Yesterday we got a blessed ¾ inch of nice, steady rain. No hail. No strong winds. No torrential downpour. And to make it better, we’re supposed to get some more this week too. (We’ll see about that…) The North and Wolf gardens are saved, although the cows and horses spent an hour or so in the North garden Monday night. Somehow the electric fencer didn’t get turned back on after one of us had been in the North garden. But most of the crops seem pretty good, considering I was expecting to see a stomped, naked garden. There are actually corn plants in rows standing as well as a lot of squash. The potatoes and tomatoes didn’t seem to be hit at all. Thank God! Will got busy and fixed the fences and, of course, turned the fencer on. Now the electric fence around the 8-foot-high 2×4 wire fence is hot again.

The Central garden looks fabulous. The corn (Navajo Robin’s Egg Blue and Seneca Blue Bear Dance) are excellent with the Robin’s Egg up to my waist. No kidding. But then so is the Glass Gem popcorn in the Main garden and it was direct seeded where the Robin’s Egg was started inside by our friend Dara. All the beans are doing very well. Many are even starting to bloom. So, we should be having green beans in about two weeks. (If you’d like to read more about growing beans, check out my article, Growing beans in Issue 158 of BHM or the Twenty-sixth Year Anthology.

This is the Glass Gem popcorn in the Main garden. It’s waist high, plus … on the 7th of July!

Today our first purple Jackmanii clematis are blooming. There’s the older vine, perhaps four years old, along with two younger ones, one planted two years ago and one last year. I’d like to cover that fence behind my front flower bed with purple vines! They bloom most of the summer too.

The Jackmanii purple clematis is starting to climb all across the north fence of our House garden. Pretty isn’t it?

Our part-time apprentice, Heather, came today, bringing her three teenage children. Boy, what a lot of weeding got done today! With six of us weeding we got a whole lot done in two gardens. I couldn’t believe how quickly those kids got rows cleaned up nicely. I was so impressed. They said they’d be back too. You can bet I’m looking forward to that.

See how nice the beans look after they were weeded by Heather and her “crew?”

Will’s still working hard on fencing the Wolf forty so the cows will have extra pasture. Due to the logging we had done, there’s a trillion small poplar trees coming up all over. And poplar leaves are our cow’s very favorite food. They even straddle small trees, walk up them to bend them over, then eat all the tops. This thins the woods so the remaining trees grow super fast. And because of the drought, we can sure use the extra pasture. The fifty some acres they’re on now is getting eaten pretty short in some spots (like where the clover is!). But like everything, if you just keep plugging away, that fence will get done. All the corners and braces have been in for a year now so they’re very solid as are the wooden posts, which were put in last summer. Now he’s adding steel T posts between them and stringing the barbed wire on the line. He’s about halfway around the new pasture now. But haying will be starting soon so he’s in a yank to get it done or at least mostly done, before haying gets going in earnest. There’s always something … — Jackie


  1. July 11 I got golf ball size hail…garden pretty much flattened. The poor farmers around me, corn stripped of leaves :( I am glad you got rain instead of the hail.

  2. Glad you got the rain. Here I’ve almost had too much of that. One day we had wind and rain in straight line and it knocked down all my wheat (and area of 12 by 30 feet)and 2- 30 foot rows Bear Island Chippewa corn. I wonder sometimes how the early pioneers made it with the “weather surprises”. Your Hopi Gray is growing like a giant parasite. I planted just 2 hills of it and it is growing like crazy. My Strike green beans have been very productive. This past weekend we picked blueberries and made black cap jam a family favorite.

  3. We put peanut butter on strips of tinfoil on the electric fence after it didn’t keep the deer out of the garden. It sure is funny to hear them snort! Peas are about done and beans are blooming. Hope everyone has a good season.

    • I tried the peanut butter trick but I guess our deer are too smart; they just jumped over the fence. Or maybe they didn’t like peanut butter???

  4. I get tired reading about all the work. I got mt first picking of Provider beans…woo hoo, western Minnesota. Canned 7 pints. The peas were a flop, don’t know why. Other veggies are slowly coming around. we got 3 plus inches of rain this week, (after I also watered) so maybe irregular moisture. My seeds are from Seed Treasures this year.
    Glad to see others have gardening challenges and suggestions.

    • You know, every year it seems like there’s one crop that’s a flop for some reason or another. This year the chipmunks are digging up the sunflower seeds that are germinating and eating them. Sorry the peas bombed out. Try, try, try again.

  5. Can you send me some of that rain? I am coming up on 4 weeks without a drop but thankfully I have a stream that has never run dry since the early 1800’s – so I have been told. I am not quite that old. The rain is all around me but nary a drop on my one acre garden.
    I do have a couple of suggestions for those with deer problems. I was tired of the deer nipping the tops of my tomatoes and peppers. Makes nice bushy plants but kills the yield. Tried this method with a conservation group I volunteer with in Western Pennsylvania and it worked fine on a stand of Paw Paw trees we planted last fall. Around part of my garden I placed two rows of fiberglass step-in posts I have been using over the years from a local tractor store. On the outer perimeter posts I secured 50# test fishing line about 12 or inches (the lowest clip ) above the ground. The second post was placed about 2-3 feet in toward the garden and the line placed about 2 12 to 3 feet (top clip on the post), The concept here is that when the deer meander to my garden for a feast, the lower level fishing line gives them a bit of resistance. They cannot see the line and back up and move on. Should they step over the first line, the second line meets them approximately chest high and causes them confusion. So they leave. So far so good here.
    Second I have stopped all denuding and buck rubbing of my fruit trees by hanging bars of Irish Spring Original Scent soaps (only this one/scent I have tried) on each of my fruit trees, both young and old. This has proven 100% effective for me over a number of years. Each bar lasts a season but have found the racoons sometimes have an affinity for the soap. Well, they do wash their hands (paws) before eating.
    Try these out and see if they work for you.
    P.S. Jackie, I love your seeds.

    • Dad used to have an orchard and he hung bars of Dial soap from the newly planted trees and that seemed to keep them from eating them. I sure wish it worked for voles!!! I’m so happy you like our seed children.

  6. My raised bed did not get new soil this year(local store ran out) and been a struggle, can’t even get lettuce to come up, altho beans did. It was so wet, about like clay. Replanted it twice but still nothing, now in high 90’s, not able to germinate, boo hoo

    • This has sure been a strange year, for sure! Try again when the temperatures go down. Lettuce doesn’t like the heat as you’ve found out.

  7. All sounds better for you guys. I have a fenced in 25′ x 70′ garden and it is finally producing. It is now offically summertime. I am getting 1 or 2 cucumbers a day ( which will become 10 a day soon) and 2 peppers a day now. The tomatoes are still green but know in 10 or so days they will be RED. Have a local farmers market 2 mornings a week and just bought a beautiful RED DEUCE tomato and it was a wonderful tasting summer tomato. Not sure if it is Heirloom or not.

    Stay cool and enjoy your life.

    • I’m glad you’re starting to eat from your garden! I’ve never heard of a Red Deuce tomato. I’ll have to do some research. We’re always looking for new, wonderful varieties!

  8. Glad you got rain, could you send some this way. I just don’t know how you do it. Chasing cows one minute and weeding the garden the next. You make me tired just listening to what you guys do. Down here the rain makes a run at the ciry and splits or dies out before it gets here. I’ll keep watering from my rain barrels and then l’ll have to use city water until it rains again. I try not to use city water if l can help it because of all the chemicals they put in it but if it will keep my garden alive l will do what l have to do. Looking at temperatures hovering at 102 for the week ahead. You and Will stay cool and keep us informed about what’s new on your place. Take care.

    • We were so tickled to get a good rain. And then yesterday we got another good wave. Hooray! One thing we’ve learned is you do what you have to in order to keep ahead. I’ll pray for rain for you.

  9. Hey Jackie, just wanted to say hi. So glad you got rain and expecting more. You guys make me tired,which I had even half your determination.

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