Wow, it’s planting time and we have been crazy busy lately! Our wonderful apprentice, Alisha, went back home to plant her garden and watch over her dog, Bella, who is due to have puppies soon. (Her boyfriend has been caring for her, while Alisha has been here.)

We had a forecast for freezing the night before last. Not frost, but freezing! So we closed up the hoop houses to protect the peppers inside then tried to figure out how to protect the 55 tomatoes that did not have Wall O’ Waters on them. Will came up with the idea to use the clear plastic shoe boxes we use during harvest of our seeds for the seed business, turned over then covered with hay. So he placed them, tucking dirt around the bottoms while I carefully shook reed canary grass hay over each box and around the sides. And we prayed. Often when the forecast says 30 degrees, we get five degrees below that, and that could be very bad. But in the morning, the sun came out and I walked out to check the baby plants, which were all just fine! (If you’d like more hints for protecting your crops, check out my article, Extend your growing season in Issue #131 of Backwoods Home Magazine or the Twenty-second Year Anthology.) Besides planting, it’s also farming time. So Will has been busy at both our place and the neighbors’ working up the plowed fields with the disc. Hopefully he can get oats planted before it rains.

One of the hoop houses full of peppers and the tomatoes, safely in their Wall O’ Waters.
We set clear plastic shoe boxes upside down over the tomatoes, then covered them with hay.

Meanwhile, I’ve been planting, planting, planting — squash in several gardens for pure seed and corn, corn, corn! I’ll swear the gardens grew over winter!

I also went to granddaughter Ava’s dance recital down in Cloquet Saturday. That was very nice and the dancers were fantastic. While I was gone, Will picked all the asparagus — 12 pounds of it! We had fried bacon and asparagus last night and today I have to get the rest canned up. There is also lots of rhubarb, which I’m going to mix with some of those dried raisins and cranberries for a sauce to put over biscuits like strawberry shortcake — complete with whipped cream. And I’ll be planting more corn and squash as they’re the longest season crops. I think a nice long hot shower is going to feel good tonight!

It was interesting to see Cedar Waxwings eating apple blossoms.

While watering the apple trees in the orchard, I was surprised to see a flock of Cedar Waxwings in our biggest apple trees, eating blossoms. Will and I also saw them eating blossoms on the Juneberry trees this spring. This is behavior I’ve never seen before. Like seeing Rose Breasted Grosbeaks gobbling down suet, as they’re doing now. Interesting, for sure! — Jackie


  1. WOW Jackie!! I can’t believe you all are still having freezing temps and are just getting your garden planted. Here in the backwoods of southern Alabama (Zone 8-Coastal AL) we have had record breaking HEAT the whole month of May and NO RAIN for 6 weeks. Our temps have been in mid 90’s with heat indexes of 105-110+ (F) for weeks. Today the actual temp was 101 with high humidity. I plant my tomato’s & peppers in containers and have had to move them to partial shady areas to keep the sun from frying the plants. Some of my tomato’s are over 6 ft tall & full of baby tomatoes & blooms as are my bell peppers. I have a yellow straight neck summer squash plant that is over 5 ft wide with the others at least 3 ft wide and full of baby squash & blooms. I downsized my gardening this year to raised beds (1st time doing raised beds and with this drought, been having to water every other day-I guess that is the downside to raised beds??) Setting up a drip irrigation system this week to eliminate the time consuming watering. Blueberries are done this year and blackberries on the downhill run with a couple more pickings before they are done for the year. This has been one crazy spring (record breaking rain) & now drought conditions. You mentioned the birds you are seeing there. I find it very strange that I have seen NO BIRDS this year at all. No birds touched my peaches, blueberries nor blackberries. The only birds I have here are those lovely whippoorwills at night and they are in abundance, more than the usual and almost deafening at times during the night. Me and another friend have even heard them during the daytime and that is just unheard of as they are nocturnal birds. I have not even seen ONE SQUIRREL or ground squirrel this year. There is just so many STRANGE THINGS happening and something I do take notice of being a very outdoors person from sun-up til way after dark. Anyone else having ODD THINGS happen with gardening or with wildlife?? Just curious. I will send you a bit of heat if you will send me a cool breeze to make my days outdoors a bit more tolerable! LOL!! Blessings for a grand & prosperous harvest to all homesteaders! Looks like we may ALL NEED bountiful harvests to account for all the flooding that is going to hit folks that DON’T GARDEN hard in the pocketbook…if there is anything to buy in the stores.

    • Wow, I don’t envy you the heat! I do better with cold than heat so I can’t complain about our weather, especially seeing the flooding in the Midwest. Our beavers are anal about building up higher dams this spring so that’s a sign of dry weather coming. Will’s been going out daily to tear down enough of the dam to keep the pond water from flooding the area below the house, which will kill the trees along the creek. But every day the beavers have built it right back up! Pretty darned persistent critters.

  2. Do you ever sell your photos for magazine use? Extra income if used in right places.

  3. I love the little “peep” noise they make to each other when in a flock. They blend in so well that I am alerted to their presence usually by their Peep!
    There has been so much rain! We finally were able to get into the garden but parts of it are muddy. The Reed Canary grass has been wonderful at keeping the weeds down. We are learning much about letting it dry and more efficient ways to cut it.
    Strawberries have been discovered by the nesting Robins. They only take one swipe out of a ripe berry.

    • Yep, that “peep” is distinctive for sure. I cringe though when I hear it while I’m picking pin cherries because it means they’ve found “MY” tree! And in an hour there’s not a cherry left on the tree either. So I pick like mad while they gobble above me.

  4. The weather is CRAZEE

    Up here in Ottawa ON we had tornadoes on Sunday but not the hot humid weather that is normally associated with them. Mornings have been close to 5 degrees Celsius which I think is close to 41. The provider beans have been super slow to germinate and have also had to protect the tomato plants. That’s the third time in 9 months we’ve had tornadoes in this area. Normally tornadoes occur south of us close to Niagara Falls area.
    The bad one that hit last fall was an EF3 and last time there was such a bad one was in 1902.

    This is the coldest start to June that I can remember in over 50 years and I’m originally from Winnipeg (‘Winterpeg’) and I don’t remember it ever being that cold in that city.

    My peas are finally coming up – 1 week late thannirmal

    • Yep, we are sure having weird weather! Tornadoes? Wow. We don’t often have them here, either and am always keeping an ear to the weather radio when the sky looks ominous though. Just in case….

  5. Re: Grosbeaks. They do like suet. I’ve only seen one rosebrested. Here they are the black headed ones. I had suet out for the nuthatches not expecting anyone else to want it. The western tanagers love it as well as the bullocks orieols and the finches. The grosbeaks are a problem. At first there were only a few but they were eating all the suet so I got more feeders. I think they told their friends. I was surprised to suddenly have over 50 of them show up!!! They went through all the feeders and part of a refill!!

    • Wow! Fifty Grosbeaks? I get maybe six or eight at a time. I also got a surprise when an Indigo Bunting popped in, eating the suet crumbs below the feeders. That was my first Indigo Bunting sighting and I didn’t know they ate suet too. So I also tossed out a handful of mealworms, just to see if he’d like them too.

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