It always seems to happen that way; we work, covering everything we can with blankets, tarps, and whatever we can find. That buys us a few days. But then — like a couple of nights ago — the forecast temperatures of 30 degrees dived to 20 degrees. Even under sleeping bags spread out, plants were killed. So we cringed and kept on saving what we could. And we are still at it! Even though we’ve been picking dry beans, it seems, forever, there are still more of them out there. I picked a full bucket of Magpies yesterday. (The bean, not the bird!) And there are still more, plus Brighstone, Blue Shackamaxon, Carminat, Iroquois, and a trellis of assorted eating beans. There is the Glass Gem popcorn, and more Oka muskmelons too. But we’re getting it done. Our wonderful apprentice, Alisha, came for a visit and is staying for a few days for a break. And boy is she a hard worker! So we have another hand at shelling beans. (Oh, did I mention we have something like eight 5-gallon buckets of dry beans in the pods waiting to be shelled?) Some, it’s easy; you just have to tread on them in a crate which pops the pods open and the beans drop out. Then we have to just lift the empty pods out, leaving the nice beans. Some varieties have not only dry pods but semi-dry ones that we have to sort through by hand as some of the beans inside have frozen and are no good to save. They’re either softer or kind of shriveled and have dark spots. We toss those into the compost bucket. You can imagine that’s kind of time consuming. To help the beans dry, Will figured a way to use David’s big, battery powered fan to circulate the air around the crates and through the beans, drying them much better and faster than ever before.

Here’s where I shell beans that must be hand-sorted and shelled. That way I can enjoy the outdoors and keep the mess out of the living room.
Will developed this method of using a battery powered fan beneath the crates of shelled dry beans to dry them nicely. These are Crawfords, our favorite pole bean.

Saturday we all gathered and ate a big Sweet Dakota Rose watermelon. Of course, we not only enjoyed the juicy, sweet dessert but saved the seeds and the rind. I cut away the remaining pink flesh and the tough green peeling. And then I cut them up into 1-inch pieces. After soaking them in salt water over night, I showed Alisha how to make one of our favorite treats, Watermelon Rind Pickles. It only takes a few minutes and ingredients so in a little over an hour, we were taking out half pints of this wonderful pickle from the water bath canner. And we still have a couple dozen more watermelons, so we’ll be making a lot more pickles! (If you’d like to give this recipe a try, you can find it in my book, Growing and Canning Your Own Food, available through BHM.)

I continue to seed tomatoes and that’s a slow process as we have so many different varieties. Our black Labrador, Spencer, is our quality control. He just loves tomatoes (and most all fruit and vegetables). So he sits, begging, next to me on the porch as I cut tomatoes. I give him pieces I’ve taken the seeds from and taken a taste myself. Most of them, he gobbles down. But a few I didn’t like particularly, he just spits out onto the floor! We won’t be offering the Spencer-rejected varieties.

Even though I’ve been working hard daily, there’s still a lot to take care of yet!

We still have some peppers left over from before frost picking so I also made some more Vaquero relish. As I didn’t have time to first make Cowboy Candy, I just used the syrup recipe and ground up a few jalapenos along with the rest of the assorted peppers. It turned out very good. We just feel so very blessed to have such an abundance of food! Not only that, but our family and friends do too, because of our garden. And my oldest son, Bill and his family also grew a nice garden and are putting up lots of food from it. Bill even saved me some Crawford beans that had over-matured and some Burracker’s Favorite tomatoes that he took seeds from and is saving for us. My granddaughter, Ava, wanted some seeds too so she could save them. I’m so tickled she’s interested! — Jackie


  1. Hi Miss Jackie…I bought some Magpie beans from you and just can’t eat them. They are just too pretty!!!! I’d love to sting them and wear them as a necklace! Pyro

  2. Two questions Jackie. When you plant celery do you tie it up to make it look more like the grocery store variety. I only had two survive (vicious rabbits!!!) but they look almost like a celery bouquet – pretty but just not what I expected. 2nd question with respect to eggs. Do you put them directly in the cellar without prior refrigeration? My cellar is unheated but I suspect it is still hovers around 50 degrees.
    Too funny about Spencer, the quality control dog!

    • No, I don’t tie up or otherwise blanch my celery. I just chop it up, eat it as is. If you have room in your refrigerator, you can refrigerate them first. If not, just don’t wash them and put them in the coolest spot. Mine always have lasted until early spring although when it gets toward spring I always break them in a cup one at a time….just in case one went bad.
      We laugh every time Spencer spits out a tomato, then gives us this dirty look like “What the heck was THAT???”

    • I honestly don’t dehydrate them although Patrice Lewis wrote an article detailing this. When fall comes, I put all our extra eggs in boxes, down where it’s very cool in our unheated basement. There they remain good until the chickens begin to lay in the early spring. You can waterglass your eggs but I’ve done that and really HATE reaching down into that cool, slimy water to retrieve eggs.

      • Goodness. I had not thought of doing that. We have a cellar. Don’t know why that wouldn’t work. I have heard that In European countries they don’t refrigerate eggs at all.
        You are so very helpful. Thank you so much.

  3. So glad to hear you dog loves tomatoes! We have 3 golden retrievers that like green tomatoes
    So much we literally had to put goat fencing around our raised beds to they would quit helping themselves!!😂. And even now, when I’m working in the garden and a portion of the fence is down they will try to sneak their head around the corner and grab one from a nearby plant. It’s the craziest thing. Everyone tells me they’ve never heard of dogs liking tomatoes like that, so it’s a comfort to me to hear that your lab does! And it does bring a chuckle now and then when I see them skulking and making the attempt…

    • My golden retriever loves tomatoes too, but only ripe red ones. But then again, she loves okra more. And asparagus, and cantalope, and green beans, and corn……..she stays in the house when my garden fence is open LOL.

      • Spencer is banned from the garden and orchard. He digs and eats carrots, potatoes then munches on tomatoes, apples, berries and even squash. I definitely won’t take him blueberrying as he always finds and eats the best berries!

  4. We’re experiencing the Indian summer too! It’s gonna be in the 70s all week after being in the 40s. Can’t complain through.

    Have you ever planted celery? I did this year and have tons and tons of it. I am almost at a loss as to what to do with it! I am glad I did, but it is so strange to have an over abundance!

    My tomatoes survived our 25 degree frost and are finally ripening on the vine. This baby is coming soon, and I was in the hospital for false labor this past weekend. Just hoping to get in as much of the garden this week before I’m in the hospital with a new born.

    Enjoy your help!

    • Yes, I do plant celery. It’s so easy to grow and I can up lots in pints and half pints to add to recipes plus make cream of celery soup.
      I’m glad to hear your tomatoes survived the frost! And hope your baby comes soon and you’re both healthy as can be!

    • We laugh like heck when he literally spits one out! And such a face he makes when he does. Like “Yuck Mom, WHAT was that??? Certainly not a tomato.”

  5. My granddaughter, Ava, wanted some seeds too so she could save them. I’m so tickled she’s interested!

    Kids are amazing and tend to want to help/be involved. If more parents took the time, we’d be better off IMHO. Kids are like sponges, absorbing what they see and are allowed to do. Yes, there are times you may have to go back and re-do/tweak what they’ve done but seeing their pride and satisfaction is worth it. While my kids weren’t really “into it” re: gardening when they were young, both grow things these days. And they certainly know how to cook! Can’t wait to taste their latest pasta dish from the recipe handed down from their grandma. While I am not that into cooking, I was entrusted with the recipes. And can do the manual part of the holiday only pasta preparation!

    Broke down my garden this past weekend. Not a good year in this area for squash (zuke, summer, acorn – pumpkins did okay at the farm that sells them. Not as many big ones as normal but still a respectable harvest). Still have two tomato plants – the green tomatoes left on the others were already too cracked and/or not healthy looking so off to the long term compost area they went. Hoping my garlic arrives here soon. Need to do a bit more prep of that planting area but won’t take long.

    How big do the Lucid Gems get – from your picture, they seem to be a medium size tomato (and I presume a slicer versus paste).

    • Yep, Lucid Gems are a mid-large tomato, definitely not a paste as they are quite juicy. And yummy! Folks around here didn’t have a good squash/pumpkin year although we did have good results in our Main garden, which has had years of rotted manure.
      I love seeing kids around the homestead! Mine always helped although not always enthusiastically. But several of them are now gardening on their own homesteads now.

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