Although we have some company coming and our wonderful apprentice, Alisha, is also going to be here over the long weekend, we’re gardening as usual. (We are going to friends, Mike and Dara’s for a potluck on the Fourth, though.) We had a good rain and, along with the heat, everything is growing like mad — especially the weeds. I’ll swear you can hear them growing! Will’s been busy running the Mantis and TroyBilt tillers in various gardens while I’ve been trying to hand-weed behind him. I think the weeds are winning. My poor back doesn’t like bending and pulling all day any more. But with my bum knee, I can’t kneel or crawl along the ground so am weeding for awhile, then doing something else. It seems to be working. We’ve got most of the tomatoes staked and caged, and all of them are mulched — they look great.

Tomatoes — staked and caged

Our garlic shot out scapes (the curly stalk which will make flowers and tiny bulbils). As they will make the bulbs in the ground smaller if left in place, I snapped them off with my jackknife. Nope, I didn’t throw them away or compost them. They’re one of my favorite garlic dishes! I love them in a stir fry or just plain fried up in a tiny bit of butter.

These are the garlic scapes I clipped off our garlic to use in savory recipes.

I wish you could see our peonies. I’ve got many and they’re blooming their heads off. I’ve never seen such big flowers before. Stunning!

So far, we have germination on two of Father Grubba’s heirloom corn collection. These are Assiniboine and Arikara White. I did have some Dakota White germinate in the house so I’m waiting for that to come too. Hopefully, some of the others will pop up too. Conditions are perfect with high heat and moisture from above.

This afternoon I’m canning more chicken breast. The store still had them on sale and I couldn’t pass them up. That chicken makes such a handy, tasty addition to so many recipes, especially in the summer when I’m so busy gardening. (Chicken salad, chicken and biscuits, chicken and noodles, barbecued chicken, sandwiches and so forth.)

Enjoy the Fourth and keep that flag waving.

I hope all of you will have a happy, safe Fourth and keep that flag waving! — Jackie


  1. What I do is open a jar or two of boneless chicken, put it in a covered dish in the oven for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Then I let it cool and refrigerate it for making the chicken salad the next day. I’m sure you could eat it right out of the jar but just to be safe……

  2. Happy 4th! We’ve had so much rain (over 4 inches in the last 10 days) and my garden is like a jungle. The weeds are a battle that I am losing but will keep fighting. Baby red potatoes ready as well as peas picked and frozen. The good news is our pasture which usually is suffering ie from the cattle numbers is thriving with the moisture and heat. Hard now to remember winter when each day is steamy. The bear island corn is now tasseling. Your tomatoes look great.

    • What a difference rain makes! Our corn is just thigh high and the potatoes haven’t started blooming yet so no baby potatoes yet. We’re very happy with the tomatoes!

  3. Just read your article in this issue of BHM. Despite having read Starting Over and all your blog posts, and most of your BHM articles, seeing part of the back story put a lot of the pieces together. But I was disappointed that it didn’t start earlier with your decision to homestead in NM. would love to have a book that begins with that decision and ends where Starting Over begins.

    • Maybe that’ll happen one day. We had moved to Montana before David was born, then later moved to NM to help my aging parents. They ended up moving to Michigan after Dad was hospitalized with pneumonia while visiting my sister there; the doctor said if he returned to NM he’d be on oxygen permanently due to the 6,200 foot elevation. We ended up moving back to Montana then and finally back to Minnesota due to the cheaper land here.

  4. I had the same question as Deborah . I had heard that it had to be heated first . I was wondering if you personally do that or do you trust your canning job and just put it straight into a sandwich .

  5. The heat here in Chipley, Florida panhandle, is in the very high 90s. Hopefully we will have some rain showers like the weatherman said! Just about everything in my garden died and we had to clear it all out. Next year, container plants! Watermelons are going bonkers and we just keep watering them!

    I read the first Jess Hazzard novel you wrote, and have ordered the next two. Good story, a little strong in a part or two.

    Happy 4th to you and yours, enjoy!!

    • Sorry to hear you have so much heat, Pat. Remember container gardens require MUCH more watering than do regular gardens though.

  6. The tomatoes have taken off with this heat and water. I have green peppers on my plants and many blossoms where hopefully more will produce.
    It is always so exciting to see things growing and poking their leaves through the earth. Weeding is the worse chore for me and if I can use the tiller I do. Your flowers are amazing. Happy 4th to you and your family

    • Thanks Kathy! We’ve got peppers on and a few tomatoes. How exciting it is to walk through the garden and see daily changes!!

  7. The heat here in Oklahoma continues. I am looking forward to planting your Bill Bean tomatoes here next year. I try to get the garden chores done early before the heat and humidy set in. I collect water in rain barrels to water the garden with and last year started using a sump pump to get the water out of them. I have a 4 small raised gardens and this system works well. No more carrying water, small beds or not. Hope you and yours have a happy and safe holiday.

    • Yep, it’s hot here too; in the high 80s and low 90s. I know that’s not HOT to some folks but to us it is. I like 70s best! I’ll sure be glad when we get a few good rains. It’s nearly a drought here now. Our beavers were right; a dry summer.

  8. A friend introduced me to scape pesto this year. Absolutely delicious! Make it the same way as basil pesto but with scapes rather than basil- yum! Beautiful flower baskets on your house!

  9. You’re not alone in the battle-of-the-weeds. Wish we had picked up another bale of the clean straw we found. But when we go to my folks for the 4th, I’ll drive by a farm that I hope still sells straw.

    We too use the tag team weeding though our garden is not near as extensive as yours. My husband can only take so much bending over. Even if he hadn’t worked years in a physical job, tall people just can’t squat like we who-are-vertically-challenged can. He makes the first pass, I follow and do the precision weeding as we call it. He hoes the garden area containing annuals and we mulch with straw – hence the needing more.

    Dug a potato plant today – nothing beats fresh, home grown potatoes. My grandparents always had a large area of potatoes in their garden. Growing up, my job was picking out the potatoes Dad and Grandpa dug. A lot of work but a lot of fond memories and a life long LOVE of spuds.

    • I hope you found that straw. Mulching sure keeps down the weeds and holds the moisture in. We only have to weed in the early summer, before mulching. Then we get a break and only have to water.

    • This brings back a fond memory for me too. My mother always planted a garden big enough to feed an army and we did a lot of canning, freezing and fermenting.

      Of course we kids were always expected to help with harvesting and prep. When Mom dug potatoes, she always went for the larger potatoes and ignored the small ones the size of a nickel or quarter. I suspect because she was harvesting what would keep in the cold room over winter. We kids kept reminding her that she missed a bunch of potatoes and she told us kids to find them. It became like a treasure hunt for us kids sifting through the soil to find as many of those “mini” potatoes as we could. Mom would just toss them whole into the next batch of soup she made. If we uncovered enough for a side dish, Mom would boil them whole, then toss them with heavy cream and finely chopped fresh dill. Delicious! I think we liked them because they were kid-sized.

      • And those tiny potatoes are so good as they’re “new” potatoes even tho the bigger ones are the “keepers”. Yum!

  10. Happy 4th to you and your family, Jackie. I just have a quick question. Since you make chicken salad and sandwiches from your canned chicken is it all right to eat it without boiling for ten minutes? I have been wondering about that since I have canned chicken. Thanks for all you do. Your flowers are beautiful.

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