outside our kitchen window. She’s headed through the gate to our backyard farm. She stops at the mint, looks back over her shoulder to make sure no one is watching, and snags a piece.
Recent posts

Man in Overalls - What Can You Grow in a Square?

"So, I want a garden, but I was wondering if you could build and plant it using the principles of Square Foot Gardening?" Well, "um..." I squirmed. What was Square Foot Gardening ? This was back in 2009, just as I was  putting on my Overalls . Carol, a friend and the customer asking the question offered, "I've got a copy of the book. I can lend it to you to review, and then when you come tomorrow, you can put it into practice. Does that work?" Sure thing.  So, I read it. It took about 6 hours that night, and I was a convert. Mel Bartholemew, its author, made me smile with his writing, and his story captured my heart - plus, his intensive gardening style matched my inclinations, so it was a good match. When he first started gardening, Mel saw on a seed packet that he should plant lettuce every 6in in the row, with rows 18in to 2ft apart. So he did. And it worked. But, in the middle - in the open row, the pathways- he grew TONS of weeds, so he thought, &

Man in Overalls - Survival Gardening

I want you to grow your groceries. Could you grow enough food to feed your family if you needed? Could we, as communities, sustain ourselves - even temporarily - if there was some major disruption like a cyber attack, supply chain failure, hyper inflation, economic fall-out, or - God forbid - war? Though I'm a fan of salads & tasty treats like sugar snaps, if you're hungry, those just won't cut it. It comes down to calories and protein. If you were gardening to keep your family alive, what would you grow?  This isn't about fear-mongering; it's about preparedness & keeping enough life-skills passing around in our networks so that, "if & when" we need them, those skills can be cultivated & shared . Even within a generally stable society, there are "minor" crises at the level of region, city, neighborhood, & family all the time that don't feel all that minor to the folks involved.  If you had to, could you grow enough energ

Overalls - Arctic Blasts & What to Do

  With this Arctic blast headed our way, I wanted to share a quick note with a couple resources. ​ Growing Year 'Round - video ​ ​ What To Do When It Freezes (pdf) ​ ​The main takeaways are: Most cool season crops should be fine; they'll freeze, thaw, and keep growing. It's the warm season crops growing out of season you have to worry about like... tomatoes, peppers... Make sure your soil is good and moist before the freeze; this prevents dehydration burn turn off your irrigation Friday evening so it doesn't run early morning Sat/Sunday when your plants are still frozen because "flash thawing" will hurt even the freeze-tolerant crops ​In parting, here are a few cool season crops that are more tender than the rest and may benefit from extra care (see What To Do When It Freezes) beyond watering the soil cilantro, parsley, celery, dill, fennel, nasturtium. ​Stay warm out there! As needed & helpful, our team looks forward to future opportunities to support you

Man in Overalls - The Game of Seasons

There's something about coming out of the cold, darkness of winter into the warm light of spring that swells our sense of the possible, and so spring is - universally- the most popular gardening season. And for good measure: potatoes, tomatoes , squash, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, pumpkins, melons and all those other frost-tender crops thrive in the early spring warmth - before the onslaught of heat and pests to come. :) Probably for this reason, as a kid, I only ever grew a spring garden, 10 years running from 8 'till I graduated and left home for college at 18. I started in March, just after the threat of frost had past and seeded seeds and planted plants in beds that I'd banked in leaves over the summer and winter to keep the weeds down and build up the organic matter. Now, that's not a bad thing to do if you need a break, but truth is, I just didn't know that we  could  grow 12 months a year in the Deep South. I didn't know The Game of Gardening Season

Man in Overalls - Time to Put on Your Overalls

Time to put on your overalls. If you've been waiting for a good opportunity to start growing food, now's the time. If you already know how, it's time you started extra seeds so you can get them to friends, family, neighbors, and strangers. And it's time you start posting and otherwise sharing your grocery growing hacks with anyone interested. Right now, food shortages are largely a phantom of over-buying and everyone stocking up, but with the spread of this disease, a decentralized food system is a resilient food system, a disease resistant food system. Not even in the aftermath of 2008 has a home garden looked so good. Not to mention, in the face of disease, health is paramount. My co-worker said, "What's terrifying and yet strangely beautiful about the current situation is that it reveals the amazing power of nature to grow and spread. But that same power is available to us"-- to heal, to grow, to feed. Time for us to grow a better future. In t

Man in Overalls - Why I Wear Overalls

“Why I Wear Overalls?”  or, more simply,  “Remember” 9. My grandfather was buried in overalls. His children placed seed packets in his breast pocket before they planted him. My mother, her bowed head dropping tears on his cold face, She tells me “He never wore a suit.” “Overalls everyday of his life.  Wore ‘em to church.” “Ain’t that the truth,” chimes my aunt.  “Clean shirt. Maybe some other shoes.” And my mother again: “Just didn’t make any sense burying him in a tie.” 8. Five days prior my grandmother was reselling Salvation Army china at the flea market. Granddaddy was waiting to go home. She found him slumped in the front seat of her van; Doctors said he’d had a stroke. I say, he caught a ride from St Peter back to the farm. 7. For decades he carried an inhaler. It helped him cope with the emphysema, earned, like his calluses, from a one-mule plow.  He carried the land in his lungs like gulps of oxygen. Every now and then, he required another breath.