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Jackie Clay

Spring is finally here

Thursday, April 24th, 2014


Although we’re scheduled for more snow, the ground is pretty much thawed and it feels like spring. And FINALLY our water line from the well is thawed out. Hooray! We’re definitely doing some work to prevent that from happening again even though it was the coldest winter in all Minnesota history.

I’ve been continuing transplanting, now working on my Pink Wave petunias while my late tomatoes continue growing. And in the garden, our cherry trees have swelling buds and the rhubarb is popping up out of the ground with cone-shaped red noses and small crinkled green leaves. It feels SO good! Yesterday I cleaned out one of my front flower beds, digging a few clumps of nettles and grass so at least we’ll start with a clean bed. I also planted several packs of sweet peas. It seems like I always wait until too late and they don’t do so well, becoming overwhelmed by peonies and delphiniums as the weather warms. (Sweet peas should be planted as soon as you can work the soil.) A few years back I had magnificent sweet peas all over the yard, on the pallet fence, across the front of the house, and here and there, climbing on wire and strings. WOW! I want that again.


I’m simmering up ham to can (again) and the pantry will be fatter soon.

Will’s busy repairing our big field disc so when the ground is ready he can disc up our new hay-field-to-be in preparation for seeding it in. We’re also planting a few acres in sweet corn, pumpkins, and squash so he’ll be discing that up too. Then there’s the hay fields we rent that need parts plowed (weather and rain permitting), fertilized, and re-planted. Always so much to do, come real spring.

Yesterday I spoke at the Northern Minnesota Hospital Auxiliary meeting in the city of Virginia, Minnesota. My subject was gardening and that was very well received by a packed auditorium. Of course, there were dozens and dozens of questions following my presentation. I’m tickled that so many folks are once again turning to gardening, some after years of abstinence. It seems like people all over are sick of food from Mexico, China, Brazil, and other foreign countries that still use very toxic agricultural chemicals. These chemicals are perfectly legal there but are banned in the U.S., where they are still made and then sold out of the country.

We ordered a few fruit trees from Fedco and St. Lawrence Nurseries so will soon be planting. I’ll try a shovel in the orchard this afternoon and see how that goes. Sigh. I wish I were twins! — Jackie

6 Responses to “Spring is finally here”

  1. Cindy Says:

    Isn’t this just a wonderful time of year? Even though there is so much to do it just refreshes our souls to get out again! Thank you for taking the time to share with us! Cindy

  2. Pyro Says:

    So envious of your rhubarb. It just won’t grow in my area – too hot and humid. Bet you are happy to see the last of the snow! Just started some of the beans I bought from you. I’m very pleased with how many were in the package. Much better than commercial packages. Thanks again for starting a seed business.

  3. gen Says:

    Miss Jackie, my friends know I love to get/read old cookbooks. I was just given an old Woman’s Club recipe book from 1929. There was a Rhubarb Relish recipe, and I thought you or others might like to see it.
    I can’t tell you who or where it was published, because the original owner cut and glued newspaper or magazine recipes all over areas not covered by the recipes in the book.

    Rhubarb Relish

    Take one quart of rhubarb cut into one inch pieces, one quart of onions, one pint of vinegar, one and one/half lbs of brown sugar, one teaspoon cinnamon, salt, alspice(sic) and black pepper. (one teaspoon each?)
    Boil until fairly thick, and bottle. Will keep sealed or covered with paraffine(sic)
    Mrs. Mate A. Leaming / (the lady whose recipe this is attributed to in the book)

    I know that if you wanted to can this, you would need to increase the amounts, and that you would need to either water bath or pressure can to meet todays standards, but this recipe sounded delicious to me.

  4. zelda Says:

    Pyro – rhubarb can be grown in hot and humid areas but it takes extra care, thought and work. Rhubarb is picky about soil and water. The soil has to be free draining and high fertility (lots of compost) and the amended area has to be wide. Soil has to be kept moist but not soggy. It would need morning sun for a few hours, then mostly shade the rest of the day. You may need to treat for powdery and downy mildew – there are lots of food friendly products for that – and you may need to use a dilute liquid fertilizer regularly. Cut seed stalks off as soon as they sprout or the rhubarb will stop producing. If your soil stays more cool than your air temperature, try growing it in a trench (with good drainage) or above ground in a large diameter concrete pipe that you can water down outside to provide evaporative cooling. If it is very warm year round where you live and you want it to be perennial you may have to dig the roots in fall and freeze or refrigerate them for a few months, then replant. Rhubarb can be grown as an annual if you want to spend the money on plants, or from seed if you have the time to do it. It can also be grown in a mostly compost filled container that you could move to a cool, shady place. Plants and seeds even of the same variety (unless cloned) are not identical, so if you try and it doesn’t work get another plant or more seed and try again. I grow a lot of things that shouldn’t live or produce where I am, and often it has taken more than one attempt to get the food I want. If you want rhubarb, think of ways to provide the growing conditions it needs and don’t give up.

  5. jackie Says:


    Sometimes you can do rhubarb in warmer climates by growing it in the semi-shade. I know it’s a challenge. I sure wish I could grow peaches….. Sigh.

  6. jackie Says:


    What a great old recipe. Thanks so much for sending it in so we can all give it a try.

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