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Thursday, February 23rd, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »

We’ll be having another homestead seminar, limited to 14 people, August 25th, 26th, and 27th. Subjects to be covered include: Canning meat & mixed recipes, homestead tools, raising heirloom vegetables, saving seeds and much, much more. Check it out on; click on seminars. Hope to see you then! It may well change your life! Secure your spot now. Email for more details.

2016 – 2017 Listing of Heirloom Seeds on Jackie & Will’s website

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016 by Jackie | 21 Comments »
JACKIE & WILL'S SEED TREASURES. We've updated the Seed Treasures website for 2016-2017 and you'll find a whole lot of new seeds we've trialed this summer.  We raise most of the heirloom and open pollinated seeds right on our Northern Minnesota homestead, harvesting the seeds by hand, the old-fashioned way.  Our seeds are from beautiful, very tasty, hardy varieties that will do well in almost every climate out there, as praised by our customers.  Some varieties are so rare they're teetering on the brink of extinction. If the crops are not productive, they are not offered by us!  After all, we're homesteaders first. You'll find our prices right, as is our shipping.  So please come take a look at  If you can't access our website, just e-mail us for the listing at seedtreasures[at]

We had a good time at the MREA Fair

Monday, June 19th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »

My carpenter friend, Tom, and I manned the booth at Custer, Wisconsin, this weekend. We met a lot of old friends and met new ones. It’s just like a family reunion! I got to meet a lot of fans who knew me but I hadn’t had a chance to meet them until the MREA Fair. Such fun! Some were from as far away as Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois.

But after three days, I was ready to head home (a seven and half hour drive). Luckily for me, Tom drove his car so I rode shotgun and could watch the scenery more than he could.

We got home at midnight and I was sure glad to climb into my own bed and snuggle up to my sleeping husband, Will. Our cat, Mittens, soon hopped up onto my legs and purred in my ear. Yep, I was home!

This morning it was raining off and on so I toured our gardens, which we’d hurried to get planted before I left. Lookin’ good! The corn’s coming on very nicely and evenly, as is everything else. Hot weather, coupled with nice rains made everything pop up. I couldn’t believe how much things had grown in just four days. I’ve got peonies and roses blooming as well as lupines starting. Very pretty.

While I was gone, David and Will got the sheet metal roof on the duck house so no more puddles in the house from a leaking tarp.

And Will got the peppers planted in the hoop house that I didn’t get around to. Now I’ve got about thirty to set in rows out in the garden somewhere! But it’s so nice to be home I can’t wait to get started. — Jackie

We’re nearly done planting

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 8 Comments »

Whew!  By working hard this past weekend, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as we plant nearly three acres of gardens.  So far, we’ve planted 175 tomatoes, 18 hundred-foot rows of three varieties of corn (plus assorted smaller isolation plots of rare corn), tons of beans, squash, pumpkin, and a 100-foot row of potatoes (to be added to the three 75-foot rows of “fancy potatoes” in the central garden).  And we got a nice rain and have more in the near forecast.  Perfect.

Now I’m playing catch-up, washing clothes and dishes (we’re running out!) and blogging. On Thursday, I’m heading to the MREA Fair in Custer, WI, for the long weekend.  If you can, please stop by the Self-Reliance/Backwoods Home Magazine booth and say hi.  I’d love to visit with you.  I’m also speaking on canning and growing fruit in unfriendly climates.  It’s a great show with lots going on all the time!

While I was running back and forth between the house and north garden, I noticed a beautiful rare wild orchid near the trail.  After researching it, I can’t find one listed anywhere.  I’m very familiar with our Showy Lady Slipper, and this is different, although perhaps it is an uncommon form?  It has two flat leaves at the base and a single long stem.

Anyone have a clue as to what kind it is?  The plant and flower are different from the Showy Lady Slipper so I’m stumped.

Stuff is popping up all over the gardens; beans, corn, fava beans … and weeds.  I guess I know what my next job will be.  (Of course we never have weeds in our wonderful gardens.)  Do you hear me choking down laughter? — Jackie

We’ve went from winter to summer; no spring!

Monday, June 5th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 3 Comments »

From rain and temperatures in the fifties, we swung abruptly to sun and eighties! Wow, is that hard when you’re trying so hard to get things planted. After all, we barely have a 90-day growing season… So we’re madly tilling and planting. We had visitors over the weekend in the form of a pair of pelicans. It seems so crazy to have white pelicans floating around on our beaver ponds when we live in the north woods. But they stop by regularly.

We got another surprise from a pair of residents. We’ve had sandhill cranes along our creek for a few years now, but this year, they brought family! It was very exciting for us to see that they have two chicks.

If you look closely, you can see the sandhill crane chicks in the foreground.

While Will’s been tilling the north garden with the tractor-mounted tiller, working in the manure he spread last week, I’ve been busy planting the last tomatoes in the main garden along with Burro Mountain popcorn ( a very rare ancient corn, said to come from the Anasazi), Bear Island Chippewa flour corn, Folsom Indian Ruin, Dapple Gray, Black Manitoba, Hurricane, and Succotash beans. And last evening I planted our Glass Gem popcorn in an isolation patch. Whew!

Today, I’ll get the Seneca Sunrise sweet corn and the Monte Gusto and Neckargold pole beans in. Hopefully, Will can also plant some corn with our tractor-mounted three-point corn planter in both the central and north gardens.

I’ve got some fence mending to do in the north garden. I used plastic zip ties on the six-foot-high fence and they photo-degraded, so the fence is now drooping in some places. But I’ll re-do it all with better material so we don’t have deer popping in without an invitation. Lots of pumpkins, squash, and corn will be going in there, along with our leftover tomatoes and potatoes.

The main garden is nearly full today.

We’re planting seven varieties of potatoes this year. One is Bliss Triumph, which is the potato my grandfather brought from Florida all the way to Montana, way back in the Depression. Now they’re nearly extinct. I only found one source and ended up paying, with shipping,
$5 per potato! Needless to say, I will be saving my own seed potatoes this fall for planting next spring. I hate to see old-time varieties of anything go away permanently. Bliss Triumph is a blocky red potato with great flavor and keeping ability.

Our flowers are starting to bloom around the house. I’ve got five varieties of lilacs. One of my favorites is Beauty of Moscow, a double white with lavender/pink shades and pointed petals. As two of the bushes are right below our upstairs bedroom window, the fragrance is very lush.

Aren’t Beauty of Moscow lilacs pretty?

On Saturday, I attended our granddaughter, Ava’s, dance recital down in Cloquet. What an event. There were dancers from age three all the way up to adults, many of which were very professional. Of course, the little girls were oh-so-cute!
Well, back to the garden. — Jackie


Will was busy while I was in Irving, Texas

Thursday, June 1st, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 2 Comments »

While I was at the Self-Reliance Expo over the weekend, speaking and helping out at the Self-Reliance and Backwoods Home Magazine booth, Will kept busy. Not only did he set out 72 tomatoes inside Wall’O Waters, adding stakes to each with variety names, but he also did my chores. That included milking our newly-freshened doe and feeding her kid as her udder was too full for him to nurse without hurting her. She kept kicking at the kid and moving away. So Will milked to relieve that pressure and fed the kid. (Now the kid nurses on his own as Mom’s udder isn’t so tender.)

Look at what Will got done between rains while I was gone!

At the Expo, I enjoyed visiting with Dave Duffy and Annie Tuttle as well as meeting lots of readers and fans. I really enjoy that at each show.

I enjoyed meeting fans and readers at the Self-Reliance Expo.

Now that I’m back, I’m hitting the deck running as there’s so much to plant.
When I got back, it was rainy and 50 degrees … It felt really cold after the 95-degree weather in Dallas!

And now I’m busy too, getting ready to plant some beans and corn.

But today the sun’s out and it’s 60 already and not yet noon. I
already planted cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce plants as
well as readying another row of stock panel trellis for pole beans.
Hopefully today I can get the Bear Island Chippewa corn planted in the
berry patch and maybe some more tomatoes. (If only the days were
longer!) –Jackie

I hope to see many of you at the Self Reliance Expo in Irving, Texas this Friday and Saturday

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 4 Comments »

I’m madly trying to get ready to leave for four days and this is a bad time to do that with all the planting I’m supposed to be doing. But, heck, it’ll get done when I get back, right? David and Ashley’s duck family is now in their new duck house/outside pen, complete with a swimming pool. The inside isn’t finished yet so they have to be herded in through the duck door and lifted up into their plastic tote for the night so they don’t poop on the unpainted walls. But they’re real troopers and hop right inside at sundown. (We have lots of owls so they can’t stay outside at night!)

Two years ago I planted some Johnny Jump-Ups in my front daylily bed and they’ve re-seeded happily. They were blooming through the snow! I’m leaving them as they sure won’t hurt the daylilies and make a nice groundcover. I love all those happy little faces smiling up at me!

Two days ago, our pearl grey mother turkey came off the nest with babies. She has nine. I worry about them as it’s been cold and raining but she won’t take them inside; we tried to herd them. No dice! But today the sun’s out and it’s warm so I’m hoping more warm weather’s in store for us all.

I hope all of you who can will come to the Irving Convention Center for the Self-Reliance Expo this weekend. I’ll be speaking but when I’m not, Ill be helping Dave Duffy and Annie Tuttle man the Self-Reliance/Backwoods Home Magazine booth. I sure do love meeting folks at these events! So don’t be shy; come on by and say hi. — Jackie

We’re getting plenty of spring rain

Monday, May 22nd, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »

Yes, we need it to perk up the pastures and hayfields, but it sure is hard to do outside work when it’s raining off and on all day … all week. But just before this rainy period struck, Will got busy and spread manure on our north garden and the old pig pen garden, which we now call the “central garden” just because it sounds nicer. Luckily, he only had two breakdowns with the old spreader. All those parts he put on last year sure helped. (Last year it broke down nearly every time he spread manure!) And that wasn’t fun as he had to unload what was left by hand.

He had just finished all of that when the rain began. Luckily, he’d also spread some manure on the small garden next to the house and tilled it in. So I began planting. First in were some of the fancy daylilies I’d bought on Daylily Auction during the winter months. They’ll make a border for that garden, facing the house. Then I drove in some steel T-posts and zip-tied 1½ stock panels to them as a trellis for the peas. I planted Alderman (or Tall Telephone) peas, an old variety I always used to plant, which climbs easily to 6 feet. They don’t blow over in rain and windstorms so they last nicely into summer. I also planted some Mammoth Melting sugar peas on an end trellis and will be planting some morning glories on some end trellises. Just because they’re pretty.

We keep our bird feeders full, year around and, boy, are we getting some pretty visitors. We’ve got lots of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Goldfinches, Purple finches, several song sparrows, as well as Orioles and many more common birds. The Grosbeaks are eating some of the grape jelly I put out for the Orioles. But because they’re so pretty, I don’t mind at all.

We got the big hoop house (which Will split in two halves) all fixed up and will be planting peppers in them by Wednesday. (We’re in for a hard frost Tuesday night so we are waiting … just to be safe.) It looks like we’ll be planting our first tomatoes today; when I got home from mailing seeds, Will had rows marked out and was busy digging holes for them. Of course we’ll use Wall O’ Waters to protect them from that darned frost.

Well, gotta run! Talk to you soon, folks. — Jackie

We had a work day at Bill and Kelly’s house

Thursday, May 18th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 8 Comments »

My son Bill and his wife Kelly had talked for a few years about building a flower bed along the front of their house. And in the last two years, the talk had gotten more priority. So for Bill’s birthday in September, we gave him a work day, come spring, to help him build that flower bed.

We’d all talked about it and they decided to go with a raised bed of landscaping block as the ground in front of the house slopes away a little and we all thought the block would look great, dressing up the south-facing porch nicely. So a week or so ago, Bill called and said he’d gotten a big load of well rotted manure, a trailer load of wood mulch and a couple pallet loads of block. When we were all together on Mother’s Day, we said we’d come down the next day, Monday, when both Bill and Kelly were off work.

Unfortunately, it began to rain on the way down. But not to be detoured, we began anyway. Luckily, Bill has equipment! He quickly cut the grass sod off the flower bed area with the Bobcat bucket, leaving a relatively flat surface to build on….with no grass roots. Next, we cut apart heavy cardboard boxes (on the porch when the rain was heaviest) and laid them down on the ground. This helps keep grass roots from entering the raised beds.

Will and Bill began laying cement blocks in the space behind the flower beds to keep the dirt from falling beneath the porch. When this was finished, Bill and I screwed plastic lattice to cover the space from the porch floor to near the ground, hiding the blocks neatly. While we were doing this, Will finished up the block work.

It was raining pretty good about then so we went in and enjoyed a nice lunch, hoping when we were done it would quit raining. It didn’t. Our granddaughter, Ava, didn’t mind though. When she came home at noon from school, she quickly put on her raincoat and rubber boots and started in helping level the ground with a hoe.

Not to be outdone, we joined her. Will and Bill began laying up landscape block, being careful to keep the wall level. It went pretty quick, actually. Then it was time to fill the bed.

Bill scooped up rotted manure with the bucket of the Bobcat and carefully dumped it in each bed. Will, Ava and I raked and shoveled it level. Then Bill and I unrolled some heavy duty landscape fabric he had left over from another project. We placed it over half of the top blocks then Will and Bill carefully laid the cap blocks over that.

The mulch was in a trailer so Bill backed it next to the first bed so I could shovel mulch over the landscape fabric while he and Will finished capping off the second bed. Kelly came out and approved the job and we were all happy. I think it turned out beautifully. Now all they have to do is put some of the plants they got for Mother’s Day in the beds and it’ll be gorgeous.

Hmmm. Makes me think about some beds like that around OUR house! — Jackie

I hope all of you had a great Mother’s Day

Monday, May 15th, 2017 by Jackie Clay | 5 Comments »

I know I did. We did our annual Mother’s Day event by starting out at Bryn’s Greenhouse, about 30 miles south of us. We met our oldest son Bill, his wife Kelly, and grandkids Mason and Ava there at opening. David took a morning off his duck house building and came with us. Javid went to church so couldn’t come. But he gave me lots of love and money to buy a nice hanging basket for the front porch.

We all shopped their many greenhouses for two and a half hours! And I’m sure we didn’t see everything. I’d been saving a little spending money back just for this event but knew I still had to be frugal. Bill and David also bought me hanging baskets, so that was real nice. I got a few perennials and just a few geraniums for a pot in the front yard, along with two roses.

Bill and Kelly loaded up with lots of nice flowers and David surprised us by also filling a cart for himself and Ashley (who is busy test driving cars in Florida).

After our flower binge, we had all worked up an appetite and drove another 20 miles to a little family cafe and had a great lunch at a very reasonable price. So we sat, ate, and visited for another hour. Very nice!

Tomorrow we’re driving down to Bill and Kelly’s to help them build and fill two new flower beds along the front of their front porch. It’s something they’ve been wanting to do for a long time and it’s nice to see it about to happen.

Will finally got our little Ford 660 tractor back together and working. The very first jobs he did with it were splitting a little firewood (to see if the new hydraulic pump etc. was working right) and tilling our berry patch, main garden, then the house garden where we’d taken out the raised beds. It was so nice to see all that black dirt nice and fluffy again. Now I get to start planting!

— Jackie


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