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Date:11/24/2014 2:41:40 PM
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May Mania, Fertilizing
Yesterday Eldest Brother David hooked up a small plastic fertilizer spreader to his lawn tractor and spent the morning spreading chemical fertilizer on the pumpkin patches, the valley garden, and the hay-field. In turn, I roto-tilled the fertilizer into the dirt of the pumpkin patches and then dragged over the fertilizer in the valley garden with the '38 Farmall again. The photo I've posted is of Pa spreading fertilizer by hand around 1982. You can see the hilltop where my house now sits. Pa's method of spreading fertilizer and grain seed is called "broadcasting." That is the original use of the term. Radio and television simply borrowed it.

The tragedy of the fertilizer plant explosion in Oklahoma last month reminded me of Pa's story of his experience dragging in fertilizer some 60 years ago. He was dragging a field in Springtime and over the noise the tractor's engine he could hear a popping sound. He looked back and saw sparks coming up from the drag blades as they passed over one section of the field. It was then that Pa remembered that the previous fall, he had sawed firewood on that spot with a friend's saw-rig powered by a small engine. That engine used a glycerol coolant which had leaked from the rig the whole time they were sawing. The glycerol was interacting with the nitrogen of the fertilizer and when agitated by the drag ... you got it ... nitro-glycerin.

As for me, I used to broadcast the chemical fertilizer over the valley garden using Pa's method until David bought his little spreader and started riding his lawn tractor. Regardless of the method, we've found over the years that even in the sandy fields of La Ferme Sabloneuse (Sandy Farm) if you have enough fertilizer and moisture, and if you diligently keep the weeds down, you can grow good crops. --Gary
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