We made a mistake in the current issue, Issue No. 149, September/October 2014. In the article titled “Nut trees on your homestead,” we inadvertently put in the wrong photo over the caption that reads “Chestnuts grow inside groups of prickly burrs which split open, revealing shiny, flattish nuts when they become ripe.” We put a photo of a horse chestnut, which is poisonous. Horse chestnuts are so bitter that it would be hard to accidentally eat them, but they are poisonous. We should have put a photo of an edible American chestnut. We apologize for the error. Please share this with any BHM subscribers that you know.


Because we were concerned, we contacted some folks who know about poisons and such.

According to an Oregon Health Services University toxicologist, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea are the most common symptoms of eating the seed. But, it is so bitter that it is intolerable to eat so it is very rare for someone to ingest a large amount.

Also, the person we spoke to at Oregon Poison Control said the seed is very bitter; it is highly unlikely that someone would swallow it. Minimal cases are reported, as it is a well-known plant. On the off-chance that someone did eat it, the seed will not kill them. One or two seeds may only cause gastroenteritis, and larger amounts cause mouth irritation. Ingestion of large quantities (or repeated ingestion of small quantities) can cause bigger systemic problems, particularly in children.


But the Bill Bean tomato in this photo is no mistake! We have several that will weigh in at three pounds or more. WOW! One plant has more than 20 tomatoes on it that weigh at least a pound or more each. Now that’s productive. And for such a huge tomato, it is very meaty and makes Brandywine cringe in shame.

Yesterday we hosted a gathering of the combined Chisholm and Hibbing garden clubs. We toured our gardens, orchard, and berry patch and spent more than 3 hours showing people what we grow and varieties that do well for us here, and explaining how our homestead works. It was fun and very well attended. The interest in heirloom, open pollinated crops was exciting.

Today while Will is hauling round bales of hay home from the fields I’m starting to harvest seeds from some of our earliest maturing tomatoes. Bill Bean, which we had previously figured was a 100 day tomato, came in at just over 75 days this year! We always save seeds from the earliest maturing fruits to “encourage” the varieties to become earlier producing. So I have several bowls lined up on the counter ready to receive tons of tomato seeds from many different varieties of tomatoes. Some are old favorites such as Punta Banda, Early Firefall, and Cherokee Purple but a lot are new to us. We’re especially excited about Alpine, a smaller “regular” tomato that is hugely productive and early; Indigo Beauty, a mid-sized gorgeous tomato with a purple top and orange lower half; Glacier, another very productive smaller tomato; and Mule Team, which is a red, round quite early flavorful addition to our garden. What fun!

Just a note: We still have many slots left for our Sept 12-14th Homestead Seminar. I’m not sure what’s happened, but there hasn’t been a lot of response to this potentially great harvest seminar. If you’re interested in coming, let us know. (We may have to quit offering seminars due to lack of response.) — Jackie


  1. My hearts dream since the very first seminar is a trip for my husband and I. With two kids 13, & 16, still at home difficult to leave them and the cost is so over our means at this time. Please dont stop the seminars. Some of us look forward to being able to come in the next couple of years.

  2. I would love to come to a couple of them but they seem to fall on event dates and that means I am at a fair some where roasting and selling nuts!!! I will keep trying tho.

  3. All,

    Thanks for your input on our seminars. I sure understand the money thing as cash is short for us, too, right now. We’ll keep working at it and see how things look later in the year. We need to fill up in order to be able to afford the expenses involved (our two cooks, porta potties, etc.). Our seminar this fall will be lightly attended and we’ll just have to see what we can work out in the future.

  4. Barb,

    We do too! And yes, we do have several sweet, rich tomato varieties such as Bill Bean, Cherokee Purple, Jubilee (gold), Hillbilly and others. All wonderful sliced on your plate or in your favorite recipe. (Hmmm I think I’ll make bacon and tomato sandwiches for supper. Thanks!)

  5. Maybe don’t give up on the seminars, but play with the execution. Maybe take names for an interest list and schedule when enough people. Offer private seminars for a fee – then the person booking the seminar is responsible for getting the people together (I know someone who does this type of arrangement for self-defense seminars, which can be single or multiple sessions). Just incomplete ideas that may spark a useful idea at some point while you’re harvesting and canning. Just try to remember it after you have it!

  6. I would love to come to a seminar but unfortunately, they are in the middle of springs work and harvest. HaHa!! It is a busy time for us and it would leave my husband with the milk cow and he doesn’t have time then to take on extra chores. Plus the critters are trying their best to harvest my garden before me.

    Do you have paprika peppers? If so will you be selling seed?

  7. Hey Jackie, I think a lot of people just don’t have the cash right now to come. I can’t come because of the money and I’m sure there are many others too. No offense to you though since you do prepare for these.

    So now that the Farmer’s Almanac is out with their winter forecast, what are the beavers saying? So far they have been more right than almanacs and all of the computers combined!!

    Yes I am surprised by the Bill Beans too. Right now I have to out pick the little person in the garden who is chewing on the tomatoes when they start to turn. They leave the potatoes alone and now are in the tomatoes!!

    Thanks for sharing your varieties! I like to read up on them and see what may work here. Enjoy are fallish weather now!! Cindy

  8. Jackie,
    Thanks for sharing tidbits about the new varieties you’re trying out — I often look back at your articles for my seed orders to make sure I look for the best varieties! Also, I so want to attend one of your seminars — if we didn’t have a major family trip (5 round trip plane tickets – ugh!) that we can’t miss because aunts and uncles aren’t going to be around much longer, and a potential move in the next 2 months, I would ask for the seminar as an early Christmas/anniversary combined present. I hope when I’m finally able to attend one that you’ll still have them, but I certainly understand there has to be at least a little ROI to justify the amount of time and effort you have to put in to prepare for and host them. Best wishes to you and your hubby! Teri

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