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Ask Jackie headline

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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

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Jackie Clay

I’m planting in the garden — finally!

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Okay, so it’s just the first week in May, but I’m anxious.  Last year we didn’t get planted until the last weekend in May because I was waiting for my son, Bill, to bring his crawler up to enlarge our garden.  He did, making it twice as big, but by the time I got it fenced against the deer, I was late getting things going.

This year I’m pushing for a really productive garden, including tons of fruit trees, bramble bushes and perennial plants.  The prices at the grocery store really scares me!  No way am I paying $1.99 a pound for plums grown who knows where!

So far, I’ve planted 3 Hanson’s bush cherries, 5 Manchurian apricots, 4 more rhubarb plants, 50 more asparagus roots, a Toka and Golden Gage plum, northern Fuji apple, a Garfield Plantation pie cherry, two Patriot blueberries, 6 Fort Kent King blackberries, 2 Chinese chestnuts and 2 butternut trees.  And I’ve got more stuff coming!  Lots of holes!

I also put in six bags of onion sets, combining winter yellow and white with sweet onions.  Next comes the peas and potatoes.  I’ve saved a bunch of Yukon Gold seed potatoes but have to buy some Norkota Russets and Red Norlands as I want to have these, too.  And, of course, David simply MUST have his ALL BLUE potatoes!  They really are fun to grow and serve.  (Eyes pop at purple mashed potatoes.)

It won’t be long before the broccoli plants, cabbages, cauliflower and celery go in, along with the turnips, rutabagas, beets and carrots.  I’m planting a lot of carrots and rutabagas this year.  We eat a lot of carrots and those rutabagas last year were HUGE, as well as awfully tasty.  The deer who got in and ate a lot of them can tell you that!

Two days ago I got my Meyer lemon tree from Parks Seed.  It was three feet tall!  A beautiful plant.  I let it acclimate a little in the greenhouse and I planted it today in a five gallon pot.  Boy it looks nice.  I also got a Ponderosa lemon from Logee’s Greenhouse.  It isn’t as tall, but it is a very nice, bushy plant.  These dwarf lemons produce nicely in a greenhouse or even in a sunny window.  And the blossoms make the whole house smell great!  I can’t wait.

Tonight I was pretty tired.  It had rained all day, making chores dreary.  But I was also glad.  The trees are budding out with the valley turning a beautiful light green…sort of like a haze of springtime.  And that rain is helping get all those new plants and sets growing like crazy.  At sunset, when everything was done and Mom was in bed, I sighed and walked out onto our new deck, in the drizzling rain.  The sun was red and there was a flock of beautiful white pelicans floating on the small beaver pond in front of the house.  How nice to live way out here in the backwoods!

Readers’ questions

Best and worst companies

Could you give advise on the BEST and WORST mail order companies in your opinion for seeds and plants (that are >not just a root!)

Julie Jaco
Senatobia, Mississippi

A huge help to me is the website, Dave’s Garden; the Garden Watchdog. It gives lots of customer input on nearly every mail order company out there.  When you get 289 negative responses and 2 positive, you know there’s a problem!

Some of my very favorite companies are Pinetree Garden Seeds, FEDCO, Starks, Miller Nurseries and Parks.  Good stuff, decent prices, good customer relations and good shipping practices. — Jackie

Canning Bulgur Wheat

Can Bulgur Wheat recipes be canned?

Vanessa Juryla
Bonners Ferry, Idaho

I honestly have had no experience with canning bulgur wheat. Have any other readers out there done it? — Jackie

Canning classes

I heard you recomend the Ball Canning Book, which I will order, but are there classes that I can take in my general area?  I live In Evergreen, Co. but are more than willing to go to Denver proper if need be. I am a visual learner and would really appreciate knowing where to go.

Miriam Vogelfanger-Coca
Evergreen, Colorado

I don’t know of any canning classes, but you might check your Community Education at some local schools (Adult Education).  They sometimes have canning classes.  Another place to check might be your county extension agent.  Canning is so easy to learn.  You really don’t need classes; it IS that easy.  If you can tell time and boil water, you already have the skills needed to can!  Good luck! — Jackie

Canning scrambled eggs?

For the lady asking about preserving eggs, do you suppose they can be scrambled and canned?  They can be scrambled and frozen if you have lots of freezer space but canning sounds like it should work. Maybe…

Nancy Foster
Dallas City, Illinois

Maybe they can.  Only I wouldn’t know what processing time to use for them. You might use the same for meat, but that might make them overcooked.  Sorry, I don’t have a clue.  As far as I know there never has been a canned scrambled egg product available. — Jackie

Messy ducks

I have two khaki campell ducks. They are good layers but not very hygienic.My question is how to corretly clean the eggs?I’ve been cleaning with antibacterial soap and hot water. The eggs are more porous then chicken.So is this method placing soap in my eggs?

Martin Contino
Milford, Pennsylvania

If you just wash the eggs off fairly quickly, you won’t have soap in your eggs; it takes lengthy immersion for this to possibly happen. You don’t need antibacterial soap; simple dishwashing soap will do. It kills bacteria very well.

A hint: Ducks are messy so if you make a simple frame of 1″x4″ lumber and fill it with sawdust so the ducks have to walk through it to lay their eggs in the nest box, they’ll self-clean to a great extent.  Just make their nest box very enticing or they’ll lay in the sawdust. — Jackie

4 Responses to “I’m planting in the garden — finally!”

  1. Kerstin Gauntt Says:

    Hello Jackie, I love to read your blog and the articles in the Magazine. We also planted some all red or purple potatoes this year . Save all your articles on the bookshelf and lots of Ideas from you in my head. Just have to get more energie to do what i would like to do with canning and raising our own animals. My Husband, two boys and my son in law all go hunting, white tail deer and turkeys. So i can’t complain of not having enough meat. One of my boys started to go fishing in the Bay this year, so we will have at least once a week fresh fish (hopefully). Today he brought home a 32″ Striper, that will be our dinner tommorrow. It is just so nice to know that there are other people out there who do not care to much for going out to eat or buying their meat and vegtables at the store, where you never know where it comes from. Hope I didn’t bore you to much Kerstin

  2. Shannan Sweeney Says:

    My oh my, what an absolute drop-dead gorgeous sunset. Kinda makes it all worth while at the end of the day, doesn’t it?

  3. julie marsh Says:

    i am new at canning and was wanting to cut down on the amout of refinded white sugar used. is it possible to use honey or raw sugar. i have just stared bee keeping and would prefer to use honey.
    also we have very hard water in our area so when i can i always get a nasty flim on my jars is there a way to prevent this?

    Have you ever thought of having a survival camp for dummies. I have learned so much from your magazine keep up the good work.

  4. jackie clay Says:

    Julie, you have to ask your questions thru the blog; sorry…it’s the rules. But yes, I’ve tossed the idea around about doing a seminar or something on self reliant living, but right now I’m so busy I barely am getting done what I have to. Caretaking a 92 year old wheelchair bound Mom is sometimes exhausting, let alone all the day to day homestead stuff.


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