We’re so tickled to have had the chance to become vaccinated when a lot of folks throughout the country are struggling to do the same. Our little clinic in a town of 600 people got a good supply and many of our friends and neighbors have taken the opportunity to get vaccinated as well. That makes us feel much safer although we still mask up and social distance, going to stores, and when necessary. I do have to go to the Post Office daily during the week to mail out seed packages to folks but believe me, I am very careful yet!

Will and I are now fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Only a tiny red spot for side-effects. Not bad!

Our warm weather is only getting warmer and sunnier. You can bet we’re pretty happy about that after that two-week Arctic spell in February. I’m sorting out my pepper seeds and first thing Monday morning, I’m going to get started planting our first peppers, some longer season hot peppers such as the one from China and the Venice Bootleg, which take a couple of extra weeks to make mature peppers for us to harvest seeds from.

To get nice peppers for seed next year, I’ll be starting pepper seed next week.

I start my peppers in both Jiffy Pellets, which are poker chip sized hard, compressed peat, and ProMix seed starting medium, filling larger six packs which fit into the regular 1040 seed flats with no holes in them. The Jiffy Pellets are first soaked in very hot water and then, when they swell up nicely, I squeeze out any extra water lightly and place them in containers with no drainage holes and label the containers. There is a circular indentation with a slight hole in the center on the top of the pellets and nothing on the bottom. As there is a light netting to hold the pellet together, you want access to plant, which is only available on the top. With the ProMix, I lightly water the mix in the bag until it’s nice and damp but not a bit soggy. Then I fill the six packs to the tops.

I plant some seeds in Jiffy Pellets, some in six packs.
These are peat pellets before being soaked and planted. The one on the left is the bottom side. The one on the right is the top. See the ring?

With both of them, I use a pencil and create a hole about ⅛” deep in the center. Two seeds go in each hole in case one seed doesn’t want to germinate for some reason; I don’t want to waste time here! When all the seeds I want to plant are in, I take the eraser end and shove the soil around and over the seed and lightly water with warm water. Then the flat or container goes into a plastic bag that is not shut tight; the seeds need to “breathe” or the soil will mold. The bag-covered containers are then placed in a warm spot (not a sunny window where the seeds would cook). Ours go behind our living room wood stove, up on shelves. After three days, I check each bag for signs of germination. In warm temps, the seeds often germinate in four to five days! As soon as I see the curved stems coming up out of the soil, the flats go into a sunny window and the bags come off. As my seedlings get further along, I’ll keep you posted!

Just a note, yesterday, I was in our local ranch store, L & M Fleet Supply and they had pallet loads of Kerr pints with lids and rings. — Jackie


  1. Hi Jackie!
    In your magazine article you mentioned your hoop houses. We are doing the same this year and when I went on the Growers Supply website for the plastic covering, I was overwhelmed! Would you say what one you have on yours? We are in NE with harsh winters and will not be taking it down in winter. Also what did you use for a frame? Purchased? PVC?

    One little tidbit of how I was “taken” on ordering canning jars this past winter! I ordered on a site that said 2 pint jars with rings and lids for 35.00. There are no jars anywhere where I am, so I was thrilled to be able to get these. What I received? 2 pint jars, not cases! There was no recourse and I felt disappointed and so ridiculous for having been duped and so much money gone!
    Lesson learned!

  2. My doctor wants me to get the Johnson and Johnson vaccine which are not yet available here. Its still like a lottery getting a chance for a vaccine.

    I’m forcing myself to wait one more week before starting peppers and two weeks for tomatoes. I have everything I need to do so but guess it wouldn’t hurt to get it all out and organized.

    • Gee, I was real happy to be getting ANY COVID vaccination! Waiting is so hard this time of the year. But, really, those sturdy, younger plants often do much better outside than do those searching-for-light, leggy big ones.

  3. Just a thought: We wiped out smallpox in the US with vaccinations, then polio. Because nearly everyone got vaccinated. And I can remember how scary it was with polio; no crowded places, no beaches, no fairs and friends who got it and were in braces and crutches all their lives. Yep, I’d rather have the vaccination.

  4. My Dad gets his 2nd shot this week, better half got his first this past week. It will likely be a while before I get mine. I’m younger than better half with no underlying health issues. I have no problem waiting – there are plenty who are at higher risk than I or are essential workers. Not that I go out much but when living in the north, wearing a mask in the winter isn’t all that bad. And I have NO issue wearing a mask to protect others – it is the right thing to do, regardless of religious beliefs. I have plenty of empathy for those live in states where politicians think money is more important than public safety.
    I too am more than two months from being able to plant much of anything. So we’ll make use of time cleaning up the yard and garden, prepping the garden as much as we can, and ensuring plenty of wood in our stockpile. Of course I can’t wait for morel and ramp season – that helps bide the time until I can plant.
    Will tell the better half to buy seed potatoes ASAP – seeds are out in the big box/farm supply stores. Going to rein in the better half on asparagus – we need to see if we really need to buy any more roots.

    • Ah, morels!!! My favorite mushroom and we have so few here I don’t pick them when I do find them, hoping they’ll spread. I don’t think we EVER have enough asparagus. I can eat it three meals a day then snack on the leftovers, IF there are any. I have to laugh. A couple nights ago I made creamed asparagus with bacon bits as a side dish. Will ate some then said “What’s wrong with these green beans?”. When I told him it was asparagus, not green beans, he relaxed and said “I was just expecting green beans and this didn’t taste anything like them.”.

      • LOL.. Will must have been tired – no way asparagus looks like green beans – unless the stalks were slender and you put all the tips on your plate!
        Better half keeps buying crowns and planting BEFORE seeing if any plants come up in selected areas of our asparagus bed. I have no problem making the asparagus bed larger but do have a problem digging up an area because someone is just impatient!

  5. During the winter my husband built a table with a grow light above it. I couldn’t wait for spring so played around with some different seeds. Built a box with drainage holes to fit a “boot tray” that caught any extra water. We had a nice crop of loose leaf lettuce for salads and BLT sandwiches for about two months. Now the table is lined with a heat mat and holds my tomato seedlings (18 brandywine, 8 tanana, 8 punta banda). A second set up was quickly made and now holds my pepper and melon seedlings. Thank you so much for your seed business! I am soo looking forward to spring. Local walmart had 3 cases of quart jars and 4 pint size, 2 half pints. I grabbed them all. Still need a few more pints. No lids for sale yet.

    • Our warm weather is holding and I’m starting to see patches of dirt in the garden! Boy do I have the spring itch!!! But I know, here in the north, it’s too early to start anything but pansies and long-season hot peppers. Next week, though, my sweet peppers and the rest of the hot peppers go in. We can get a jump on the season as most peppers go in our two hoop houses.

      • Thank goodness for hoop houses! We have two 10 by 20 houses and they will be packed full in April and then in May the outside stuff will be planted. I ordered my potatoes and will have to drive about 50 miles one way to pick them up but at least I got the kind I want. Until this year I never knew that potatoes were determinate and indeterminate and I’m in Maine potato country. Still at 65 years old.

  6. When I ordered seeds last week, they were out of potatoes, ‘said they ran out right away. So I will try planting my potatoes from the grocery store. I’ll wait and see if they get growth from the eyes.

    • Although it’s not the best, most of the time if store potatoes are exposed to some light, they will begin to develop sprouts. Seeds, onion sets and seed potatoes will be in short supply all over the country this spring.

  7. I love how we are all feeling more lightness in our step these days, with spring coming, the vaccine getting its numbers up, and seeds being planted. We attended a brother-in-law’s funeral, who died from covid in February, so its still a killer. But, my at-risk hubby has had his 2nd shot, yay. Iowa is opening it up to 64 and younger now, to people who have any vulnerabilities, so we are getting closer to a more normal lifestyle. I will wait until the folks who really need it get their shots, but then will go in too. My being too fat qualifies me, ha! As always, we wear masks out of respect to others’ needs in public, but continue to see friends, family, eat at restaurants, etc without them on. Working on the herd immunity!
    I wanted to order seed potatoes and asparagus roots from Seed Savers Exchange but they said they are too swamped with orders so are only doing seeds this year, nothing else! I ordered those items plus onion sets from Jung Seed now instead, since I do not feel secure in waiting to get them from our local Earl May and others in April.
    I’ve started my onions from you, and will the cabbage, peppers and tomatoes soon too. So Much Fun!

    • It is, isn’t it??? I’m dying to get into the garden but still have a foot of snow on it. Try Nourse Farms for asparagus; they’re a good place. Seed potatoes will be in short supply also, so I’m hoping you get yours. Glad the onions are started as they take a long time to get nice and big to go out in the garden. Remember to give them a “haircut” or two when they grow tall inside.

  8. I don’t usually reply but look so forward to reading your blog entries Jackie! So happy you guys were able to get your shots! I just became eligible in NJ but can’t find a site…highly populated area. Still, it will happen. Thanks for the tip about putting the seed trays in a plastic bag–that’s brilliant. I’m in a drafty basement apartment with little light so my seeds need all the help they can get! It’s container gardening for me right now, but I manage to grow a fair amount. Maybe this will be the year I get the 30 acres I’ve been dreaming of…

  9. We are still waiting for our vax!!! Good for you and Will! I don’t believe you saw jars!!! I haven’t seen many ! Safeway today had one box of pints 16.99

    • HOLY COW!!! Talk about price gouging. I’d sure remember that when things get more normal. I’m hard nosed that way; if someone screws me when I’m down, they’d better not expect me to do business with them when I’m back to normal!!

  10. Good for you Elizabeth Johnson. We feel the same way but are very happy for the people who want to get the vaccine. So glad that Jackie and Will were able to get them.

  11. My husband and I have opted not to take the vaccine. However, I am delighted to hear that since you wanted it you were able to get it. To each their own. Freedom to choose is one of the things I love best about our great land. God bless you all.

  12. Great that youz got the second shot. We both got our second shots last week. We are so grateful but will still double mask for others until this horrible disease subsides.
    I’ve been looking for a couple of weeks now for lids (I do have a few boxes put away). Thanks for the update of these in your area, hopefully there will be more supply out there soon.

  13. Can’t wait to get 2 of your cook books I recently ordered! Boy, are bell peppers slow to germinate. Found that out last year, my first time to germinate them. So I started mine this year in January; I live in far north California, zone 9. Last year I dehydrated many kinds of vegetables. Turns out so easy then to throw a soup together!!!! I may be one of the few, but do not wear a mask, and won’t be getting the vaccine. I just never have gotten flu shots, etc. I see nothing wrong with wearing masks, I just want to keep living life as usual and have been called selfish and idiot. My belief is that each individual takes care of himself.

    • Warmth helps peppers germinate faster. At 85 degrees they’ll germinate in less than a week. At 60 degrees sometimes it takes three weeks or even more. I agree I’d just as soon live life as usual but I’m deathly worried about giving the virus to others by not wearing a mask.

  14. We too got our second shot-
    my wife has leukemia and got moved up the list. I tagged along and got it also. This is a relief! She stays isolated. I’ve started some peppers this week. I have not received seeds ordered from BIG seed companies-after sending orders first week of January. Jackie you are way ahead of the rest. My 2 goat buckling kids are growing like bad weeds. They are fun. Think Spring. Busy tapping Maples now.

    • We are fortunate to be small as far as seed companies go. That way we don’t have thousands of orders every day so we can quickly fill them and get them out the next day. I wish we HAD maples. They logged off our land 20 years ago and all of our maples are thin little guys. With weather like this, we’re definitely thinking spring!!!

  15. Whoohoo! Goid for 2nd shot! Friend and I actually got our first dose yesterday…had to drive over 60 miles to get it…to Ferndale, almost Canada! Second one in three weeks! So happy for all of us!

    • Everyone who does get vaccinated helps the whole country build “herd immunity”. I learned about this as a veterinary technician for over 22 years. It does work! Sorry you had to go so far. We only had to drive 12 miles to our little town. Congratulations.

  16. Jackie, so glad to hear you and Will were able to get vaccinated. I’m not yet eligible out here in WA, but my parents had their second shot a few weeks ago and we are so grateful.

    • We are too! I would sure be horrified if I contracted the virus, symptoms or not, and passed to on to someone who got very sick or died. Because of me.

  17. So happy you will now be protected. I get my first one tomorrow. Was hoping for the 1 shot J&J but it’s not in Maine yet. Oh well.

    Thanks for all the pepper info, it really helps!! Do you dehydrate most of yours? Most of mine are dried. I’m hoping to have at least 4 gallon jars full for next winter. I love to just open the lid and smell them….so yum!!!

    • I used to dehydrate most of mine but still have gallons. So now I’m making lots of salsa, cowboy and cowgirl candy as well as my now-famous vaquero relish, made with several different chopped peppers in the sweet cowboy candy syrup. I use those peppers in so many different things from stir fry to pizza!

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