Moving to Minnesota

I have been a huge fan of yours for a long time. I have a question on a place to move to in northern Minnesota. I am 23, married, and have two little boys. I want to move to a place where there is good hunting and nature where we can have animals and a big garden. But it also has to be within reasonable distance for work.

Joshua Grossman
Hazelton, North Dakota

You might check out the areas around Cotton or farther north, say north of Hibbing and Virginia. Cotton is within commuting distance of Duluth and you can find some relatively inexpensive land with homes within driving distance of Virginia or Hibbing. All of these areas have good hunting, plenty of wildlife and nature. As with all real estate, the farther the commute, the cheaper the land prices. Good luck in finding your homestead! — Jackie

Growing beans on arches

I want to tell you about my favorite way of growing beans. I wish I had pictures of it, but I haven’t been able to do this in a few years.

I bought cheap, plain garden arches at the store, about 6 feet high, I would say, maybe a bit more. Sprayed rust proofing on the part that went in the ground. We lined them up in a good long row, about 3 or 4 feet in between them. Then we planted beans all along the row. They grew up and completely covered the arches. The leaves were able to soak up all the sun they wanted. Inside, it was cooler, and darker. There those beans were, hanging down all around just waiting to be picked. It kept them out of the dirt, there was no bending to pick them, and it seemed like the bugs never did find their way into the tunnel. They did very well there. An extra bonus was that inside the tunnel with the shade and coolness, lettuces and greens grew better most of the summer. Some herbs did well there too. Amazingly enough, basil did well at the ends of the tunnel. It always burns, for me, in full sun. One year we did summer squash. It did real well also, and was well supported by the structure even when the squash got pretty big.

I will be doing this again, it’s just so pretty, and it’s nice being in the shade while picking!

Barb Mundorff
Youngstown, Ohio

Very nice, Barb! Another way to do that is to set one or more 16-foot welded wire stock panels lengthwise in parallel rows 10 feet apart. Then bow up others over the walkway. This makes a cheap arbor for growing any vine crops. We’re doing this with our grapes as soon as the ground thaws and we can pound steel T-posts,. Good thinking and send us some pictures this summer so we can all enjoy your arbor. — Jackie

Using manure for garden compost

In preparing garden compost I know cow and chicken “poo” is good to use to enrich soil. Are there any “poos” that should not be used…such as dog poo?

Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida

Dog and cat feces are the only “bad” poos I can think of. They are “bad” as they can carry internal parasites and possible disease that are transmissible to humans. Dig a hole in the side yard under some shrubs and bury feces out of reach of children. They will give a good boost to your shrubs too!

We LOVE poo! Our homestead motto is “MO’ POO POO,” translated; more poo poo! It fixes just about anything, we’ve found. It loosens clay, lets sand hold more moisture, fertilizes naturally, and mulches wonderfully. Love that poo poo! — Jackie


  1. Your reader may also want to look at the areas around Roseau and Warroad. Lots of property available, much of it very reasonable. Great fishing and hunting, and several large employers. Finding work is not a problem, but like International Falls, it is a drive to get to any major shopping centers.

  2. Barb, I put 16 foot cattle panels curved up with fence posts to hold the ends and my beans grow up them so nicely. The center is 8 foot and I am so short I can just barely each the top. But it is the best way I have ever grown pole beans. Will do peas that way this year. I usually grow them on a 16 foot hog panel but will do the arches this year for them.

  3. I live up around International Falls, MN. Could check that out too for what you are looking for. Very friendly people, hunting, fishing, snow mobile trails, all kinds of wildlife and cheap property. We have 108 acres with older fixer upper we paid $64,000 for. We are very happy here. Fairly remote however and you don’t have shopping centers or anything like that.

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