We’ve finally got nice spring weather with temperatures in the sixties and even seventies. So, guess who’s working until dark every night? We’re behind as spring came late for us. We even had a 32 degree F night three nights ago. Whew! We listened to the weather at six o’clock and hurried out to the Navajo Robin’s Egg corn our friends had just planted that day for us, transplanting from deep six-packs Dara had started indoors. (It’s a later variety and we wanted to ensure we had viable seed for this rare Native corn. My knees have been killing me with all the garden work, so my darling husband covered all 185 corn plants with Styrofoam cups. And it worked well. No damage at all. That day, we also had a big group out to visit and learn about gardening, so we were pooped that night.

On Sunday, I planted two 100-foot rows of potatoes in the Wolf Garden. One was Dakota Pearl, and the other was Grandpa’s favorite, Bliss Triumph. As Bliss Triumph is now pretty rare, I saved our best potatoes from last year to cut into pieces, each having two eyes, and used those as seed. I have two saved places, on the end of each row, so I can cut up and use a few of those huge Dakota Pearls we harvested last fall. (Maybe I’ll develop a race of super-potato?) We’ve found a great way to plant long rows of both potatoes and tomatoes. A couple years ago, Will bought an inexpensive tractor-mounted tool called a middle-buster to run an underground waterline around our gardens. Basically, it’s a small plow that throws dirt on both sides of the furrow, unlike a plow that only throws dirt one way. One year, I asked him to try running a couple furrows out in the North Garden so I could plant potatoes quickly. He did, and we’ve been using that method ever since. You just toss a piece of potato in the furrow every foot or so, then go back with a hoe and push dirt from one side to cover the potato about 3 inches deep, plus filling in the furrow a little between the potatoes. The plant will grow up and then you can hill it easily by just going to the other side and shoving more dirt in around the lower part of the plant. Perfect and fast!

We’ve found when planting long rows, a small plow, called a middle-buster, works great for planting both our potatoes and tomatoes.

Last year, I tried that with my left-over tomato plants in the greenhouse, after we’d planted our best ones in the Sand Garden. Same deal; fast and easy. Even the ones that had grown up kind of long and leggy were easily laid on their sides, gently curving the stem up so the stem was covered, to make lots of roots, and the leafy part, standing nice and straight.

This year, I did that with our main crop tomatoes. It worked even better as our oldest son, Bill, and granddaughter, Ava, came up to get a load of cedar fence posts, our old wheel rake and the hydraulic post pounder. After all that was loaded so Bill could finish a fence for Ava’s pony, Whinny, Bill helped us set out two flats of tomatoes. Boy, was that ever appreciated. And it went so fast too! How nice that was. We’ll be setting out tomatoes all week now.

Will’s crawler/loader threw a track. It takes him about an hour to get it back on so he switched to using the Oliver to load manure.

Today, our lilacs are in full bloom, announcing spring is really here. Will has been hauling manure, using the crawler/loader to load the spreader. Unfortunately, it threw a track. But he grabbed the Oliver and loaded with that. Now, he’s hauling out to the Wolf Garden so it can get the second tilling before planting. Unfortunately, on the second load, the apron chain on the spreader broke! So, he’s out, with a repair link, to fork out the remaining manure and fix the chain. It seems like it never rains but pours!

e Wolf Garden, getting some rotted manure to grow great plants!

His big dozer developed a problem with the hydraulic pressure relief valve when he was shoving big rocks up over at David’s new cabin. But he seems to think he’s got that figured out. After taking it out and apart, he discovered some rounded, black, hard bits of something, which were holding the valve from closing and opening correctly. We hope that’s all it was! — Jackie


  1. great idea on tomato/p! thank you!!
    dont have a plow like you, but a good planting hoe should help fingers crossed.

  2. Yep, we can only grow June bearing here, due to our cold winters. But boy are they good!!

  3. Finally got ours garden planted real small this year I plug along in have lilacs just starting to bloom take car old friend we think of you always

    • Great to hear from you in Montana, Tacey! We’re planting every day and can’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel. Whew, I wish spring had come a little earlier this year. We went from winter to summer!

  4. You and Will are the hardest working people I know!
    It is so wonderful that you both are so handy with fixing, solving, and making! It would be wonderful if I could absorb some of that talent through reading your delightful posts.
    Bill moving close seems like a wonderful thing.
    Your lilacs are completely gorgeous.
    Your seed potatoes sound like a treasure.
    Take care, and thank you for your posts.

    • I am so blessed to have such a talented husband! Me, I just keep on plugging away. Bill hasn’t moved. He still lives about 100 miles south of us. But thank goodness, we can still visit and work together fairly often.

  5. Jackie,
    Have been with you thru the years and I get tired just listening to what you accomplish! Lol! Love those lilacs!

  6. Hey Jackie, don’t you wish everything on the farm lasted like our pressure canners! I have bought two new ones over the years (about 45) and the first one still works like a charm. Good luck with all the repairs; AND go slowly. I think you will save time in the long run or at least you are not completely worn out!!

    • I do wish everything lasted like our pressure canners! My first was replaced when I bought a huge new one with safety features, back in 1969! And it still works and has had no new parts. Not bad! Hey, I have no new parts (yet) and I’m still not worn out entirely. At my age, I’ve learned to pace myself.

  7. The equipment issues sound all too familiar to me. We are out in New England and when you need equipment (short season), that is when it breaks! Good for Will! By the way, is your soil very rocky? We have horrible rocky/ledgy soil where we live in NH. We are right on the Edge of Vermont (across the Connecticut River) and in a extra rocky area.

    • Three of our gardens were terribly rocky. We’ve hauled out truckloads from each one over the years and are finally down to a few smaller ones, here and there. Then there are the two that are in white clay! Finally, with enough rotted manure hauled in, they’re much, much better.

  8. Fix and repair is a constant theme for me. It never fails that when you’re trying to get a lot done or beat the weather breakdowns occur. You learn a lot of patience and to go with the flow. Everything is planted for me. Now I have pesky voles. Any “cure” for voles. There’s always some new challenges. Keeps life interesting (painful at times). With age it seems everything hurts but I plug along.

    • You sure do learn patience. Or at least not to say those bad words! I sure wish there was a cure for voles! Luckily, ours are few this year. They seem to go in cycles. A couple years ago, when we were haying, they were running everywhere! Last year, Will only saw one. Go figure.
      I had some lubricant injected in my knees yesterday to “help” with the pain while I plant (too early for more cortisone!). Looking at a knee replacement in February; our “down time”.

  9. This year I am growing my potatoes in straw. So far I’ve done two applications of straw and manure. I am considering doing an every other application of manure from now on. Your thoughts?

  10. That sounds like a wonderful way to plant potatoes and tomatoes! I have tons to plant. But haven’t started planting anything by my strawberry and sweet potato! What a wild time.

    Had to call my surgeon this past week about my knee, and they think I’m doing “too much and need to slow down to see what’s the matter with my knee”. But I just don’t have time for that. At all. I’m so frustrated with the whole thing. Makes the excitement of spring and planting and all the other things just stained with gloom. Maybe if I just hurry to plant everything, then take a break, it will be better. Who knows. At 26 my body shouldn’t already be failing me. God has a plan, and it’s in perfect timing, but this tired mom just prays for answers.

    On a happy note, I decided to participate in St. Jude’s Children Hospitals June baking challenge, just because I want to raise some money for them, and baking brings me a peace. Last week the challenge was cookies, so I made rhubarb cookies. This week is pie, so I am going to try your pie that was your mothers recipe. It sounds wonderful, and I am excited to give it a go. I have to clean my dishes today before I can make pie crust, but I’m excited to use my own lard I rendered from our pigs this spring, and my own eggs and rhubarb.

    • I’ve pretty much learned to deal with pain until it gets way too bad. After all, who’s got time to “rest the knees”??? I hope you have a wonderful rhubarb pie. I’ve got to make one soon. When I get the time; we’re behind planting this year, due to the weather. Boo hoo.

  11. Being able to adapt/roll with the punches is getting to be a lost skill.
    We always had a lilac bush at home and I *think* there might be one on the property we recently purchased. I’ll have to take a closer look. Spouse found some asparagus plants on the property.
    Had to replant the cuke and it is looking good. While my growing season is a bit longer than yours, I do like the shorter season varieties you sell.
    Harvested the first quart and a half of strawberries tonight. Suffice it to say they were quite tasty. Berries are (or should I say were lol) a uniform size that were not hollow monsters. The patch starts ripening in stages but soon the entire patch will have to be picked daily. I only grow June bearing (unless an Ever Bearing plant was misplaced/intentionally placed in a flat).

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