Last week, we had a dive in temperatures that really shook things up around here. Not only did we have to hustle to make sure both heaters were working in the greenhouse but the next morning we found our rhubarb had frozen, along with the leaves on our black walnut and even one of the oak trees! In all my years of gardening, I’ve never had rhubarb freeze before. When it freezes, the leaves wilt and droop badly. If that’s not enough, the oxalic acid in the leaves, which is toxic, draws down into the stalks, making them possibly poisonous to some extent. And here I was all set to can it, too! But wait, I checked out our seven plants and found two which had not frozen. Why? I don’t have a clue. I’m just happy I’ll be able to get at that chore soon. I wanted to wait a couple of days so I could make sure I could tell the frozen stalks (they get limp and pithy) from the okay ones.

Our rhubarb froze for the first time ever!

The long-range weather forecast is for unseasonable warm weather. So I’m diving into planting and praying it’s correct for once. Yesterday, Will finished rebuilding the hydraulic pump on the Ford 660, hooked up the three-point furrower and dug two very long rows in the Wolf garden, four feet apart. First, I planted our 20 pounds of Dakota Pearls, then another 20 pounds of the Bliss Triumph potatoes I grew last year in the stock tank raised bed in the front yard to ensure they would not get any possible disease. As it’s near impossible to find Bliss Triumph seed potatoes, the wonderful old red potatoes Grandpa grew back in Montana, I knew I had to grow my own. And I did. This year, I planted a few in the tank, again, just in case…

Planting potatoes in the Wolf garden

Hondo went with me on each of the three trips I made on the four-wheeler, hauling potatoes out to plant. On the second trip, we were surprised to see a painted turtle hustling down the driveway in front of us. It’s egg-laying season and I’m sure she was hot footing it for a nice, sandy spot to lay eggs. Hondo had to check her out, not quite sure just what she was. I’m not sure who was more timid about the meeting.

Hondo didn’t know what to think about the painted turtle we saw on the driveway.

Sunday, we got two bad storms, a few hours apart. The first brought pouring rain and hail the size of small marbles. We just stood and watched it fall as we didn’t have any crops it would hurt. Then we both thought of the plants on the back deck! Peppers, squash, popcorn, all getting hammered! I looked out but it appeared okay, and the hail was quitting. Whew! That could have been bad, huh?

We had two bad storms Sunday but, thankfully, no damage.

A few hours later, I looked outside and saw a huge black cloud blowing up from the west. I’m talking about an ugly cloud! I went out to get a better look at it and saw lightning and swirling green clouds. Not good… Remembering the earlier hail, I started carrying plants in from the deck. Then there was this awful sound of roaring wind. (Hail? Tornado?) I yelled for help from Will and we both hauled flats in like mad, keeping an eye on the sky. Fortunately, the sound stopped and as we carried in the last flat, the pouring rain began. But no hail. And we did need the rain. So all good on the homestead again. — Jackie


  1. Crazy weather all over it seems. We are enjoying almost excessive amounts of rain and dodging tornadoes The worst going either south or north but still too close for comfort. No freezing but temps are cool

    • We’ve had a little rain, but could still use more. No tornadoes, please!!! And no cold temps coming, I think. Hooray!

  2. So good to hear from you. Out here in California everything (weather included is hot). Hoping all is well with you.

    • Sure is, Bette. We’re busy, busy, busy, but it gets that way, this time of the year. But then we enjoy gardening so much, it’s usually fun too. Except today when it’s 90 out!

  3. We had a frost warning in SW lower MI. I covered up a few plants but didn’t cover the rest. They were all ok. My rhubarb wasn’t harmed and is doing well but not ready yet. I have one more flat to plant of greens/herbs and some flowers my son brought me he purchased for $5 a flat.
    I have run out of garden space and am resorting to containers. My first year to do any container gardening. I want to order some seeds from you Jackie and will next week when I get paid. The ones I got in 2020 I’m still using and they are coming up fine. I’m looking ahead to 2021 though.

    • Yep, I do that every year. When I’m planting, I always think “Why didn’t I get such and such???”
      Hey, I’m a gardening addict!

  4. The baby plant shuffle…I know that dance. Spent 2 solid hours one afternoon last year hauling plants into the house due to a weather forecast that came true. Everyone lost their gardens but mine was sitting in the kitchen and living room, and bedroom. Sorry you had to do it but glad you made it! Just wanted to let you know that all the seeds I ordered from you are chugging right along. Thank you for all you do!!!! Pyro

    • Yea! We always love hearing our “seed children” are doing well in their new homes. A lot of folks around here had already planted their gardens and had everything freeze, even cabbage and broccoli plants as they were still tender and young. We live by the weather radio!!

  5. We had a cool rainy Memorial Weekend here in north Missouri. The weeds are winning in my garden right now, but the plants look healthy so far. So glad you escaped damage from the storms. They can be terrifying.

    • Yes, they can. One year, we saw a tornado form right before our eyes which did some damage to the east of us. We watch the sky a whole lot.

  6. I have been they one tornado in Mo which took off 1/2 of our roof and damaged all vehicles. Would rather go thru earthquakes as I went thru growing up on the San Andreas fault, anyway! Lol

    • I’d rather have neither, myself! One reason we love northern Minnesota; very few natural disasters like earthquakes, hurricanes or powerful tornadoes.

  7. I’m so glad you posted this blog. We got frost up here in the Upper Peninsula and our rhubarb got it bad. So I went and picked all the frozen ones and good ones to make straw/rhubarb pie fill. Nope now it’s all in the garbage! Lucky there are lots of plant and lots of stalks still good and growing. Thank you!!!

    • Glad you read the blog. You might not have been affected but you might have gotten a real good belly ache or worse. Better safe than sorry!

  8. Been in and near a tornado a couple of times and one with green hue. Always wondered about that and recently on WC documentary they said it is green because of violent swirl pulling up grass, vegetation and leaves. Glad you guys ok! And yes, I also saw where long range forecast says excessive heat this year in your area. Save your rain water.

    • We’re getting the heat now. Whew it sure sucks the energy out of you! We work in short spells then go inside and drink lots of cold water. Luckily, we have two good wells plus a spring-fed pond for irrigation.

  9. How cold did it get ? To freeze rhubarb?
    Those clouds in the sky look very precarious and makes one wonder what on earth is going on!!!!!
    I’m glad you got things done

  10. Just wondering. Could you cut the frozen rhubarb plants down to the roots and let them grow new stalks that would be safe to eat? My rhubarb grows most of the summer up here in NW Montana as long as I remove the seed heads.

    • Yes, but it’s better for rhubarb to pull the stalks, rather than cut them, frozen or not. The plant likes this method better. And yes, it will re-grow nicely.

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