Homestead News, Volume 25

Sit back, pour up a cup of coffee, and enjoy the update. Thanks for stopping by. Please share your news in the comments. The more we learn from each other the better.

Did you know when olive oil gets cold, it partially solidifies? Just move it to a warmer location and let is set for about 12-24 hours. You will read everywhere that oil will go rancid after about six months. We have stored and eaten olive oil that was five years old with no degradation in quality or taste. Not that I would recommend that to everyone, it’s just something we have done.

As the seasons turn, my thoughts are always on our food supply. I have been planning the garden for a couple of months now. We have a few salad greens growing in the greenhouse for winter eating, but mostly there are flowers, some that grew on the porches last summer and some I planted in there in the fall…..just because. During the polar vortex we ran a couple of space heaters and covered the plants with frost cloth. We had some damage, but most of the plants did very well.

Once the sun came out, it warmed up in the greenhouse quickly. It always amazes me to see the difference between inside and outside temperatures. The greenhouse is not sealed, the air freely flows out around the top and the sides. The inside temperature here is 33*, the round thermometer is hard to read, it is 72*.

I have three bus tubs planted with brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and carrots that I will transplant to the garden when the time comes. I have started moving them outside to maintain the adjustment to cooler weather. The greenhouse is starting to heat up quite a bit on sunny days.

We discovered during the cold snap that this entryway into the garage had heaved upward and made the storm door drag on the concrete when we opened it. This small slab has been sitting here for 40 years or more. In the last 12 years we had never had anything like that happen. Fortunately, it settled back down to it’s normal position after the temperatures warmed up again.

I started growing sweet potato slips right before the recent cold snap. We had some starting to sprout that we grew last summer and I intended to grow all of our slips from the heaviest producing variety. Now we have plants growing in a kitchen window since it is too cold in the greenhouse for these tender plants.

Yesterday was a busy day. We partially repaired a chicken house door that needs replacing before it falls off. Then Frank brush hogged a small area by the barn before we replaced the brush hog with the tiller on the tractor. We have an extended rainy season coming and wanted to get the garden area tilled and fertilized. A few months ago, right before we were going to clean out the barn and haul it to the garden, we had bought hay that had been sprayed with Grazon, an herbicide. We were told the hay had been sprayed before we bought it, we just didn’t know enough to ask what with. Grazon can kill your garden, even after it has been ingested and passed through livestock. A friend had their garden spot decimated for a couple of years until the Grazon had time to deteriorate in their soil. As fate would have it, we were unable to clean the barn before the baby goats were born and in the meantime found out about our hay. We replaced what hay we had left with another supply and took the remaining few bales out into a pasture to be burned at a later date. The barnyard will be dumped out there too instead of being brought down to the garden.

It’s hard to imagine the garden looked like this just a few days ago. What a difference a week makes.
Commercial 13-13-13 fertilizer we applied to the garden this year.

Winter weather and aching bones have also prevented us from cleaning out the chicken house and getting that manure into the garden early enough to be useful and not be too hot to burn any seedlings we want to plant, so this year for the first time ever, we are using commercial 13-13-13 fertilizer. I am grateful we have the option of purchasing fertilizer, even though it is not our first choice. If it was unavailable, our garden would probably still produce well since it is a spot that has been worked and fertilized for 10+ years. I still plan to make some manure tea with chicken litter over the summer to water some of the crops.

Just as we finished spraying down the tiller to get some of the caked on dirt off, Frank discovered we had a flat tire on the tractor. Not just a low tire, but it looked like the tire was almost off of the wheel. We didn’t think we could get it to seal and hold air at all. So out in the mud and water puddles we had just created while cleaning off the tiller, we got out the air compressor and extension cords. We were very happy to find we could get it to hold some air, at least temporarily. It was enough to get the tractor back to the barn, but by then it was almost completely flat again. Frank aired it up again with the compressor there, but it very quickly went flat. The good news is we got the garden tilled before the rain came. We have rain forecast for about a week and were working against the clock on getting the garden fertilized and tilled.

While Frank was tilling, I was working on getting the last two flats of carrots planted in the greenhouse. These are seeds we saved from our carrots in 2018. I planted a bus tub of them in the fall to see if they were still viable. Since they were going on three years old, I planted them thickly. I have thinned them twice and they are still too crowded. That’s good to know. Saving viable seeds is always a gamble. Sometimes they are viable, and sometimes they are not. I use the Pot Maker for these seedlings. Direct planting carrots in the garden doesn’t work for me. The weeds and grass take over and they never have a chance since they are so slow to germinate. Using the Pot Maker [link goes to a previous article about them] also allows me to easily thin them before planting and space them in the row just by planting them next to each other.

Our new companion is named Charlie, but she’s a girl. Frank named her. Many of you know we are ham radio operators. When using phonetics for call signs, the alphabet starts with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc…. Well, when we were thinking of names, Frank said he is always alpha when it comes to our dogs, and that is true. Then he came up with he is Alpha, I am Bravo, and she is Charlie. Our Great Pyrenees, Pearl, left us about a year or so ago. We miss her a lot. She was great with the goats and had the best personality. Charlie came to live with us this last summer at eight weeks of age. So far we have survived the puppy stage, but some days just barely. She no longer tears up 40 lb. bags of potting soil, eats the front and back porch, but she still tore up some of the black plastic we have around one of the sheds in the garden yesterday. I made a big mistake not long after Charlie came to live with us. When she got here the garden was in full swing and she would follow me around when I was picking vegetables and weeding. I would pull a weed and hand it to her. She liked the roots and would take it, run off, and attack it. As she grew, she got to the point of pulling her own weeds, except they weren’t all weeds. At the end of the season she even decided pulling up full grown okra stalks was a good idea. She also loves apples and would race me for any windfalls. Charlie decided it was fun to pick tomatoes even if she didn’t eat them, and peppers as well. She has good taste, but these crops are for the people, not the dog. Thus with the addition of Charlie to the yard around the house which includes the garden, this year we will fence it off to prevent certain destruction of seedlings. This will have to take place before we start planting, but we have it tilled and are ready for the next step.

As you can tell, a lot of our efforts are focused on food. At this day and age, I feel that everyone should be focused on their food supply. Prices continue to go up, stability of the world food supply continues to be questionable. Cooperation between countries that traditionally trade or sell their excess food has been changing over the last year. How that may affect our food supply, prices or possible rationing or confiscation is yet to be seen. I think all of these events are possible, but not necessarily eventualities. Only time will tell.

Over the past few years my goal was to plant a smaller garden. Aches and pains affect my ability to keep up with the garden, the weeds, the processing and preserving of the harvest. But, you know what? This year’s garden will be larger, not smaller. Being able to produce as much of our food as possible has always been a goal, now more than ever. We are not increasing varieties or experimenting with new crops, just increasing the volume of our known, proven varieties.

Folks, do what you can. Buy and store what you eat, not a bunch of strange foods that are supposedly ‘prepper’ foods. Buy what you normally eat and store it as best you can. If you can grow and preserve more, in a garden, on a porch, in a pot, do it. Learn more about how to provide for yourself. Even if the world, our country, your state, county or neighborhood doesn’t have challenges in the coming months or years, it never hurts to depend on yourself, your knowledge and abilities instead of someone else.

Because if things continue the slide into tyranny, into subjugation, into the enslavement of the masses……

NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE YOU.

Until next time – Fern

31 thoughts on “Homestead News, Volume 25

  1. Just a suggestion…buy a single source olive oil. 100% Italian extra virgin olive oil-Kirkland brand. Cold extracted. Or avocado oil. Much healthier.

  2. I just wanted to let you know that I passed my general, and my husband passed his technician. He wasn’t initially interested in Ham radios, but after I got my tech, he saw the benefit and now he’s on board.

    1. Excellent! and congratulations to you and your husband.

      Would you be comfortable communicating by email? If so, our site email is: frankandfern@protonmail.com

      If you choose not to, I more than understand. I never make private information public.

      With your General license, all of ham radio is open to you with some minor limitations. Wasn’t that difficult was it? Can you share the techniques you used to get your Technician and General, eg, practices tests, study guides, things of that nature? Could you also share if you encountered any difficulties or areas that were more strenuous than others? Share any information you feel comfortable that will help others ability to communicate.

      Again, congratulations to you and your husband. Hopefully, we’ll talk more later.

      Just for information purposes, what general region of the country are you in? I don’t need your address, or your call sign, or your zip code. Like everyone knows I live in southeastern Oklahoma and that is as far as I will go in a public forum. Remember, if you post your call sign, anybody will be able to find either your mailing address or your physical address.

      73, Frank

  3. Hi Frank and Fern!
    Here at the Homestead on the Hilltop in Maryland, I’ve started several seeds. I ordered our seeds for this year quite some time ago. But, I also found some in the bottom of a drawer that were “packaged for 2014”. These are the happy little seedlings keeping me company on my desk on teleworking days! They love the sunshine, and I love the company.

    We planted garlic in the fall which is now going gangbusters! We are getting ready to put in peas and potatoes soon. And thank you for the tips on carrots – I hadn’t been able to get mine past the seedling stage! I see my project for this afternoon!

    We hadn’t had a garden in our yard for several years but last year we felt a definite push to start one. We built and planted 2 raised beds last year. (And relearned a lot that we had forgotten!)
    We will be putting in 2 more this year, and we are adding a rain barrel.

    Take care!

  4. Fern, Thanks for the updates. I found an article entitled “13 Foods You Can Buy Once & Grow Forever”. I’m using it to introduce my nephews to seed propagation. We first tried an avacado pit, which I impatiently decided wasn’t going to “take” after about six weeks. I removed it from its water jar and split it in half to reveal a perfect sprout waiting to debut. Some teacher I am!

  5. Thanks for the update on your homestead activities.We are “ready” to get out and start gardening. We had 4″ of snow 2 days ago but most of it is gone now. It will be a few days before we can get serious with any dirt work because things are a little mucky right now.
    We do have indoor starts of Hopi squash up about 4″ and some pepper starts popping up as well.We have increased our garden size by about 400 sf because we feel it would be advisable , all things considered.
    You are absolutely right that “no one is coming to save us” . The first helping hands are at the end of our arms . We appreciate your advice and your blog.
    Blessings to you both.

    1. Hello Bluesman. Never heard that statement before – “The first helping hands are at the end of our arms.” That’s a good one. Well spoken.

      This is always a fun time of year, trying to figure out the cold, the rain, the bugs. Every year is different and in many ways they are the same. We got our garden tilled and it looks great, but we’ve had a real slow drizzle/rain combination for the last two days. I would guesstimate it could easily be a mud bog. We have rain forecast off and on for the next week.

      I know hope is a poor strategy, but I sure hope we have a good garden this year. I hope everybody else does, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Frank

  6. Frank and Fern, one thing the Polar Vortex demonstrated – or should have demonstrated – to a lot of folk is that the system they are living in is not resilient, but fragile. Very fragile. While individuals and governments point fingers and blame each other, none of them is actually asking the question “How do we make our systems more resilient?”

    (Yes, I have been sitting on this with the other things going on in my life, but I finally got a chance to write about it tomorrow. It is the elephant in the room no-one is talking about – and should be.)

  7. Thanks for continuing the blog. We freeze our olive oil in the 5 liter plastic jugs, It lasts for at least 5 years frozen with no issues, we currently have several in one of the chest freezers. Once thawed we pour it up into the glass 1 liter bottles. Be sure to use the screw lids. I have seen fancy glass carafes with stoppers for olive oil, but olive oil starts to decay with light and air, so use those dark green or brown bottles with a screw on cap. I know others freeze it also without issues, as I saw this online:
    https://starfinefoods.com/can-freeze-olive-oil/

    1. Hello Ozark. Thank you for the link, very informative.

      Olive oil is the only oil we use and have for years. We have tried the extra virgin, but don’t care for the flavor. We used to store a few tubs of Crisco, but we eventually gave it all away. We do have some food storage lard in tubs, but it’s just for storage. We will occasionally saute some things in butter. We don’t deep fry any longer, but we do use olive oil for frying or sauteing. Fern puts it on her salad and she also uses it when making lotion. A number of years back we used it for hot oil treatments on hair. Be gentle using this technique, but it does recondition damaged hair nicely. I’m sure there are lots of other uses for olive oil. If you know of other uses, please share.

      Thanks again. Frank

  8. I echo what many others have said…. Thank You for continuing to post! My garden area was affected with grazon or similar 2 years ago an I’ve mitigated it by planting stuff from the grass family. Corn, onions, garlic, carrots, etc. Not ideal but kept from total loss. An yes i realize im consuming bits of the stuff. The goat shed cleanings go back on their pasture. This fall I’ll try some broadleaf plants an see if its aged enough for regular planting. Meanwhile just done minimal planting in other areas and containers for the rest of the needs. Its been so frustrating. And getting straight answers about hay is difficult. I don’t ha e a tractor an so just do small areas that I can put chicken tractor in then move it and plant a couple weeks after. Charlie has a pleasant look about her! The destructive stage will hopefully pass soon. I have a 20 month old catahoula pup that has just stopped most of the monster destroyer antics so I can re!ate. And now he is a formidable presence at the gate!
    Blessings to you both

    1. Hello Annie. Sorry about your Grazon experience, with time, it will mend itself.

      We took Charlie to the vet yesterday for a general checkup. The vet’s office is the only human contact she has besides Fern and I. She was terrified of a seven week old puppy. But then, she has never seen another dog.

      Formidable. I am waiting for that day. She’s almost 11 months and has not shown tendencies of protection yet. I’ll be tickled pink when she quits eating inappropriate items.

      Where you get your hay should give you a straight answer about what it was sprayed with. Maybe not a big store, but a small feed store will know. If they don’t know, don’t buy it.

      Good luck, Frank

  9. Thank you so much for your “slice of life” updates. My wife and I just love them. Two things:
    1. How do you store your olive oil to make it last? Had to throw out a large jug that had gone rancid not long ago. We were not pleased to have to do that.
    2. How do you determine that your hay had Grazon sprayed on it? If I ask at the feed store, will they know what’s been sprayed on their hay?

    We share the same values with you and are pretty discouraged about the prospects for the next four years. I have long believed that the most revolutionary thing you can do in this time is to grow your own food. In many things, we have a steep learning curve ahead and are thankful for blogs like yours that encourage us to persevere and prosper in spite of the pressures being exerted to make us conform to the world’s system. It’s somewhat better here in the Hill Country of Texas but we feel the pressure even here.

    Of course, it makes all the difference knowing that this blue ball is not our home or our only hope. This is not a “fragile planet” and even if it was, we look for a city whose architect and founder is the Lord.

    Thankfully, my wife and I are already saved. But yes, politically, “NO ONE IS COMING TO SAVE YOU”.
    To which I would only add: Never get on the bus or in the railcars.

    1. Hi Robert, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      We don’t use any special technique for our olive oil. It sits on a shelf in our garage. Temperatures span from about 35-85 degrees. We use standard Wal-Mart olive oil.

      On the Grazon, wherever you buy your hay, they should know what it has been sprayed with. They buy it from somebody that cuts it. Our local feed store didn’t know what had been sprayed on it, so he called and found out.

      Fern and I are both from Texas. Texas and Oklahoma have a strong bond, and when our country breaks apart, I hope that bond holds solid. I do believe that is what is coming.

      Grow more food and don’t get on the bus. Frank

  10. Finally, above freezing here in North Central Minnesota. Actual garden prep is still a way off. Have leeks started in the windows along with a few other long season crops. Our focus for the next couple of weeks is collecting Maple sap and cooking it down. Hopefully our chick order will arrive next weekend. They will spend their 3 to 4 weeks next to our wood stove. Our Honey Bees were decimated by the extended cold snap. Have more on order but will have to come up with a better game plan for next winter. Many Thanks to You and Frank for all your writings. You provide Us a lot of inspirations.

    1. Oggymn, we have never lived where maple sap was collected and cooked down, but have always found it to be an interesting process. I worked with a woman whose husband grew sorghum and cooked it down for molasses. It’s interesting how different parts of the country have different crops they process in different ways to produce similar products.

      I hope your chicks and new bees do well. Mother nature always has a say in how things go. Last summer’s growing season was pretty poor for most folks around here. Lots of replanting and dismal harvest. I think the solar minimum has a lot to do with it and the weather extremes we have been experiencing around the world for the last few years. I pray this growing season will be productive for all of us – worldwide. Food shortages are not something I want to add to the list of woes that are upon us.

      Take care, Fern

  11. Six or seven years ago, we ruined our garden and greenhouse with well rotted horse manure, from horses that had been fed Grazon-contaminated hay. Let’s just say that it was a lesson learned and leave it at that. I am still angry. Anyway, we are fortunate enough to have enough land to start over, and my husband made some garden boxes, a few every year since then, and what a wonderful way to grow food in our old age. I am 71 and he will be 79 this year. They are about 20 inches high, the length of my arm wide and anywhere between 6 and 12 feet long. I think that there are 15 of them. My back is very grateful, especially when thinning carrots and beets.

    I too, feel such a sense of urgency to get as many seeds started as possible, even though its way more than we need for ourselves. I’d like get more potatoes growing as well. Harvest time will be made a little easier by just setting some on top of the soil and covering it with rotted hay. Let’s hope that works.

    1. Louise, we have used that potato technique before and it worked just fine. It was a number of years back, though.

      We’re doing a box this year for new strawberries. We have something in our soil, we think it’s a virus, that does work well with strawberries. It kills them. So we’re going to build a 10″ deep box, fill it with store bought soil and try again.

      In reference to Grazon, a friend of Fern’s told her about it. We bought some hay from a different source, a feed store, and the man up front told us the hay had been sprayed. At the time we thought, okay, and brought the hay home. Then we found out about Grazon from Fern’s friend. We sought more information from the feed store and he said yes, it was sprayed with Grazon. We disposed of the hay, but we did not have any barnyard to put in our garden this year. It is no one’s fault but my own. Outside of a small pasture area, we have no damage. We were about to put the barnyard in the garden. We got really lucky. So, no more sprayed hay.

      Frank

  12. Thank you for sharing your garden progress. If I may ask, how large is your farmstead? It doesn’t look huge, but you and Frank sure make good use of it. Thanks again, you posts are encouraging.

    1. Michael, thank you for reading.

      Our house site is about one acre, which includes our garden, house, garage, two storage buildings, cross fenced – it is rectangular, and the area where the chickens live and play. We have an adjoining ten acres that is square. We use one quarter of it that has a barn, a small coral and it divided into four small pastures. The other seven and a half acres we don’t use at all anymore. It just sits. Our goats live and function on the two and one half acres. We find this to be more than ample for what we need. There will come a day where we will not have goats, then we will not need the ten acres at all. We’ll decide then what to do with it, if anything. None of it is flat. It is hilly.

      This is the way we do it. Hope this helps. Frank

  13. Fern, thanks for the tip about the herbicide sprayed hay. Next time we buy hay I’ll inquire whether it’s been sprayed or not. I sort of doubt it in this area, but taking a chance would be terrible if we lost a garden by making an assumption.

    Last year, due to aches/pains and other more pressing projects we let the weeds get ahead of us and never caught up. That’s when we realized our 3800sf garden was going to be too much for us as time goes by. We had a guy with a skid steer come in and scoop off about 4″ of very nutrient rich topsoil and replace it with 1″ clean rock over a heavy weed barrier. Then we bought 25 gallon fabric growing bags and put them in two rows, 32 bags per row. We used the topsoil to fill the bags over about 4″ of gravel in the bottoms. Now the area is just 13’x70′ after moving the fence over.

    Not trusting that this size area will grow enough produce if things get bad, we’d still got our old Horse tiller, our 8n tractor, two bottom plow, and spring harrow if we find a need to enlarge it again. We hope if it came to that we’d have plenty of volunteer help.

    A tip for those whose garden might be the target of deer: If you don’t want to go whole hog with a deer fence, just run one electric shock wire around the garden about 3 feet off the ground, and wipe it down with corn oil. You’ll have to re-wipe it after a rain, but that’s small enough effort for the results.

    Not really regarding cooking oil, but I called Crisco some years ago and asked if their product is freeze/thaw stable. They said yes, if it freezes and thaws it might be a bit chunky, but still viable. Since then we’ve stored several containers of Crisco in our barn pantry will no problem.

    1. Interesting transition of your garden, Tom. Hope it produces all you need.

      Thanks for sharing the tip on Crisco, lots of folks use it and it’s good to know how well it lasts.

      Fern

  14. Here at Road’s End Sanctuary we are also trying hard to get gardens ready for this year and are beginning to start seeds indoors. We have had a relatively wet start to the year and more rain off and on until mid week. One thing about living in your own little valley between two ridges in the mountains of NC is that when it rains everything drains downhill and our house, the orchard berry patches and all our garden spaces are down hill. It will often drain for days after a hard rain, but we have done our best to divert water flow where we can away from garden areas.

    Several years back we took in a pair of unwanted female French Mastiff cross breed pups as rescue dogs just before Christmas. That spring they played outside as I carefully transplanted our tomato, pepper and eggplant starts out into the garden and they occasionally ran over to watch what I was doing. Later that afternoon I went onto to other chores and hadn’t seen the pups for awhile so I went to look. Every tomato, pepper and eggplant start had been pulled up, dragged around the yard and shredded. I was more mad at myself than at the pups so I ushered them into their kennels and went to see if anything was salvageable. No such luck and all the starts had to be replaced. Luckily they have since grown out of such behavior. However we also since then picked up an American Bully from my daughter who breeds them and we quickly learned to remove any of those dangling tags they put on shrubs and fruit trees because when they blew in the wind he would would run by and grab the tag on the run. Sometime we train our animal companions and sometimes they train us.

    We are looking at adding a greenhouse by this fall up by the large berry patch where we have an outside water hydrant. We have looked at kits but could probably save some money building our own from scratch. If you have any good recommendations for resources to help us in the building project let me know. We would like to grow arnica here at our homestead as I use almost daily an Anrica Gel 95% that I purchase online to relieve the normal aches and pains of homestead life on a 68 year old body that has been well used and abused over the years. I posted a link from Ask A Prepper in my latest email burst on how to make a natural pain relief salve and we will make up a couple different types to try.

    https://www.askaprepper.com/diy-natural-pain-relief-salve?utm_source=Newsletter&utm_medium=AAP

    As always thanks for all you post and we look forward to each one to follow what you are doing. There are definitely some hard times ahead but we are not descended from fearful men. I am grateful to have had parents especially my father who grew up on a rural farm during the Great Depression and he never stopped practicing the “old ways” and who spent time passing on vital life skills. We are planning on planting extra and canning, freezing and dehydrating even more than we did last year. We want to not only be able to feed ourselves but have extra to barter with and share with family and neighbors.

    My father always planted extra and each week one of my jobs was to visit elderly neighbors with fresh beans and other produce. My father always told us that people don’t like to feel like they are taking hand outs so when you deliver these just tell them that “We have had a good crop this year and have more than we can eat and put by. It would be a big help if they could take some of the extra off our hands so it doesn’t go to waste.” And then thank them very much and ask if we have extra later on if they would help take some in the future. My father said neighbors helping neighbors is what neighbors do.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    1. Sawman, I read your articles on a regular basis and look forward to them.

      In reference to the greenhouse, as you know lumber has gone through the ceiling. We used “TufTex” for our exterior veneer. It’s not air tight, but it works well for us starting new plants, then as summer progresses, it just gets too hot. There are ways to cover it to reduce the heat, but we find that we don’t need the greenhouse that time of year. It does work great for drying plants in the summer, though.

      The TufTex has been up about 7 years. It still maintains it’s original properties. If I were to build a new one, I would use this same material again.

      Frank

  15. Great and timely post. Like you, the damage that i did to my body over the years is catching up faster than I thought it would. I just take more ibuprofen, use more IcyHot and fight through it as hard as I can. I can’t expand the garden areas but I can decrease the distance between the rows and plants in the rows. I’ve done it in the past without too much problem with crowding.

    Keep the posts coming, I really look forward to updates.

    1. Reeldoc, I have always planted too thickly and too close. Sometimes I thin things out and sometimes I don’t. I know some crops would probably produce better with more room, but I try to pack as much as I can into the existing space. Hope your garden produces abundantly! Fern

  16. Wow! Here in Indiana there’s no way we could get a tractor into our garden. I can’t even walk through ours yet . . . but the temps are up and I tried! LOL!! What a mess! I’ve got an awesome crop of Swiss Chard in my little hotbox along with some spinach much to my surprise, and a boatload of chickweed which I use to supplement my salads and taste great on sandwiches.

    I agree with your assessment on olive oil. Although I haven’t kept it nearly as long as you it keeps a whole lot longer than you think and is still very good. I’ve had my garden planned for 2 months – I’m so excited for the season to start. I have sweet potatoes sitting in front of the window, my plans all sketched out, seeds planted and the cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli are already peeking through. The peppers take a whole lot longer . . . so as you can tell I’m aching for Spring.

    My husband and I both laughed about Charlie taking a liking to root vegetables and eventually nearly everything!

    We have fought deer for the last 8-10 years but last year put an electric fence around our garden. It was the best garden we’ve ever had and what I’m hearing from a few people is, we were some of the lucky ones! Anyway, with all the snow we’ve had I’ve been able to track if the deer have visited us and there are tracks everywhere but they didn’t even walk through our garden this Winter. The fence was up but the electric was off. So, I’m pretty positive they learned their lesson last summer. I’ve worked on many ideas on how to keep them out of my herb garden back behind the vegetable garden and also, what we would do if the electricity were ever not available. I’ve come up with a couple ideas but it wouldn’t be easy – that’s for sure.

    My nettle patch is growing every year and I couldn’t be happier. Talk about a great food and medicine supply!!! Nettles is my go-to herb and this year I plan on getting a bunch of temperate basil (holy basil) started! It is another exceptional medicinal herb and makes a great tea too!! I’ve tried to grow meadow arnica with some success but not enough yet to use for a medicinal oil. Maybe this year!

    Also, store what you will eat is great advice! Talk to you later.

    1. Nina, we have used urine successfully for years to keep critters out of the garden. If you have an old coffee can, have your husband save it up and sprinkle it around the outside of our garden. Or direct application works.

      Frank

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