With our previous drought, we began mulching both to save on weeding and to conserve much-needed moisture as several of our gardens have limited ways to water because they’re so far from a water source or well. But during our long gardening experience, we’ve found mulching is a huge help in encouraging plant growth. Then in the fall, that mulch has broken down and can be easily tilled in to help build soil quality. Our main garden is a big example. In the beginning, it was just sand, gravel, and lots of rocks. Now it’s black dirt (with a few rocks) and very nice to work in. As our hay season last year was decent, Will was able to square bale many hundred bales of reed canary grass, our go-to mulch. Now, with the help of our wonderful apprentice, Ashley, we’re getting the mulching done. So far, four gardens have been mulched as well as the two hoop houses that our main peppers are growing in.

We think our mulched gardens look so nice.
Ashley mulching one of our Bear Island Chippewa corn patches.

Will noticed that the squash and muskmelon plants on the south end of the Sand garden were yellow and growing poorly. This was because he’d graded off the big hill there (also removing some old manured soil). He did push some new manure there, but evidently, not enough. So he took the tractor out into the cow yard and brought up a bucket full of rotted cow manure. Then he shoveled it around each plant after pulling back the mulch. After only three days, the plants are much greener and growing like weeds.

I’ve had to kind of take a break from outside work. As I was on doxycycline for the Lymes, I sunburned pretty bad. I wore long sleeves, and my arms didn’t get it badly but I hate gloves and hadn’t worn them religiously. Bad mistake! Now I never sunburn, anywhere, normally. But boy-oh-boy did my hands ever get fried!

Check out these fried hands! Don’t do as I did.

Lesson to everyone: wear gloves if on doxy during any time in the sun! They’re getting better but I sure know when I hit the backs of them on something. — Jackie


  1. Yes. I used part of your idea; I wore a long sleeved shirt I’d bought at the local thrift store and it sure helped.

  2. Cringeworthy! Yikes! Aloe help at all?
    BTW, we received another 4″ rain so I’m betting you are right, that the Seneca Sunrise corn will shoot up and be awesome yet!

  3. I’m on a natural protocol from Logos Nutritional’s for Lyme disease. I am doing so much better but I also take a couple of medications for other issues
    and I got a sunburn on my legs but it healed up is a few days. I wear long pants now when outside.

    Ruth Ann Martin

    • I always wear long pants as the bugs LOVE to bite my legs so, fortunately, I didn’t sunburn there. My hands are healing now and itching as well as peeling. More aloe, please!

  4. My husband was on doxy for quite a while dealing with a significant infection. I constantly had to remind him to cover up when he went out to do things around our small farm. He was pretty good about staying covered, and luckily, he didn’t burn. I hope you will recover quicly.

    • Thanks. It is hard to remember to cover up when you’re not used to it. I never burn. Okay, well, not unless I’m on doxycycline! I’m done with the doxy and am healing nicely.

  5. Oh, hon! Like I said in my last comment, my husband stopped his med that was taking such a toll on him in the sunshine, being a general contractor getting the walls up for a small house. It seems he’d taken enough meds, anyway, for the UTI. You’re indeed blessed to have a lady helping you there. I’ve never seen straw used so extensively, but a ‘covering’ is so advantageous!!! I have used wood chips, which was great, but am now using ‘black plastic mulch’, aka used billboard plastic (purchased online). I don’t till whatsoever, water very little, have no weeds around the plants and none elsewhere in the paths either. I do have to amend in the beds, though, from time to time. It all works out.

    • We love our mulch, especially when Will harvests it himself out of totally non-chemical fields. I’ve used the used billboard type plastic as mulch in our berry patch but found, after several years, it photo-degraded and was awful to pick up all the little pieces. Hopefully you won’t experience that.

  6. Sorry about that burn, wow. My sis burns like that from her meds. Aloe is best but a friend of mine found that the cheap hair gel with aloe works too. Its been raining here all afternoon and I can hear the corn growing. Praying to send some your way.

  7. OUCH!!! I am sure you have laid an aloe vera leaf across your hand…do it again! Wow, Will had quite a job with the melons and squash! Amazing that the manure did the job so quickly. Wishing you rain at the right time, weeds dying, and plants thriving…(doesn’t hurt to ask.) Blessings.

    • I use aloe every day, several times. I love my aloe. My kids used to call it “Magic Leaf”. And it is. We love our manure! Our homestead motto is “Mo’ poo poo” as it’ll fix darned near everything in the garden. Thank your for your good wishes! May they come true!

  8. I’m sorry for your sunburn. My great grandparents would use cool black tea on sunburn. Just make whatever black tea you have, let it cool and blot it on. Aside from the coolness, it’s apparently the tannins that ease the sunburn. I’ve got to be careful in the sun because of my meds I take regularly.

    • Hmm, why didn’t I think of tea? Way back when I used to race sled dogs, I would soak their paws in tea as it toughened the pads and helped protect them from getting worn and cut on sharp snow. (This was before putting dog boots on was popular.)

  9. Sympathy on the sunburn, ugh, and if you have any aloe it helps a lot. It’s not like totally pain removal, but it helps. I have to wear gloves when driving as I’m medications that make me sun sensitive now.

    • Yep, I sure do use lots of aloe. It pretty much cuts down the burn as well as healing it fast, which is happening.

  10. Just a thought about protecting your arms from sun or berry briars. You could purchase a used, long sleeve shirt from a thrift store, cut off the sleeves, pin sleeves to what ever you are wearing to protect from the sun and brambles. Seems like it should work.


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