White Harvest Seed Blog

  • A Lifelong Lesson

    The quiet arrival of fall means many different things for different people. For me, it represents the season of refreshment – from the heat and the garden especially. However, as a kid, it usually meant one thing – time for school.

    Every fall, as children everywhere are picking back up their books, I'm reminded of my home-school days and find myself reminiscing on those early lessons. I may not have appreciated the education then as I should have, but I'm certainly grateful for it today.

    While my parents certainly taught my siblings and I how to solve math problems and spell words correctly, they also showed us how to work – leading by example – which made all the difference. And that's a main reason why we are still working together as a family today. A valuable lesson learned in childhood is never fully forgotten.

    Growing a garden is the perfect example. Many people underestimate the importance in teaching their children how to garden, but I personally can not wait to someday share my love for gardening with my children. I believe it to be essential to their happiness as much as to their survival.

    No matter their age, children are always watching and learning. That is certainly true of my one-year-old nephew, Austin, who has just started walking and mimicking everything we do. His curiosity for things is clearly evident. However, not every lesson in life can be learned within the crisp white pages of a book. We must introduce our children to the vibrant, outdoor world that's full of color, insects, and plants where they can be taught the basics in science, math, and physics. (And maybe eat a little dirt when we're not looking!)

    Here at White Harvest, we are very passionate about encouraging and teaching folks to grow their own food and find provision straight from their own soil. As we've come to learn, a garden provides a wide variety of harvests. There is the food harvest, certainly, but there is also the appreciation for God's creation and bounty, the work ethic, and a great deal of patience that comes along with growing a garden. And our kids need to taste these harvests for themselves.

    That is why our family is making plans to create an online gardening program designed specifically for parents and their children who garden side by side. There will be creative garden layouts, planting recommendations, fun games and crafts, and other tips of the trade to make your child's first garden a fun and memorable experience for the both of you.

    If you have any ideas and/or questions regarding gardening with kids, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email. We hope to be adding our new program soon, so be sure to check our website and Facebook page for updates.

  • Cherries – The Tomato Underdog

    Here in the Ozarks, we've been under a heat advisory for weeks now. On top of that, we've had very little rain. Fortunately, however, the tomatoes in our garden are still continuing to shine.

    We've been harvesting some of the largest tomatoes we've ever grown from the Hungarian Heart and Kellogg's Breakfast plants. We've also been enjoying the massive yields from our Roma, Rutgers, and Beefsteak. However, my personal favorites happen to be the underestimated tomatoes of smaller stature – the cherries.

    There's so many benefits to growing cherry tomatoes that I don't know where to begin. While many people like to put their efforts into growing great slicing, paste, and canning tomatoes, there is much to be said about the underdog cherries of the garden.  Not only are they easier to grow and small enough to plant in a container or window box, but they usually mature faster than the rest of your tomatoes. They can be picked and tossed atop a fresh salad in early summer or eaten immediately off the vine, making the perfect snack. They produce heavily all season long without fail, making them a very reliable source in their own right. They may not be used for canning spaghetti sauce or making ketchup, but they'll easily provide you with that “tomato fix”.

    One beautiful variety that we tried for the first time this year is the very prolific, Red Cherry-Large. Being an indeterminate, it spreads quickly and does require some support. Its beautiful blooms and bountiful clusters of 1 – 2” red cherries nearly hide the leaves and stem.  Every visit to the garden reveals even more ready to pick!

    Probably the smallest tomato I've ever grown is the Tess's Land Race Currant. It was from this tiny plant that we harvested our first tomato of the season this year! Very early and extremely productive, these tiny red cherries make the perfect salad topper, adding just the right amount of zippy flavor. They're also ideal for kids, as they are uniquely fun and perfect for popping in your mouth for a snack!

    If you'd prefer different colors or characteristics, don't feel like you must settle for a red cherry. There are many varieties to play with.

    Another cherry we're growing this year is the Blondkopfchen ( Little Blonde Girl ). These 1” cherry tomatoes are golden/yellow and grow in clusters on indeterminate plants. I've never seen so many blooms on one plant before, it's unbelievable! They're also one of the sweeter cherries I've tasted. They'll produce up until the first fall frost and hardly ever crack. This tomato is truly as endearing as its name!

    Some other wonderful Open-Pollinated varieties worth considering would be Fox Cherry, Yellow Pear, Tiny Tim, Violet Jasper, Small Fruited, Red Pear, Sprite, Isis Candy, Green Grape, Black Cherry, Snow White, and Ivory.

    Cherries bring a lot of uniqueness and fun to the garden. No matter which one you grow, they'll reward you happily for your time and care. They keep right up with the stout tomatoes triple their size, bringing benefits and helpful insects to the garden like the rest of them. Grow one of these underdogs yourself next time and you'll see why they're essential to any tomato lover's garden!

  • Gardening With Garlic

    During this time of year, if I stand in the very center of our garden, my head spins. To my left, there are prize tomatoes ripening to perfection and bell peppers fighting for the spotlight. To my right, the ever-prolific cucumbers, which need pickling, are grabbing my attention as the cantaloupes and watermelon continue to sweeten on the vine. It's true that our gardens need a lot of love right now, but we must not overlook the smaller, stand-alone crops while our heads are “in the tassels”.

    One such crop that should never be underestimated is garlic. A strong member of the onion family (Allium sativum), garlic has proven itself in the garden as a great companion plant and defender against harmful insects. It yields bountifully within a limited amount of space, making it very valuable for family gardeners and commercial growers alike. Since biblical times, this beneficial plant has been favored and was referenced in the ancient writings of the Hebrews, Greeks, Egyptians, Babylonians, and Romans. It is considered to be one of the most valuable foods on earth.

    The hardy perennial is usually grown as an annual for its underground head of cloves and grass-like shoots, which can be used like chives. Since it prefers cooler weather to get started, the best time of year to plant would be in late August to mid-October. After it sets over the winter, the garlic will be ready for warmer weather and will begin forming bulbs. Be sure to supply the plants with fertile, loose soil in an area that offers full sun.

    Generally, 2 lb. of cloves (which would be about 150 cloves to the pound) are recommended for each 50 ft. row you plant. Plant the individual cloves in the soil with their points facing up about 2 – 3 inches deep and 3 inches apart in a wide row. Either leave the points sticking out of the ground or just barely cover them. One planted clove is expected to produce an average head of 15 cloves.

    Stop watering the garlic once the leaves get about a foot high. Then, once the leaves die and fall over, which usually happens around August, you can begin harvesting the bulbs. Wash them well and let them sit in the sun to dry for about a week until they turn completely white. That's all there is to it!

    To truly appreciate, however, all of the benefits of garlic, you must understand how it improves our lives beyond the garden or even the kitchen table. No discussion on garlic is complete without the mention of its healing properties.

    Garlic is believed to be good for virtually any disease or infection, aiding in the treatment of arthritis, asthma, cancer, insomnia, liver disease, hearing disorders, circulatory problems, colds and flu. It contains antioxidant nutrients like vitamins A and C and protects against infection by enhancing the immune function. In fact, during World War 1, due to its antibiotic properties, garlic was used to treat wounds and infections and to prevent gangrene. It truly is a help to the heart, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of blood clots – which aids in preventing heart attacks – and keeping blood vessels healthy. It also offers serious protection against DNA damage as well as sunlight and radiation damage.

    Builders of the pyramids supposedly kept garlic in their daily diet because they believed it to increase their strength and endurance. Is it any wonder we're encouraged to take garlic on a regular basis ourselves? The benefits from garlic are certainly indispensable for the self-sufficient gardener!

    Homemade Garlic Spray for your Garden -

    For a quick, simple remedy to problems with insects and plant blight, try blending several garlic cloves together with some water and 1 T. cooking oil or soap emulsion. Then just dilute to 1 qt. and spray on. Use as frequently as needed to help you win the battle!

  • Blackberries - Worth the Trouble?

    Summer officially starts tomorrow, so our calendar tells us. The entire season ahead is full of its many charms, but it fondly begins for us with blackberries. While we each have our favorite fruit – for example, Carissa and Diane could live on watermelon and Savanna loves strawberries and peaches – I always have to pay tribute to my blackberry patch.

    Where we live in the Ozarks, wild blackberries are very common. They're usually found intermingled with brush, weeds, and insects in hard-to-reach places.  They are generally smaller than “tame” berries and you never can ignore those sharp, pesky thorns that seem to hold on for dear life. Most people at some point, including myself, have asked the basic question – are wild blackberries truly worth messing with?

    My curiosity won me over last year, leading to an experiment on our farm that surprised me and our neighbors! We tried taming these “Beasts of the Woods.”  I quickly discovered that these wild berries, just like lions, can be trained to obey commands without losing their natural instincts.

    The “patch” of native wild blackberries on our property had grown untouched for many years.  Only an occasional mowing tractor had ever come close.  Over the years, it had produced and seeded itself into a size of 30' wide by 40' long.  The plants were so entangled and thick that picking could only be done on the outside perimeter.  The choicest fruit was always just out of reach! I hated seeing all that fresh fruit going to waste, so I decided to try my “taming” theory.

    I started the reclamation process by mowing down the weeds and grass around the berries.  Then I sized up the layout, looking for the optimum space required to support the rows and plants I had in mind. Then came the most difficult and painful part of the whole process.  Using pruning shears, I proceeded to cut the 1” diameter stalks of 5' tall plants that were not going to be kept.  They rewarded me for my trouble with painful, rebellious slashing. For revenge, I hauled off the cuttings to be burned.  And the remaining grass within the rows was quickly given a haircut, thanks to my weed-eater.

    Something more was needed though.  Trellises!  But how? And with what?  I couldn't afford to put much money into this experiment.  So I started looking around the farm for solutions.  I found some scrap rough lumber that was destined to be burned and some used electric wire that was just lying around idle.  I proceeded to cut the lumber into 6' stakes and some additional 8' sections for runners.  After driving the stakes into the ground in line with the plant rows, I nailed the runners horizontally to them at the top.  I then attached the wire about 2' below the runner and stretched it parallel to the top board.   Bingo!  My “hillbilly” trellis was now ready for action.

    The plants then had to be carefully tied to the wires.  I used some zip ties I had in my workshop.  When I was finished, my family couldn't believe the difference in how it looked.   Our neighbors even came over to see the results.  They said they'd never seen anyone try this before and were curious how it would turn out.  We were too!

    The season of “wait and see” followed for the next few weeks. I kept mowing and weed-eating the patch as needed.  The plants themselves seemed to respond well to the new found space of freedom to grow.  The trellised plants shot to 6' tall and ended the season at 8-9' tall.  New shoots for next year skyrocketed up in the rows.  I cut down the unwanted strays and left next year's crop alone.  I then watched the blooms develop in the spring and noticed a very large quantity.  My hopes began to rise.

    After a bit more time passed, I checked back in with the plants to see just how many berries had set on. I couldn't believe my eyes! Each plant was loaded with red, unripe berries.  As the weeks went by, the berries started turning black and growing larger, some even reached quarter size. A few branches were so loaded that they started breaking under the weight.

    I'm not sure the final amount we harvested, but halfway through the season we had picked over 50 quarts and our neighbors had been back 3 times to pick all they wanted!  We froze many quarts, made jam, and even sold some at our local produce auction.

    Having enjoyed this experiment more than I'd ever expected to, I've learned it's worth  taking an extra look around the farm before I ever rule anything out as “useless”. I also have an answer for anyone who might ever ask me if blackberries are worth the trouble. Yes, I'll tell them, so long as they're willing to put forth a little time and effort, they are most certainly worth it!

  • The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food

    If you are looking for a comprehensive book filled with detailed instructions and information for your gardens, let me highly recommend to you the Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food, by Tanya L.K Denckla. With this great resource in hand, you will not only learn what makes an organic garden so special and important, but you'll also discover how easy it can be to grow such a self-sustaining garden yourself!

    Studying the proper ways to grow veggies, herbs, fruits and nuts is only the beginning. Keep reading and you'll also find the scoop on soil and water requirements, pest and disease problems and how to fix – or better yet, prevent – them, how to harvest, how to store, companion planting, and even when to buy certain varieties.

    I found the section which covered disease and pests especially informative. As I read, I discovered many ways to rid my garden of such common problems, but the research didn't end there. I also learned how diseases spread, when symptoms most likely occur, what plants are most easily affected, how to monitor for pests, and descriptions to help me decipher each individual predator. Of course, complete organic remedies as well as Pest Control Suppliers are included.

    This book is also very easy to access. Quick referencing is important when you discover to your dismay that a problem is quickly arising in your garden. If you see that something is damaging your onions, for example, you can easily identify the pest by turning to this irreplaceable book and find what fights the onion fly maggot with organic strength.

    The Gardener's A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food
    cover a little bit of everything within its 496 of pages. It's one I certainly plan on having the rest of my family read, for I can testify to the help it gives a gardener, and I hope to pass that knowledge on to them, as well as to you. Let's grow together!

  • Natural Instincts

    As we saw in our last “Weather Wisdom” blog, people are equipped fairly well with natural senses to predict the weather.  It is just as true of animals. In fact, they seem to have even more of that sixth sense than we do.  Our eyesight, for example, is not as sharp and our sense of smell certainly doesn't work like that of our furry friends. Our hearing is not as keen, our agility is limited in most cases, and our instincts and lifestyles are generally learned as we grow older.  Meanwhile, bugs and critters inherit imbedded survival instincts at birth.

    So why not use their help to forecast the weather? This resource of natural indicators  given to us at the creation, is oftentimes ignored. Unfortunately, a lot of folks forget about them as they surround themselves with technology. If we take a few minutes to stop and listen to the animal world around us, however, we'll discover there is much we could learn from them.

    When bad weather comes with low pressure, animals respond to it in their own individual way, just like people do.  Most wild animals tend to take more chances hunting food before a storm, devouring extra to store up more energy.  Old timers often say that sneaky rabbits tend to get caught in traps more often right before a thunderstorm, due to their increased need for food. After that, they'll quickly disappear, as they head for shelter.

    Domestic animals give off “weather signals” too.  Dogs seem to be more nervous and jittery, as a general rule, while cats are known to wash themselves extra long. Cattle and horses tend to huddle together and head for low sheltered valleys. Overall, their noisy restlessness is hard to miss on the farm.  One of the most vocal animals to give us some warning is the donkey. "When the ass begins to bray, be sure we shall have rain that day."

    If you have pigs on your farm, you have one of the best forecasters available, according to weather pioneers.  The early Greeks, English, and Americans wrote about them frequently in history.  They believed pigs could “see the wind” –  otherwise known as bad storms – when they thrashed about in the mud with straw in their mouth.

    Birds are very beneficial to watch as well. They tend to fly less in approaching stormy weather, due to thinner air pressure, which is harder to fly in.  Some birds have fragile nests, which must be roosted in to survive strong winds. Thankfully, they have naturally wise instincts.
    Here's an easy rhyme to remember:
    "If the robin sings in the bush, the weather will be coarse:
    If the robin sings on the barn, the weather will be warm."

    For as many different birds there are, there seems to be just as many different signs before our eyes. Perching birds will tend to clean their feathers and squawk more, geese will honk loud and long, and “rain” crows will be heard as the faithful “Bob White” chirps “More wet, more wet!”  New England sailors watch water fowl, like sea gulls and wild geese, every morning before embarking on their voyage.  If the birds head out to sea, so will they.  If the birds go inland, they usually tend to stay right where they are.

    Before you start another day, take a look around your home. Watch how your favorite dog behaves or perhaps take note from the turtles climbing to higher ground. They might just help you pick the right, sunny day for a picnic!

  • Growing Tasty Greens

    We've had uncommonly cool weather for the past month here in Missouri. Rainclouds have been battling consistently against the sunshine for weeks. Valleys have been flooded, flowers stunted, and people's moods affected, but one thing has continued to thrive under the elements – our garden greens.

    We always grow various lettuces and spinach for our backyard salads, but this was our first season growing oriental and other greens. It didn't take long for them to win us over.

    The Pak Choy quickly proved to be the front runner, growing rapidly in its designated raised bed. This striking vegetable is a member of the Cabbage Family and is considered a must for stir fries with it's complimentary mild flavor. It's usually grown in the cooler temperatures of early spring or late fall, but it's capable of withstanding a bit of heat also if grown in part shade.

    Just a few feet away from the Pak Choy is our Georgia Southern Collard Greens. This loose-leafed type is of the Cultivar Group named Acephala, which means “without a head” in Greek. It does not produce the usual close-knit “cabbage head”, but instead is grown for its large, dark-green, edible leaves. The plant, with an upright stalk that can grow up to two feet tall, is very similar to kale.  It's widely accepted as a healthy source of vitamin C and other nutrients and is grown in the southern U.S. as a staple vegetable. Collards can be added to various dishes, meats, and soups. According to tradition, it was commonly eaten on New Year's Day to ensure wealthy success in the coming year, as the leaves bear a resemblance to folded money.

    Have you ever grown Mizuna? We're growing it for the first time this year. It seems to   have adapted well to our soil and is quite ornamental with its serrated, dark green leaves and thin white stalks. It's considered a mild mustard variety, with a slightly spicy, peppery flavor. It can be used in soups or stir fries; steamed or boiled; or even tossed in a salad with other greens.

    Another classic mustard is the Southern Giant Curled. Hailed as one of the fastest growing heirloom mustards – yet one of the slowest to bolt – these green, heavily-frilled leaves are worth the effort to grow. The large, upright plant is certainly eye-catching and always contains the pungent, spicy flavor expected in any real mustard greens. They're also high in Vitamin A, B, and C.

    One last one, a new favorite of mine, is the Arugula greens. A simple variety to grow at home, Arugula is an aromatic, salad green that contains just the right amount of spicy flavor. In Roman times, it was grown for its leaves as well as seed, which was used to flavor oils. It grows wild in many parts of Asia and the Mediterranean. High in vitamins A and C, this low calorie plant offers a “Pick and Come Again” succession crop over a couple months. The leaves can be sauteed or cooked in many different ways, but are used mostly for salads.

    As you can see, garden greens truly do color up the landscape and the dinner table. They're favored for their quick germination as well as maturity dates, which range anywhere from as early as three weeks up to 65 days for most types. They'll grow happily beside most of your other garden staples, including corn, pumpkins, and carrots; however, a few exceptions to this rule are tomatoes, beans, and strawberries.

    One common pest that can cause problems among greens is the Flea Beetle. The tiny black, brown, or bronze beetles have large hind legs and jump like fleas. They'll eat small holes in stems and leaves and lay eggs in the soil near your plants. Since the beetle prefer hot sun, more damage occurs in dry weather, so keep all greens well watered. You might also consider using a garlic spray, planting sage nearby, or even floating row covers to help prevent and fight the beetles.

    Most fresh greens will last for a few days in the refrigerator, but it is always good to have a recipe ready in order to keep any of it from ever “growing to waste”. I found a delicious recipe on the food blog, Simply Recipes, for Collard Greens with Bacon. I hope you'll enjoy it!

  • One of the Exhibitors

    The last few weeks around here have been pretty crazy. As you probably already know, our family joined the exhibitors for the “Get Prepared” Expo in Springfield on May 14-15th. It was our first opportunity to take part in a trade show.

    We'd spent the last many weeks packing seeds, printing price lists, and gathering supplies. Finally the weekend arrived and we headed to Springfield to set up our booth.  Our goal was to bring with us a little bit of everything we had to offer. Despite our limited inventory and the fact that we were a small, new company, we still somehow managed to fill the space allowed with seeds, books, soaps, gardening tools, and more.

    On Saturday morning around 9:00 a.m, they opened the doors. Dad and I managed the booth together from the start. We hardly knew what to expect, but we sure looked forward to meeting more gardeners. As the day unfolded, our expectations were quickly surpassed. Once visitors entered the Expo Center, we didn't catch a single break until late afternoon. The people's enthusiasm filled the room as diverse subjects of conversation quickly spread throughout. Folks from every direction of the country were thrilled to be attending the event. Among those I personally got the chance to speak with, a few of them even represented Florida, California, and Arizona.

    Since this Expo was focused on getting people prepared to live self-sufficiently in the future, people were generally shopping with a “down-the-road” mentality. Everyone I met was very interested in learning how to save seed and store it for years to come. It was no surprise that our seed kits, which offered over 6500 seeds, was a favorite among those who stopped by our booth.

    Due to the good response from our first day, it so happened that we had to come home that night and pack up more seed kits and price lists. We ended up working till nearly midnight, all 7 of us, to restock our supply for the next day.

    Sunday turned out a little less in numbers, but it still provided a steady interest by those present. We met both new gardeners and experienced gardeners, both young and old. Many asked questions and some just swapped stories. I talked to a lot of people who said their gardens were struggling from all the local rain as well. Meeting everyone was certainly the best part of our weekend.

    Among the vendors, we were happy to sit across from Liberty BioFuel Products and The Well-Fed Neighbor Alliance. We visited with them often throughout both days and learned a lot from them. To our left was Len Pense's booth, where he was offering assistance and supplies for his raised bed method. I heard a lot of positive feedback from his seminars as well. Other vendors included the Alternative Energy Company, Missouri Storm Shelter, and Kodiak Survivor Gear. There really was a little bit of everything for everyone. We also finally met Vincent Finelli, with USAprepares (who sponsored the event) and we made plans to attend the next “Get Prepared” Expo coming again to Springfield in October. Dad has been asked to lead one of the seminars that weekend, so we are very excited about that as well.

    Overall, it was a busy, but very rewarding event. They estimated an attendance of over 3,500 people for the 2 day weekend. We were certainly thrilled to help supply more families with seed for the coming year and look forward to meeting even more at the next Expo. We definitely learned that these kind of events require a lot of planning and organizing to make them truly a success. We're very grateful to everyone involved who dedicated their heart and hard work to make it just that.

  • Why Raised Beds?

    Here in our gardens, as we continue transplanting more of our tomatoes and peppers outside, I find myself wishing for more and more space. It happens every year. I put my head down and keep sowing until one day I look up and see that I'm out of room to sow anymore. It's always a sad moment, you see, for spring is a very ambitious season for us around here.

    Another garden limitation that frustrates me every season is our soil. While the Ozarks here are admired for their rolling hills, our soil mostly consists of rocky, red clay that demands a good deal of patience when it comes to gardening. Whether we're turning over a new plot or digging post holes for a fence around the garden, we're forced to deal with the lot the Lord's given us.

    What about you? Do you ever find yourself limited by lack of space in your garden? Do you perhaps live in a region where the soil is less than ideal? If so, there's a remedy to both of the headaches we share – simply build a raised bed.

    A raised bed can consist of a variety of materials and appear in an assortment of styles. The first raised beds we put together was a series of simple tires around the perimeter of our garden. To improve their appearance, we gathered supplies from around the farm and enclosed the tires with rocks and mortar. It was a time consuming project, one that is not yet finished, but we were encouraged with the results. We filled the tires with compost collected from grass clippings, leaves, and manure. The first year was an obvious “rookie” year, with the plants only producing a meager crop. However, every year we add more to the soil and we see more and more substantial improvements. Our plants now flourish in these unique rock wall tires.

    Above the rocky ground north of our main garden plot, we also built some raised beds, made up of landscape timbers, cottonwood sawmill lumber, and 6' x 6' cedar posts. We spend a lot of work with these 13 boxes during the season, surrounding each one with mulch, improving their soil, and planting a wide assortment of seeds within. A few are usually kept for herbs and a beautiful variety of flowers, but the majority are reserved for our vegetables, of course. Together, they create a unique and colorful alternative to our previously “square” garden.

    There are neat containers and useful materials for a raised bed available almost anywhere. Around our farm, we've utilized stock tanks, cast iron kettles, barrels, and miscellaneous to use for extra containers. It may seem an overwhelming job at first, but it is quite rewarding in the end, offering gardeners a simple, yet convenient remedy. It certainly saved our family plenty of stress and made it a lot of fun from start to finish. How about you?

  • Weather Signals

    Did you know that your 5 senses frequently send you weather signals? It would do us all well to understand these signals as our entire lives are directly or indirectly affected by the weather.

    Let's start with the sense of sight.  Have you ever noticed days when objects far away seem kinda blurry?  That's a telltale sign of a high pressure area.  Why is that?  In high pressure and good weather, the air becomes full of static and dust particles, which in turn limits your visibility.  Old timers would pick out a far off hill or building every morning to look at.  If it looked hazy or lacked clarity, they predicted fair weather for the day.  If it was very clear and vivid, however, they could count on rain being just around the corner.  An approaching storm's low pressure thins the air's atmosphere, making things crisper and sharper for the eyes.

    The old sailor chant says it well;
    “The farther the sight, the nearer the rain.”

    Have you ever seen a mirage?  They also are indicators of weather changes coming soon.  Sailors are always searching the horizons for mirages. Depending on if the mirage increases, decreases, or even slightly bends its shape dictates how severe the storm will be.  Your eyes are an obvious tool in predicting the weather. All it takes is knowing what to look for.

    How about your nose?  Can you smell weather?  Again a sailor's keen sense of smell while at sea has proven very reliable in the past.  How so?  They could tell if they were close to land or not by smelling the breeze.  A sea breeze would carry a strong sea smell while a land breeze would bring vegetation or city smells. John Wintrop once wrote when he was near the coastline after six weeks at sea, explaining this phenomenon, “I smelled the sweet smell of a garden.”

    What about people on land?  How can they use their sense of smell?  I bet from your own experiences you've noticed how simple it can be. When a storm is drawing near, you notice more of all odors, both good and bad. Flower scents will be richer, but so will the swampy sewer ones too!
    Here's a rhyme to remember:
    “When the ditch and pond affect the nose,
    Then look out for rain and storm blows.”

    Why?  In high pressure, many scents are repressed.  In low pressure, more scents are released to roam fragrantly about!

    The sense of hearing has its place too.  Elijah, the Bible prophet, in 1 Kings 18:41 spoke “There is a sound of abundance of rain.”  Sounds also seem to travel further and louder with the advance of stormy weather.  Ever heard those booming thunderclaps that seem to resonate on and on forever?  Or their rumblings announcing their approach?  Two theories possibly explain this.  One is due to the cloud barrier above reflecting sound waves back down, causing clearer hearing. The other is humidity as it eliminates irregularities in acoustical sound waves, causing sound levels to improve.

    Here's a couple of sayings to keep in mind:
    “Sound traveling far and wide, a stormy day will betide.”

    “When the forest murmurs and the mountain roars,
    Then close your windows and shut your doors.”

    Does the weather affect our thinking and moods?  Cicero thought so when he wrote:
    “The minds of men do in the weather share,
    Dark or serene as the day's foul or fair.”

    Studies have shown that changes in pressure affect our bodies chemistry, blood sugar levels, and energy levels.  One example is humidity.  Since humidity is the result of low pressure areas, whenever it is extremely humid, people generally are more impatient, grumpy, and overall less pleasant! The Bank of England even kept a policy in force of not allowing bookkeepers to do any entries on foggy, gloomy weather as they found more mistakes were made during this pattern of weather.  Early Indians even used these bad weather times to plan their attacks as it made them more “fierce” as the excitability and irritability of low pressure systems affected their attitudes.  Their war cry was:
    “Storm gods give courage to the Red Man!”

    High temperatures affect people too. Police records show crimes and riots are much more prevalent during these spells. Shakespeare said it well in Romeo & Juliet:
    “I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire:
    The day is hot, the Capulets abroad,
    And if we meet, we shall not 'scape a brawl,
    For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirred.”

    As for high pressure systems, among their influences, they also affect our appetites as we tend to eat more when good weather is on the way. That's just one reason fast food eateries love good weather!

    How we feel says a lot about the coming weather.  Our bodies are more sensitive, discomforted, and achy when low pressure hits.  72% of arthritic sufferers in a study confirmed feeling discomfort when bad weather approached.  People have more toothaches, stomach problems, and headaches, to name just a few, when high pressure systems gives way to low pressure ones.

    Another saying to ponder:
    “A coming storm your shooting corns presage,
    And aches will throb, your hollow tooth will rage.”

    You want one last simple clue? Doesn't your hair react differently depending on the weather?  If your hair is straight, it will feel lifeless when it is humid.  If your hair is curly, it will get even harder to manage as the storm arrives.

    Let me leave you with a humorous rhyme till next time.
    “The rain it raineth every day upon the just and unjust feller,
    But mostly on the just, because the unjust hath the just's umbrella.”

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