We’ve been busy with the garden, among other projects, and the weather has been hot, hot. But finally our little goat cottage is nearly done. I painted two coats of barn red on it, doing the trim in white and Will stapled on the roofing felt and now has half the barn shingled. I picked up some “on sale” shingles at our local building center and they look very nice on the roof. Oreo, David’s 250 pound wether that he bottle raised in Montana, thinks it’s especially for him and is carefully watching and helping in every part of the process. Did you know how HEAVY a goat like that is when you’re trying to push him out of your way?


But now the goats have a pretty barn to keep them dry and away from the biting flies. And now we’re on to other projects!

Readers’ Questions:

Hail damaged plants

We recently moved to Wisconsin from Phoenix to our own 40 acres of heaven and planted our vegetable garden, everything was going good until this morning when a hail storm blew through and now everything is damaged. The tomato plants are pretty well broken up and no longer bushy and beautiful. The chard and lettuce and other greens are shredded, the green peppers have a couple of leaves left but no buds now, the peas and green beans are devastated. What happens next, will they come out of it or should we at least replant the greens so we have at least something to freeze this fall? I’m figuring at least the cabbage, Brussels sprouts, corn and potatoes and onions will bounce back but what about the rest? The joys of mother nature, it could have been worse.

Charles Wiedmaier
Mondovi, Wisconsin

Hail is the gardener’s worst nightmare; I’ve had it totally wipe out a garden in ten minutes, leaving absolutely nothing to indicate we ever had a garden! I’d say your tomatoes and peppers will quickly bounce back. Prune off any damaged branches and give them a good feeding. You’ll never know they were hurt in two weeks’ time. I’d replant your beans and peas by making another row, just a few inches away from the ruined ones. That way if the hailed beans and peas recover, you’ll have two crops. If not, you’ll still have a crop. You still have time–just use early maturing varieties. Same with your corn, unless it looks fairly good. It’s tough and will take a lot.

Good luck and may Mother Nature smile on your persistence! — Jackie

Canning red potatoes

I just dug up a tractor bucket full of potatoes…which is a lot for two people to eat!! Anyway, they are red potatoes and all my canning books say you can only can whites or Irish…but a good friend of mine said that her mother always canned the red ones as long as they were really small, like bite sized. So who is right?

Joy Goepfert
Alba, Missouri

Of course you can home can red potatoes! You don’t need tiny bite sized ones, either. I’ve canned chunks, dices, and whole (small) red potatoes, just like the other varieties. I can up the little ones or ones that I damaged digging. That way I use up ones that might be wasted, otherwise. With little red potatoes, I just scrub them and can them with the ultra thin skins right on. They’re great! — Jackie

Breeding goats

We have a Nubia/Boar billy, who seems to be always in rut. Can he breed with our Nubia doe and our Nubia/boar goat after they have kidded? They both had kids in Jan/Feb. We had them in different pens but good old Bubba got out and was running with the does for a while.

Mary Ingold
Kalispell, Montana

Some bucks are more “interested” than others, even if does aren’t in heat. Goats usually can come into heat from the middle of July through January, but CAN breed at other times as well. If your does start to “plump up” along about July, you’ll have a pretty good hint that Bubba had his way. — Jackie

Canning with wire bail jars

We have glass wire bail canning jars. Can we water bath can stewed tomatoes and tomato juice in these jars and if so for how long?

Just wanted you to know that the lemon curd recipe is wonderful and is a good way to use the extra eggs this time of year.

Rhona and Brad Barrie
Strong, Maine

It’s better to save those pretty jars for storing dry foods or dehydrated foods. The trouble with them is that you can’t tell if they are sealed or not like you can with modern two piece lids, which indent in the center. So you don’t know for sure if the jars are truly sealed.

I’m glad you liked the lemon curd; I use it in a lot of baking recipes, like filling tart cups or putting a dollop on a square of shortbread. We love it! — Jackie

Making cherry cordial

I am going to attempt making cherry cordial with tart cherries we just picked. My question is: How do I preserve this? I want to put them in small, pretty bottles, not jars. Michaels has some with a cork top. If I use those, do I keep the cordial in the cabinet, refrigerator or freezer? And how long would it keep? I’m hoping until Christmas.

Becky McKim
Ankeny, Iowa

Sorry Becky, but I don’t use alcohol. Why don’t you type cherry cordial or tart cherry cordial recipe in your browser. I’m sure you’ll find one you’ll like. Enjoy! — Jackie

Keeping turkeys with chickens

I read in the latest issue of BHM that you keep turkeys in with your chickens. I also read in another magazine today that someone else is keeping turkeys in with the chickens. Now, a poultry book that I read this summer (I think it was a Storey’s book but not sure as it was a library book) that you can’t keep turkeys with chickens because of a disease that the turkeys get from the chickens, something to do with black spots on the heads of the turkeys that kill them. The book also said that raising turkeys in different pens on the same farm was a risk due to possible cross contamination. I would love to keep turkeys and chickens as well as other poultry for eggs meat and pest control. So what’s the deal, is it safe to keep turkeys and chickens together or not?

Joshua Schrader
Middleburg, Pennsylvania

Yes, it’s possible that turkeys can get blackhead and pass it on to your chickens. Probable? Not so you’d notice. I’ve kept turkeys with chickens all my life and have never had any type of disease passed from one to the other. Or any disease, period. I have a turkey tom in with my chickens right now and everyone is happy. I wouldn’t advise someone with a commercial, large flock, to mix them, as with a huge increase in numbers and stress, anything is possible. — Jackie

Squash bugs

Do you have suggestions for controlling/eliminating squash bugs? Companion planting nasturtium and marigolds does not seem to help me. I have too many to try to control by hand every day. Perhaps you have an idea or two?

M. Zipf
Amelia, Ohio

I’m totally in favor of hand picking, but sometimes you have to pull out the big guns to save a crop. I’d dust your squash with a rotenone or pyrethrins powder weekly (more often if it rains) until you get them under control. As these products are quite safe and are a natural alternative to chemicals, you can eat the squash the day after dusting. (But I always wash anyway.) Once you stop the huge infestation, keep an eye out for the eggs on the undersides of the leaves and squash them or you’ll hatch out a new crop! — Jackie

Pressure canning

I have an issue with pressure canning. All my life I’ve only water bathed but did a few jars of green beans and such last year on my old stove. Well, my husband just bought us a new stove this year. I tried to can some chicken stock today. I put it on the burner, and had the burner as low as it would go. The pressure went up to nearly 20 pounds. I tried canning with only a corner of the pot on the burner, and the pressure still stayed around 15 lbs. The only way I could get it down to 10 was by opening the petcock valve a little. Is that okay to do? Any suggestions on how I should do this, since none of my burners will turn down low enough? This stove doesn’t have a “simmer” burner.

Angela Billings
Stronghurst, Illinois

Is this an electric stove? I’ve never had a stove that wouldn’t turn down low, but I’ve not had an electric stove, either. No, you shouldn’t open the petcock valve, even a little. You could seriously affect the pressure and necessary steam buildup in your canner. A lot of folks who can’t use their “normal” kitchen range for canning, for one reason or another (glass top, top oven that won’t let you put a canner or other large pot on the burners) often buy a small two burner table top propane stove to can on. Don’t confuse these (available through Harbor Freight and Northern Tool, among other places) with Coleman camping stoves; they are much sturdier. They are inexpensive and last forever with no maintenance.

I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble with pressure canning, as very few folks do. — Jackie

Cleaning cast iron

Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed (like always) your recent article about cast iron. I love my cast iron skillets too. Just to pass this tip on that when I clean my oven I put my cast iron skillets that need to be cleaned in the oven (self cleaning cycle) and let all that heat do double duty. The pans come out great. I learned this trick when some one years ago gave me some 100 year old cast iron that looked horrible. A friend told me to bring it over because she was cleaning her oven “self cleaning” and low and behold 3 hours later I had beautiful cast iron. I was also told after I wash out my cast iron to put it back on the stove top on high just long enough to dry it (about a minute) then remove it from the stove and wipe it out with an oily piece of paper towel. I just use vegetable oil and the residual heat must help it soak into the pan because I never have oily pans to put away and voila, no rust. Once again this is the self cleaning cycle, not the chemical stove cleaner.

On pins and needles waiting for your new book.

Michelle Chapin
Fresno, Ohio

Sounds great if you have a self-cleaning oven. I never have had one; all mine were either plain Jane propane or wood. I’m sure readers will like your tip. Thanks!

The book is in the final, final stages, almost ready for the printer. I’ll keep you posted! — Jackie

Canning potatoes and getting rid of cabbage worms

You have inspired me to get a Pressure Canner as a way to become more self reliant and I used it the first time this morning. I canned some potatoes but they lost a lot of their water. I looked in the Ball Blue Book and they said that can happen with starchy foods but they did not say if it was still safe? I have a little guy that I would love to feed home canned foods but want to make sure I am doing everything right! Also do you know of a good organic way to get rid of cabbage worms? Thanks for all your help you are amazing!

John and Leslie Glenn
Lancaster, Ohio

Wow! Amazing. I’ve got to tell my family that; they mostly think I’m tired. I’m thrilled that you’re starting to can. You’ll love it; I promise! Yes, potatoes sometimes lose some water. As long as the jars are sealed, they are safe to eat. As always, before using any canned food (including store food!), look at it when opening, and smell the contents. If the food was sealed, looks and smells fine, it is good to eat.

Before you get cabbage worms, you can cover your cole crops with a floating row cover and encourage swallows and bluebirds; they LOVE cabbage butterflies. After you have a problem, you can use Bt which is a natural biological killer of ONLY caterpillars that eat your plants; it won’t harm pollinators, helpful insects, or you. You can buy it through most garden supply catalogs or stores. It’s worked great for me. For heavy infestations, I’d use a rotenone or pyrethrins spray or powder for fast knock down. Then follow in a week with Bt. None are glow in the dark treatments. — Jackie

Canning pre-cooked meatballs

Having a busy schedule, I use frozen pre-cooked meatballs that I purchase at the grocery. With limited freezer space I would like to can them. I just bought a pressure canner but have not used it yet. Can I just heat these in the microwave or oven and then can with some beef broth? I assume the processing time would be the same for ground meat.

Natchez, Mississippi

I’m so happy to hear you’re starting to stock up and begin canning! Yes, you can heat your meatballs and pack them in broth or a seasoned light sauce such as tomato sauce or your choice. Use 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts at 10 pounds pressure, just like ground meat. — Jackie

Rust on canning jar lids

We started storing our home-canned food in our damp basement about a year ago for want of space. Commercial cans rust quickly down there so we dipped our jars’ lids after canning into molten canning wax to stop corrosion. But we’re getting slight specks of tarnish on the lids’ edges anyway. Do you know of any safe way to halt rust in its tracks?

Juneberries we planted last year are still not thriving, even in our rich (and PH neutral) Red River Valley soil. Any suggestions? Thank you.

Ross Nelson
Casselton, North Dakota

I had a problem with rust in MY damp basement on our first Minnesota farm, years back. What changed things for me was installing a wood stove to burn in the winter and using a fan to suck the damp air out during the summer, when the humidity was high. The wood stove worked much better than a dehumidifier (which will also work, but costs a bit to run). I’d stay away from dipping the lids in hot wax, you may compromise your seals.

Juneberries sometimes take a couple of years to start booming. They do like a more acid soil, so adding some peat around the base of the plants might make them happier. They are definitely worth the effort! — Jackie

Chickens and Turkeys

We just bought 2 baby turkeys. We were told that they cannot be in with chickens as they may spread a disease. Can they be be put into the pen with our geese, once they get old enough to go outside? We really don’t want to have to build another pen!

Debra Brown,
Littlefork, Minnesota

This is another case of “it’s possible” but not real probable. I’ve kept turkeys with my chickens all my life and have never had a case of disease transfer between the two. In fact, I have a turkey with my chickens right now. I wouldn’t worry. — Jackie

Amending soil

This spring we cut trees and enlarged our garden space, tilling and adding much Black Kow compost, peat and lime and tilling and tilling. We have planted in the area and have noticed plants are not taking off like we had expected, could this be that the Nitrogen is “locked up”, we did not think we would have this problem with all the amending we had done. Do you have any recommendations? (We are going to begin using Fish emulsion foliar feeding IF the rain stops)

Darnell Rogers
Arden North Carolina

It sounds like your garden is suffering from too much rain, rather than too little nitrogen. A soggy garden never grows nicely. I’ll bet when it stops raining and you see some sunshine, your garden will take right off. Using the fish emulsion should give the set-back plants a jump. — Jackie

Rhubarb jam and planting cucumbers near potatoes

Would you share your rhubarb jam recipe?

Also, I’ve got a question about planting cucumbers near potatoes. I put cukes in my large potato bed this Spring, thinking it’d be a great combination. The potato bed is fenced in to keep out the chickens, and I thought the cukes could climb the fence. Only AFTER I got all that planted, with the potatoes really doing well and the cukes starting to put out their first leaves, did I read that potatoes and cukes should not be planted near each other. I’d never heard that before! Do you have any advice for me on that?

Storrs, Connecticut

My favorite rhubarb jam recipe isn’t a jam, but a conserve. Conserves usually have raisins and/or nuts. Here’s the recipe I use:

10# rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 cups sugar
2 3/4 cup vinegar + 1/4 cup water
2 cups raisins
2 cups walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3 Tbsp. flour

Pour boiling water over rhubarb in large bowl and let stand 5 minutes; drain. Put rhubarb in large kettle and add vinegar, 1/4 cup water, raisins, flour, and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Add chopped walnuts and simmer a bit more. Ladle hot into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Process in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. If you live at an altitude above 1,000 feet consult your canning book for instructions for increasing your processing time to suit your altitude, if necessary. Hint: This is a real chunky conserve. To make a smoother product, I sometimes run the raisins and nuts through a meat grinder before adding to the mix.

No, I never heard about the cuke/potato thing. Why not try it and see how you come out and let us know. I’m sure other readers will like to know, just like me. — Jackie

BBQ sauce recipe

I used a BBQ sauce recipe years ago from the magazine that I think was yours. I loved it and want to make and can it again, but can’t find my recipe. Could you reprint it for me?

Kathy Harris
Fresno, California

Sorry Kathy, but I have used a lot of different BBQ sauce recipes through the years and every year try new ones, so I don’t have a clue which one you liked. You might try going back through the anthologies for the years the recipe may have been in and do a search. — Jackie


  1. I have been cooking with tart cherries for the past six months. They are a great addition to any of the recipes I have used them. They add a good zing to the taste. I recently discovered a free tart cherry book (with tart cherry recipes). It is a good book and best of all it is free. It is called Tart Cherry Health Report. You can get it from Traverse Bay Farms

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