Due to the tropical storm moving northward, it sucked a cold high down from Canada unexpectedly, after we had corn, beans, squash, and melons up in the gardens. Notice, I said “gardens” as in three of them. Holy cow, what to do to protect those tender plants? A frost would kill them all. Luckily, our part-time local apprentice, Heather, came that day and in desperation, I also called David. He and his girlfriend had planned to go to Duluth that morning, but he came home to help us instead. So, the four of us started out protecting plants. We had a ton of used Styrofoam cups I used to start tomato and peppers, so we set one down over each corn plant. (Yes, that was a lot of work!) We dug up pots, buckets, and plenty of hay to cover the tomatoes — all 276 of them. I had five bales of shavings which we use for chicken bedding so I figured they could be used to put on the small bean plants to keep them warm. Unluckily, the day before I had gone to the orthopedist and had cortisone injections in both bad knees and my right shoulder. Not the best of timing there! But we kept at it and by evening, everything was covered as well as possible. We waited as the temperature went down and down. At three AM it was 32° F and there was frost on the house roof but not the ground. And in the morning the temperature started going back up. There was no damage to the gardens! The next night it was supposed to be cold too, but not so cold. We didn’t trust the weather so left the plants covered.

Plants in the Central garden protected by Styrofoam cups and wood shavings.
More than 200 tomatoes covered with pots and hay

Yesterday and today we spent hours removing all the protection of various types and were happy to see the bean plants popping right up through the shavings which are now mulch. Whew! I’m so grateful to have had both Heather and David here to help as I don’t know if Will and I could have gotten it all done alone.

On a break, we discovered this beautiful Luna moth on the front porch.

Today, Heather was back, and she and I planted four 100-foot rows of potatoes in the North garden. Will has this little furrower that goes on the three point of the Ford tractor that sure makes planting potatoes a snap. He runs the furrows. We lay the potatoes in the trench and I hoe dirt from one side of the furrow down onto them. This leaves a hill of more dirt on the other side so when it’s time to hill the potatoes, you just hoe that down over the plant stems. Pretty slick!

The Wolf garden is ready to fence.

Will has the Wolf garden all tilled, spread with rotted manure, and tilled again. Last night he laid out stock panels all around it in preparation to fencing it. I was hoping for a garden about 32′ x 50′ but he was obviously thinking larger. It’s half an acre! So now, before supper, he’s out driving steel T posts in so the fencing can be started. We’ve found that the 52-inch stock panels with two strands of white electric fencing tape above it (non-electrified) will keep the deer out. Once fenced, we’ll be planting other varieties of sweet and flour corn, beans, squash, and melons. Lots of food and seed there, God willing. — Jackie


  1. Wow! So glad your gardens survived the frost! This year has been wild….as usual!
    I get tired just reading about everything you do. I’m still behind getting everything planted, and I only have a fraction of what you produce every year.
    Found the first sign of squash bugs this year, so guess that battle will commence shortly. Last year I used hand picking and DE, but eventually lost the war. Thinking to go directly to the “nuclear option” this year, lol!
    Thought I read what you do to deter squash bugs recently, but couldn’t find the post. What is your process for getting rid of the little buggers?
    Many thanks!

    • Using row covers and cleaning up (burning) all the old squash vines in the fall works the best although sometimes you have to resort to Sevin or other lethal chemicals to save the crop. don’t like it, but don’t like not eating more.

  2. We plant out potatoes with a drop in planter. One of us places the planter and another drops a seed piece then we move to the next spot. We plant along drip tape so we can irrigate until it is time to hill. I go back over the row and tamp them down to finish. We have an average rainfall of 13 inches and have to haul out water, hence the drip tape. The green house and hoop houses help with the frost sensitive stuff and we use row cover over hoops to extend the season and protect against things like root maggots on some other stuff. Of course we are not trying to grow corn or seeds to sell.

    • Yeah, we sometimes struggle with the 4 acres we’re cultivating this year and much of it is frost sensitive.

  3. Hello Miss Jackie,

    Here in Maine most folks plant on Memorial Day weekend. We normally don’t have frost after that. However, the weekend came early, people didn’t check the weather, it frosted heavy, and many folks lost their peppers and tomatoes. My plants were still in pots and flats so they all came in the house. t was so crowded. I ended up with just little pathways to walk through. Like you I kept them in an extra day. Being half crazy I had planted way too many for the beds I currently have so I gave lots away to very upset gardeners because the nurseries are out. Your gardens are looking so good!!!


    • I’d rather have too many plants than not enough! I’m glad you were wise and escaped the frost. Around here the nurseries sold out of food plants early in the spring!

  4. Hi, Jackie: Thought I would tell you that Sandy A and I met through your blog. She lives south of the town we live north of in Missouri. I thought that was pretty neat when it happened. Wonder what other interesting things have happened due to your willingness to blog! BTW, your seeds are popping up all over our gardens and we thank you and Will for putting Seed Treasurers out there for us all. Happy growing. Marilyn in SW MO

    • That’s cool for you to meet a new friend through the blog. We have folks who have come to our seminars who have also formed long term friendships. That makes us so happy!

  5. What a rescue mission! Congrats! Half-an-acre??? Oh, my. Cannot believe that Will has all that land ready—yikes! You all have such dedication to your chosen lifestyle. Truly love reading about you.

    • Yep, and we’ve got it all planted and fenced too. And we’re tired but happy. It’s great to live such a great “hobby”.

  6. So glad no damage!!! Lots of hard work to prevent any issues, wow! Things keep going here on “the island,” no gardening, but managing anyway. Love, JoyceA

    • Glad to hear you’re getting along well. Our gardens are looking great. Now if you’ll just send us some of that Washington rain…..

  7. I’m so glad the your gardens survived the frost warning. What’s that old song, ” I get by with help from friends.” I think it’s wonderful you have them. The heat is on here in Oklahoma, just pulled the onions but the provider beans are still going stronge. I will probably plant more peas this fall.

    • Friends are the most important crop we cultivate! We try to be good friends as well, putting that into a full circle.

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