Luckily, we did have two days’ warning before the expected frost last night. So, on Sunday, Will and I harvested tomatoes to save for seed, ripe tomatoes, green tomatoes, and tomatoes to use for canning various tomato foods. This year was the worst gardening year, overall, that we’ve ever had! But we still had a pretty good haul. The melons, especially, were very nice. We had huge Sweet Dakota Rose watermelon, which we rate as A+ in flavor, and lots of very nice Bozeman watermelons that, because of their thicker rind, I love for making watermelon pickles — a holiday meal would not be the same without them!

When at our friend, Dara’s, harvesting Bear Island Chippewa she’d grown for us, we also picked the remaining Monte Gusto yellow pole beans. We just couldn’t let them freeze. So when I got home, I roped up the corn to dry and then canned up nine pints of wonderful beans. They were so long I had to cut them in half to fit into pint jars!

Check out these Monte Gusto wax beans; as thin as a pencil and very tender and tasty!

Our squash and pumpkins were all over the place in productivity this year. Of course, having the cows getting in and eating a whole bunch — especially our beloved Hopi Pale Grey squash — had a lot to do with that! In the Main garden, where we didn’t have cows this year, we had tons of wonderful, huge Borchart’s Wonder squash, our second favorite squash. And then we had lots of Olinka naked seeded pumpkins. But we only harvested two Gueramon Martinique squash. They got buried by the Borchart and Olinka vines and thus, got shaded out. But at least we’ll have enough to save for our own seed for next year!

This is only part of our squash harvest … on a very poor growing year!

Our seed-saving gardener/friend, Dara, grew some other squash for us so we could save pure seed. They were a white cushaw, Illinois, grown by Abraham Lincoln’s parents, more Olinka and North Morning Moon, a squash she developed out of Hopi Pale Grey and Marina de Chioggia lines. So today, Will and I went over to their place and brought home a car loaded down.

Isn’t this Bear Island Chippewa corn beautiful?

Yesterday, Will was hauling hay and I was busy trying to cover and save what I could before last night’s forecast frost. But it wasn’t going too well. My bad knee was really sore and so was my foot, only to get worse and worse as the day went on, due to all that walking and carrying. I was covering the Oka muskmelons and the pole beans in the House and Main gardens after going to town and buying several big tarps. And then, a car drove in — David and his girlfriend, Elizabeth! They had come from a Labor Day campout down at brother Bill’s, to help. I almost kissed them both soundly. So we tarped and tarped. Then David enclosed the two hoop houses where our not-so-good this year peppers are housed. (Maybe we’ll get some warm weather after the frosts …) And we harvested the Main garden’s squash crop, then tarped some beans. Finally, we were done. Or at least I was done! I just couldn’t walk any more. So Will, home from hauling hay, helped David tarp the pole beans in the Central garden with a huge tarp Will had borrowed from his friend, Daryl.

It was almost evening, so we only had to haul in the potted, frost-sensitive plants and call it quits.

Then we didn’t get frost! But that’s okay. They are forecasting it for tonight and tomorrow night. (Please God, let it pass too!) Meanwhile, I’ve got lots of tomatoes I need to quickly take seed from and dry tomatoes to put into containers. Oh, and I dropped one Theron’s Winter squash so I need to get seed out of that too, as it split in half. Whew! — Jackie


  1. Jackie, I can honestly say, without you, my canning would still be just pickles and jam. Thanks to your blog and books ( and our good Lord), my pantry runneth over with meat and veggies, soups and sauces, nuts and beans, and much more. THANK YOU! Your advice, humor, example, and seeds have made my gardening a joy too. Blessings to you and yours as we prepare for the hard winter ahead. Love those winter squash!

    • Thank you so much, Mimi! I’m so happy for you. (You wouldn’t have any extra pure Hopi Pale Grey seeds left over, would you? As our cows ate our Hopi crop this year I hate to disappoint folks who would like to grow it.)

  2. Love those Monte Gusto beans from you! I’ll buy them again. Have made several recipes from your canning book and have done pressure canning too. Thank you!

    • We love the Monte Gustos too. I’m so happy you’re pressure canning. It’s so very easy and lets you put up so many different recipes. Go girl!

  3. Hi Jackie, and everybody. My name is Marco and I am a first year gardener this year with a lot to learn. But I have already learned I love it! I have a container garden this year: 40 five gallon buckets of potatoes, 15 tomatoes including two cherry tomatoes, 1 eggplant, 3 cucumbers, 3 zucchinis, a watermelon and a cantaloupe. As soon as I experienced food shortages because of the mess going on with covid I decided to start gardening. Then we had to temporarily move to my mom’s (we have two girls and a boy, and another girl due November) so I did buckets and potting soil. The potting soil was expensive but we had reduced rent at my mom’s. We wound up moving to a place close to a lake up against a very steep hill. There are lots of big trees and the zucchinis and cantaloupe did very poor. The tomatoes suffered-they don’t look like my mom’s-but they are producing. The cherry tomatoes seem a little tougher. The cucumbers seem ok, but I don’t know as it’s my first year. The potatoes are starting to wilt and die, I dumped a bucket a couple weeks ago and they were still small. I had a late start. Lord willing there is a next year I will grow plants that do better without full sun. I will try tomatoes again though, I saved seeds from hardiest plants. And I have been clearing the thicket on the hill behind our rental house. Higher I get the better the sunlight.

    Jackie, I really enjoyed reading about your seeds and where they come from. I ordered some from you and printed off the information you provided. I been watching for check to clear. I ordered your book on canning too. I am glad you have a blog and other resources I can learn from. I think hard times are here and going to get harder. I sure hope you get to feeling better! Glad some help showed up.

    I need to learn about making topsoil/good dirt. There ain’t much on the hill, but there is some, and I can get some from under the deck that is our yard. We don’t have a yard. Also, I been getting scrap 2*6 s from a roofing yard. They actually come in like 4’*2.5′ boxes. They are not regular pallet. The boxes are line pre-made potatoe stackers! And I can use them for garden boxes on the hill. UNLESS they will poisen the plants? They are probably pine. Does anyone know if they are ok to use for garden boxes?

    God bless you all. From Spokane Washington area

    – Marco

    • I sent off your order a couple of days ago. The best of luck growing. I doubt very much your boxes are toxic. We’ve used a lot of various boxes and pallets from David’s work at Ziegler Cat for different gardening and barn projects. If you can locate some rotted manure and work that into your bucket soil and garden boxes you’ll see a dramatic increase in productivity. Many farmers and hobby farmers are very happy to have you clean out a pen or barn in exchange for the manure. Blessings on your efforts!

  4. So glad you missed the frost! We have been in the 40s at night so no frost at least. Your squash looks wonderful. Between coons and very dry weather my garden has done poorly this year. Maybe next year…. hope your knee and foot feel better soon. So thankful you have family to help.

    • We missed the first one but the two following got us good. Oh well…. I am so very happy to have such a great family and friends.

  5. Here in Northern Colorado we went from 104° on Sunday to an almost blackout and and a high of 70° from our wildfire on Monday, to snow overnight night and a high of 33° Tuesday. The rain snow mix stopped midday today. I was able to get everything covered Monday, dried the coverings off midday yesterday and recovered as the snow started again in the evening. We’re supposed to get down to 33° again tonight, I’m trying to decide if I should recover everything. What would you do? Like you I’ve had one of my worst harvest years ever and am trying to salvage what growing time I may have left.

    • I hope the rain/snow killed down the wildfire! And I sure hope you’re safe from them. I always try to save everything I can but when I can’t I try to salvage what’s left. Hang in there; next year’s coming!

    • You can just e-mail me at and I’ll send you a catalog. However, due to COVID, and the increase in gardening interest, we’ve about run out of catalogs. What I’m doing is going to send an older catalog instead so folks can see what we offer. (The prices and postage are the same although we have added some new varieties. Check out our website, to see them and photos.)

  6. In the southern part of southern MI where we live, the weather has turned cold. Our tomatoes are still ripening and we still have a lot of green ones. I gave a bunch to my friend and she will can them. I had wanted to can more but just wasn’t able to do it because of my health. I had to add my winter coverlet to my bed last night to keep from freezing. It was 60 degrees about noon today. Still cloudy and rained last night. My brother farms a lot of acres and they were able to get all their crops planted this spring. Will wait to see how his harvest goes. I was hoping to can applesauce in late Sept/early Oct but doubt if I can do it this year. Glad your family showed up to help you save the day.

    • So was I! I understand sometimes you can’t do what you’d like to be doing; just do what you can and be thankful you can do that. I tell myself that a dozen times a day.

  7. My gardens in Copper Basin Alaska have had several mid twenties frosts. Fortunately my daughter has been keeping heat on the greenhouse tomatoes as I have spent the last six weeks on IV antibiotics in a long term care facility two hundred miles away for an infected foot that the sergeon initially wanted to amputate. Couple weeks therapy to go before I go home hopefully. At least the family is harvesting and preserving and I probably have beat the infection and will keep the foot! Hope you feel better and will have enough seeds to sell next season.

    • Howard, it sounds like you and Jackie both need a good dose of ‘get well soon’ prayers! Here is one for each of you!

      Good luck Jackie in the weather department! I see you posted this the 8th. We are SW of you and hit 28F Tuesday morning, the predicted coldest night! I had pulled my ripest squash and covered my beautiful, but still green melons. Then this morning (Wednesday) when I headed for work it was awk-Twenty three degrees! The cars were frosted…..

      I figured that was it, but tonight after work the melon plants were still alive under the covers!! It is ‘supposed’ to warm up, so I am hoping….!

      Good luck again!!

    • Holy cow, Howard!!! My dad went through the same thing with his foot. He’d stepped on a nail and the bone got infected. But at 84 he beat the infection and didn’t even limp after recovering. Here’s my prayers for you to have the same results! Yep, we’ve had mid twenties too. But we got nearly everything in and the hoop houses’ peppers are still fine. Hang in there bud!

  8. Ah the weather is crazy this year – we had record heat Labor day and then snow last night here in New Mexico. I have a huge haul of tomatoes and peppers on my table, green to red and every color in between!

    Feel better!

    • Thank you Sandy. Yep, I’ve got crates and crates of tomatoes and other stuff on the front porch and piles of squash and pumpkins in two rooms inside. It does look pretty, though.

  9. Unexpected help is such a blessing!
    We are having fall like weather here in MI
    Harvesting fall crops of squash and apples are starting to come ripe.

    • It sure is! We’re done harvesting but for the dry beans in the various gardens. Whew! We’ve sure been busy. But it’s a happy time too, seeing the results of our labor.

  10. Hey guys! So sorry to hear of your struggles! Lots of crazy weather happening all over the country today. It drives us nuts not being able to just come on over real quick to help out! I sure wish we lived closer! Hang in there! Hugs to everyone, Mia and John

    • And hugs to you too! We’ve been praying the California wildfires are far away from you folks. Stay safe and give the kids a treat from us.

  11. Being in the great state of Illinois (and poor Lincoln, he’s probably rolling in his grave over the state of his party these days), white cushaw has peaked my interest “They were a white cushaw, Illinois, grown by Abraham Lincoln’s parents”. If memory serves me, Lincoln’s family was in what I deem southern IL. BUT if it grows in MN, it should grow in northern IL.

    • Also in northern Illinois…and poor Abe. Let’s hope he is not privy to our current disaster.

      Great squash for making pies. We grew it on a mound when the kids were little. Also used it to fill empanadas.

    • This squash is wonderful, sliced up and fried with onions and a little garlic. And it sure grew great this challenging year! They’re huge.

  12. Hi Jackie, your pile of squash is beautiful. So sorry your having knee pain, is there anything Dr. can do for you? David and Elizabeth are so helpful and I know they are greatly appreciated.

    • Well, I got cortisone injections and they helped for a month or so. But I’ll admit I kind of overdid it, planting, so they didn’t last too long. (Or as long as I’d hoped.) I suppose I’ll be doing a knee replacement but after a friend had a horrible infection after one, I’m pretty chicken.
      Yes, help from the family is always hugely appreciated!!!

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