Post G06: This is why I can’t have a Costco membership.

I lack self-control around stuff that’s cheap.  In this case, dirt cheap. Less than 2 cents a pound, delivered.

I had always wanted to have a few raised beds, just to make it easy to do a little gardening.  And, given the situation, I had time on my hands, so “Victory Garden” made sense (Post #580).  And I had a whole bunch of what should soon be obsolete* signs (Post #675).

*Not that the policy I was protesting with those green signs has gone away.  To the contrary, it’s alive and well.  It’s just that the proponents are in the process of re-branding it.

So I ordered up an innocent-sounding 10 yards of mixed topsoil/compost.  Which, only in hindsight, did I realize was about 13 tons of  material.  I did that arithmetic sometime in my second week of shoveling.  And shoveling.  And shoveling.

Anyway, the good news is, this is now gone.  (Doesn’t look like much, until you realize you have to move the whole thing, one shovel-full at a time.)


And in its place, I have about 400 square feet of raised beds pictured above.  And I’ve kept those signs out of the landfill.

Not sure how the crops are going to turn out.  But if nothing else, I will have a lasting and concrete reminder of the pandemic.

Post #G04: Bamboo now available (10:30 AM 4/24/2020)

Judging from the hits on this website yesterday, there’s a lot of interest in this.  I don’t think the uptick is due to my sparkling prose.

I have roughly dressed and put out the first 30 poles and tops.  Take what you want, but please limit yourself to no more than maybe a dozen of the poles.  They have the stubs of the leaf stems sticking out, so take care as you handle them.

Take as much as you want of the thinner tops, with leaves still attached.

The location is 226 Glen Ave SW, Vienna VA 22180.  You can’t miss the Atlas Cedar in front.  Glen is off Courthouse, right across from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

I’ll be doing this in batches, once a day.  That’s not to ration them.  That’s because my back can take only so much stooping over and lopping off leaves.  There should be another batch, this size, tomorrow.

Be warned, these are big.  I’d guess median length is 24′, and there are some that are about 30′.  If you only want a few short pieces, I’ve left a branch lopper out there.  You can try lopping off the thin ends of the poles.  Place it right next to a joint, and lop as if you mean it, because the faster you do it, the less it splits.  If you place it in the middle of a section, it’ll just splinter.

Maintain your social distancing, and then some, please.

I have some political signs out there as well.  You are welcome to take some if you care to.

I’ll have another batch of poles tomorrow, if my back is up for it.  This is just under half the total, by eye.

At some point, as a favor, could one or two of you who takes some of these email and clue me in on why people like this stuff so much?  I use a little in the garden, for trellises and such, but honestly, PVC pipe works better for me.  I’m not questioning it, I’m just curious as to what the attraction is.

Chris Hogan,


Post #G03: Bamboo harvest

For scale, the bench on the right is about 5′ long.

True story

I’ve lived in this house about 13 years now.  We get along fine with the next-door neighbors.  They seem like nice people.

But I have quietly held a grudge, because they have a stand of bamboo in their back yard.  Which, of course, means that unless I keep after it, I have stand of bamboo in my back yard.

Used to be, I’d send the kids out in the spring to go stomp down the bamboo shoots.  If you get them at just the right time, they are still soft enough that you can break them off, and you don’t have to worry about it until next year.

Then the “kids” went off to college, I let it go for a few years, and you can figure the rest.  So, last year I had to take a couple of days to harvest my bamboo.  I cut the leafy tops off the poles, and posted the poles on Vienna Virtual Yard Sale (maybe it was Freecycle).  They were snatched up in less than an hour.

Meanwhile, this year, I got to chatting with my neighbor.  And, just as nicely as I could, said, golly, your bamboo sure does want to spread. 

To which he replied, my bamboo?  I thought that was your bamboo.

Thirteen years, and it turns out, neither of us planted bamboo.  Neither of us wanted bamboo.  Presumably, some ancient and long-gone former owner of one of the properties liked bamboo.  And left us a gift that keeps on giving.

Coming soon:  Free bamboo poles and tops.

Now that we have that straightened out, with my neighbor’s blessing, I’ve starting harvesting his side of the bamboo forest, starting at my lot line.  What you see above is maybe the first third of that.  Maybe a little less.

It’s primo stuff.  Some of it was so thick I had to go after it with a chain saw.  Others are thin enough that heavy-duty branch loppers will take them down.  I’m guessing that the longest pieces are 35′ overall, and will dress out to about 20′ once I’ve cut off the leafy tops.  There are a handful of shorter pieces.  And it’s easy to cut while it’s still green.

This is by way of saying, give me another day to dress those out (separate the leafless pole from the leafy top), and at that point, I’ll announce that they are ready for pick-up.

I figure I might as well do that through this web site, as I am down to just a handful of people who bother to read what I write.  Think of it as kind of a website loyalty bonus.  If you want bamboo poles, or you know somebody who’s looking for bamboo poles, come by in a day or two.  I’ll announce when.

After I take what I need for my garden, I’m guessing I’ll only have about 60.  So please limit yourself to a dozen or so.

In keeping with the times, this will be contactless, curbside pickup.  My curbside.  Well, it would be curbside, if we had curbs.  Swale-side pickup?

Ah, just pull into the driveway, and you’ll see them.

I’ll announce it here as soon as I have them cut up.  I need to wait for it to stop raining so I can get back out there and trim them out.

If, for whatever reason, you want those leafy tops, with the thinner poles, they’ll be out there, too.  Take them.  It’s just too much work to trim all those leaf stems off the main pole.

One word of caution on the leafy tops.  I found out the hard way that you cannot use bamboo leaves as mulch.  I can’t find this documented anywhere, but there’s clearly something in them that’s poisonous to a lot of other plant life.  I managed to kill a perfectly fine bed of raspberry plants, and may have dealt the death blow to an ailing pear tree, when I got the bright idea to use bamboo leaf mulch after my last bamboo harvest.  So, if you take those thin tops, throw away the bamboo leaves.  I wouldn’t even put them into a mulch pile.

Post #G02: Getting started on a garden: Materials

Thieving vermin.  Source:  Beliefnet.

This post is about gathering the materials for a garden, under the current circumstances.  Seeds, seed starter, and so on.

If you bought a bunch of seeds a month ago, and don’t quite know what to do with them, this might be a place to start.  But I expect that experienced gardeners will find little of value here.

To get going on a garden, all you really need is a $5 bag of seed starter, some plastic trays, a bag of garden lime, some black plastic or equivalent, and water and sunlight.  And some of those are optional.

Status of my garden:  I have potatoes, garlic, and spinach planted, all in raised beds.  Peas are way overdue, so they are next.  Most of the rest can wait, as they do poorly in cold soil anyway.

Good year for a garden.

A month ago, I set myself up to do a real garden this year (Post #580).  I’ve decided to talk about doing that.   This won’t be of interest to people who already know how to garden.  It’s really more of a guide for stumbling through a year in the garden.

This year, I’m shooting for a higher standard.  I recall that my grandmother’s back yard was one big kitchen garden.  A garden to produce a serious amount of food.  That’s this year’s goal.

Continue reading Post #G02: Getting started on a garden: Materials

Post #G01: Opening the economy prematurely as a variant of the hog-slaughter cycle.


With apologies to Hornsby, the long-suffering pig of Marshall Road.

In the prior post, I suggested that survivors of coronavirus should be treated as the seed potatoes of our economic recovery.  In this post I use a different agricultural analogy entirely.  I’m going to explain a classic economic model that I think will apply to those who haven’t been infected with coronavirus yet.  At least in a few States.  That is the model of the hog-slaughter cycle.

The hog-slaughter cycle.

Source:  Understanding Hog Production and Price Cycles, Authors: Gene A. Futrell, Iowa State University; Allan G. Mueller, University of Illinois; Glenn Grimes, University of Missouri

As an economist, your early training focuses in the easiest case to understand, that of perfect markets, with perfect information, and rational actors.  In other words, a) no one buyer or seller has any power over the prices to be paid, b) everything about the market is publicly known and, c) everybody behaves in a rational (i.e., profit-maximizing) fashion.

In such a market, there’s almost no way to justify any predictable changes in prices.  If the price change were predictable, people would act to offset it.

And so, there’s no place for any type of regular, cyclical behavior in prices, other than what could be justified by (say) additional storage costs of commodities for off-season use.  Something that is continuously produced and consumed should show no regular, repeating changes in prices over time.

It’s hard to find markets that come closer to that ideal that the markets for agricultural commodities.  For the typical commodity, there are numerous small producers.  There are functioning national and international markets that both price those in current terms, and offer “futures” so that companies can lay off risks of future price movements.  And there are typically enough buyers that no one buyer can materially manipulate prices.

Enter the hog-slaughter cycle, pictured above.  It is well-documented that the prices of hogs do, in fact, vary in a quasi-regular fashion over time.  As does hog production.

For a while, this drove neoclassical economists nuts, so it was a well-studied phenomenon.  So much so that it formed the basis for much of my graduate course in time-series analysis.  That was taught by one of the guys who first documented, beyond a doubt, that the wiggles that look like regular cycles above are, in fact, regular cycles.

In the end, the presence of this cycle was attributed to three things.  First, pigs are prolific.  The production of hogs can be changed fairly rapidly.  Sows have litters of piglets, so one pregnant sow can produce a dozen hogs-to-be.  (As opposed to cattle, say, born one-at-a-time).  Second, there’s a lag between cause and effect.  A farmer’s decision to breed more sows results in more finished hogs some time later.  (I vaguely recall that it’s something like 18 months, but I’m a little rusty on pig biology).  Finally, the economic actors are somewhat short-sighted.  They look at today’s price for hogs, to determine whether or not to breed more or fewer sows.   And they aren’t really able to base their current decision on some sophisticated guess as to the price of hogs a year-and-a-half from now.

And so, here’s how the hog cycle works.  It starts out with things looking pretty good.  Hog prices are up, and it looks like producing hogs is a profitable thing to do.  So, independently, farmers across the country put more sows into production.  Then, things start to go sour, profit-wise, but you can’t yet see it, because there such a lag between the start and the final outcome (breeding the sow and selling the resulting finished hogs.)  But, ultimately, the bad news comes out.  A surplus of hogs hits the market, depressing the price of hogs and reducing farmer profits.

At which point, the whole cycle goes into reverse:  Fewer sows bred, fewer hogs to market, rising hog prices.  And we’re back to the start of the cycle again.  Resulting in the graphs you see above, of hog production and hog prices.

Bottom line:  Short-shortsightedness, plus a time lag, generates the hog-slaughter cycle.

Early removal of coronavirus restrictions as a classic hog-slaughter  cycle.

It’s now apparent that Georgia, at least, is going to start removing restrictions on its population, starting more-or-less now.  This, despite many experts saying that it’s far too soon.  Given the Governor’s rhetoric, it’s fairly clear that this is driven by ideology, not science.

What’s less clear is that this move is driven purely by economics.  This isn’t a case of belief in individual liberty trumping scientific judgment.  It’s a pure dollars-and-cents issue.  Many businesses need a population of coronavirus-immune consumers and workers, or they’ll go under.  That includes pretty much all of the personal-services sector, plus travel, tourism, sit-down restaurants, bars,and many types of non-essential goods retail.

Those businesses plausibly can’t wait the 12 months until a vaccine is available.  Apparently, they can’t even wait until the number of cases in a state has stabilized.  They want that now.

As noted in my seed potato post (#G00), we are slowly producing that coronavirus-immune population naturally, as more individuals are infected and recover from the disease.  It is apparently common for younger individuals to have mild or no symptoms.  A recent screening in LA County showed that about four percent of the population now has antibodies to coronavirus.

But this is a slow process.  That’s the whole point — to slow the rate of new infections so that you don’t overwhelm the hospital system.

Removing the restrictions then has a two-fold benefit to the affected businesses.  It provides some customers immediately, and it will increase the speed at which we produce the coronavirus-immune population.  The downside of that, of course, is that this occurs because the rate of new infections will (almost surely) increase as these restrictions are lifted.

The Georgia government may think that it is doing this prudently.  I am sure that they have in mind some sort of linear, step-at-a-time approach.  Lift the restrictions a bit, business resumes a bit, the infection rate goes up a bit, the number of deaths goes up a bit.  Then when that works out OK, lift it a bit more.  And so on.  Always with an eye toward not letting this get out of control and overwhelming their hospital system.

That way, they can simply trade a few additional deaths for a better economic outcome.  They’ll never say that, of course.  But that’s the bottom line.  It might not even be irrational, if there are few enough additional deaths, and a great enough economic benefit.  (But given that the decision appears based on ideology, it’s a fair bet that nobody there has done even the most basic arithmetic to see if that’s even remotely plausible. )

But I bet that what they get is not that nice, linear progression.  They’re going to get a hog-slaughter cycle.  At least, this certainly has all the elements.  A prolifically reproductive creature.  Long lags between decisions and outcomes, relative to the that creature’s life-cycle.  And short-sighted economic actors.

Lift the restrictions a bit — and two or three weeks later, you may have some idea what that did.  Or you may not.  You may be able to put that particular phase of the genie back in the bottle.  Or maybe not.  And you may have already gone on to phases II, III and so on, before you even have any feedback on what the effect of the initial easing was.

My guess is, given the low fraction of the population that is naturally immune at this point, it’ll cycle.  They’ll lift restrictions, some weeks later the rates will be up, they’ll re-impose restrictions, some weeks after that the rates go down, and so on.

We’ve seen what it takes to bring this epidemic to screeching halt.  It takes what they did in Wuhan — a complete and total shutdown.  Here, we do this-n-that, we suggest, we encourage, we keep the bulk of retail open for business.  (And make excuses for businesses that won’t require masks.)  And now, selectively, some states are removing even those mild approaches, far earlier than public health experts say is warranted, given current conditions in those states.

Just to keep this in perspective, here’s Wuhan (left) versus Virginia (right), as of a couple of weeks ago.  The 12-day markers all denote the point at which the Commonwealth took some restrictive action (or the CDC changed guidance).

Tough for me to fathom what, exactly, they expect to happen in Georgia.  And when, exactly, they’ll know it’s gone sideways.  And how long, exactly, it’ll take to get their rate back down to where it was when they started.

But maybe that just doesn’t matter.  Just think of your citizens as a farmer thinks of hogs.  First and foremost, they are a factor of economic production.  They are a resource that needs to be put to use.  From that perspective, the only minor distinction is that hogs were born to be slaughtered.  In terms of the arithmetic of the results, I’m betting there’s not a lot of difference.

Now doesn’t this make my seed-potato concept seem positively humane, by contrast?   At least in that case, people choose to be infected and you concentrate on the lowest-risk population.  If the driver here really is the economic need to speed up the creation of a coronvirus-immune consumer and worker population, that seems like a much better way to go about it.

If you want to see a simple-minded explanation of why the decision to cause more deaths, in order to reduce economic losses, is probably inefficient, see Post #571.

Christopher Hogan, Ph.D.,

Post #G00: The pandemic garden blog.

On seed potatoes

A month ago, I set myself up to do a real garden this year (Post #580).  Let me dub that my pandemic garden.  And now,  as we pass our probable last-frost dates, it’s put-up-or-shut-up time.  Get off my  duff, get the soil prepared, get the seeds sprouting or in the ground.  Or admit that I’m just a nervous Nellie with no follow-through.

I’ve decided to talk about my experiences, trying to get back into gardening.  Figuring that if I can do this, anybody can.  You name a crop that can plausibly be grown in Northern Virginia, and I’ve failed at it.

But, oddly enough, a couple of the earliest steps reminded me of a couple of things I learned as an economist.  So I thought I might get the ball rolling with a post on seed potatoes, and, next, the hog-slaughter cycle.

Seed potatoes:  Sprout inhibitor and viral plant diseases

One of the first things to go into the ground in the spring are the potatoes.  Mine should have been in the ground a couple of weeks ago, but I’m still awaiting delivery of my seed potatoes.

For those of you who have never grown potatoes, you take a “seed potato” and cut it into little chunks, where each chunk has an eye.  So one good-sized potato serves as seed for several new potato plants.  A reasonable expectation of yield is that each pound of seed potatoes yields about 10 pound of potatoes at harvest.

Most people realize that using grocery-store potatoes as seed potatoes often fails. Those are treated with one of a range of chemicals to inhibit sprouting.  Some of those sprout-inhibitors thoroughly destroy the potato’s ability to grow normally by damaging basic processes such as DNA synthesis.  They cannot effectively be washed off.  Depending on the dose that the potato got, the effects can range from complete suppression of sprouting to potatoes that appear to grow well, but produce malformed, knobby tubers.

It’s not clear that potatoes labeled as “organic” potatoes are or are not so treated.  When I read the rules regarding what may and may not be used in organic vegetable production, the only substance that might be used as a sprout inhibitor that appears on the list is ethylene gas.  And that’s mentioned only for use with citrus and pineapple ripening.  So, by “the rules”, you’d have to say no.

But I note that the “organic” Yukon Golds currently on my counter top certainly behave as if they were treated.  They now have tiny sprouts that blacken and die off if they grow beyond a quarter-inch or so.  That suggests that some long-lived treatment has been applied.  At this late date, they’d be sprouting by now if they hadn’t been treated in some fashion.

The consensus of internet opinion is that potatoes from a farmers’ market are unlikely to have been treated with sprout inhibitors.  The ones I got at the Holy Comforter famers’ market two weeks back follow that rule:  They are sprouting vigorously, with no sign of die-back.

So, for the time being, I’m planting farmers’ market potatoes, as I wait to see whether my seed potato supplier will come through.

But there’s a second reason to use certified seed potatoes:  viral plant diseases.  Potatoes are subject to a wide variety of crippling viral diseases, and potatoes sold as seed potatoes have to be certified virus-free, or at least, certified as to minimal viral content.  Not only can these disease kill the current crop, as with many plant disease, the potato virus can remain in the soil for a few years, rendering fields useless for potato production for some period of time after infection.

In Virginia, the Seed Potato Board (yep, that’s a real thing) regulates standards and trade in seed potatoes, for commercial growers in the state.  In other states, it may be literally illegal for the home owner to plant grocery-store potatoes, for fear of spreading viral potato diseases.  But as far as I can tell, it is not illegal for a non-commercial farmer to plant non-certified potatoes in Virginia.  Either way, once certified as virus-free, seed potatoes can be planted anywhere in the Virginia, by commercial and non-commercial farmers alike.

I’m taking a gamble, as I could not get my hands on seed potatoes.  Because I rarely grow potatoes, that seems like a reasonable choice.

A seed potato analogy.

I read the other day that an estimate 4 percent of LA county residents test positive for antibodies to COVID-19.  That’s consistent with a separate estimate of about 2 percent in a different California county, using a different methodology.  And estimates that the majority of younger individuals will be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic upon infection.

As we re-open the economy, we need to start thinking of those people as the seed potatoes of this pandemic.  All minor doubts aside, a) those people are almost certainly virus-free, and b) they are probably unable to be re-infected.

There are some doubts about the latter, but I think they have been overblown.  Those mostly arise from Korea, where a few tens of individuals (out of a recovered population of 8000+) tested negative for coronavirus subsequently returned to positive status.   They claim that’s evidence of re-infection.  I think that’s far more likely due to a small false-negative rate in their testing regimen.

Korea uses two negative tests, 24 hours apart, to determine whether hospitalized individuals are virus-free.  And so far, out of about 8000 recovered patients, a few tens of those that passed that test have gone on (typically one day later) to have a third test that was positive.

To me, that looks like the two-negative-test regimen has a few false negatives.  That is, out of 8000 tested, a few have shown two negatives, 24 hours apart, while not actually being negative for the virus.  Korea steadfastly maintains that their testing regimen is perfect, and so claim that the subsequent positive test is a result of re-infection.  I think it’s vastly more plausible that their regimen has a roughly 1% false-negative rate.  For almost any other lab test I can think of, a false negative rate that low would be an outstanding achievement.  And so, immediate re-infection cannot be ruled out, but that would make this virus almost unique in that regard, and I think that a small false-negative rate is by far the more likely explanation of those facts.

When in doubt, just ask yourself why they require two negative tests, 24 hours apart?  Why not just one.  The most likely answer has to be to reduce the false negative rate.  If each test separately had a 10% false negative rate, the two together would have just a 1% false negative rate.  I can only assume they require two tests to bring that combined false-negative rate down to an acceptable level.  And I could easily see them not admitting that publicly as a way to avoid public lack-of-confidence in their widespread testing regime.

We should start thinking of those coronavirus seriopositives as the seed potatoes for restarting the economy.

First, and most directly, they can provide convalescent plasma With that technique, someone who has survived coronavirus donates blood, which then provides coronavirus antibodies to the recipient of that blood. That’s an old, old technique for dealing with infectious disease outbreaks.  It’s one of those treatments that worked well in the past, has been used recently for uncurable viral diseases such as Ebola, should work now, and has been shown go work extremely well in a small-scale trial (in China).

And, much like the seed potato, one plasma donor can provide enough blood for several other individuals.  The Chinese example (search this website for details) was based on a 200 ml infusion of plasma.  At that rate, a standard one-pint blood donation provides enough for at least two recipients.  More, if an individual makes several donations.

But the other aspect that is seed-potato-like is that these individuals should be free to go anywhere, and engage in any activityThey are like the potatoes approved by the Virginia Seed Potato Board.  The should be able to be used anywhere.  Coronavirus restrictions should not apply to them.  In theory, they’ve had it, they’re over it, they’re probably not spreading it, and they probably can’t get it again.

The government ought to issue them clip-on IDs, and as long as they are wearing those and they are visible, no coronavirus restrictions should apply to them.

Among other things, I bet these individuals would be highly valued as public-facing employees in essential businesses.  Given the rate of unemployement, and the (apparently) high percent of the population that could serve as our economy-reopening seed potatoes, I think this idea deserves some attention.

The end-game of this is to have the entire population in that state, but by artificial means (vaccine) rather than by natural immunity (by surviving the disease).  I really don’t see the downside to starting that now.

As an economist, I’ll even go one further.  Suppose you are young and unemployed.  Suppose you realize your odds of dying from coronavirus are quite low.  Supposed you’d be willing to risk that, in order to graduate to post-infection “seed potato” status, so that you could be free of coronavirus restrictions and go back to work.

In that case, if we’re so fired-up to get the economy re-started, why not arrange sites that would allow such low-risk individuals to choose to be exposed to coronavirus and placed in quarantine?  Those that are infected and survive to a virus-free state would be issued their “seed potato” IDs, and then lead the re-opening of the economy.

Many of you will be appalled by that idea.  But please refrain from judging me until you read the next post.

I have to get back to real gardening now.

Christopher Hogan, Ph.D.,


Post #580: Victory garden

Source:  USDA.

One of the big downsides of farmer’s markets, for me, is that they eliminated my main reason for gardening.  Back in the day, the only way you could get your hands on a decent-tasting full-sized tomato was to grow it.  But once I realized I could just walk down to the center of Vienna of a Saturday morning and buy one … well, that kind of took away a lot of the incentive.

To illustrate what I mean by back in the day, all the tomato cages I own, I bought at Hechinger’s.

But, of late, I haven’t even bothered to plant (e.g.) peas, which, basically, anybody can grow.  You stick them in the ground.  Then wait.

And, to be clear, I am not a good gardener.  I’ve always been a “no till” gardener.  I tried to tell myself that it was more environmentally responsible.  But the fact is, it just takes lots less work.

Anyhow, this is by way of saying, I think I’ll put in a garden this year.  Couldn’t hurt, might help.  Gets me out of the house. And, basically, one of the things we can be thankful for is that we live in a town with lots of green space.  No reason that can’t grow me some tomatoes.

Near as I can tell, from what I read, the upshot on the food supply chain is that you aren’t going to starve, but you may not be able to find everything that you are used to finding.  But that’s OK.

As a kid, one of the thrills of mid-summer was that you could get watermelons in the grocery store.  Because they grew in Florida, and, well, that’s when they got ripe.  Couldn’t get them any other time.  Even now, I goggle at the presence of blackberries in the supermarket.  When I was a kid, the only way to get them was to go out and pick them.  When they were ripe enough to pick.*

* Blackberries are red when they’re green.

I kind of get the impression we’re going back to times like that.  You’re not going to starve.  But for a while at least, you’re not going to have everything, all the time.  It’s life out of the fast lane, so to speak.

So, what the heck.  Can’t hurt, might help.  I’m going to put in a serious garden this year.  There’s nothing like a fresh tomato, even if you have to fight the squirrels, deer, slugs, and assorted other pests for it.  Might even have enough to put away for the winter.*

* You eat what you can, and what you can’t, you can.

So, for my part, I think I’m looking at … ah, the better part of my life savings going off to money heaven in the near future.  But, you know, shit happens.  Shit makes a fine fertilizer.  And fertilizer grows food.  So it’s a circle-of-life thing.  Kind of.  You have to roll with it, not because you want to, but because you’ve got no choice.  As with my recently-blogged stock investment, I might as well try to put a smile on my face if I can.

Intellectually, I know I’m not going to starve from this crisis.  But it’s hard to see a downside of planting a garden.  It’s food therapy.