With much of the country experiencing snow, ice, and other chilling winter weather, I know, myself, I sure like thinking ahead to warmer weather, starting seeds, planting gardens, and watching flowers bloom and vegetables ripen. I can’t wait for the first of my fancy daylilies to bloom, that first monarch butterfly hovering over the butterfly weed in our front flower bed, getting ready to lay her eggs. Then there’s the very first garden salad, the first ripe tomato, and the first bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. Gee, how I’m craving a salad and real tomatoes! I got desperate last week and bought a head of iceberg lettuce, several pretty tomatoes, and a few assorted veggies to go on my salad. I was a little worried as the last two times I’d eaten a salad from store-bought vegetables, I ended up throwing up all night. Surely, that was a coincidence, I rationalized. I made up a real pretty salad (which Will declined on participating in) and started eating. Well, the lettuce tasted funny, and the tomato was horrible. But, being raised to “clean up my plate” and not waste food, I finished it up. Yep, I was sick all night. Not throwing up that time, but right on the verge. Not very pleasant, I’ll tell you! So, no more salads for me until I cut my own in the garden. (Yes, the vegetables were organic!) The good news is spring is coming — let’s take a quick walk through our yard and see what it will look like. Enjoy!

Remember green? Here’s our Main Garden in July last year.
I can’t wait to see Monarch caterpillars on the Butterfly Weed in the flower beds.
Remember FLOWERS? This is one of my peonies in the front yard.

— Jackie


  1. Beautiful pictures. Here in California it is sunny and warm during the day. In fact I am thinking I will have to water my garden a few times this week. I attended a rare fruit exchange last Saturday, and came home with a apricot tree that I won in the raffle. With that being said, I am busy pruning by fruit trees in anticipation of the coming summer. As always, good to hear from you. Keep “trucking” on.

  2. Jackie, do you follow one of the Farmer’s Almanacs for planting various crops and weeding etc? There are several variations of the Almanac out there for purchase, but not sure which is the best one. We garden from May – November in Northeastern Wisconsin. Thank you.

  3. No good to hear about the vegetables and their ill-effects, but thank you for the photos! Looks lovely! :] Looking back at photos is always great, although I forget every time how pleasant it is, but especially so when it’s negative temps outside and you’re looking at green leaves and flowers!

  4. Hi Miss Jackie…sorry to hear about the salad problem…again. About 20 years ago I suddenly started to have reactions to any fruit that isn’t peeled. Strawberries, cherries, peaches, etc are all sprayed with something that I cannot have. This is what actually got me started gardening. I have no problems with the home grown fruit at all. Food companies need to come clean about our food. You are very correct about the food supply. It is actually a global problem and is only going to get worse. Pray we don’t have a VEI 5 or higher volcano like the one that just happened. Ash clouds are no joke. “Year without a summer”. We all need to store as much as we possibly can. Glad you are feeling better. Pyro

    • Thanks Pyrp. Yes, anything like volcanic ash could happen. That’s why we try to store 2 years’ worth of food every year. Not only for us but for elderly friends and some non-preparred relatives, if need be.

  5. I just heard that ProMix is about to double in price due to a shortage in peat. If you haven’t got yours for spring yet you might want to.

  6. I know you must have been asked this many times, but what is your opinion about “best by dates”? I know what its like to have NO FOOD. So, this horrible waste drives me nuts. I can understand not eating three year old jelly, especially when the first inch is dark and questionable. But they have these dates on things that just don’t spoil such as vinegar, any thing that has been fermented(kraut), pasta, etc. I do throw out high Ph items such as tuna and beans.

    • Best by dates are just a marketing ply to make gullible people throw away perfectly good food and go out and buy more. Don’t throw out tuna and beans unless the can is bulging or rusty. It’s just as good three years after you buy it as the day it went on the store shelf. I, too, know what it’s like having NO food. And, yes, you can sure eat that 3 year old jelly. It seldom gets any change in color at all.

  7. I wash my store bought lettuce and spin dry. Even lingering water may hold preservatives the growers use. Then I store in quart jars like the “salad in a jar” that are so popular. It lasts longer and keeps fresher. If your busy, make several salads for the week. You might as well spin dry the whole head. Open the frig and they ready to go.
    I got my first seed catalog recently (after your old one) and sit under my throw blanket and dream of spring and summer days. I really appreciate you sending me one to browse. I’m going to share with my Amish friends when snow is gone. Stay warm. We got a lot more winter to come.

    • Yeah, I’ve rinsed mine that way too and still I get sick. I must be more sensitive to the preservatives. Bummer!
      Have fun looking through the seed catalog. It’s better than looking out the window!!

  8. Love the looking ahead. The flowers and butterflies are just beautiful. I also do not tolerate store lettuce well. It just makes me sick. My former mother in law used to can whole tomatoes and in winter when we had tacos she would dice them up to put on the tacos. It was delicious! Glad you are feeling better.

    • Me too! But then I put my back out. Holy cow. It is a lot better today and I don’t really know what I did. I use canned whole tomatoes, sliced on bacon and tomato sandwiches in the winter. I’m skipping the lettuce!!!

  9. I get mad when my spouse buys tomatoes out of season – they are just horrible on sandwiches. I’ll eat a salad – greens, mushrooms, cheese, croutons, grated carrots and *maybe* some cucumber. But PASS on hot house tomatoes. I am not sure where the local restaurant got Roma-type tomatoes but that was on the salad I had. Not a lot but actually tasted like a real (paste) tomato. We’re in striking distance of a large city and perhaps a better source of “off season” produce in my area. You’re a lot farther north of me and the large city near you is a lot farther north of the large city near me. Perhaps time for a mini-green house in your house to grow some greens?

  10. I have a number of pictures of my flower gardens that I look at regularly. It helps deal with the winter COLD weather. I too was wondering what you put on the ground between your rows. It looks so nice. I’m going to try using black plastic this summer to keep out the weeds. Speaking about lettuce, we haven’t always been able to get it but what we get has been ok. No stomach upsets.

    I lost my husband in October from covid and I’ve had it to and been in the hospital & need to regain my energy before spring gardening time. I keep praying that I will be able to have a garden this summer. What are your opinions about our food supply for the coming months. I would be interested to know if any of you are experiencing inability to get things.

    • We use reed canary grass as mulch that Will cuts on some of our fields we do for hay. It is a wet-growing grass and we love it for mulch as it lasts all summer then composts by spring for easy tilling in.
      I’m so very sorry you lost your husband Ruth!! That’s so hard. Personally, I’m thinking we’ll have big disruptions in our food supply before long. Last summer’s drought in the north and floods in the south, coupled with labor disruptions and COVID, I can’t see how we can help it. I know around here, some of the big stores are already having vacant sections in their shelves and bins.
      Hang in there and garden as you are able, come spring. I hope you’re feeling better now. I’ll add you to my prayers.

    • Hi Ruth…we don’t know each other but that doesn’t matter. You lost someone dear and most of us know how that feels. So, I just wanted to say how sorry I am and that I hope you have folks to lean on. Hang in there, Sheryl

  11. I’m with you on no store-bought salads. The last head of lettuce I bought was terrible and I ended up getting only one salad from it. I use my home canned tomatoes for salads. I can Roma’s diced and open and strain to use on salads. Except I’m now just eating the tomatoes without the salad because store bought greens are just plain nasty and that’s without considering how often they get recalled due to some horrible disease.

    • Yep, my salads are getting different too. I’m growing sprouts as they take little room and use up the “old” seeds of some varieties that wouldn’t do well in Uganda, where I send seeds to missionaries to help folks there. I, too, use whole canned tomatoes in salads and on sandwiches as store-bought tomatoes are just horrible.

  12. I read your previous post and, Oh boy! If you do host an alumni day in August, I’m hoping to see those gardens and flowers in person.
    Sorry you were sick, but am happy it was easily diagnosed and avoidable from now on. (By the way, my hubby would say, “See, eating healthy food is a Bad Thing!”) Ha!

  13. Oh gosh so sorry you got sick from the salad. I hope your tummy has settled down now and feeling much better.
    I normally don’t eat a lot of store bought veggies so don’t have much experience with them.
    I am so inspired by what you shared and the pictures too.
    I know will be awhile before all the snow is gone but I can dream about days to come and growing veggies in the garden.
    I do grow some things inside like romaine lettuce in a few baskets. Gets me by until garden time.
    Have a great night, stay warm and be blessed.

    • Oh, yes, my stomach is pretty much fully recovered. Living in a cold-winter area, store-bought lettuce is the only thing available unless you have a greenhouse, heated in below freezing temperatures (we had -29 this morning). So I’m switching to sprouts, instead as well as canned tomatoes to add, along with homegrown onions, shredded carrots and squash, plus croutons.

  14. I hope you are feeling better after your salad snafu.
    Also, loved the lovely photos. What kind of dried grass/hay do you put down between your garden rows? Love the look!


    • Yep, recovered except for the unpleasant memory. We put reed canary grass down as our mulch. Will cuts it in some of the lower areas of the hayfields we cut and we square bale it, just for mulch. It works so well.

    • We enjoyed our Monarch caterpillars so much. Did you know that caterpillars actually take naps? At first we thought they were dying. But no, they eat like pigs, then take naps in the sun, resume eating and nap again. How cute!

      • BAHAHAHAHA…”eat like pigs, then take naps in the sun, resume eating and nap again.” Those caterpillars know how to live! lol

  15. It’s not your imagination. What you buy in the grocery store was picked days prior and perhaps thousands of miles away and was sprayed with something to make it take the trip so to speak
    I must have a cast iron stomach. I can and have eaten and drank things that might flatten many but the wife is very sensitive and can eat no fresh vegetables from any store especially in the winter yet has no problems whatsoever from anything out of the garden and we are hearing more from others with this same problem

    • Yep, I know it’s sprayed which is why I always rinse it very thoroughly. But I just can’t handle chemicals in food. The littlest bit of MSG and my stomach rebels and you wouldn’t believe how many things it’s in today. Take roasted peanuts, for example! Gee

  16. Jacquie,
    I just peel the garlic cloves & toss them in a quart jar in the fridge. I am just finishing one jar that’s lasted well over a year. If you rinse it before using, it doesn’t have a vinegary taste.

  17. I have a problem with store bought veggies too. I think it is the preservative they put on them. I am thinking of growing micro greens in the house so I can have fresh greens. I pray it works. I am so looking forward to growing outside again but it will be awhile. My weather is close to yours I am in south Montana close to Yellowstone.

    • I’m pretty sure it’s the preservative that makes us sick. Good luck with the micro greens; I’m going with sprouts. Yep, we used to live just north of Enis, Montana, over Sheriday way.

  18. I have a LOT of garlic that needs to be “put up”. Suggestions for canning? Is that even possible? I have some that I dried to make garlic salt. But my experience is it doesn’t stay garlicky very long.
    Love the photos of the garden. Seems so far off. But probably not. I will be sewing onion seeds soon. Spring is not to far behind that!


    • Garlic can be pickled but is not supposed to be canned. What I do is dehydrate slices of garlic cloves, then make my own garlic powder by whizzing it in a blender, then further drying it on a cookie sheet in the oven set at very low temperatures.
      Yep, spring IS coming!! Hooray.

  19. Don’t forget that iceberg is a lettuce that is hard on those with gallbladder problems or who have had one removed.

    • Gee, I’ve never had trouble before this year, and I had mine removed. Will doesn’t have gallbladder trouble and he gets sick when he eats any store lettuce and can actually taste the chemicals.

  20. Wow Jackie, where are you buying your vegetables at? Even though we have a garden, I regularly buy vegetables at Aldis and never have had a problem. That includes many heads of iceberg, broccoli, cauliflower, ect, although I mostly refuse to buy store bought tomatoes, except the occasional package of cherry tomatoes for my Italian pasta salad. Don’t force yourself to eat suspicious food- when in doubt, throw it out, to the chickens or compost heap! Did Will get sick at all the times you got sick? Did he eat the same produce?

    • Also would like to add, some people are sensative to some things. My boyfriend has a list a mile long of things he can’t/won’t eat, and some foods with stipulations-can only eat so much turkey or apple juice, chewing gum upsets his stomach, even our well water messes up his stomach, even though its been tested and the only diagnosis was “moderately hard”. Me, I can eat anything no problem, EXCEPT I found beer doesn’t agree with me, and I can’t stand the taste either. At a get together once I accepted a bottle out of politeness, and wished I hadn’t. Could only get down a few sips, my stomach felt nasty going home, then felt awful till I went to bed and slept. I believe there’s a reason we have the ability to taste what’s bad to us. It’s probably something you shouldn’t be eating.

    • I bought my lettuce at Aldis. I’ve never had trouble with broccoli, cauliflower or other fruits or vegetables; only lettuce. Will can’t eat it either; he can actually taste the chemicals. We both eat our own lettuce, grown at home, with no trouble at all.

  21. What lovely pictures! I love peonies and all kinds of bulbs. So sorry you were ill from that salad. I am very concerned about food and planning our garden / greenhouse now although it will still probably take us 2 more years to build the house. Still debating goats or small jersey cow? My DH can build anything, so that’s a big help. We’re about to dormant oil spray the orchard and he built the most wonderful sprayer for pennies on the dollar. That’s country living!

    Baking up some cinnamon rolls today, wish I could share them with you.

    All the best, Mardell

    • We all should take the time to plan ahead. It’s so fortunate that your husband is a great carpenter/inventor/handyman! We get a lot more done, quicker, with Will around.
      Mmm, cinnamon rolls! I can smell them from here.

  22. I was just missing going outside and harvesting dinner out of the garden. Canning up some of our stored potatoes today, making ‘crispy smashed potatoes’ with another batch, and placing more seed orders-dreaming of those fresh future crops! Our Seed Treasures order list keeps getting longer :) Hope you’re feeling better and everyone is keeping warm in this Arctic wave.

    • Okay, what are crispy smashed potatoes?? That sounds real good and I have lots of potatoes. Yep, I’m feeling much better although I put my back out two days ago and don’t have a clue how. That’s also getting better, thank God. We had -29 this morning so spent the day tossing wood in the fire and doing inside chores, mostly.

  23. Thank you, Jackie for this much needed reminder….when so much else fails, we have the garden and new beginnings each year…..and the pleasure seeing all that you share with us!

  24. The best is yet to come…!
    I have drawn garden plans on grid paper and pored over seed catalogs. And there’s leftovers of last years seeds since my garden is so small that I couldn’t use up all of them. The snow has melted off and the sun is out but more snow is on the way. Two more months of winter maybe. So lots of time to dream and plan:)
    Your photos keep is inspired Jackie!

    • They keep ME inspired too, Dianne. We have to realize that summer IS going to come again and spring isn’t really that far off. Isn’t it fun, drawing garden plans? I’ve re-done mine several times already.

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