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Farmer Jason is the children's music alter ego of alternative country pioneer Jason Ringenberg of the now legendary Jason and the Scorchers. Ringenberg grew up on an Illinois hog farm, and practices sustainable gardening/farming on his hobby farm between Nashville and Memphis.

If you would like to ask him questions, email him at

Visit him on the web at

Last modified:
Sun Apr 5 19:10:24 CDT 2009


A sk Farmer Jason

What are those boxes in your garden and why do you use them?
Ed, aged 45, Nashville, Tennessee (this is more of a "grown up" question)

Farmer Jason: Those are called "raised beds" and I believe they are the single easiest and best thing a person with limited time can use to make gardening easier and more productive. I used to garden the traditional way- plowing up the plot and planting in rows. However, since I tour constantly sometimes its hard to find time to weed and properly take care of the plants. I would come back from a tour of Europe and the weeks would be 3 feet high, and the plants covered with diseases and bugs, if I could even find them!

So I decided to try a different method, and I call this THE RINGENBERG BOX GARDEN. First we cover the whole garden with landscape fabric and straw, then place 2'x2'x1' boxes in neat rows on top of this. (The boxes I build from scrap lumber you can find at jobsites or dumpsters, otherwise this would cost a fortune.) We then fill these boxes with well rotted manure and compost, and plant the vegetables directly into these boxes. We have found that the plants grow better with less diseases and weeds, and are much easier to take care of. You plant fewer plants, but the yields are much higher. Our garden has changed from a place of constant work and stress to a place of peace and relaxation. You don't plant huge numbers of plants, but by staggering the plantings you can have all the vegetables a normal family can eat all summer and fall. In some of the boxes we get 3 crops. For example we might get an early spring planting of lettuce, a hot summer crop of yellow squash, and a late planting of beans. This gardening method has changed our lives in a very positive way. I swear by it.

Do roosters crow only in the morning?
Chloe, age 6, Huntsville, Alabama

Farmer Jason: Roosters crow whenever they are in the mood, sometimes even at night, but as a rule they always crow at dawn. No one knows why they do this- they just want to wake up the world I guess! It sure beats an alarm clock. However, most roosters will also crow occasionally during the day whenever they are feeling like telling the world "I am here and I am proud to be a rooster!!"

Can plants grow when it's cold outside?
-Collier, age 8 Effingham Illinois

Farmer Jason: Yes, some plants like lettuce, peas, broccoli, daffodils, tulips, radishes, and spinach actually prefer cold weather and don't like the heat, especially here in the South where we live. For example it's very easy to grow radishes in the late winter/early spring. In February or March, just sprinkle some radishes on the soil, cover it with a very small amount of dirt, and in about a month you can pick and eat them, maybe even by Easter! Instead of Easter Eggs you can collect Easter Radishes!!

Where does chocolate milk come from?
Does it come from chocolate cows?
-Benny, age 5 Philadelphia, Pa

Farmer Jason: Milk comes from dairy cows, and they give their milk every day. Dairy farmers have to work very hard to make sure the milk is collected, even on Christmas Day! Usually dairy cows are black and white and live in colder states like Wisconsin and Minnesota. All dairy cows make white milk. To make it into chocolate milk, chocolate syrup is added it.

Farmer Jason, why do chickens lay
different colored eggs? Sometime they
are white and sometimes they are brown!
-Collin, aged 8, Aberdeen, Scotland

Farmer Jason: Most of the time, the color of the egg depends on the color of the chicken! No joke! For example, a white chicken will normally lay a white egg. A red, black or brown chicken will lay a brown egg. The exception to this rule is the Araucana breed of chicken. Although they are normally brown, they actually lay a blue shelled egg! We have seven Araucanas and it is always so thrilling to get those blue shelled eggs. With the brownish red and white eggs of our other hens, sometimes it looks like the Fourth of July in our nest boxes!

What does 'organic farming' mean?
-Jennifer, age 11, Brooklyn, New York

Farmer Jason: Organic farming or gardening can mean different things to different folks, but normally an organic farmer does not use manufactured bug killers, weed killers, or fertilizers to grow the plants. He or she uses materials already found in nature to do all that. On my farm, that usually means pulling the weeds by hand, and picking bugs off the garden plants (Icky!). I believe, as do many others, that organically grown food tastes better and is healthier for the person eating the food and the earth that grew it.