March 24, 2019

Rick's Amazingly Beautiful
Wisconsin Minibed Garden

(click on photos to see larger views)

Rick L. in Wisconsin recently sent me the following e-mails and photos. As you might imagine, I'm so pleased to see this kind of feedback on my gardening system. Thank you, Rick, for allowing me to share your comments and photos here. I find them powerfully inspiring, and I'm sure everyone who comes to this page will too!

Rick's First E-mail...

Hi Herrick,

We have emailed back and forth a few times. Last spring I bought your Mini-Beds on Plastic Reports 1 & 2. I also bought Report #3 last week. I have read all three reports more than once. I want to thank you for the mini-bed gardening system.

I, like you, resisted using plastic in my gardens until four, or five years ago. I started using the Dewitt fabric with holes burned in it for carrots and onions. It worked pretty good. Your Mini-Beds on Plastic Reports made so much sense and reduced weeding that I went whole hog with it.

I have two gardens. My upper garden is near the house. It is about 36’ X 40’ and I grow tomatoes, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, carrots, herbs, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce and peppers in it. This is the garden I converted to a mini-bed garden. I have 67 beds in this garden. My pole bean cattle panel trellis are the only beds that are not standard 30” X 30” beds. See attached picture.

My lower garden is more traditional and is about 30’ X 60’ in size. I grow potatoes, onions, sweet corn, dry beans and garlic. Last summer I planted eight mini-beds of strawberries down there. I converted about one third of this garden to mini-beds for garlic and strawberries. The strawberries did great until the deer got in to them around mid-October. They really munched them down to just the crown and a few sprigs left on each plant. I didn’t know deer liked strawberry plants so much. I don’t know if they will make it through our winter, but I mulched them good, so time will tell.

I have to tell you my wife and I were more than pleased and impressed at how the mini-beds performed. We had a few things fail for one reason, or another, but it wasn’t because of the mini-beds. We had the best peppers we have ever grown last year. I put four pepper plants to a bed. Just recently I have read that you should plant peppers so the plant leaves touch when they are mature. Supposedly it increases the yield. I don’t know if that is true, or not, but last year our peppers produced like crazy. When the frost finally killed them and I pulled the plants, I had some peppers with one inch diameter stems. I’ve never had peppers plants like that before. Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was the mini-beds.

Our zucchini, cucumbers produced like crazy and lasted two, or three weeks longer than they usually do. Our tomatoes didn’t do the greatest, but we had plenty to eat fresh and canned enough to get us through the winter. Tri-planted carrots did good. Everything pretty much did better, or a lot better than the traditional row planting and mulching that we used to do and there was a lot less weeding work. That is a major plus to me.

We have quack grass here and it seems I’m battling that through out the whole gardening season. Not last year. I didn’t have any quack grass come up in the mini-beds. In the lower garden where I planted strawberries in July, I just had the area covered with plastic and the mini-bed frames pinned down. When I cut the plastic and cracked the soil in the beds, I did find a lot of quack grass rhizomes, but they were dry and appeared dead. They did not grow in the beds.

I could go on, and on, but I’m going to stop here. We are looking forward to a great gardening season with our mini-beds. I’ve attached a few pictures of my mini-bed garden from last year. I have many more pictures, but I think these show it the best.

It was obvious to me that Rick was a serious, long-time gardener. I was curious to know just how long. His reply...

How long have I been growing my own food? Well, the short answer would be, 44 years that my wife and I have been active, avid gardeners. 

My wife and I were married in 1971. I was active duty military at the time. I was discharged in 1975 and we have had a garden every year since. Sometimes not such a great garden, but we always got a fair amount of food out of them. Now our gardens feed us close to year around. When I go grocery shopping it’s mostly for dairy products (milk, yogurt, etc.) and meat. We have chickens, so we have our own eggs.

The other answer would be most of my life. My parents and grandparents had gardens as far back as I can remember. While I wasn’t involved very much with planting, or preserving the harvest when I was a child, they got me involved in weeding as soon as they could. Ha! Ha! So I have been eating home grown vegetables most of my life.

Now I start my own seeds every year. I marvel at the miracle of a tiny seed growing in to a healthy, vigorous plant and producing food for us to eat. I never thought much about that before I started growing my own plants from seed.

I’ve sent a few more photos. Every thing was grown in mini-beds.

Hmmm... that's a real nice Whizbang Garden Tote in that last picture (Click Here for how-to instructions). 

Here's a photo of Rick, at the end of the growing season, with one of those amazing, thick-stem, Minibed-grown pepper plants he mentioned in his first e-mail (it looks more like a small tree trunk!)...

If you are not familiar with my Minibed gardening system, full details are in my 2019 Minibed Gardening Trilogy Report. Click Here to learn more.

March 15, 2019

Good Things Take Time

If you haven't heard by now, I have finally put together a fresh, new Planet Whizbang web site. Here's the link:

For many years I have made do with web sites that I created using the Blogger blogging format. They were free, and the format was familiar to me.

Blogger is so familiar to me that I have actually created 46 different sites on Blogger since 2005, only four of which are actual blogs. 

Some of the sites are hidden, some I never fully completed, but several have helped me make a living with my Planet Whizbang Business. 

I have, however, realized for some time that I needed to get a real Planet Whizbang web site. I've put it off because the task seemed so overwhelming.

It turned out that it's wasn't all that overwhelming. Just time consuming. Very time consuming. 

I still have a lot of work ahead of me to get all the products I sell off of Blogger, but the hardest work is done. It's a huge relief to have this new web site established.

I made the new site with Wix. If I can figure it out, anyone can. WIX is da bomb when it comes to making your own web site.

March 14, 2019

Was Jesus An Agrarian?

The following was originally posted at my Deliberate Agrarian blog back in 2009

My sheep HEAR My voice, and I KNOW them, and they FOLLOW Me.
(John 10:27)

In my previous blog, Delmar Ain’t So Stupid, I wrote about the “dominion mandate” given by God in Genesis, and I explained that this was clearly an agrarian mandate to work the land, and care for it responsibly. All of creation shows God’s glory. We glorify Him when we choose to live within the paradigm of the mandate and work the land as co-creators with God. I am persuaded that this is the proper undergirding paradigm for living the Christian life.

For the record, I should make it clear that I do not believe for a second that agrarianism is the primary focus of Christianity. There is much, much more to the Christian life than choosing to live and work within the agrarian framework. But for Christians to ignore this aspect is a serious mistake.

Agrarianism is antithetical to the dominant “worldly” industrial system. Christians are called by God to come out of this system. Yet most modern Christians love the world and are dependent on the industrial providers and want nothing to do with the simplicity and humility and hardship that comes with living their lives and raising their families within the paradigm of the dominion mandate, as it is properly understood.

In response to my previous blog essay a person asked this question:

Was Jesus An Agrarian?

I must say that I have never considered this question before. It got me to thinking. And I have concluded the following...

I would not consider Jesus Christ to have been an agrarian. Likewise, I would not consider Him to be a Christian. Other names for Jesus come to my mind and are appropriate:

My Lord and my God
King of kings
Son of God
Lamb of God
Alpha & Omega
Prince of peace
Chief cornerstone
Horn of Salvation
Light of the world
The one mediator between God and man
Lion of the tribe of Judah

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
(John 10:11)

There are other names for Jesus in the Bible. But, no, I would not call him an “agrarian.”

Having said that, I would like to also point out that I would not call God the Father an agrarian either, even though it was He who planted the first garden:

The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden
(Genesis 2:8)

When Jesus was born, the Bible says that Mary wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger. Most moderns don’t really know what a manger is. I didn’t know until I worked on a farm as a teenager. A manger is an animal feed box, typically found in a barn. He was born in an agrarian setting.

Jesus did not grow up in a city. He grew up within an agrarian culture, working with his hands, and with his father, learning to build with wood. It is probable that this family had animals and grew some of their own food. He was familiar with the cycles of sowing and reaping, with vineyards, and with sheep and shepherds and fishermen. As far as we know, Jesus lived and worked quietly within this paradigm for something like thirty years before he left to begin his ministry. This agrarian culture was a type of incubator that helped prepare Christ for the redeeming work he came to do. Later, when Jesus began his ministry, he taught his disciples using many agrarian parables, simple in the telling, but of deep spiritual significance.

People of that day did not use the word “agrarian” but for Christians living today within an industrialized culture, trying to understand how Christianity should be properly lived, agrarianism is an appropriate word. It is the opposite of apostate Industrialism.

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, summed it up nicely:

”Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

March 10, 2019

Stitching Amy

It was a bloody gash.

We have a dog. A yellow lab. Her name is Amy. We got her almost exactly one year ago. I made a YouTube film when we got her from the pound (click HERE to watch).  

Amy is more Marlene's dog than mine. She loves Marlene, which is understandable. I feel the same way towards Marlene. :-)

Unfortunately, Amy does not bark. We wondered if maybe she didn't know how to bark. But a couple weeks after her arrival, I got her to bark. I'm the only person who, thus far, can get her to bark.

When we're outdoors in the yard, I give her "the look" and I walk towards her, slow like. She stays at a distance, fully alert. Then I lunge at her. That gets her excited enough to start barking.  At first she thoought I was serious. But now she knows its a game. And she plays along.

Amy is a good dog for Marlene because she needs to be walked, and Marlene needs the exercise. So, they walk together almost every day. On a good day they'll walk two miles. If it's really cold and snowy, they don't go so far. On some days Marlene will walk a mile down our country road and a mile back and not a single vehicle goes by. We like it that way.

A couple weeks ago Marlene called me during her walk. She said Amy cut her leg somehow. She came running out of the woods by the road and was bleeding. I grabbed a roll of gauze and got there fast. I wrapped up Amy's leg and we put her in the car.

The cut was bad enough that it really needed to be stitched. But it was a Sunday morning and getting a vet to do it would be expensive. I'm pretty sure it would have cost hundreds of dollars.

So we decided to stitch the cut ourselves. It's really not that hard to do, and Marlene has done it before... on me.

Before we started having children Marlene worked for a doctor in Moravia. She worked for him several years, and assisted with various medical procedures, including stitches. A lot of people thought she was a nurse, but she wasn't, at least not a formally trained one.

One Sunday morning way back then I was doing some woodworking and cut my hand pretty good with a knife. Marlene went to the office and got sutures and some sort of pain killer. She stitched me back together like a pro.

That was, however, nearly 40 years ago, and though Marlene felt confident (even eager) about stitching Amy, she couldn't quite remember how to tie off the knot.

The picture at the top of this post shows Marlene, hemostat in hand, making a stitch. The operating table is an enameled kitchen table in our mud room. I lifted Amy onto it and reassured her that everything was going to be fine while Marlene tended to the wound. Amy was the perfect patient.

Marlene put three stitches in the cut. Here is a finished view...

The stitches are out now. The wound is almost totally healed over. Amy is back to running through the woods on her morning walks.


It was twenty years ago that I bought a selection of sutures to have on hand... just in case. I had been thinking I should have them, and Y2K was on the way, so that was the incentive to actually get them. 

Besides that, I was a Boy Scout and "Be Prepared" is the Boy Scout motto. It's a fine motto. It has pretty much been the motto of rural Americans for more than 200 years. It just makes sense.


You can buy sutures on Amazon or Ebay. They aren't that expensive. The ones pictured above are the ones I have left. They are not all the same. I don't know what the best "general purpose" suture needle and thread would be for a prepared homestead. Can someone who knows more about this give a recommendation?

For how-to suture instructions... YouTube, of course.


I have a friend named Dave. He once told me that when he was a kid, and he got a bad cut, his father would sew it back together. He did it with all the kids in the family. His father was a carpenter. Dave told me they couldn't afford to go to a doctor.

I asked Dave where he got the sutures. He said his father just used a regular needle and thread.  You have to be really skookum to give and take stitches like that!

But, the point is, it can be done.


I'm wondering if anyone reading this might have a story of giving or taking amateur stitches?

March 5, 2019

The Newest Kimball

Babies are something special, and when they are your own, they are extra special. Today Marlene and I met our new grandbaby (pictured above). She is 3 days old. Here is a picture of her the first day she was born...

You'll notice that she has a serious look on her face. There is a little bit of a furrowed brow. Here's the look today...

I told my son that furrowed brow is probably an inherited trait from me. My brow is often furrowed. My family knows the look. 

Oaklyn is our second grandchild, and our first girl. Marlene and I raised three sons. Having a little girl in the family is something new for us.

The birth of this grandchild is not the emotional experience that the birth of my own children was. The responsibility for those little babies weighed heavy on me. I think my brow started to furrow when my children were born. The furrows got deeper and more intense as each new child came along. 

This is my son with his new daughter...

Oaklyn's mother doesn't want her picture taken. Having a baby was quite the ordeal. But she is doing just fine and is on the mend.

Grandparents love to show pictures of their grandchildren, especially when they're just born. Yes, babies really are something special.