After the second longest winter in northern Minnesota history, spring is finally here. Our temperature today is a sunny 50 and the snow and ice are going away fast. (Usually, we’re in the garden by now!) Today I even walked into the garden for the first time and saw patches of soil. We usually do a whole lot of garden prep work in the fall. (You can check out my article on jump-starting your garden in Issue #161 of BHM.) But last year, fall ended early very abruptly and became winter.

The garden is finally thawing out. Pretty soon we’ll be able to work on removing the tomato cages and burning the old plants.

Our tomato cages and stakes were quickly frozen in and we didn’t even get the old plants pulled and burned. But as they say, “stuff happens” and on the homestead, you’d better get familiar with that saying and relax.

Take yesterday, for instance. Will took the crawler loader out into our new garden to see if he could shove poplar stumps up out of the sand (he couldn’t) then he started shoving cut branches away into a pile to compost. That didn’t work so hot either as he threw a track. Oh well …

I just got 24 new tomato varieties from Glenn Drowns (at Sand Hill Preservation Center in Iowa) and quickly got them planted in peat pellets. It’s kind of funny as some of my earliest planted tomatoes are out on the enclosed porch and are eight inches tall! But from experience, I know those newly-planted seeds will sprout and grow quickly in time to plant, come early June. (I haven’t even counted how many new varieties we’re growing this year!)

The new plastic greenhouses in the enclosed back porch, starting to be filled up with plants from the living room

At least I can see my flower beds in some areas so very soon I’ll be starting to clean them out and get ready for “real” spring when the ground thaws. Right now we’ve still got frost in the ground pretty deep. Our house water line still hasn’t thawed even though the barn line did. But then, the barn line drains into the well so there wasn’t much ice in it to start with.

I can finally see some of my flower beds.
I planted some morning glories and moonflowers and they’re popping up.

I figure the house line will thaw out in about two weeks, judging from the past. We’re doing fine as we can harvest water from our well down by the barn in the meantime. — Jackie


  1. Hi Jackie,

    Seeing your plants in the little greenhouses reminds me of a question for you. I made a rookie mistake and started my peppers and tomatoes way to early (February). My tomatoes are 1.5 – 2 feet tall and it’s just about May. Any advice on what to do with them? Is all lost or just bury them extra deep? I have raised beds that are about 2 feet deep with soil that i plan to put them in. Thanks in advance.

  2. Miss Jackie,
    I think spring may be here as well. May starts a week from today. Last week we had snow showers and sleet nearly every day. This week has been near 60F. My daffodils on the south side of the house bloomed but nights were so cold it ruined the flowers last week. My bees are flying and getting pollen, I think from the willows and maples. Most years my cherries and apples would have finished their bloom before now, but buds are just starting to green up. Most years late frost gets the cherry crop. I have had 2 moderate crops in 32 years. Perhaps this year will be a stellar year for cherries. I hope to make a couple new bee hives this spring. I am soooooo excited for spring weather.
    I know all about bindweed. When I moved here I thought “O look, some one sowed white morning glories all over the property.” that was in summertime. Next spring I tried to make a garden and flowerbeds. What a battle…. those white beauties put on the boxing gloves; it took years of constant pulling, tilling, heavy mulch, and mowing to win that little war!!! I have never planted morning glories of any color since.
    How are the Hibiscus? My seedlings all damped off. If I can find a started plant at a nursery I want a plate sized white with a red dot in the center. I had found a couple other colors on line for half price and they sent really husky dormant roots which I put in large pots in my enclosed porch. Blessings…..Say hello to my buddy Jess Hazzard. Rick Riley

  3. We too still have some snow in the garden but not a foot and it’s going fast with sunny days in the fifties. Hooray!! Yes, our wood shed is still quite full and we have big piles of cut, split dry wood just waiting to fill it plus wood from the sawmill. Wonderful!!

  4. I live in Georgia and morning glories are a pest. The pollinators love them however, they overtake any soil they come near. They will seed and disperse everywhere. Enjoy them!!!

    • I’m so jealous! When we lived in New Mexico, we had a morning glory relative, bindweed, which was VERY hard to get rid of, if not impossible so I understand. But up here, I’m lucky to get some to bloom strongly before freezing. My sister, who lives 80 miles south of us has her Heavenly Blue morning glories go to seed every year but just enough to make a new crop the next year…not become a pest.

  5. tomatoes and potatoes blooming in East Texas Been cool here also nothing like the North but cool 40s at night. Unusual for us.

    • looks like goofy weather all across the country. We’ll all hope for more normal weather coming in soon.

  6. Here in Iowa, we also had two snows this last week, but happy to see the 50’s this week! My hubby has tomatoe plants in the basement that are almost blooming it has taken so darn long for the snow to go! He will be busy planting out this week, hopefully!

    • We’re a long ways from planting or even tilling in the garden. But we’re getting ready. When it hits, it’ll be with a bang this year!

  7. Miss Jackie, what type of trays/flats do you have under your seedlings in your little greenhouses? Are they regular flats that drain through, or trays that hold water. It looks like a wood floor underneath. I’ve been using boot trays from Amazon, but hard to find sizes to match my space. Thanks.

    • My flats have no holes as, yes, we do have a wood floor in the greenhouse and there’s fiberglass insulation under that so we can’t have excess water draining from the flats. I AM very careful to not over-water though as they don’t drain. Jungs has 1040 flats, like mine and mine have lasted for decades. I do double them up to make it easier to carry the full flats around. I was lucky and was given a bunch of flats with holes in the bottom so I use those inside the flats with no holes to make them stiffer.

  8. Oh my do your tomatoes look great!!! I have never heard of Moonflower so I must google that. Always learn something new when you post!!

    How are your peppers and petunias? Yes here is WI we were having a 3-day blizzard last weekend! It’s hard to remember what month it is!!

    • Moonflower is a close relative to morning glories. It’s called “mooonflower” because its blossoms stay open at night often and they are very large, white flowers, shining in the moonlight.

      Our peppers and petunias are wonderful this year. I did lose two varieties of peppers due to excess MiracleGro because I was too lazy to make manure tea for them. So I pain by having to re=plant them.

  9. Here in the Copper Basin Alaska we have at least been having 40’s for highs and mostly 20’s for night lows. Still have a solid foot of snow on the garden, even the raised beds. Tomatoes are up! Snow finally thawed off the hoop houses. Woodshed two thirds full, at least we had log piles to cut up while we wait for snow to melt. I read several blogs from around the country and everyone seems to feel spring is late. Hopefully your spring will stay this time.

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