With most of our crops planted, we’re starting to mulch like mad. Heather, our part-time apprentice came over and she and Will spent the day mulching tomatoes and putting their cages on. They used up a smaller old, partly rotten round bale the cows wouldn’t eat last fall. (I don’t blame them!) Of course, it wasn’t partly rotten then, just some kind of nasty swamp grass from around the edge of one of Will’s hay fields. He brought it home for them the same day he baled it, but they turned up their collective noses at it — spoiled cows. I tell them there’s starving cattle in India. They snort and munch clover. Will and Heather also spread fifteen square bales of reed canary grass mulch around the tomatoes and between the rows. No weeds will be growing out there!

Nearly all our tomatoes are now well mulched, staked, and caged.

The Central garden is looking excellent. The Navajo Robin’s Egg corn Dara started for us is nearly a foot tall already and the Seneca Blue Bear Dance corn is eight inches high and very happy. Will tilled the garden and those bean rows we covered with shavings because of the forecast frost look excellent with no weeds between the plants. Pretty nice!

The south end of the Central garden; the garden’s all tilled and ready for mulch.

In addition to the regular chores and planting, we’ve had to add watering to the mix as we haven’t had decent rain for weeks now. Yep, everything is kind of dry. Out in the North garden (clay), the pumpkins and squash are coming up but on top of most of them is a cap of clay — a little square! Despite it, our Bear Island Chippewa corn is up and looking good. I don’t know how it germinated, as dry as it’s been and with that layer of cracked clay on the top of the ground. Impressive!

The new Wolf garden is looking great. It’s much bigger than I had envisioned!

I’ve got happy sweet peppers in the north hoop house and Will’s readying the south house today. Yes, we’re late but we’ve had so much other stuff to plant we got behind. Adding the new Wolf garden and planting it contributed, I’m sure. But I was out there today, and the first corn is coming up, the Yukon Supreme sweet corn and the Seneca Nation. Such a surprise as it’s only been planted a few days and it’s so dry with no watering available out there unless we go to extreme measures. But sometimes extreme measures are needed. We do have that big poly water tank that goes in the pickup and a gas water pump so we can water if things look dire.

I had to show you the dog bane (poisonous) along our Main garden which attracts hundreds of butterflies. (No, it doesn’t harm them.)

— Jackie


  1. We have a bunch of rain here in west central Ill. My first garden in years looks great, Plum tomatoes look good and some cherry coming. No beefsteak yet. I am gardening with a lady with who has a very large family because she lives in town.
    she had done most of the work.
    But it is beautiful!

  2. “…turned up their collective noses…” bahahahaha!!!
    I have a question for you about tomatoes. Since you grow so many, and have a cage around each plant, do you forgo any trimming or pinching suckers? Is it a myth that they will produce better if you pinch the suckers? I actually enjoy doing it, but can’t imagine trying to do it on so many and in cages.
    We have been getting some beautiful rains here in south central Montana. Hope some comes your way soon!

    • We don’t pinch the suckers and I’d hate to think about getting more tomatoes! Our vines are simply loaded!

  3. Somebody down here in OK forgot to leave a faucet running. No rain is sight until Thursday and then only 20%chance. Almost out of rain in the barrels. The plants are not taking kindly to the city water when the barrels run dry. As far as the cows go, my mother always said, “If you get hungry enough, you will at what’s put in front of you.” Snooty cows

  4. It’s been dry here in CT too. We have been getting a little here and there for the past few days. We were planting one of our gardens today and I also threw in some blackberry bushes and it is dry. My cows are fussy too and I like to remind them along with the other spoiled animals that there are animals starving and they should appreciate what they get. We are suppose to get some rain tomorrow the pigs would be happy.

  5. Jackie, I wish I could send you some of our rain from here in SE Arkansas. We’ve had two really wet springs in a row, and this year, it’s extending into Summer!! Of course the farmers are loving it now, but planting was late this year because of the rain. I laughed about the starving cows in India, too.. My Mom used to tell me there were starving kids in Africa.

    • My mom used to use that “starving kids in India” thing on us. Then I grew up and adopted two of them! It’s funny how things turn out, isn’t it???

  6. I like to store my flour and sugar in 5 gallon buckets with a gamma lid. How long will cornmeal or oatmeal stay good for. I would like to stock up but don’t want it to go bad. Thanks.

    • I would freeze everything for a few days and then thaw out good before putting in buckets. That will ensure no critters will hatch in your flower and corn and oats and such. A little prep goes a long ways. Just thought I would throw that in there, cause I learned this the hard way.

    • Miss Iris…oatmeal will last a lot longer than the corn meal. Once you crack a grain it has a shorter shelf life and can go rancid sooner. I would freeze it if you have the space. Good luck

    • I’ve had both oatmeal and “store” cornmeal stay good for decades when sealed. Freshly ground cornmeal is like whole wheat flour; like Sheryl says, with the cracked whole grain, it’ll go rancid sooner. That’s why I store whole corn (which lasts nearly forever) and grind that, along with some store-bought cornmeal which has the germ removed so it will last for years without going rancid.

  7. I planted basil around my tomatoes a few days ago to try to keep the weeds at bay. Now if I could just get rid of the crabgrass around my green beans! It seems I have a never ending war on crabgrass. I hate crabgrass!

    • Yuck! So do I!!! It travels underground with yards long rhizomes so it pops up everywhere before you know it. It makes me want to get out the Roundup. (Just kidding, guys!) You can kill it by covering a section of your garden for a year with something very sturdy like old, used plywood, sheet metal or lumber tarps, weighted down so the wind doesn’t blow it away.

  8. We could use a good rain too! Especially to avoid extreme fire danger. We have two public wells close by. One is garden hose only and we haul jug water for the house. The other takes a 2″ Camlock hose and fills the 400gal tank on the trailer in about five minutes, which we hook up to drip tape in sections. It is frustrating having to cut back on garden space even with some help from kids when I used to keep up on weekends when I was still working full time. Getting decrepid,of well

    • Yeah, in Montana, our spring used to dry up in the summer so we had to haul water from town, from the fire hall where you deposited two quarters to turn on the tank. It filled our 350 gallon poly tank in about 5 minutes. Then we had to drive up the mountain for 14 miles and water with a gas powered water pump. But we did get it done. However our gardens are now 10 times bigger than ours back then and I’m a lot older too.

  9. Jackie, the starving cows in India comment had me laughing. Reminds me of my wise-crack brother. As kids, at mealtime, when Mom admonished him about wasting the food on his plate because there are starving kids in Africa, he said we should pack it up and mail it to them.

    • Yeah, my sister used to tell Mom that too. But we all eat our vegetables to this day!

  10. We are suffering here in Missouri,too. Our soil looks exactly the same way as you describe.
    As far as the spoiled cows go…I’ll do what they want, cause they sure do taste good!

  11. Did the cows say “Why don’t you ship this over to them then?” My mom heard this growing up from the Depression and World Wars and said she always wanted to suggest that but didn’t dare!

    • My smarty sister used to say that too. Why Mom didn’t give her a crack, I’ll never know.

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