We still have too much snow to walk in the garden or backyard. But the driveway is bare around the buildings and we’re starting to see flower beds and a bit of grass. Hooray! I saw a Red-tailed hawk on the way to mail seeds this morning and David saw a robin on the roof of our house. So we are hugely encouraged. There are even some pussy willows along the roads.

I’ve been busy planting more tomato seeds. I can’t believe how many flats I’ve done already! We’re enlarging our gardens and making two new ones not only to be able to save more seeds but to grow more food as I know folks will be running out as few have prepared for what is (we feel) coming. This Covid-19 is not going away soon and the economy following it will be dark. We want to be able to offer folks lots of seeds next year as everyone who can will be needing a garden.

Around here, store shelves are getting bare. Absolutely no hand sanitizer can be found. I’m making our own using two simple ingredients I’m still able to find; sunburn gel and rubbing alcohol. I mix ¾ cup of gel with ½ cup rubbing alcohol and put it in a used pump hand sanitizer bottle. From there, I squirt some into the two smaller bottles I keep in our vehicles to use after going to the post office. The gel also contains alcohol, along with aloe vera gel, which you can’t get anywhere around here. And we wash our hands like mad too. Besides that I’ve mixed up some bleach and water and put it into an old spray bottle to do door handles, surfaces, shoe soles, and the steering wheel in the vehicles. And I pray a lot.

After half an hour, David had our new wheelbarrow up and running.

One of the things we bought before the shelter in place order was given by the state was a new wheelbarrow. Our old one was nearly 25 years old and had seen hard, frequent use between mixing cement and hauling rocks, to daily hauling in of firewood. Will had replaced one handle but the whole thing is pretty much worn out. Today — around here anyway — wheelbarrows come in pieces — a box of parts, the handles, and the tray. So a couple of days ago, David decided he’d put it together. He likes things like that; sort of like a guy puzzle. So the wheelbarrow was put together in the house, and in less than half an hour, we had a beautiful new, blue wheelbarrow, ready to work. So far, nobody can stand to mar that beautiful blue paint! The firewood is still being brought in, using the old one. Go figure! — Jackie


  1. Jackie,
    We’re so thankful for all you share. My family grows lots of produce organically on our less than a third acre in town. I’m pretty swift with most veggies, but carrots have me stumped. I planted Kuroda carrots in Sept last year and let them grow through winter until April but the are thin and not very plump. I thinned them well, I weeded them through winter, we have beautiful soil that I can dig in with my hands. Do you have any suggestions? I have a photo to share, if I can figure out how.
    Thank you for your wisdom, Jackie!

  2. A lot of the homesteader vlogs I follow are taking about increasing the size of their gardens this year. I was planning to downsize mine since I’m alone now, but decided to go ahead and plant the whole space again. Last year was a dismal gardening year hear so I’m hoping things will go better this year. I still have a year’s supply canned, but will be filling more jars Lord willing. I’m hoping I have enough to share. It always amazes me that when I offer free produce, I get complaints and “orders”. Makes sharing less than fun.

    I noticed that my wheelbarrow could use a coat of paint. Its only 40 years old so I can’t understand why!!

  3. Since the site was changed a while ago, I have not been able to figure out how to ask questions. I hope this is the correct spot. I want to can bean with bacon soup. I have canned ham and bean and beef and beans but can’t find any thing for bean with bacon. Thank you. Glad I finally found you again. Get really behind when fair season starts and can’t use my phone to read.

  4. With all this talk about caronavirus, l am glad that I’m planting more than usual. Most of my garden is planted with peppers, provider green beans, early green peas, garlic and onions. My tomatoes are in also. Thank you for your wonderful seeds and knowledge from your life experiences. When can l put bill bean tomatoes in the garden? Not to sure about them as they are 4 inches tall and has 2 of their true leaves on them.

    • I’d wait until the plants are at least six inches tall and sturdy. Don’t forget to harden them off so the wind and sun don’t set them back when you put them in.

      • Thank you so much for your help. I have already been hardening them off. Started with one hour and increase it by half hour everyday.

  5. Your new wheelbarrow reminds me of the bright red one I was given 40 years ago by my then husband. I called friends and invited them to come for a ride in my “New red convertible that I received for Mother’s Day.” When they saw it, none of them wanted to accept a ride in it!

    • I’ve gotta laugh at that, Judy! Hey, I’d rather have a new red wheelbarrow than a new red convertible any day.

  6. Now you have my curiosity up. Maybe you could post what your son has in mind for the vintage wheelbarrow?Snowed this morning but am mowing lawn this afternoon. We haul fruit off the Columbia river in Central Wa.A little rough on it this yr. A good yr to get back to gardening. Take care of yourselfs.And thank you for the seeds.

    • He’s going to use the old wheelbarrow as a wheelbarrow as he doesn’t have one yet. I’m sure it will need some fixing; making a new handle, adding larger washers to the bottom of the tray as the bolts are about pulling through the holes. Stuff like that. Mowing LAWN??? Heaven, I can’t even walk on mine yet! Good gardening and happy mowing!

  7. I’ve had quite a few people asking me for advice on gardening already this spring. People I never would have thought would have any interest or inclination to do so. I also am pointing them to you for seeds. I showed them in a video on facebook how to create newspaper pots for planting but I’m getting so many questions I think I’ll have to go ahead and show them other things as well. As soon as I knew track and baseball for my elementary school son would be cancelled I geared up for gardening time. As we just moved to this house 3 years ago and the first year was too late and the second year baseball took too much time, this year I’m breaking out a large garden. Luckily our soil is pretty darn good around here, but it won’t be as good as it was at the old house that I worked and enhanced the soil for 8 years and was just fantastic. Oh well, got to start somewhere.

    Inside plants: tomatoes and okra are up, peppers are just starting to break through, and half the squash is fixing to push up as well. Need to complete planting another box of squash, and then find a way to improvise a greenhouse outside so I don’t have to keep the growlights going. Luckily I have some screen windows with glass on an old house I can scavenge, and some boards I could pull as well. One more tilling of the garden and then I’m ready to mulch and plant some peas and potatoes!

    All the best to you. I get so excited when I see your next blog post.

    • Golly, you’ve got me all excited to garden and I can’t even walk in it yet. Well, I might have been able today but was too darned busy! Maybe tomorrow though. I have seen a lot of vole damage in the orchard already. The snow was so deep this year they girdled some trees above the screens. Boy I wish I could get rid of those little beasts!
      Have fun planting!!!

  8. Hey Jackie! According to the CDC, your homemade hand sanitizer needs to be at least 2/3 70% or higher isopropyl alcohol. Play it safe; we want to keep you around!!!

    We just started our first seeds today. Always thinking of you, Will, David, the dogs, and Mittens. 😀

    • But take into consideration the first ingredient in the sunburn gel is isopropyl alcohol so…. Okay, I’ll add more 91% just to be sure.

  9. In Michigan we are sheltering in place unless we work for an essential business. Michigan is a hotspot and the number of cases is growing exponentially. My son and I are looking at our small garden space and he wants to expand it into our yard. My husband wants no part of this as he isn’t a prepper and physically can’t do much anyway. I have been thinking about canning this year as we are out of tomatoes and applesauce. My health didn’t allow me to can last year but hopefully will be able to do some this year. Our snow is gone in the southern part of southern MI but it is still too early to plant anything. I have been thinking about the things you said Jackie about what is ahead. Only God knows but I do want to stock up more than we have already done. How would you grow veggies in the winter?

    • Without a heated greenhouse I can’t see a way to grow vegetables in the winter, in Michigan. In some climates, yeararound gardening is possible in a hoophouse with or without heat but I lived in Michigan and know how cold the winters get.
      Pick up as much as you can get locally and try to grow at least some food in your yard. It’s amazing at just how much you CAN grow in a relatively small space.

  10. I keep telling people about your seed business so hopefully you are getting new customers from it lol. Glad to hear you all are doing well. We need our Jackie and Will to stay safe so you can keep educating us ignoramuses 😉

    • Thank you so much Lois! I think it’s working; our seed business is really jumping right now. And I send off all those packets of seeds with love and prayers for them to produce LOTS of food. We are being very careful, healthwise. This is nothing to fool around with.

  11. Jackie, I too am looking at the garden again and what I really need to do. Does it look like we will be resuming any activities anytime soon? Might as well clean out the house and plant garden.

    Can I ask you what you think the economy will be like? Just your opinion. I am thinking very slow to recover and all people may not get their jobs back right away. I don’t know if all people will get the same job back either. These restaurants, clothing businesses and other small businesses that are closed. How will they ever regain their losses?

    How much extra are you planting? I am looking at planting more for extended family like married children.

    Have a great spring and Easter!!!

    • I honestly can’t see things turning up rosy any time soon. After our spring work is done (does that ever happen????) I want to clean my house. Right now we’ve been so busy packing seeds to send to people that my kitchen looks like a WWII war zone! Oh well, we don’t have visitors showing up so….. Right?

      In my opinion, we’re in for a deep, deep recession or depression. I pray I’m wrong but this unprecedented pandemic is hitting all aspects of the country and I can’t see it suddenly turning up roses and that’s depressing, to say the least. Especially when so many people are so unprepared.
      I hope I’m wrong here.

      We’re planting as much extra as possible for two old-timers to plant. We’ve got the acreage but our bodies only will do so much in a long day. Not only do we want to plant enough for our families but also to help out others in the community that are elderly, handicapped or just hungry. Then we have to make sure we have enough seeds to continue our seed business next year when, I feel, a lot of people will desperately be needing gardens.

      Stay safe and healthy! Happy spring and Easter.

  12. Jackie
    Would like to chime in with others in expressing my gratitude for the large knowledge bank that you share so readily. I have learn a lot.

  13. I walkd through my garden space a couple of days ago, frozen, but snow free. Then yesterday it snowed, gone again in today’s sun, but it could happen again, and again. You got to love the fickleness of Vermont’s spring. I’ll get there eventually, but not for a week or three.

    • I think I can walk in my main garden tomorrow. I’m so excited! It’s like being away from home for seven months! Yeah, Minnesota spring is like that too; you want the weather to change, wait around for 24 hours. Sixties to a blizzard; it happens. But you’re right, spring will get here, hopefully soon.

  14. Yes, the economy is definitely not going back to what it was. Many people are not internalizing it yet, but many others are beginning to see the truth of what you and folks like you have been saying for many years: money can only do so much for you in an emergency. But even when stocks plummet, there are things of universal value: food, shelter, useful skills. Wise people will invest in food self-sufficiency, try to own their place outright if at all possible, and learn how to repair, reuse, recycle, and upcycle. I think this hard hit might actually be a good thing for our society. We have been getting too spoiler and lax.

    • I’m happy if I’m healthy (after cancer!), warm (after being broke and cold), full (again having been broke and hungry), having a wonderful family and great homestead. Honestly, I’m now worrying but looking forward to gardening. But I do pray daily for those without wisdom or those without the ability to do for themselves. That’s tough. It’s been said, you can’t fix stupid and there are so many who are elderly, weak and disabled; I pray for those around them to help out, especially now.

  15. Hi Jackie- my wheelbarrow has been acting up too. I greased the likely suspects and a least it’s quieter now! I’ve planted peas and hardy greens- too early but couldn’t resist even though I’ll probably have to replant. It made me feel better though. I think lots of people will be thinking seriously about future food security after this pandemic. I know I’m going to focus on adding more beds and using my planting space as efficiently as possible. The information you provide is invaluable and very much needed! Thanks Jackie!

    • You’re welcome, Robyn. I know what you mean about planting; I have to restrain myself every year. There’s just something wonderful about putting seeds into the ground! It restores one’s soul. Good gardening!

  16. lol.. I’ve never heard of a “too good to use” wheelbarrow. Usually it applies to linens! The old one will officially give up the ghost and then one of you will take New Blue for its inaugural haul.
    Our snow is gone but still well over a month from being to plant anything outside. My normally unflappable spouse sowed some seeds (too early, far too early) but it made him feel better. You can’t put a price of peace of mind.
    We won’t starve anytime soon but I’ve watched my spouse’s thinking change a bit as of late re: food stores. As soon as the weather allows us to plant, we’re ready. Garden areas have been weeded and the annual section needs a bit of tilling (still too wet). I’m also eyeing other areas on the property that could be used for growing food/herbs.

    • David’s been making noises about wanting to use our old but trusty wheelbarrow. And as he restored our old, dead ATV, I’m thinking that will happen. Like I’ve always said, our family recycles EVERYTHING.
      Hey, I’ll be thrilled to be able to WALK on our garden, let alone plant. As winter came so suddenly and early, we didn’t even get our garden cleaned up and put to bed so I’ll be doing that as soon as I can walk. Yep, I’ve been thinking hard on developing some more spots too. Will kind of groaned but remembered that I know how to use the bulldozer too…..

  17. Plus those old wheelbarrows are wonderful flowerpots,vintage decoration,or whatever. Stay safe and thankyou for your wonderful posts.

    • I thought of that too. Then David said he’d kind of like that old wheelbarrow to recycle and get more use out of it. So the vintage decoration will have to wait a few years yet.

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