Although we’ve been eating fresh asparagus a lot lately, our three beds are producing more than we can eat and doing it often! This morning, Will went out and brought in a big basket full so I could can it up. We really love it during the winter and late summer when it’s gone to ferns. I use it in a lot of recipes too. One we’ve loved was the typical green bean casserole, only I use asparagus instead, adding canned bacon bits and topping with cheese — pretty darned good! I’ll continue canning our surplus for a few weeks, then let it go on to make ferns so the plants will produce lots next year too. Next is our rhubarb. It’s nearly big enough for me to start pulling. First is a couple of rhubarb pies with meringue topping that we love. (Check out the recipe in my book, Jackie Clay’s Pantry Cookbook.) It’s not as tart as most rhubarb pie recipes due to the addition of egg yolks in the filling.

Will went out and picked this big basket of asparagus. Now I can get it canned up.

Will’s been spreading manure on the gardens, getting ready to till it under and begin planting in a couple of weeks. As spring came early this year, I’m sorely tempted to start in now. But I know better. We will still have a few killing frosts here and there. But our onion plants in the Wolf Garden look great. Instead of planting in the gardens, I’ve been planting in the new part of our front yard. Daylilies, hostas, astilbes, and hellebores join the Monarda and seeds I spread around, as well as lily bulbs. It’s coming along very nicely. Our lilac bushes are budding out and, in a week, we’ll be smelling wonderful lilacs.

Looking toward planting, Will is spreading rotted manure on our gardens. Much better than chemical fertilizer!

Our grape jelly feeder is getting busy. So far, there have been three male Orioles and a female plus many Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and an Indigo Bunting that we’ve seen on it. I love to hear all the bird song this spring. My sister, living in a suburb of Duluth, has had to take her feeders down as she has a black bear visiting too often. She’s jealous of my birds and hopes the bear will move on, finding no food in her yard.

Our Oriole is back, and he brought his family.
We love spring, the bird song and wildflowers everywhere.

— Jackie


  1. Hi Jackie, my childhood memories of eating (commercially) canned asparagus are NOT fond memories… Much as I’d like to decrease dependence on my freezer for things that could be canned, this idea doesn’t really appeal. Am I missing something here??

    • like everything else, home raised vegetables and everything else always tastes better than the commercial product. While everyone has his or her tastes, we wouldn’t be without our canned asparagus, and we have three freezers (for holding meat until we use or can it up).

  2. Here in the Des Moines IA area, we’ve battled drought for 3 years but within the last 36 hours have had 4.9″ rain. Creeks are over their banks. Tornadoes tore through our state this afternoon (some very close by) damages done, I think a fatality but can’t confirm yet, power outages, and I’ve never heard our weather radio go off so rapidly and often as this afternoon.
    My garden got in late this year, but potatoes are 1’+ tall, peas 4″, tomatoes were too tall but I always plant horizontally for more root system, broccoli, cauliflower, onions all up and fine. Pole beans in late, but up. Flowers always last in, so I know where to plunk them, since food is priority. Asparagus we can’t keep up with and I’ve made rhubarb pie already. Carrots I’m worried may drown but can replant if needed.
    My onion seeds from 2022 worked well but the 2023’s only had a 30% germination rate. I have no idea what I did differently. I use my own seeds (from Jackie’s heirlooms, of course!) and begin the tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, marigolds, etc indoors in March. None have given me problems until this 2023 batch, and I saved my best 3 onions replanted now for raising seed for next year’s crop. Should I be worried? Any idea what I did wrong? I’m very thankful that the “old” seeds worked well, whew!
    Thanks for all your informative posts and pictures; love seeing what you’re up to, back in my home state.

    • Hey Erin, stuff happens, and we don’t always know why. I’ve had total lack of germination in one batch of seeds and when I planted the next batch of the same thing, out of the same pack, they all germinated. Same soil, same method, same heat. Like I said, stuff happens. Just keep at it.

    • Nice link! I tried giving my Orioles orange halves but the squirrels ate them and hauled them away. When I started the jelly, I was amazed to really get Orioles!! I do try to feed only natural grape jelly, not the stuff sweetened with high fructose corn syrup.

  3. I love the idea of the jelly feeder. Can you use any flavor of jelly? I have some pear jelly I canned and we do not care for it. We are in Ohio and our garden is coming up nicely. Itching to start canning.

    • Orioles can be picky. You can try luring them with grape jelly, then add some pear in a separate area to see if they like it. Mine have even drank from Hummingbird feeders.

  4. I am jealous of your asparagus! We are starting over on new land that my grandson cleared. So starting over with a garden. I want to plant asparagus. Is there a way to get established plants so you don’t have to wait 3 years? Love your blog!

    • You can go on Amazon and pick up some 3 year old asparagus roots. These will make good spears next spring for you. I’ve done that and had very good luck.

  5. I thoroughly enjoy Jackie’s updates and I also like reading the responses. One thing I would like to see is the state a commenter lives in. Would make it nice to know, for instance, which state is getting snow, or floods, or an early spring etc.
    I can appreciate not sharing a lot of info, but with only the commenter’s first name and a state it shouldn’t identify anyone.
    Am I the only one who wonders what state a comment refers to?

  6. wow! canning already! my asparagus is 1-3 years old, just sampling this year. next year:) LOVE the Baltimore Oriole photo. lilacs are finished for the year, enjoy yours! Enjoying a light shower today. corn, beans, taters so much is up an enjoying the cool spring weather here.

    • Yep, it’s cold here today, with rain. I’m talking about 45 degrees. Nothing but onions planted out yet. It’s supposed to warm up with some sun. I’ll be a happy camper!

  7. I miss lilacs and kind of envy you. I really enjoyed them in Colorado. Sadly, TX is to hot for them, or so I have been told.

    I appreciate you sharing with us as you do. Sure drives home the differences we each have. My tomatoes have been out for about 6-8 weeks now!

    • How exciting. Except for the lilacs. We’re cold today and it’s raining. Brrr. I’m trying to get Hostas planted between rains.

  8. I would love to hear more about your jelly feeder for the Baltimore Oriole. We have two pair this year and would love to put out food for them. Suggestions welcome and the best feeder of choice.

    • I’ve tried several but the one that works best for me is the orange one that you screw an upside-down jar of grape jelly into. You turn a button on the bottom, and it squishes jelly out in three different spots so the birds can get it. That way it isn’t wasted in the rain but is always hand for the birds.

  9. We’re about done harvesting asparagus and agree about the ferns. Have some female plants too and some of the seeds make it past the birds.
    A few cicadas Sunday and this morning but they are coming. I read they make good compost but might smell. Doubt if we’ll have shovel fulls so plan on a few in one compost bin and the rest into the compost pile that is not close to the house.
    Most of the 2nd planting of taters are up. Got rain today and will get more tomorrow.

    • We’ve had inches of rain for the past few days. Ugh. We needed some. But, really, this is getting everything flooded out. If you add Cicadas to your compost pile, just bury them. No smell and they decompose faster.
      We haven’t even put in any potatoes. I’m glad too, as this rain and cold would cause them to rot in the ground.

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