Cain was a Farmer with a Big Ego

Even before he killed Abel, Cain was in trouble.
Cain was a farmer – which was admirable, of course – but he was arrogant. Cain thought he alone was responsible for the growth of his crops. Cain took all the credit for the fine harvest he reaped, and minimized the divine influence that made his prosperity possible.
Anyone who has achieved success with plants can understand what happened to Cain. What good is a garden if you can’t show it off? If you have a vegetable garden, for instance, and people come over to visit, you almost immediately will confront them with an exhibit of your gigantic zucchini squash, miniature carrots and oak leaf red lettuce. Even the humblest, most God-fearing gardener will have difficulty suppressing outbursts of “I grew it all by myself!”
With help from heaven, some students and I are in the midst of growing 600 tomato plants at Cleveland High School in Reseda. We have been blessed with a variety called Tropanema, a medium-sized tomato that, so far, has grown well. Like most commonly grown tomatoes, Tropanema is an indeterminate variety, which means that, in our climate, it should continue to produce until November or December. Tropanema plants have a compact growth habit. This makes them easier to train than typical tomato varieties, which have a tendency to sprawl all over the ground.
With tomatoes, staking is crucial to maximizing harvest. As much as 50 percent of a crop can be lost if tomatoes are allowed to touch the ground, where they become spoiled. If you have a long row of tomatoes, you don’t have to stake each plant. Jerry Brown – not the politician, one of the students working on the project – noticed how tomatoes were staked at a roadside farm on Vanowen Street in Woodland Hills and copied this technology at Cleveland High.
A 5-foot metal stake is hammered in at the beginning of the row. On either side of the row, at 10-foot intervals, pairs of 4-foot wooden stakes are driven in opposite each other at a slight angle. Nylon twine is tied to the metal stake and strung taut between the wooden stakes in three tiers – at 6 inches, 16 inches and 26 inches from ground level. A staple gun attaches the twine to the wooden stakes. Another metal stake is used to tie off the twine at the other end. As the tomato plants grow, they are supported by the twine.
Part of our success, no doubt, is attributable to a liberal application of mulch, supplied at no charge by a tree trimmer who was more than happy to save himself several trips to the dump. The loads he delivered included the chopped and shredded leaves and wood of eucalyptus, ash, evergreen pear and pine trees.
Tomatoes, more than any other crop, absolutely require several inches of mulch to grow their best. Inadequately mulched tomatoes are stressed tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes – the easiest ones to grow – may ripen well enough without mulch, but large or even medium-sized types will crack when soil moisture fluctuates as a result of insufficient mulch. Four inches of mulch assure a steady supply of water to the roots.
With a thick layer of mulch, a good soaking once or twice a week should take care of their water requirement.
At Cleveland High, we also observed that as soon as the mulch was
applied, gophers which had been inhabiting the area disappeared. Could it be that mulch, which is proven as a deterrent to weeds and snails, could also be inimical to gophers? Perhaps the tannins and resins released by the decomposing mulch keep gophers away, or maybe gophers don’t like mulch falling back in their tunnels as they push up soil from below.

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