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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Jackie Clay

Uh oh, bad news

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

By now, most of you with internet have gotten the message from Dave Duffy, saying that with the Nov/Dec 2017 issue of BHM, the magazine will cease publication of the print magazine. I’m sure this came as much of a shock to you as it did to me (I’ve been with the magazine since 1998). So we had a few sleepless nights figuring things out.

However, Self-Reliance will keep publishing and you’ll still find me writing for it as well as the Kindle version of Backwoods Home, which will continue. And I won’t abandon you with my blog. We’re still trying to figure out things regarding that and the Ask Jackie feature and I’ll keep you posted as the “powers that be” let me know.

On a brighter note, our little homestead seed business, Seed Treasures, is taking off as our catalog is now out and return customers from all across the country are sending in orders. (If you want a catalog, just let me know at seedtreasures@yahoo.com) Will gets up early and packages seeds. I do the mailing, so if you should get the wrong item or miss a pack, please let me know. Doesn’t happen often, but hey, we all make mistakes.

I just ordered a bunch of rare beans for us to try, from the Rare Seed Consortium. They are pricey but pretty cool. So we’ll try a bunch and offer them next year, if they make the grade with us.

I’m ready to plant peppers and am trying to make final decisions on which varieties to plant this year. It’s hard! We have many lively discussions around here about plant varieties and we tease Will that he’ll have to fire up Old Yeller, our bulldozer, to make some new garden spaces.

We are even talking about building a separate Seed Treasures building as the business is taking up a whole lot of the house now. But that’s the way a new home business gets and we are glad things are going well. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

The sun’s out and the birds are singing

Monday, February 13th, 2017

February is half over! Groundhog or not, we’re thinking spring around here. Today it was nearly 40 degrees above with the sun out. What a nice day. So Will decided he’d set out a few round bales of hay and then go work on the new barn. It’s been so cold he hasn’t gotten much done but hopes to stay on it for awhile now that it’s warmed up. So while he went up and down the hill, getting round bales with the Oliver, I stayed at the pasture gate, opening and shutting it to let him through. As the critters always have hay, they aren’t particularly hungry and will zip out the open gate if given half a chance, just for an “adventure.”

Today he hauled two bales out while I got a chance to pet the horses and donkeys. Crystal and Moose, our donkey “herd,” always leave the hay to come get some attention. I noticed Crystal, the tan one, is shedding. Wow! Another clue spring is not far away. And I did see some pussywillows in bloom yesterday on the way to town.

Yesterday I put away my last batch of chili. All in all, I now have 74 quarts and a pint of “new” chili on the pantry shelves! We ate the two which didn’t seal. (Real hard on us … lol)

Tomorrow I’ll get out the seed trays and some peat pellets then decide which peppers I want to grow this year. My friends, Mike and Dara, were here yesterday and we all discussed various varieties we’ll be wanting to plant. It was fun and exciting too. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Are any of you suffering from lack of sun?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

We were until I came upon some of my photos taken in June! My gosh, the colors just knock us out after a winter of drab and white. Now I really can’t wait till spring.

We’re planning and ordering some interesting new seeds. As always, we look for beautiful, tasty and often Native heirloom varieties we can grow here in Zone 3. Already we’ve found some new-to-us old beans, squash, corn, and others. David’s girlfriend, Ashley, can’t wait to help out in the garden as she’s never had the chance to garden before and just loves all things “homesteady.” We have a lot of fun together.

Our warm weather has cooled and is heading back to normal for January. As long as I’ve lived in Minnesota — more than thirty years, in all — I’ve never seen a January thaw before. What a nice surprise that was! And it lasted nearly two weeks in what is usually the very coldest time of the year. Spring seems a lot closer even though I know we’ve still got a lot of winter ahead of us. (But, hey, we get to plant our peppers and petunias next month!)

I’ll be canning up some ground beef next; dozens and dozens of pints. It’s so easy to put up and so very handy to have around. I season some for tacos and leave other plain for a variety of mixed recipes. We just love having that pre-cooked burger handy for quick, homemade meals. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

We took time to party

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

On Saturday, we drove down to my son, Bill’s, for granddaughter Ava’s fifth birthday party. The weather was nice and we had a great time visiting with all the family and Bill’s friend, Andy and his family. Again, the kiddos played Pie Face and both Mason and Ava got a face full of whipped cream.

Thank goodness, our severe winter weather has broken. Yesterday it was sunny and 31 degrees and today it almost hit 36! Wow, I can tell you it sure feels great, just being in the sunshine and breathing in warm air. I’m sure we’ll still have plenty of snow and cold but a break is sure welcome, and it’s supposed to last for a whole week!

Let me tell you about a very positive business deal we just had. Four months ago, we bought a battery for our ATV from DB Electrical, online. Two weeks ago, it fried. I got busy and found the order number and Will called, hoping there was some sort of warranty. He was on the phone for exactly two minutes, 22 seconds and the guy said “It’s in the mail.” A replacement, that fast — it seemed unbelievable! No “Well, you must have done something,” or “We don’t warranty electrical products.” Just “It’s in the mail, should get to you on Wednesday.” Wow! So anyone who needs reliable service check out DB Electrical. I know we’re lifelong customers now.

It doesn’t seem possible but in three weeks I’ll be starting my first garden seeds: peppers and petunias. Once seed starting begins, spring seems a whole lot closer, doesn’t it?

Will and I have decided to offer another homesteading seminar here at our place, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, August 25th, 26th, and 27th, providing there is interest. A lot of people have been asking about another seminar so here is your chance, should you decide you’d like to come. I’ll be posting more information on our website, www.seedtreasures.com, in the near future. — Jackie

Jackie Clay

Snow, snow, snow

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Well, at least the perennial garden plants will have plenty of snow cover this winter. We just got another five inches today. I can’t lie and say I wish winter would stay for months and months. I’m about ready for spring! At least we aren’t suffering like some folks on the East and West Coasts are, though, with flooding and big snowstorms. We just do our chores and throw another log on the fire.

But chores are sometimes challenging. Like today when we had to set big round bales out and water the big livestock. The wind was blowing, snow falling sideways, and although it was 15 above, it felt VERY cold. I’m the official gate-opener so while Will runs up and down the hill with the tractor, I wait for him to come so I can open gates. Brrrrr! And although we now have a great new well downhill from the barn, you still have to warm up the generator, start it, hook up a hundred feet of hose (sometimes a little frozen in spots) and stand around while water fills this tank, then that tank. Then the hose must be drained twice in hopes it won’t be frozen next time we water.

No, living in the North is not easy but we couldn’t think of anywhere else we’d want to live.

For Christmas, my friend Dara gave me a big North Georgia Candy Roaster squash she’d grown. She said it’s one of the best tasting squash she’s ever had so she wanted us to try it. It is beautiful and I hate to cut into it! But, of course, we will so we can try this squash. If we love it too, we’ll be growing it this year so we can offer seed next year in our Seed Treasures catalog.

candy-roaster_1342

Meanwhile, David has been trimming out some spots in his old bedroom after work. (Work right now means taking his snowmobile and sled to Tower, about 30 miles away, unloading the snowmobile, then driving over seven miles across the ice on Lake Vermilion, to where Voyager Log Homes is working on a log house.) By the time David gets off work, it’s dark and the trip back to the truck must be interesting, especially when it’s snowing so much.

david_1337

We’ve been spending a little time working on a couple more puzzles, first a bear, then deer, and just lately, an old farm scene. When you walk past the table, you just have to stop and find a few more pieces! We all really enjoy it. Hey, it doesn’t take much to entertain us homesteaders.

deer-puzzle_1336

I just have to tell you about the huge pile of 20 solar panels we just got from a friend, on a VERY good deal! All totalled, it will boost our charging to double what we have now! Wow, were we glad to get them. Now, come spring, it’s one of the first projects Will has planned. We’ll have to run our generator very little once they’re all hooked up. So very nice! — Jackie

Jackie Clay

With winter definitely here we are planning our gardens

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

We’ve got serious snow on the ground and temps which are destined to see below zero this week, but Will and I are hard at work planning our next year’s gardens. Like many of you, we’ve been getting seed catalogs in the mail. To avoid missing out on some new listings of rare seeds I’ve been ordering a few things.

Not only do we raise food to eat and put up, but we also raise food for our seed business as well. We grow a lot more varieties than we offer in our catalog and on our website because not all meet our requirements: productivity, taste, and hardiness. This year we grew 27 different bean varieties; some we loved, some not so much, and a few were really rare varieties. Take Monacello di Trevio for instance — I paid $4 for 10 seeds of this gorgeous red and white shiny round bean. It was supposed to be a bush bean but I soon found out it was a pole variety. Will almost had a heart attack when I paid forty cents a seed for beans! But those 10 seeds produced more than 4 pounds of beans. They tasted great, shelled easy, and produced well. Not enough to offer yet, but you can be sure I will be planting many more next spring!

bean-seeds_1202

Not only do we study seed catalogs but also the Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook, in which hundreds of seed savers across the globe let us know what seeds they have to offer folks like us. The seeds in this book are open pollinated, often ancient heirloom varieties. This past summer Will grew Yellow Monster sweet bell and Giant Chinese Hot peppers and I tried several new-to-us beans. What fun! It doesn’t take much to please us homesteaders, does it? — Jackie

Jackie Clay

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

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
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  www.seedtreasures.com.  If you can't access our website, just e-mail us for the listing at seedtreasures[at]yahoo.com.
Jackie Clay

Snow’s coming … too soon

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

We heard the dreaded four letter word: snow! And eight inches plus is forecast. In Northern Minnesota, that means it’ll probably stick all winter. This will most likely be our first permanent snowfall (which will not melt until spring), so we’ve been hurrying around all day getting chores done. We split up some more dry wood to add to the wood shed along with all the small wood Will has been cutting.

Then Will took the splitter off the tractor and attached the rototiller. He wants to get all of the gardens tilled before it snows so the sheet of manure he lays on it will more easily leach nutrients into the soil between now and spring. David’s girlfriend, Ashley, came out and Will says she’s now tilling the North garden! Wow, I’m impressed!

willtilling_0177

greatsoil_0178

Meanwhile, I’ve been updating our Seed Treasures website as I know lots of folks are anxious to see what goodies we’re offering this year (and there are a lot). I have also been printing off hundreds of labels for all the different varieties. My printer is a dinosaur so every once in a while it has fits and won’t, but it is getting done. Now if that darned snow would just hold off … — Jackie

 
 
 


 
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