This sure was true yesterday when four of our friends, Mike, Dara, Sherri, and Charis came to help out in the garden. I’m sure it’s because they all know just how awful my knees have been lately. I’m limping along (no pun!), waiting until our “slow” time in February, when I get a knee replacement for my worst knee. But I can hardly bend down to weed, can’t get up and down off a five-gallon bucket seat and sure can’t kneel or crawl along rows. So yesterday, they helped weed massive amounts of beans and corn and Mike and Charis finished up building and putting up the last of our tomato cages. It’s lucky it got done yesterday, as those tomato plants are so big, I don’t think we could get them in the cages if they got a few days’ more growth.

Will, Dara, and Sherri, weeding our beans, that were in sad need of their help.

We’ve been getting rain every day or two, which has sure helped out the crops (including the weeds!). Today, I planted more beans and set out a couple more watermelon plants I’d forgotten on the back deck while Will has been busy side-dressing corn and melons with rotted manure. Right now, he’s hauling more manure out to the Wolf Garden, where the Hopi Pale Grey squash are planted. It sure makes a difference when the corn, squash, and melons get that side-dressing! You can just about see them grow! (We don’t do that with tomatoes or peppers as they would grow big plants and have no peppers and tomatoes to speak of. Nor do we side dress root crops or salad greens. With root crops, it often makes them hairy or misshapen and you don’t want a chance of bacteria on your salad greens.)

Charis cut concrete re-enforcing wire, rolled and fastened the wire while Mike carried them over to set down over very big tomato plants.
Don’t the mulched and caged tomatoes look great? Thanks Charis and Mike for finishing them up.

Will’s hoping we’ll get a few sunny days in a row, as he’s really wanting to get at the haying. There’s a good crop this year and we’re anxious to get some harvested. — Jackie


  1. Dara and Mike are awesome! Just saw them at the Field town hall a while back. Prayers for your knee and a great harvest!

  2. It has been so hot here in Colorado…water water water. The orchard looks great.
    When it gets too hot, I’m inside. Jackie, just had to tell you I’m rereading your Jess Hazzard series…they are really a great story!

  3. Jackie, I hear you with the knee and garden problem. Both my knees are a mess. Left knee arthritis, right ripped tendon. I can’t kneel at all. I stubbornly refused to go to the hospital because the local one is dreadful. Rates a 1.8 on review sites. So I refused to go there when I ripped my tendon. Pain has been very bad. But I don’t give in to it. Between me, my brother in law being hospitalized then requiring home care, our move has been put off until Aug 1. Kneeling hurts so much now. But I’ve an idea. Those garden carts with the fat wheels and mesh metal may be a great help. I’m going to do some raised beds as well as in ground beds. The width between rows will have to be wide for the cart. I can sit on it or even lay on my stomach with a bit of padding and pull my self along with my hands. Then tend the garden. Looking forward to trying it. May also use my walker or wheelchair. But for the chair I have to have firm paths between the rows. Any way, thought you may want to try it.

    • I’m opting for surgery to fix my knees so I can get on with life. I haven’t been able to kneel or get down to sit for years now. The surgery won’t be at a local hospital, although the ortho team does come up there like twice a month, which is where I mostly go for appointments. But the surgery will be in a hospital 90 miles south west of us. They’re the ones who got David quick surgery after he got flesh eating bacteria in his hand/arm, saving his life. I have confidence in my doctor and that hospital. But I’m trying to put it off till February when things aren’t so rushed around here.

  4. Hi Jackie, I love to garden but after having both knees replaced, I no longer can kneel. I hope your doctor explained that to you that for most people when they have knee replacements they can no longer get down on their knees. It causes extraordinary pain when you do try to get down on your knees. Please please be aware

    • Yes, I’ve heard that. But I haven’t been able to kneel for five years now, so if the plain old pain will lessen, I’m all good with that.

  5. I can completely understand your knee problems and painfully waiting for a lull in the gardening calendar to have them replaced. A little over 20 years ago I had both replaced about a year apart. It was like having a new life. A couple years ago one had to be completely replaced and a year afterward the other had to have a new plastic disk inserted but I’m back to good now. Just make sure you faithfully work hard on post surgery PT. That’s the key to success. Here’s to great helpers and gadgets to get you to February!

    • I plan on being religious with the PT. That’s why I’m waiting until February, so I have time to do that. I want the best results possible with the surgery!

  6. Hey Jackie! I have had the exact same problem getting my overgrown tomatoes into their cages. I figured out a ‘clam shell’ bucket to ‘pinch’ them up while I slip a tomato cage down over them. Then I just pull the clam shell bucket – which I cleverly call my ‘Mater-rizer’ up out of the cage. Easy-peasy. Here is a link to some pics to show you how I do it:


    • Cool invention!! We try not to have overgrown tomatoes but, sometimes it just happens. Now, they’re all in cages but I’ll keep your Mater-rizer in mind. How simple; just a five-gallon bucket with the bottom cut out and cut all the way, from top to bottom so it will squeeze like a clam over the overgrown tomatoes as you pull it up, inside the cage!!

  7. With so much of the U.S. in drought, you are truly blessed! I am wondering what hay will be costing this year in TX between drought, fuel prices, fertilizer prices etc. This also includes food. Your gardens are looking great!

    • We totally know we’re blessed. Drought is so very hard on everyone! You’re right, everything is going to shoot up in price, too.

  8. Your tomatoes look great. You truly are blessed with wonderful friends. I hope your knee holds up through the summer.

    • Our friends are a true blessing!! I get a cortisone shot in both of my knees on Thursday so I hope that’ll help get me through the rest of the summer. They’re not so hot right now…..

  9. Your garden looks great. Ours is coming off great right now. Glad I staggered the beans a week or so or I would be done under with them.

    Question. I have heard that you shouldn’t plant tomatoes in the same spot every year. How true is that?

    • It’s relatively true. We have done it but do try to keep the tomato plot moving to avoid any possible disease problems.

  10. Dear Jackie,
    When Daddy was 90, he got stiff (after all those years) and couldn’t bend over well enough to drop his corn seeds just where he wanted them, so I cut a piece of pvc pipe to a good height for him and he dropped his seeds through it, just to the right spot in the plowed furrow. He always covered the seed with his boot. He said he wished he had thought of that idea years ago and maybe he would not have been so broken down! Keep on gardening…..!

  11. I so sympathize with your knee issues. I sure can’t get off the ground by myself. However Dr doesn’t seem to think I need knee replacement. Think I need a new ortho! Your gardens look fantastic!

  12. Jackie, Check out Bob and Brad on You Tube. They are physical therapist and may have something to help your knees. They seem to specialize in working with those of us past 50. Hope this helps.

    • Thanks Faith, I will. I’m up for anything at this point. I did try the exercises my PT showed me when I fell on the ice but that only made them hurt worse over time.

  13. Hurrah for friends! My big freezer died this week and I was able to transfer 1/2 the contents to a spare my sister has (she lives next door) and the other 1/2 to a couple shelves in a friend’s freezer down the road. That gives me time to get a replacement and I didn’t have to stay up for 2 days canning! Very disappointed to find out that they aren’t making manual defrost upright freezers larger than 10 cu ft anymore, everything is frost free which I hate. I’m going to switch to a chest freezer.

  14. Thanks for sharing the fertilizing tips. I am a newbie to gardening. In Down East Maine we, too, have a short growing season so I like reading about your experiences growing food in the colder regions of the USA.
    Sorry to hear that your knee is giving you so much pain. Friends are wonderful and their kindness and helpfulness make life more pleasant. My best to you all!

  15. I know what I produce on 2 30×90 gardens and 1/4 acre of sweet corn. What do you do with all you produce? I have gone to using a 2 foot wide garden stool to weed and pick. It’s all I can do to keep the weeds in check/checkmate. Now planting fall crops of beets, beans, zucchini and pickles after harvesting garlic. Friends are vital.

    • Yes, they are. And that’s where a lot of our extra produce, that I don’t can up or save for seed, goes. We give away a whole lot of what we grow. Remember, too, that we save tons of seed from most of all our crops for our seed business. We often give friends melons, squash or watermelons, just asking that they save the seeds for us. That’s a win-win situation for all of us. Hmm. I like the idea of a 2-foot-wide stool! I used to use a five-gallon bucket, upside-down, but I have a hard time getting up and down so often on it. With two feet, you can just slide down it. I’ve got to give that a try. Thanks Everett!!

  16. It was so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again!! Your gardens are so amazing and being at your home is so peaceful. I love it there.

  17. Does manure from this past winter count as rotted? We pushed up big piles in the print from the hay pad, and now it’s been sitting a few month, but I’m wondering if that’s okay to use on the corn, and other plants you mentioned? I want to do whatever I can to increase those yields, as I was so bashing. And what about onions? Do they need it, or is it better to forgo the manure? I am always amazed at the things you, and others, are able to teach!

    Do you trim your tomatoes, like the suckers? I need to look at mine and do some trimming, I think. But I have never actually done that very well. Just trying to gauge if it’s worth the hassle!

    My corn finally outgrew the weeds, so weeding will be easier, thank goodness.

    • Your manure will be fine for the corn, melons and squash. Don’t add it to root crops though, at this point. Wait until fall to till it into the garden.
      No, we don’t trim suckers off the tomatoes. We only prune off the vines that stick out too close to their neighbors, to avoid cross pollination, as we grow tomatoes for their seeds and want pure seeds. I tried it a few years ago, before the seed business, and couldn’t see any benefit, not matter what experts tell us.

      • Perfect! We worked the manure into the dirt this spring and mixed it really well. I didn’t add and fresher stuff to the beds for onions or carrots, but I never know! Thanks a million

  18. Good friends are priceless. Good friends know when they need help, you’ll be there for them. Yet they don’t keep score and know they may (thankfully) never need help.
    End of last month I heard two people discussing they weren’t going to do another cutting of hay, which I found quite odd. Rarely is there not a market for hay (locally). But I think the days of shipping hay to other states sailed in the early 2000s. I’ve not seen/heard of any news about this in a long, long time.
    Harvested a summer squash which was consumed for dinner. We’ll have the first ripe tomato this weekend. I pretty much refuse to eat tomatoes (sliced raw that is) out of season. They are almost always tasteless (and overpriced – vine ripened my posterior).
    Rescued cat comes home tomorrow – it might be a cat circus for a few days lol. She was here a few days before she went to the foster family but I’m sure the old cat’s nose will be out of joint for a bit. The other rescue I think will remember her (he liked her before). I’m ready for a few high speed races since both are young.

    • First tomato was excellent. Wish it was larger but tasty none the less. Rescue cat has to limit activities for a few more days. She’s small (and likely always will be) and full of spunk. She’s ventured out into the main part of the house a couple of times but will retreat into her hidey-hole in a blink of an eye. Some areas of the house are off limits – she’s so small that I’m afraid she’ll find a new hidey-hole and it will take me forever to find her.

    • Folks in drought-stricken areas are still buying out-of-area hay at horrendous prices. Last year, a neighboring dairy farm bought Canadian hay, just to keep in business!
      I just bought a little box of organic cherry tomatoes for our salad, just because I was dying for tomatoes and ours aren’t ripe yet. You are right, and I knew better. They had absolutely NO taste at all! No wonder folks tell us they don’t like tomatoes. Then pig out in our garden!!!
      Mittens and Buffy are slowly coming to terms; no severe cat fights and very few, over a week’s time. Upstairs is Mittens’ territory, which she still defends loudly. But no more piles of cat hair after squabbles.

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