We’ve been hurrying to get everything planted in all the gardens as we hope rain will come (eventually) and things will take off as the soil sure is warm. Will got busy and fenced the whole new Wolf garden then we planted the whole thing (all half acre!) with more varieties of squash, pumpkins, corn, melons, and beans. We planted a lot of the new corn Will is working on developing called Seneca Nation. The parents are Seneca Round Nose, a big, white roasting/flour corn and Seneca Sunrise, Will’s sweet corn. He’s crossing the two to try and get a nice big sweeter roasting ear that is sweeter than Seneca Round Nose and also earlier. This is the second year of development and so far, it looks great; long, fat ears with 12 rows of fat bi-colored kernels. The corn grinds wonderfully and the roasting ears are long and tender.

Here are a couple of cobs of Seneca Nation, Will’s new corn variety he’s developing.

On Monday we had a great visit with Bill and his family. They came up for extra seeds and pepper plants as well as a visit. We haven’t seen the grandkids for five months due to COVID-19 self-quarantine. It was sure an enjoyable day although we did practice social distancing and no hugs or kisses.

We’ve been having a less-welcomed nighttime visitor. First a setting hen and her batch of eggs was stolen off the nest. We blamed a stray coyote. Then the suet started going missing off the big platform bird feeder on the south side of the house. We ruled out a night bird — none eat suet. And a bear couldn’t reach the feeder as it’s 10 feet or so up on the side of the house. The remaining suspect was a raccoon and we have never had one here before. Hondo was going nuts every night about 11 P.M. Fearing a skunk, we didn’t let him outside but last night, we did. He tore off around the house, barking madly. Then around the front again. We grabbed flashlights and David grabbed his pistol. I saw branches in the birch tree in the front yard moving when there was no wind and I shined my light up there. Ah ha! Two shining eyes looked back at me. It was a raccoon! As they can be dreadfully destructive to a homestead, killing chickens, turkeys, and eating eggs, not to mention getting into sweet corn patches and destroying the corn overnight, it had to go.

David shot the raccoon out of the tree and carefully hunted up the spot it had fallen. An angry raccoon is nothing to mess with; they have teeth like a dog and sharp claws too. But it was dead, and we breathed a sigh of relief. We were so proud of Hondo. He did everything right — alarming us, chasing it up a tree and holding it there, then standing back when David shot and not diving right in to attack it on the ground. He was really wired though, and I had to sit up for an hour or so till he calmed down. Hopefully that ‘coon didn’t have friends or family as we really don’t like to kill neighboring wildlife unless forced to.

My flowers are really putting on a show lately. The peonies and iris are gorgeous, and I can’t wait for the daylilies. The whole front yard smells perfumed!

The peonies are blooming!

Today Will is carrying up tomato cages from the Main garden to the Sand garden, where the tomatoes are planted this year. I had carried up thirty cages and put them on the tomatoes in two rows, slipping them over the T posts Will had driven next to the tomatoes

Will and Hondo are carrying tomato cages from the Main garden below the house, to the Sand garden where the tomatoes are this year.
Here’s one part of the Sand garden tomatoes, staked, mulched, and having cages placed on them.

We mulch the tomatoes before staking and putting on the cages then there are no weed problems the rest of the year. The tomatoes look great and are growing like mad. Ah, Summer! — Jackie


  1. When I lived in a major city I trapped over 150 raccoons and took them to the country. I would let them out of the trap, tell them to have a nice life, and don’t write. They liked to come in the cat door. I would be sitting in the living room and hear them rummaging around in the kitchen. They were not afraid of me either! They can be so destructive and need to go away one way or another. Good job, David :-)

  2. Yeah, that 3 inches was quite awhile ago considering the heat and wind we’ve been getting lately. We definitely need more. The clay North garden has big cracks in the surface of the soil, looking like the desert!

  3. We were edging on the side of a micro drought here in N. Central TX…… Then, within 7 days got multiple inches of rain. Had a wet spring and that is scary if we get dry then in the summer (fire and lot’s of vegetation). Tomatoes are putting on well. One is turning purple. Many will be red shortly. Summer squash is putting out heavy. Hopefully, we will have a cooler than normal summer (I hate triple digit days). Last year we had an early frost. This year we had a frost a month late in the spring (April 15 is a month late for us!). Still starting seeds for the late summer/fall garden. Then, the winter garden. I sit in awe at how you produce so much (and process it!) in such a short growing season.

    • I just keep processing a little at a time and it’s surprising how much it all adds up to at the end of the year! This weather is bi-polar with definite ups and downs; hot and cold, dry and wet. Whew, one wishes it would just settle down. (Maybe this is our “new normal”??)

  4. I haven’t caught any raccoons, but I have caught three skunks. I’ve been using a have a heart trap bated with multigrain bread, spread with peanut butter, and with the final touch of dried fly larvae sprinkled on top. Makes for an aromatic morning.

  5. What Do you mulch the tomatoes with? I am looking at mulching mine but have no idea where to start. I’ve never mulched plants much, simply because I don’t know what to put on them. I’ve got manure, straw, two year old cow manure piles. I read in your green book what to mulch, but have no idea what to put in there!

  6. had raccoons get into my duck pen twice (have since discovered the problem and fixed but not before I lost 4 ducks). Neighbor put out a type of live trap that catches their paw when they reach in for something they like. Kind of like a handcuff. She caught 7 in 2 weeks.

    The other night she was on her back porch and saw 4 on the backside of her yard at the treeline. Guess we need to set traps again.

    kathy in ms

    • Yep, they’re buggers alright. Once I had raised 33 market turkeys to sell and the raccoons moved in and killed them all over a week’s time, even chewing a hole in the 1″ board walls of the coop and breaking a glass window to get in at night.

  7. here in Arizona we have not had any rain in about 80 days and no rain in sight, fires are destroying a large portion of the dessert and structures…finally had to pull the rest of my garden but still have herbs in pots..thank god i believe in canning and putting things up..thank you Jackie for all the great information

  8. For tomato cages like that you just buy welded wire like is sunk into concrete. Cut off about 5 feet of it and curl up. Only cage to use.

  9. I would like more info on getting cages similar to yours. I have the old type but needing more cages.

    • We just use concrete re-enforcing wire, available at lumber yards in a roll. Making the cages is simple; just measure out a length that will make an 18″ to 20″ cylinder, cut the wire next to a vertical wire with bolt cutters, then bend several of the long lengths of wire back over the opposing square. Done deal. DON’T bend the wire more than once or try to twist it as it will break.

  10. Raccoons have been really plentiful for us this year. We have been live caging and transporting off site but there are so many. They eat our bird suet, ravage the bird feeders, eat our cat food and otherwise just destructive. We are in Northern Indiana zone 5 but this is unusual even for us. Your gardens look wonderful Jackie, great job. I am 68 years young and whew with garden, flowers, and other chores I sure get tuckered out, so I know you must be tired at the end of the day too.

    • Be sure to drive those ‘coons far away; they’ll come “home” over 4 miles! Yep, Will and I sleep well, for sure.

  11. Where did you get your cages and how do you attach them to the T posts? Everyone I’ve bought has collapsed under the weight of the plant. Never thought to use a post, too.

    • We make our own, using a roll of concrete re-enforcing wire from Lowe’s. Check out my reply to Marty, above. We don’t fasten them to the T posts but I do kind of slide one of the bent wires around the post and that holds it in place quite well. With the T post, the cage can’t tip over, no matter how hard the wind blows.

  12. You recently had 3 inches. We finally got some rain in the last week. A whopping POINT 15 inches and it took four showers on different days to get that! A neighbor told me that we sometimes get more dew than we have been getting for rain fall totals. (We are at .48″ here since it warmed up enough to rain this year.)

    It would be nice to get a bit of rain for all of us; gardeners, farmers and ranchers!

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