Friday, February 27, 2009

The Planetary System ~ Darwin

1. Fair star of Eve, thy lucid ray
Directs my thoughts to realms on high:
Great is the theme, though weak the lay,
For my heart whispers God is nigh.

2. The Sun, vicegerent1 of his power,
Shall rend the veil of parting night,
Salute the spheres, at early hour,
And pour a flood of life and light.

3. Seven circling planets I behold,
Their different orbits all described;
Copernicus these wonders told,
And bade the laws of truth revive.

4. Mercury and Venus first appear,
Nearest the dazzling source of day;
Three months compose his hasty year,
In Seven she treads the heavenly way.

5. Next earth completes her yearly course;
The Moon as satellite attends;
Attraction is the hidden force,
On which creation's law depends.

6. Then Mars is seen of fiery hue;
Jupiter's orb we next descry;
His atmospheric belts we view,
And four bright moons attract the eye.

7. Mars, soon his revolution makes,
In twice twelve months the Sun surrounds.
Jupiter, greater limits takes,
And twelve long years declare his bounds.

8.With ring of light, see Saturn slow,
Pursue his path in endless space;
By seven pale moons his course we know,
And thirty years that round shall trace.

9. The Georgium Sidus2 appears,
By his amazing distance known;
The lapse of more than eighty years
In his account makes one alone.

10. Six moons are his, by Herschel3 shown,
Herschel, of modern times the boast;
Discovery here is all his own,
Another planetary host!

11. And lo! by astronomic scan,
Three stranger planets track the skies,
Part of that high majestic plan,
Whence those successive worlds arise.

12. Next Mars, Piazzi's orb is seen,
Four years six months, complete his round;
Science shall renovated beam,
And gild Palermo's favored ground.

13. Daughters of telescopic ray,
Pallas4 Juno, smaller spheres,
Are seen near Jove's5 imperial way,
Tracing the heavens in destined years.

14. Comets and fixed stars I see,
With native luster ever shine;
How great! how good! how dreadful! He,
In whom life, light, and truth combine.

15. Oh! may I better know his will,
More implicitly obey;
Be God my friend, my father still,
From finite -- to eternal day.

Now, lest you think your eyes deceive you about the author of this poem I will inform you that this is not the more famous Darwin, though I have not yet been able to track down his first name (just try to Google Planetary System by Darwin and see what you find). If only the world had listened to this Darwin instead.

I discovered this beautiful and very educational poem (you could do whole unit study on it) in an antique school book printed in 1839 called The Reader and Definer: Pieces in Prose and Verse Designed for the Higher Classes by Albert Picket and John Picket. I have always been fascinated with school books printed before 1900, to consider the great thinkers educated by these books alone should make us wonder where we have went wrong with modern education. Perhaps this excerpt from the preface of the above mentioned book could give us a clue:
This second part of the New Juvenile Reader has been prepared with the direct reference to the objects of instruction -- the communication of ideas -- which are the elements of thought -- and the formation of moral character. The selection, therefore, are suited to the strength of young minds; to convey accurate and definite ideas, and to promote the growth and health of the moral affections.
All these old school books I have collected are based on a Biblical worldview and I don't mean Deistic either, Christ is often mentioned and extolled. As we homeschoolers seek to train up the next generation according to Scriptures I think we need to dust off these old educational books and reprint them (perhaps even update them a little) to use to educate true great thinkers -- those founded in the Word of God.

1VICEGE'RENT, n. [L. vicem gereus, acting in the place of another.] A lieutenant; a vicar; an officer who is deputed by a superior or by proper authority to exercise the powers of another. Kings are sometimes called God's vicegerents. It is to be wished they would always deserve the appellation.
VICEGE'RENT, a. Having or exercising delegated power; acting by substitution, or in the place of another.
~ Webster's 1828 Dictionary.
2 Uranus the planet.

3 astronomer (born in Germany) who discovered infrared light and who cataloged the stars and discovered the planet Uranus (1738-1822)

4 large asteroid; the second asteroid to be discovered

5A name for Jupiter.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Great Rewards of Simple Planning: Vegetable Garden Planning in Limited Space

I have found that prior planning of my small garden is essential in order to reap a greater harvest at a lower price. Garden planning is something my father (the main gardener in our house) never did -- but then he did not start seeds indoors, succession plant or implement as many space saving ideas as I do. Also, I find planning my garden ahead of time takes away a lot of stress when it comes time to plant. Come Spring I can just focus on getting those vegetables into the ground and watching them grow.

1. Make your layout. Draw a scale (like 1/4in. = 1ft.) drawing of your garden space on a piece of notebook paper and put an arrow pointing North. Mark rows and pathways on your sketch. If you don't already have permanent (or raised) beds and walk ways I highly suggest you plan them into your garden this year especially if you are dealing with limited space. Then you can make a master plan of your garden that you can just make copies of each succeeding year to use for your layout. Thus eliminating this step from here on out. To learn of all the benefits of permanent bed gardens and how to achieve them read Gardening for Keeps and Build Permanent Beds & Paths.

2. Decide which plants you want and how much space they need. Now it is time to get out the seed catalogs if you plan on ordering seeds. If not just write down all the plants you think you will want to grow this year. When dealing with small spaces you will want to take into consideration which vegetables and fruits cost the most at market. For instance don't waste you time, space and money on potatoes when you could be growing tomatoes. Once you have an idea of which plants you want to grow you need to find out how much space each one needs and how many days to maturity. If your not sure you can check out this seed spacing chart and this maturity chart for the most common vegetables.

3. Choose each plant's spot and determine quantity needed. Determine how much space you want to devote to each plant from you total sq. footage (including your garden rows only). Using the information from the previous steps you can mark in pencil where you want to plant each vegetable. For larger plants such as tomatoes and peppers you can mark where each plant will go using your scale to place them at appropriate distances from each other. For your other smaller plants (such as onions, lettuce, spinach) you can just mark their boundaries. Here are few tips to keep in mind when planning a small garden:

  • You can plan to plant your early maturing plants around your late maturing plants (see my garden plan above).
  • Place your tallest growing vegetables on the North side of the garden to keep them from shading you shorter plants.
  • Grow as many plants upward as possible to conserve on space. Good plants to grow on supports are pole beans, indeterminate tomatoes, squashes (as long as their fruit don't become to heavy), cucumbers, peas and melons. To read about growing vertical check out Tower Power and How to Build an A-Frame Trellis. This year I plan on building all my garden supports out of branches from the woods near our house and lumber salvaged from pallets (except for the tomatoes cages that I have left over from last year). A little imagination can go a long way. I'll let you know how they turn out.

4. Order seeds, build supports. Between now and planting time you need to order the seeds you are going to start indoors and those you are going to sow directly outside. I normally start scouring my seed catalogs in December and order the end of January or beginning of February since I need to start my tomatoes and peppers in March. If you plan on buying your plants then you can buy your seeds at the same time or a month before you last frost date order from a catalog. At this time you might also want to consider marking a calendar for any succession planting you want to do. I highly recommend succession planting for crops such as radishes, onions, lettuce and spinach so you don't get them all at once. For more information read How to Plant Succession Crops. Be sure also to build those supports or purchase them before you begin planting. By erecting your supports when you plant you can avoid damaging the roots once the plants are established.

Now you are one step closer to a highly successful garden season. Stay tuned, I plan on posting next week about my seed prorogation from our one small south facing window-- it is possible!