Holy mackerel, $1.00 a pound for plain old potatoes that weren’t that nice, to begin with. My heart just about stopped. My potatoes are doing wonderful, the plants being nearly up to my waist, but I thought I’d pick up a 10 pound bag so I could let mine get bigger. I’ve been digging around the plants a bit and am finding lots of fist sized ‘taters. I really wanted to let them get bigger, but NO WAY will I spend that much for potatoes!

I about cringe every time I go to the store, as the prices just keep going up and up and up. Cheese that used to be $3 a pound is now $4.99, flour that used to be .99 a 5 pound bag is now $2.99. Meat? Oh yeah, some was in the $10.99 range a POUND. Now where’s that deer?

I am so grateful to have such a huge, wonderful garden. We’ll have bushels of onions, carrots, potatoes and cabbages. The squash vines are so rampant that they threaten to cover the rototiller. The corn’s tasseling out nicely and is over my head and the tomatoes are full of fat green fruits. We might not have lots, but we’ll eat like kings!

Readers’ Questions:

Canning condensed milk and ricotta cheese

1) Do you have directions for canning sweetened condensed milk from real milk? I’ve seen recipes using powdered milk, but I have been blessed with a cow who is a good producer, and would like to try to can up some from “scratch”.

2) I’ve been making ricotta cheese in my crock pot and would like to know, also, how to can this, please?

Sarah Axsom
Natchitoches, Louisiana

Sorry, but I don’t know how a person would make sweetened condensed milk, although regular home canned milk comes close to condensed milk in taste and appearance; you’d just have to add the sugar yourself. You might give that a try.

I’ve canned several hard cheeses, but haven’t done ricotta, nor do I know anyone else that’s done it. I’m thinking that the softer cheeses might not make good candidates for canning, due to their texture and delicate flavor. Wish I had better news for you. — Jackie

Canning lard

I will be getting around 200 lbs of lard needing rendering tomorrow. Rendering I can do, the problem is what to do with it afterward. Can you can lard? I really don’t have enough room in the fridge or freezer for it all.

Traci Smith
Lockwood , Missouri

Pour your rendered lard into hot, sterilized wide mouth quart jars to within 1/2″ of the top. Wipe the rims clean and put a hot, previously simmered new lid on the jar and screw down the ring firmly tight. The jars will seal on cooling. These jars will last a long time stored in a cool, dark place. Enjoy your lard! It makes terrific pastry crusts! I’m jealous no matter what my arteries say. — Jackie

Country jobs

I am looking for work for a female in the country. What are possible jobs I can look for?

Sadonna Abair
Saint Petersburg, Florida

It depends largely on what you know how to do or are willing to learn. I’ve done a lot of different work in the country for pay: Grooming dogs, farm work, working at horse farms, cleaning barns, milking cows, training horses, house cleaning, working in a veterinary clinic, maintenance on a country “estate,” to name a few. I never looked for work as a “female,” I’m as liberated as I can stand!

There’s always a need for home care help for the elderly, and there are a lot of elderly folks out there who would like to stay in their country home but need help with housework, driving to doctor appointments, etc. Finding work has never been a problem for me. Just use your imagination and you’ll come up with lots of choices! — Jackie

Manure tea

I have a follow-up question to your response a couple of months ago on the manure tea. You said “Just don’t pour/spray ANY manure tea on plants you will be eating, such as greens, tomatoes, etc.” Don’t you eventually eat something from all the plants in the garden? Do you mean you cannot use manure tea on any of the plants you will eat from? Or you just cannot get the tea on the actual fruit or vegetable you are going to eat – the tomato itself, the zucchini, etc.? I am a little confused. We are new to gardening and your information is really helpful.

Brenda Palmer
Bakersfield, California

Sorry to have been confusing. I meant don’t put manure tea on plants or fruits of plants that you will be eating. For instance don’t spray manure tea on lettuce you’ll be using for a salad, on a tomato that you’ll be eating or a summer squash you’ll harvest in a few days. It’s okay for plants to absorb the manure tea from the roots. You won’t get any bacteria that way, as if you’d eat it right off the vegetable. — Jackie

Pruning grapes

I pruned back my grapes in March. This is the first pruning but I’ve had the grapes for 3 years. Last year I had plenty of grapes but this year nothing. I know it’s to late to worry about getting any grapes. But did I do something wrong? If I did I sure don’t want to do it again. Oh the vines came back strong but no grapes. Thanks.

Pete Ricupero
Shelocta, Pennsylvania

Most grapes bear grapes on year old wood, so you, in effect, cut off your grapes for this year. Next year, they’ll be back. If you’d like to learn to prune your grapes for optimum harvest, check online for many sources. Enter “prune grapes” and you’ll come up with tons of information. Grapes are so much fun and beautiful, too! — Jackie


  1. Jackie, your potato vines look GREAT. Mine have pretty much died back here in KY. Just wanted to say thanks for all the great pictures and GREAT infomation you provide.


  2. Miss Iris,

    I’m with you on the rice, but then there’s the “rice shortage”, so I was thinking dry beans….then there is the “bean shortage”.,….And in effect, the prices of both zoomed upward. Luckily, I have plenty of both of them in storage. But then I just read that the government is planning on releasing the sugar in national storage to be used in ethanol production, to relieve the crunch on corn. Guess what that’ll do to the prices of sugar at the store!!!! Where will it end???


  3. Potatoes not quite that high in Texas but high enough! Trying to learn more about rice and all its uses! Boy, do I love the pictures – thanks!

  4. Here I thought I was imagining things (or it was a fluke) when I saw the price on a bag of potatos recently, apparently not. Looks like I am going to have to turn a larger portion of my yard into growing vegetables.

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