Today on Off the Grid Radio, we have an eclectic mix of guests and topics in two different sessions. The first quarter of today’s show features Gerald Celente, called the “Martial Artist of Trend Forecasting.” Founder of the Trends Research Institute in 1980, Celente provides insight and direction in anticipation of what the future might bring, and encourages his readers and listeners to prepare for the unexpected.
We end today’s show with our guest Nick Huizenga, Heirloom Solutions’ resident senior botanist, and the variety of tips he supplies for growing crops and saving seeds. If civilization as we know it is crumbling before our eyes, then becoming self-sufficient is even more imperative as we adjust our lives to the social and economic upheavals we face in the world today.
Off The Grid Radio
Released: August 24, 2012
Bill: Welcome again to another exciting episode of Off the Grid Radio. I’m Bill Heid—your host—and today we have with us Gerald Celente—founder and director, publisher of The Trends Journal. Gerald, welcome.
Gerald: Oh, thanks for having me.
Bill: You know Gerald, the new Trends—the summer issue is out in The Trends Journal—I’m a subscriber of course and I think you’re spot on with your “Haunted by Hitler” thing as it relates to sort of a culture and your idea about the flashpoints versus what actually causes war—do you want to talk a little bit about that? Because I think that’s what really kind of haunts you because you’re thinking about a metaphor here—a paradigm—between that era and this era and I think you’re really spot on.
Gerald: Well, I was in Berlin recently and as soon as I got there, I was looking around and I realized so this place before was bombed out. Had to be grander than Paris—the wide boulevards. None of the buildings are probably over 15 stories tall. Lights shining in everywhere and parks all throughout the city. Very quiet. And grand buildings. But in between the buildings were all new construction from everything bombed out. And the sidewalks—very wide sidewalks—enough for café tables—several—not just one and places to walk and bicycle on. That’s how wide the sidewalks are. And it was probably one of the hippest places I’ve been to and I’ve been to a lot of places around the world. But you see these beautiful buildings from the late 1800s-early 1900s but in between them is all new construction from the 1950s—hastily built after it was bombed out. And everywhere you go it seems to be the same thing. And you go to Frankfurt, you go to Hamburg and it’s the same thing.
And I’m saying to myself these are the Germans. In the 1930s they had to be at the height of civilization in the west—I mean in culture, philosophy, art. Right down… anywhere from Fritz Lang, Marlene Dietrich and then you look at the history of the Germans. I mean they’re not lightweights—Goethe, Einstein, Bach, Beethoven, Wagner—I mean these are the Germans. I’m saying how could they let a two bit freak like Hitler—a guy that Charlie Chaplin played better than he did—destroy their country? And I’m of Italian descent and I started thinking… I mean you know we have quite a history ourselves. Michelangelo, da Vinci, Puccini, Rossini—you go down the list. And we eat a lot better than the Germans. How did we let a two bit freak—a cartoon character like Mussolini—destroy their country? And then I came back to the states and I started thinking more about it and I said we have a two bit freak show going on right here. Go over the list. I mean I don’t care what people believe. My motto is “think for yourself.” As I see it it’s freaks. Clinton, Bush, Obama, Cheney, Rumsfeld and you go down the list of characters. They’re freaks to me. People follow them. They follow them to their death.
Bill: Exactly. You make a good point of that Gerald. People will fight and die for their freaks.
Gerald: They will fight and they will argue which freak is better. My freak is better than your freak. How come you don’t want to vote for my freak? Don’t you say that about my freak. Listen, I almost got in fight with a guy at a bar recently. I was talking to somebody else. He butted in on my conversation talking about Obama. I said, “What a freak Obama was going on The View.” I said, “Could you imagine Eisenhower going on The View?” I said, “What kind of dignity is that?” And the guy’s “Don’t you talk about my President like that.” I said, “Why don’t you mind your own business? I’m not talking to you.” He goes “I don’t like you talking about my President.” I said, “Let’s go outside and talk about this.” And of course he wouldn’t. But nobody’s going to tell me what I should believe. People give up their lives for this. This isn’t a philosophical discussion. Germany has been destroyed. It will never be the same place again. What it took centuries to build up to was destroyed by a freak and the people didn’t have the courage to fight the freaks and they don’t have the courage to fight the freaks today.
Today it’s the Presidential reality show. You want to see a freak show? Tune in. You can see it. Obama and Romney. We can pick you a freak. So people will fight and die for their freaks. So this is what’s been haunting me. And it’s not about issues. It’s not about “Well you know Germany was in terrible shape after the Versailles Treaty was signed following…” Nah, it had nothing to do with it. Look at the little two bit freaks we have here—Bush and Cheney. Look at that guy who destroyed our nation, sold us out, gave away all our jobs overseas—Bill The Freak Monica Lewinsky Clinton. Who was the guy that deregulated the banking industry that allowed the criminal banks to take over? Bill Clinton. Who is the Nobel Peace Prize winner that started the war in Libya? Couldn’t have been Obama now going for Syria, could it? So anyway, people are led by freaks and they love them. They love their freaks. They will heil their freak. They will put their hand on their heart. They will “God bless America” over their freaks. Every country has a freak show and I’m wondering what is it the human spirit where people don’t have the courage, dignity, the respect, the integrity and the passion to stand up against their freak?
Bill: Well do you think it’s outsourcing in some sense? In other words, we’re a culture that wants to outsource everything. Are we outsourcing maybe in living vicariously through our freaks then Gerald?
Gerald: Again, you go back in history. It’s nothing new. This has been going on. This is just the recent history. And it has nothing to do with the media. People like to blame the media for making us so stupid because of the stupid crap that they put on. It’s bigger than that. It’s a huge issue and it’s been going on for centuries and how people could be led to destruction by a few, how the many could be led to destruction by the few. And the many aren’t bad people. To me, the many is a lot of great people out there and the great outweigh the bad by a long shot and I just don’t know what it is that prevents the people from standing up. And anyway, that’s where my head is at these days.
Bill: Well it’s a good thing to be thinking about because evil does prevail when good men do nothing and I think that’s the point that you’re making is if you don’t… Complacency is a terrible thing and I think what you saw after Versailles, as you mentioned, you did see kind of a beat up people and a people that were hungry. Here… Gerald we’re right in the middle of Iowa and Illinois. We grow the world’s corn and I can tell you something—the corn crop, as you’ve been hearing, is not going to come in… Even with the speculations of the downward, I mean we live right here. Farmers are my neighbors. We know the numbers. It’s going to be less than what the Department of Agriculture even says. What happens to a people when they can barely afford the food that they’re going to eat? I mean what happened in Egypt… Mubarak’s gone, right? Based on food.
Gerald: That’s right. And if people don’t realize that—they think that Arab Spring was a pro-democracy movement. Had nothing to do with democracy. You know my saying. When people lose everything and have nothing left to lose they lose it. And people are losing it. They’re losing it around the world. We’re in the midst of the first great war of the 21st century. It’s begun. People can’t add it up and they don’t want to. They either can’t, won’t or refuse to recognize it. And when you add it up—you mentioned Egypt—go over to Tunisia. Take a trip to Yemen. Look what’s going on in Bahrain. How about Syria? Libya? Now West Africa, thanks to the uprisings and destabilization that happened in Libya. Gaddafi was holding that area together. And then you go over to Spain. Millions of people, indeed NATOs, taking to the streets virtually every other week. Look what’s going on in Greece. The entire culture is breaking down. New numbers just came out of Italy—fourth month of recession. Unemployment’s going now to the 15% mark.
You look what’s happened with the job creation in the United States. This is a bunch of bologna. They lost 195,000 jobs in July and they say they created 163,000? How about the ones that they lost? How about the 750,000 full paying jobs that were lost since March? And how about the 30% of the jobs being created now are poverty level jobs? So you look what’s happening. The entire societies are breaking down and we’re moving closer and closer to world war. When all else fails they take you to war. The panic of ’08, the great recession/depression. We have currency wars going on—the rial, the rupee—they’re down the toilet. You’re watching the euro unravel. The yuan, there’s a lot of pressure—the Chinese keeping their currency artificially low. Trade wars are heating up. The next thing is world war. It follows the old line. It was the crash of ’29, the Great Depression, currency wars, trade wars, World War II. It was the same thing. History is repeating itself and the only thing we learned from history is nothing.
Bill: It would seem. And doesn’t it seem too, Gerald, like everything is rigged today? Markets are rigged. Media is rigged. The numbers that are released by the government are rigged. Has there ever been a time in history when so many things were rigged?
Gerald: Not in my lifetime. Not in my lifetime. I was talking to a gentleman. He’s about 90 now and he worked for the Port Authority of New York and he was an engineer. We were talking about corruption now and he said, “You know you wouldn’t even think of taking a bribe.” He said, “Everyone was so proud to have those jobs. We really believed in what we were doing.” There were levels of integrity. But you know they say that the fish rots from the head down. You want to start a fake war? Why don’t we do one? I mean let’s go to… I’ve got one for you. Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction ties to Al Qaida. Let’s kill a million people for no reason, spend a trillion dollars, sacrifice the lives of our soldiers and their families because everybody that’s touched by it’s ruined by it and destroy a nation for good. So you don’t see any people taking to the streets about that. Let’s do… We did one in Afghanistan. It’s still going on. So there’s no morality. So what you have is that people look and say, “Hey, if they’re ripping us off at the top with all the banks, the Libor scandals, the politicians—why shouldn’t I cheat? I have to be stupid to play it straight. I have to be a sucker.” And so that’s the mentality that’s prevailing.
Bill: That is the mentality. It used to be the mentality of Rome. I think Luther said something to the effect of “the only thing that you couldn’t find in Rome was an honest man” and that’s been the case during Luther’s time and prior to that as well but if you brought Luther back today you would end—and he’d walk these streets—he’d probably… If he walked New York City and Washington DC wouldn’t he say the same thing?
Gerald: Again, there are a lot of great people out there and that’s what’s going to make the difference is when the people with dignity and courage and respect and integrity and passion stand up and speak out and claim their place—that they don’t cower to power. They understand that they have their God-given right on this planet and no one should tell them how to live it as long as they respect themselves, others and have the integrity to live by their word. So when enough people do that then you don’t have these kind of prevailing conditions. But right now the people just don’t… Again, it goes back to being haunted by Hitler. What is it that would allow a country as great as Germany, a culture so proud and cultured and educated and strong as the Germans—give in to a two bit freak? You couldn’t have created a better one. It’s Marvel comic books couldn’t have created a better Bush-Cheney combination. I mean really. I’m not… I say that and you can laugh about it but it’s true. I mean you want a song and dance man, bring out Obama. You want a corporate vulture; you couldn’t do a better job than Romney. I mean these are cartoon characters.
Bill: Certainly by comparison to our founding fathers they are cartoon characters. You’re exactly right.
Gerald: Could you imagine Eisenhower going on The View? I mean could you imagine him sitting there mucking it up with the ladies in the afternoon? Could you imagine him going on Leno? Look who our philosophers are—two bit cheap clowns—people comment what John Stewart or Colbert has to say. Where are our Emersons? Where are our Mark Twains? We stoop down to look up to clowns. You want to know where society’s going? Tune in to HBO.
Bill: Well, Patrick Henry on The View—as you say, that’s… It’s a ridiculous assumption that those men would even partake in such drivel. But Gerald, as we kind of wind down a little bit here, how can folks get access to the summer issue? It’s a fabulous issue. It’s a great read. It’s a little difficult read because the points are poignant and a little bit hard hitting and sobering but very worth the time.
Gerald: Well thank you. Yeah, it’s literature. You know what I mean? We put a lot of work into it and illustrations by Anthony Frieda are second to none. Our website is TrendsJournal.com. And also I want to mention that we make it available to everyone. We know that people are having a difficult time financially so there’s a discount request page and we want to prepare people for the future. You can’t predict the future but you can see the face of it and if you’re prepared for what’s coming ahead you have a much better chance of not only preparing but surviving and thriving and that’s what The Trends Journal is really all about.
Bill: I see you’ve got Jesus on the cover and he doesn’t appear to be really very happy at all on this summer issue.
Gerald: Yeah, he’s driving the money changers, the new ones, out of the temple—the Goldman Sachs gang, the City Group boys, the Merrill Lynch mob, the Dexia, Wells Fargo—all of them. Nothing has changed. Usury, greed, power—not much has changed.
Bill: Not much has changed, Gerald. Gerald, we know your time is very valuable and we do appreciate your time. Thanks again for being with us today.
Gerald: Oh, thank you for having me.
Bill: Hey, we are back. It’s Bill Heid with another guest today on our show. We’ve got Nick Huizenga. Nick is our senior botanist—or Senor Botanist, as I call him here at Heirloom Solutions. What we wanted to do a little bit was to encourage people to actually save their seeds. A lot of folks have gardens that are kind of maturing at this point. They’re bearing fruit. Nick, welcome. Good to have you here.
Nick: Thanks Bill. Thanks for having me. It’s a great time to start saving seeds from things. They’re all coming in now.
Bill: That’s what I was thinking. That’s why I wanted to have you on this show and especially this year. I think a lot of stuff is early this year because at least where we are it’s very dry so a lot of the stuff… We’re getting apples early. The apples that we do have—a lot of the apple crop, of course, destroyed—but the apples are early, the melons are early. Folks in the area, within strike distance to our little place there at Solutions From Science—Heirloom Solutions—and Thomson should come and see all the varieties of melons because our melons are coming in. There are tons of them. What are some of the varieties that we’ve got out there right now, Nick?
Nick: Oh, well some of the heirloom varieties that we have. A great small melon is Minnesota Midget and it’s got superb flavor, very small seed cavity and you can eat it right down to the rind. So that’s been a real winner.
Bill: It’s kind of a throwing melon too, isn’t it?
Nick: It is a throwing melon.
Bill: You can pick it up and throw them if you have to?
Nick: Yes. It’s a little bit bigger than a softball so yeah. If you needed to do any throwing you could certainly…
Bill: It’s kind of a melon that could be used in self-defense as well as just growing?
Nick: Sure, sure. But you want to pick it a little green if you’re going to use it for…
Bill: If you want it to be a little harder.
Nick: You want to be…
Bill: Who would want to throw a soft melon at their enemies? They wouldn’t be their enemies. They’d be your friends.
Nick: They do have the potential to get pretty rotten on the inside so…
Bill: Okay, so you’d be telling a different story a little bit, with respect to that but…
Nick: Right. Right.
Bill: So the Minnesota Midgets—they’re great and they’re very sweet tasting. And are the Moon and Stars in yet?
Nick: We did get a couple of yellow flesh Moon and Stars watermelons in the other day.
Bill: Okay, those are my personal favorite.
Nick: And they were about 25 pounds. They were some really nice melons.
Bill: Yeah, that’s a beautiful melon.
Nick: Yeah, the red flesh hasn’t ripened up yet but we imagine within the next week or two the watermelons are going to start coming in pretty heavy so…
Bill: Very nice. Very nice. So we want to talk… That’s some of the stuff that we’ve got at our market—at what we call The Heirloom Market—so if you come and see us you can grab a melon. A lot of melons… Some of the watermelons coming in, as we said, and some sweet corn and other things that we sell—fresh picked produce—a lot of that stuff our produce from our farm and we’re very proud of that. Even though it was dry this year…
Nick: Yeah, it was dry but everything still…
Bill: We really had a good crop.
Bill: I mean we were blessed. We had… Especially the stuff up on the hill that’s towards the bottom, as we’ve been talking about.
Bill: Bottom land seems to have produced a little better than some of the rocky…
Nick: The stuff up hillsides? Yeah.
Bill: The hillside stuff.
Nick: Yeah, there’s a lot of rock up there and as you get down toward that tree line, I guess you’re just collecting all the organic matter from the trees, from the corn crop that used to be grown there and just from good soil running down the hill. So we had real good luck in those places this year.
Bill: And for folks that don’t really know what we’ve done, I don’t know if we’ve done this in a previous show or not but we’ve purchased 35 acres and about half of that is tillable, as we say. Prior to us owning it a mono-cropping farmer, who is also a friend of ours—that’s how he makes his living—he had planted corn there and beans for years and years and years. So this is property that we’re actually trying to take and restore to a more natural state to try to give it some of the microbes, to try to put some of the things back into it. So we’ve planted a bunch… Well, why don’t we talk a little about some of the stuff that…? I think what’s an interesting subject, Nick, and we’re seeing the fruits of what we’re doing now but that was a barren… basically a barren wasteland and that unless you pump it with nitrogen you’re not going to get anything. But we’ve put some cover crops on there. Do you want to talk a little bit about the cover crops that we put on there too?
Nick: Oh, well yeah. What we did is we got an organic plow down mix and whether it’s conventionally grown seed or it’s organic seed—it doesn’t really matter—what we’re trying to do is build back some of the just natural qualities of healthy soil, which as you said—the thing’s been sapped and this is why farmers have to push nitrogen by spring, anhydrous ammonia on their crops. They obviously use a lot of herbicides, which they can now with their GMO corn. But this place was… It was essentially just for holding roots—just to hold the plants up while the farmers added all of the necessary chemically derived nutrients to get the corn to grow.
Bill: Yeah. Yeah.
Nick: So we were starting with a clean slate. There were no microbes left there whatsoever. Earthworm populations were low. So what we did is we stripped it off in 24 foot strips all the way around and every 24 feet we would seed it down with oats and clover and whatever else was in this organic plow down mix. Now we’ve just been mowing that just for upkeep but it’s adding nitrogen back into the soil as it sits there and continues to grow. And then we will transfer our spots next year. We’ll hop them over one spot and then seed down the patches that we’re growing this year with the plow down mix and we’ll slowly rebuild the microbe population. We’re starting to finally notice a lot of fungal growth out there.
Bill: Yeah, I noticed that too. Some things are growing. It’s starting to look green. Do you remember in the spring when all the fields and some of the fence lines around it were greening up and were starting to get grasses—wild grasses—and weeds growing and this thing looked like the Sahara Desert? I mean…
Nick: It was horrible.
Bill: Nothing would grow in it because it was…
Nick: Not even weeds.
Bill: Not even weeds would grow. Just a chemical dumpsite.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, basically. And we did some initial amendments with some lime, which we had some professional tests done to our soil, which was important so that you don’t over-lime or under-lime but we’re trying to build it back to a biological farm and hope that we can do that by transferring our plots every year and growing those over with cover crops.
Bill: And we really didn’t have to—this year—we didn’t have to do too much fertilization or anything. Did we do any?
Nick: We didn’t do any fertilization.
Bill: So nothing—we added nothing to the stuff and so these beautiful melons and everything that’s coming is coming from what there was left.
Nick: What there was left and quite a bit of corn debris as well that we…
Bill: The organic breakdown of the corn—that’s right—that we disked in early in the year. Remember that disk? Again, for the people who don’t know this, we have… Basically, we don’t have big equipment. We have a little something that’s the next step above a lawn tractor and I bought a small disk. What’s it do, about six foot wide or something—five foot wide or six foot wide?
Nick: It’s five, I believe.
Bill: And it took me days and days and days to disk all this up and so we disked all the corn stalks into the ground and we did that over and over and over and I think we did get that mixed in—wouldn’t you agree—pretty well?
Nick: We did get that mixed in pretty well and that’s pretty… It’s pretty important to get it chopped up and mixed in there. You don’t want a bunch of chunks incorporated into the soil to rot because that’ll steal your nitrogen back. You want to get it small and you want to get it mixed well.
Bill: Yeah. That’s a good point. That’ll rob your nitrogen as well back. And we’ve got some bees over there now in the midst of all of our melons. We’ve got squash. What have we got? Pumpkins, squash…
Nick: Pumpkins, squash, watermelons…
Bill: Musk melons.
Nick: Some cucumbers.
Bill: Some tomatoes. The tomatoes are up on the hill. They don’t look as good.
Nick: They don’t look as good. They were planted pretty late and we didn’t do as much with them—didn’t give them as much care. We wanted to really get our own pumpkins and squash for this year’s Melon Fest.
Bill: Yeah. This is the melon capital, after all.
Nick: This is the melon capital so we should be good on watermelons as well.
Bill: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s a beautiful thing and I think I would encourage other people to maybe start small with respect to trying to go to convert your property—a little bit of it—into maybe something that resembles farming the way it was a while back. And again, we have many friends that they have to farm the old way because that’s just what it takes to make… You pay $4,000 for an acre of land. There’s not any amount of labor in the world that you can do to do what we’re doing, to replicate what we’re trying to do. In other words, I’m not sure that our farm is economically viable with respect to could you make this work raising corn or something—I don’t think so. I think helping pay our taxes by growing melons is something that’s already happening and we’re already profiting by doing that but…
Bill: It’s a whole lot of work, as you can attest to, because you’re…
Nick: It’s a whole lot of work.
Bill: It’s been your back that’s been the recipient of… the stoop labor, as we call it.
Nick: Sure. And I think that that’s necessary just to show us what it was like—me and the rest of the crew—what it used to be like before the chemical revolution. This is how people did it. It’s not just some utopian idea—we’ll be out there and we’ll all be holding hands and growing organic food. It’s… You sweat and you… You know?
Bill: And the bugs and the…
Nick: And the bugs are horrible and your back hurts after a while and…
Bill: Those bees chasing you all around.
Nick: Those bees chase you. Yeah.
Bill: Those Italians—those crazy Italian bees. Okay. We wanted to talk a little bit too about just how the drought, how we feel like the drought has affected us. We know that it’s affecting the country and we know—we’ve talked in other shows about—there’s a lot of feed lots that are… farmers that are rushing to sell their cattle and have them slaughtered or butchered because the price associated with feeding them is higher than what they can get out of them. So there’s this big mad push to the lockers to try to get… So we’re seeing temporary… Although I heard that hamburger price—I think I saw on Drudge—that hamburger price has hit its highest… ground chuck or something hit its highest price. But there will probably be a little bit of a drop in meat prices because the pork producers and the cattle producers are all…
Nick: Sure, there will be an influx of…
Bill: They’re dumping.
Bill: And then what are we going to do? And then when that dumping is over there’s going to be…
Nick: Well then all the cattle from that generation are gone.
Bill: They’re all gone and then anybody that wants cattle has to pay new cattle prices, which are fed with new feed prices, which are a function of this drought driven, inflationary driven situation that we have in our country today.
Nick: Yeah. I mean you look at the corn around here and it’s taken a beating for sure and I think the latest number I heard was 46% of the corn is just basically garbage. You compare that to what we’re doing. Like I said, we haven’t irrigated. We haven’t fertilized. We haven’t done anything. We didn’t even water when we first planted anything and everything’s doing great. So you’ve got to wonder about this GMO corn. I mean you really do because if the ground was not just to serve the purpose of holding the corn in its rows and had some actual nutrient value to it we’d be looking at a different situation, I think.
Bill: Yeah. Yeah. As a little bit of a side note we have farmers that farm… large scale farmers in our family and without revealing their names, one of the things that everybody’s talking about behind the scenes is “What if you’d contract it to deliver—to the granary or whoever—so many bushels of corn before the season started for X price and now you can’t deliver because the bushel per acre number isn’t anywhere near resembling what your previous yields were? What do you do?” Well the answer is you have to go buy back your contract so that right now, behind the scenes, that people don’t… A lot of folks that—non-farmers and people that aren’t in the egg business—people are scrambling to figure out how to hedge against—there is a lot of financial instruments that people can do—but how to hedge against this new, crazy thing that’s happening where there’s not enough… you don’t have enough corn to meet your things so you have to buy your contract out. Some people are actually having… They’re buying hedge contracts against the contract that they can’t… that they have to buy out. So it’s like double and triple derivative hedges going on because of the drought. If just one little thing changes…
Nick: Same thing that happened to the housing community a few years ago.
Bill: Very much so.
Bill: And I think we all assume that nothing can ever come and happen and mess with our little world or upset our little apple cart, as we say, but things can change and things do change and this is a great example and it kind of caught everybody really sort of not ready, not prepared because people… What was the assumption? That life could go on forever, that there would never be a drought, that there would never be a flood, that you would have this consistent set of expectations and they would always be there. So now people’s foundations are being rocked because of a change. And look, there’s been droughts throughout recorded history—some short term, some long term—but prior to all this hedging and contracting people just kind of did the best they could with it and they didn’t have a lot of debt associated with their property so they didn’t have to contract. You see the problem? It’s just a horrible, vicious cycle- just like the housing bubble is a vicious cycle. The worse it gets, the worse it gets, the worse it gets. It’s a crazy, downward cycle.
Nick: I know a guy who sat on, I think, $2 million worth of property for five years after things went bad. Just the interest there. I mean just the interest on something like that and now you’re talking about probably 60-70% of the people in this area make their living by farming and they’re not able to do that this year. It really is a…
Bill: And you have to start thinking about what’s it going to be like next year because some people are going to make a decision next year and say, “You know do I want to take this chance?” And insurance companies are going to say, “Well chance is going to cost you a little more next year because of all the payouts we had to do this year.” So there’s a weird, cascading series of events that takes place, that go on… And again, the average person really doesn’t understand what goes on so that they could walk into a supermarket and grab a piece of produce or go to the meat department and get a steak and there’s a lot that has to go on.
Nick: There really is.
Bill: And a lot of financial things that have to take place in the farming community for that to be true for that consumer to walk up and just do what they consider to be normality.
Nick: Yeah—think about what it takes to get a banana here.
Bill: Well, yeah.
Nick: That’s a different story altogether.
Bill: Yeah, a different story altogether and those supply chain interruptions are subject to squeezes and bubbles and interruptions as well. One of the questions I wanted to ask you in looking at the fields throughout this year is we talked about the fact that this drought’s affected us and boy—100 degree days pounding down—pounding, pounding, pounding yet we still have a pretty good garden. It’s not really a garden. It’s… What is it—12 acres or 15 acres or something? It’s a lot…
Nick: Yeah, it’s bigger than your average garden.
Bill: It’s past the garden stage. So why did those crops do so well? Do you think it’s because they’re of the old time varieties, because of the open pollinated…?
Nick: Well, in a lot of cases it could be because irrigation was not… Obviously you weren’t going to stand out by your Sandpoint well and pump it for 14-15 hours. So a lot of these old varieties are used to that to begin with and then a lot of places like… Sometimes we have some things grown in California for us. They don’t irrigate where they are in California. It’s just that nice out. So when you dry farm something it does get used to it. It does tend to do a little bit better. Now of course, like every garden this year, we had a few varieties that just did not tolerate…
Bill: And which varieties didn’t do very well?
Nick: It was actually a hybrid cucumber that we were trying to do and one of our friends…
Bill: But that’s a hybrid.
Nick: It is a hybrid but it wasn’t bred for that.
Nick: And we were just testing that out. And one of our French melons didn’t do so well either.
Bill: And that was an open pollinated variety.
Nick: And that was an open pollinated variety.
Bill: Yeah. Very interesting.
Nick: So yeah, I mean it’s kind of up in the air. Some things you think would do really well didn’t do well at all and other things that are fairly new and weren’t really bred for that ended up doing great. So you never know. It can… You’ve just got to grow them out and see, which is why we… another reason that we don’t really want to irrigate out there either because it’s…
Bill: It’s good to start to condition things to expect…
Nick: To expect the water. Right.
Bill: And I think there was another thing—another side of it—we were talking about the seed saving side and now is a great time to convince everybody. Look, you’ve spent all this time in the garden in summer. You’ve done your sweating, especially this year. Maybe you’ve hauled a lot of water this year to keep things alive. Maybe they’d like to dabble a little bit in saving some of their own seeds. It’d be great if they bought more seeds from Heirloom Solutions but you know what? If you can save your own seeds you don’t have to do that. We’d like to be there for you if you need to do that but we’d rather encourage you to really save your own seeds. So part of this is motivational. This is… Half the fun is getting to this time of the year when you can start to begin to pick some varieties out that you like. How do you…? When you approach seed saving personally—and I know your house, you tell me your wife… You drive your wife crazy because you have all these varieties and everything around and these different experiments going on. What do you look at when you start to want to save seeds from year to year? What’s the most important? How do you get started?
Nick: Well, I think to get started the very first and most important step is selecting the right vegetables to save your seeds from. A lot of people will… Say you have a handful of tomatoes and you decide you want to save the seeds from a couple of them. Well chances are you’re going to pick out the four best ones to eat and the two scrawny ones you’re going to try to save seed from. But you shouldn’t do that. What you should do is you should pick your biggest and best fruits. Always choose not something that’s under-pollinated—if it’s a cucumber. You want it to be ideal size, ideal shape, no cracks and…
Bill: So you only want to pick like the gold medal, prizewinner, blue ribbon…
Nick: Yes. Your county fair type…
Bill: Yeah, and that’s what you want to pick when you want to go to save a tomato, for example, or a cucumber or whatever.
Nick: Sure. And of course if you grow that out for generations and generations, the next year you will have more plants that look like that—that resemble that tomato. And as you select… And of course taste is a big thing too.
Bill: Now let me ask you this. On a typical vine I don’t notice a lot of taste… Like say I’ve got a tomato plant and I might have tomato A, tomato B, tomato C. Do you think that there is variation in taste with respect to that single tomato plant or…?
Nick: No, not in a single tomato plant. It would be between…
Bill: So it would have to be a variety that you actually like.
Nick: Sure. Let’s say you planted six Brandywines. I know that’s your favorite tomato.
Bill: It is my favorite.
Nick: Yeah. Let’s say you planted six Brandywines and three of them were prone to cracking and two of the other three that were left, the leaves curled or they turned yellow early. Well you would just pick from the one that had all of the attributes that you wanted. Get rid of the three that crack and the two that have leaf curl and you start from there. And then you’ll have… Next year you plant those out and 90% of your seeds will look like that plant and you just continue to do that. That’s the idea behind selection.
Bill: Sure—until you get something that you really like and is your own… kind of ends up being your own variety in a sense.
Nick: Sure. Sure, and that’s why we have different varieties of especially Brandywine. There are four or five different varieties. We carry Sudduth’s strain. Mortgage Lifter is another one. There is a Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter, which is the original and then a family with the last name of Halliday got a hold of the seed sometime in the 1940s and has been growing it ever since and it’s an entirely different tomato but they still call it Mortgage Lifter because it’s from the original stock seed from it. So these things just kind of trail off in different directions, depending on how you select it.
Bill: So there could be tremendous variation within a Brandywine as…
Nick: Oh, absolutely there’s a lot.
Bill: As it moves out… Now you see a lot of stability inside the seeds that we have, in terms… But you could take the seeds, for example, that we sell—our Brandywine seeds—and you could just start to create your own version of those that do well where you’re at.
Nick: Oh, absolutely. And that’s…
Bill: In your climate. And that’s why we want to try to convince people to…
Nick: That’s the beauty of not just using open pollinated seeds but saving them for generations and generations and generations. It’s just a way for you to acclimate this particular variety of whatever plant you’re growing—tomatoes in this case—to your conditions, whether you live in the mountains or whether it’s dry and it’s hot or whether it’s really humid. We get a lot of calls from people in Florida and Texas that live on the coast that say, “It’s so humid down here. What do we do?” Well you grow it and you find the best one…
Bill: Which one works out and plant a whole bunch of them.
Bill: So the more you can plant probably is better too because really you’re playing the number… It’s a statistical variation game. You’re playing a numbers game and you want it to be…
Nick: Yeah, it’s a best possible equation and if you read the plant breeding books they will tell you that. It’s a math problem that you can literally do to find out what percentage of your plants are going to look like you want them to.
Bill: So let’s say we find… I go through and I find some tomatoes that I want to save for next year—and I know we’ve got a DVD on this—what’s the name of our DVD that we have?
Nick: Old Time Heirloom Seed Saving.
Bill: And is that in our…? That’s in our store, right? In the Solutions From Science? So people could look at that if they wanted to.
Bill: But let’s walk them through a little bit of that—no charge, as they say. What’s the…? I got some tomatoes. Let’s say I picked ten tomatoes. Do I put those ten together? I picked ten of my best Brandywines and I say, “I want to take these… I’m not going to eat these ten. I’m going to save… Or I’m going to eat part of them or make juice of them and I’m going to make… I want to save these seeds for next year.” So what’s the first thing that I do?
Nick: Sure. Well, the DVD covers saving seeds basically for one person, if you wanted to save a few seeds. If you’re talking about saving ten tomatoes—you’re going to want to do it in a bucket. And it’s basically the same process. So you throw them in a bucket. Some places will tell you—some online sites will tell you—that to cut the tomatoes in half and to squeeze them into the bucket but I’ve always found that you throw away most of your seeds doing that. So you just throw them in there. Find something to mash it with. Mash them up real good. It’s going to be gross.
Bill: It probably shouldn’t be something sharp because you don’t want to start busting your seeds up.
Nick: It actually won’t.
Nick: It doesn’t… You don’t have to worry about that quite yet because they’re still covered with that little sack of gel.
Nick: So you just bust them completely apart, as well as you can in the buckets. Leave them sit for a day. Come home the next day. Do the same thing over and then the next day you’ll notice that there is a white film forming on the top. You’ll also notice that it’s starting to look more solid on top, which means the liquid is separating. So at this point you can go to the hose. Fill it up with water and all the rotten stuff and all the pulp and stems are going to float to the top and you pour those off and you continue to fill your bucket with water and pour off the junk until you just have water and seeds left.
Bill: You continue to do that day-by-day or that same night?
Nick: No, you have to do it… As soon as you add water they’re in a perfect… You want to keep them room temperature while you’re fermenting that little gel covering off of there. So it’s perfect conditions for them to germinate but they won’t germinate until… There are germination inhibitors in the covering itself. So once you ferment that off and you add water you’ve got to race it.
Bill: Okay. So I put them in there—day one. I put a bunch of tomatoes in a bucket. I mash it up.
Nick: You mash it up.
Bill: Day two—I come back…
Nick: You stir it up.
Bill: I stir it up.
Nick: And maybe mash it again.
Bill: Stirring and mashing. It’s all about stirring and mashing. And day three—I come back and…
Nick: Fill with water.
Bill: Fill with water, like… If it’s half full with water I’m going to add another… I’m going to fill it to the…
Nick: Yeah, fill it all the way up to the top. You might want to stir it one time and see if there are any loose seeds that will settle to the bottom. Of course always wait for the water to settle before you go pouring because otherwise the seeds will be swirling in the water. But just pour it and keep pouring it off. Fill it up with water. Let it settle. Pour off the junk.
Bill: And your seeds are floating to the bottom.
Nick: Your seeds right on the bottom in a big pile. Get them out and onto a coffee filter right away. I just use a rubber spatula and then I put the coffee filter on top of a paper plate and get it in front of a fan.
Bill: That’s about as high tech as you can get.
Nick: That is pretty high tech—yeah.
Bill: A coffee filter, a paper plate and a fan.
Nick: Yeah. There’s some sort of duct tape step in there but I think we skipped…
Bill: What would Red Green do? How would Red Green save his seeds? He would have duct tape, of course.
Nick: He would—for something—yeah.
Bill: And so they’re sitting there. How long does it take to dry them out?
Nick: Oh, it can take a couple days.
Bill: Do you turn them at all?
Nick: Yeah, you want to mix them whenever you can. Of course you want to spread them…
Bill: With your little fingers?
Nick: Spread them as thinly as you can.
Nick: Yeah, with your fingers unless you smoke. You want to wash your hands if you’re a smoker before you touch them.
Bill: And so what you have on your hands can affect the seeds?
Nick: Absolutely. Yes. You can get tobacco mosaic virus on your seeds if you’re a smoker and you touch your seeds.
Bill: Okay. Very helpful. Okay. And then what do we do…? Let’s say we’ve got our seeds ready. We put them… How are we going to store them for a while—until next spring?
Nick: I always store them in paper just because it’s safer and I don’t want to buy a gauge that tells me when they’re perfectly dried out. So I just store them in regular old lunch bags that you can get at the local dollar store.
Bill: A brown paper bag.
Nick: Brown paper bag.
Bill: The kind you’d put some wine in, Nick?
Nick: Yeah—a little bit shorter.
Bill: Smaller than a wine…
Nick: More like a sandwich.
Bill: Okay. All right. Darn. I thought I had an apt metaphor there.
Nick: A sandwich and a beer.
Bill: Okay. I’m with you. Okay, so that’s how you save seeds, folks. I think that’s a good start and pretty much tomato seeds are the most popular but any wild variations there, Nick, that we would want to sort of put a caveat on it with respect to other vegetables that people would want to do?
Nick: Of course with any of your outbreeding crops like cucumbers, squash—if you’re growing more than one type of cucumber or melon or squash or watermelon in the same area—you’re not going to have pure seeds just because they will have cross pollinated each other by now.
Bill: But they’re open pollinated so they’re still going to grow but they’re going to pick up…
Nick: It will be a first generation hybrid.
Bill: It will be a first generation hybrid?
Bill: You’re always talking about F1s.
Bill: These are a few of my favorite things.
Bill: Okay. So what do you think about that in terms of should people be careful, in terms of…? Let’s say you’ve got what we would call maybe a self-reliance garden. Should people—if they want to keep it pure—should they just grow one tomato and one watermelon in each plot so that they…?
Nick: Tomatoes don’t really outbreed. Some of the potato leaf varieties do but as far as things like squash and cucumbers and melons go—I would only plant one each of those. And with squash there are three species so you could plant an acorn squash, a butternut squash and a big Maximus squash like peanut squash right next to it and not have any problems.
Bill: Not have any troubles? Okay.
Bill: That’s very helpful. Before we go we’ve got some exciting varieties for next year. Do you want to talk a little bit about a couple of the tomato varieties that you’ve been playing around with?
Nick: Yeah. Myself personally, I’ve been playing around with Vinson Watts tomato, which I am growing at a farm straight down the road here, right off the same highway. It’s got a great history. You can actually trace it back to almost its beginning. This guy grew and selected this variety in his own backyard for 50-plus years. He just passed away, I think, two years ago. So this is his namesake tomato and it’s a beautiful, pink beefsteak tomato. It’s probably my new favorite tomato.
Bill: Is it going to rival my favorite?
Nick: Your Brandywine? Brandywine does have some pretty legendary flavor but I think this could knock it off its pedestal. Yeah.
Bill: Maybe we should have some kind of competition next year where we grow Brandywine and we grow… What’s this variety again called?
Nick: Vinson Watts.
Bill: Vinson Watts?
Nick: Yes—Vinson Watts.
Bill: And have a little bit of a…
Nick: Taste off?
Bill: A little taste off—a little competitive…
Nick: No, I think it’s a great idea.
Bill: You know ask people—don’t tell them what they’re getting—but ask them which tomato is better just like the eye doctor says. “Which is better—this or this?” And say which is better. And it’d be a lot of fun. We could do that in the fall at the next fall festival.
Nick: Sure. And there are some other ones that I’d like to pit, as they say, against some of our…
Bill: Do you want to bring some of those tomatoes in?
Nick: I would love to. Yeah. Yeah. We’ll bring some Vinson Watts in. I’ve got a couple other ones—Costoluto Genovese, which is a nice, red pleated tomato. We could pit that one against Russo Sicilian.
Bill: Wow. Now you’re talking about some real…
Nick: Yeah—Italian versus Italian.
Bill: Yeah. You’re talking about combat there. That’s gladiatorial. Okay, so are these seeds that you’re going to have in the catalog next year, do you think?
Nick: We’re going to try to work them into the catalog. We’ll see what our return is going to be.
Bill: See how many you’re going to get.
Bill: How’s the drought treating your tomatoes?
Nick: We only watered initially, just when we put our plants into the ground, and really we haven’t had any issues. A few plants that just didn’t make it early on. We just pulled them out. Everything else has been great but we’re in a pretty low spot. It’s bottom ground where we are.
Bill: Yeah. You have more moisture than…
Nick: Right. Water table’s pretty close to the surface so even though it’s sandy it’s…
Bill: And that’s what we see around here—not to be switching conversations around a little bit—that’s what we see around here with respect to the corn crop.
Bill: Even with the hybrid corns is that the people that have low lying ground—some of those fields are still going to produce fairly well. But as you start to get on the hillsides and it doesn’t take getting very far up the hillside…
Nick: No, it doesn’t.
Bill: …at all before… I saw this from a plane as I was coming back from Nashville, looking down. I just looked at all of the… thinking about all this—“What’s it look like?” And it was interesting because the bean fields are all pretty green but the corn is… I mean you can see it from 20,000 feet. It’s burnt off.
Nick: It’s pretty bad.
Nick: Well a lot of it didn’t get any taller than four or five feet and you know that there’s… This is a crop that generally gets 12-14 feet at its peak so…
Bill: We had mentioned here that even some of this… We’re right by the river—for people that don’t know that—the Mississippi and the water table is extremely close to the surface so we’re… Farmers are able to irrigate along this Mississippi bottomland. But there’s Mississippi bottomland stuff that’s been irrigated that doesn’t look very well. It looks, frankly, like it’s not going to make it or like it doesn’t have… The ears aren’t fully formed in some cases. That’s one of the things that I saw.
Nick: I think that’s the problem with most of the crop. Not that the ears didn’t form. It’s that they’re not fully formed. So it’s not even… I don’t think they’d even get… For an under-pollinated ear, they’re not going to get full price.
Bill: Sure. Sure. Okay, Nick—anything else that we need to chat about? And we’ve got our fall festival—our Melon Days—coming up September 22nd where we’ll have… We’ll be doing live seed saving demonstrations.
Bill: And that will be a lot of fun. Anybody that wants to drive here for that, we’re not sure what time it’s going to be but there will be a schedule on HeirloomSolutions.com as well as TheHeirloomMarket.com with respect to just what’s going to be taking place. But it’s a big event. For the people that haven’t been here, last year we had 5,000 people here and we had this… We set up a petting zoo, camel rides, a whole bunch of sustainable stuff like seed saving and a lot of melons—a lot of our own melons for sale, a lot of our own pumpkins for sale. And we’ll probably bring some other stuff in just so that we can show people a wide variety but I think there probably won’t be a place within 200 miles that has a bigger variety of melons, a bigger variety of pumpkins than we’ll have going into this fall. And it kind of kicks off September 22nd.
Nick: Right. I think we’ll have maybe a dozen varieties of watermelon and probably close to a dozen varieties of regular melon as well and then of course we’ll have a lot of…
Bill: Is it cantaloupe or muskmelon? Settle the score. I know we’ve had some fistfights out in the parking lot with people that are angry about. If you put a… You know what bothers me? This is like Jay Leno saying, “What’s my beef?” And he would come on Letterman and say, “What’s my beef?” You know what? If we put a cantaloupe sign out there people will drive in and say, “They’re not called cantaloupe. They’re called musk melon.” If we put a musk melon sign out… It’s like Packers-Bears. People will come in and be mad at that sign. How do we set them all straight? Is there some way? Why can’t we all get along, as Rodney King would say?
Nick: I call them melons. Can’t we just call them melons?
Bill: Well but then you’ve got a watermelon. So they’re waterless melons?
Nick: Well, it’s a melon. That’s just the general term. That’s what we use for the category in our catalog.
Bill: We just call them melons.
Nick: That’s what I would call them.
Bill: But if you drive up and down the road…
Nick: They’re all the same scientific name so how can anyone be…?
Bill: And what’s that scientific name? I’m putting…
Nick: Cucumis melo.
Bill: Cucumis melo?
Bill: Wow. You should have named one of your kids Cucumis Melo. Melo could have been his middle name.
Nick: The sixth one.
Bill: You have another child on the way and…
Bill: Yeah. Your favorite child you could name from your favorite variety of melon. So that’s about it, folks, I think. Nick, thanks a lot for your time.
Nick: Thanks for having me again.
Bill: I know you’d like to… you’d rather be outside. I know it’s air conditioned here and you’d rather be outside in the melon field swatting flies and bees and so forth but we really do appreciate your time. And for everybody else, thank you for your time. We do know that your time is valuable and we really would like to thank you for spending a little bit with us. We’ll see you next time.