Hello, again!

Traveling the backroads of small-town America is something that gets missed when we travel by air. While we are able to go from point A to B in a short period of time to explore adventures far from home, we miss out on the in-between.

Last weekend, Angie and I made the trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma to see the music group Foreigner and my cousin Greg, who's now touring with them. Driving a short distance from home, to sit in row 5 for the concert was special. Smaller venues are a great way to hear good music.

From Tulsa, we made our way to Springfield, Missouri for MOORE - Midwest Overlanding & Off-Road Expo. Here, we checked out the latest overlanding gear, camping equipment, and goodies for adventure travel. You know how I enjoy adventure travel, and the expo did not disappoint.

Making our way back to Wichita on Highway 400, we came across a sign pointing us to Big Brutus, located in West Mineral, Kansas - a short 6 miles away. I have known about Brutus, but never made the trip to the site. We made the short trip to see the giant electric powered shovel. Here are a few facts about the big guy:

Big Brutus is a Bucyrus Erie model 1850B
He's the largest electric shovel in the world - at 150 feet long, 16 stories tall and 11 million pounds.
His dipper capacity is 90 cu. yds. (by heaping, 150 tons - enough to fill 3 railroad cars)
He's not a speedy guy, able to travel at .22 MPH
Purchased in 1962 Brutus cost $6.5 Million

Fabrication of Big Brutus was completed in May 1963, and it operated until 1974, when it became uneconomical to mine coal at the site. At that time, it was considered too big to move and was left in place. The Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company donated Big Brutus in 1984 as the core of a mining museum which opened in 1985.

So what does a road trip have to do with gardening? Not too much really, but until we have consistent warm days, maybe it is time for a road trip.

Something that is timely on our lawn and garden calendar, and that most gardeners fail to do is a soil test. While a test is easy to do at home with one of our DIY soil test kits, I wanted to show an easy way to get results in about a week from a professional lab. New in our stores this year is Soil Kit.

You purchase a kit from us for $29.99. Once you register your kit online, you collect soil samples and send them in. You will receive expert lab reports, and will be able to understand what is in your soil along with recommendations on keeping your lawn and garden healthy. You’ll be able to go online, print off the results and let one of our trained staff help you get what you need for a healthy, balanced soil for turf or gardens.

Our Irish seed potatoes arrived this week. While it’s a bit too early to plant them, St. Patrick’s Day isn’t too far off. Our pansy and viola crop is showing color, and we’ll have them at the stores soon, maybe even a few this weekend, weather permitting.

Your friend in the garden,
Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center