Beating the Heat in the Garden

The electrical grid has been pushed to its limits during the month of July. We have also been doing the best we can to beat the heat by avoiding excessive exposure to the extreme weather. We have been careful to ensure that our chickens and cats have had plenty of water and are able to get out of the sun as well. In this month of July so far, there have been thirteen days so far of temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit where we live here in the Ozarks, and tomorrow there may be one more day of temperatures that hot.

Heat Destruction in the Garden

Our garden as well as everyone else’s gardens are struggling as well. We’ve been watering with an over-head sprinkler every other night. But no matter how much we water, that’s not enough for some plants. We pulled our bush beans early to salvage as much as possible. The onions and potatoes have dried up as well. Our summer squash has been a bust because the insects are sucking all the moisture out of the leaves and stems and the plants are dying on the vine.

Some Plants Holding Their Own

The cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers seem to be holding their own. Though the blossoms of the tomato plants and the pepper plants are not developing into fruit, the fruit that has already been set has been growing well. The fact that the tomato plants are shading the pepper plants has been preventing them from succumbing to the heat. The cucumbers seem to be doing fine even through the heat. I think the trenches filled with sawdust and used as walking paths have been helpful for holding water in the garden as it did at wicking water out of the beds when rain fell in torrents.

For the most part, our winter squash is managing to grow and is producing some. I sold spaghetti squash and butternut squash at the farmers’ market, but deer have discovered that these plants not only provide them with excellent nutrition, but they taste good as well. Saturday, I noticed that deer have eaten the leaves and a couple of my butternut squash. I am allowing my pole beans to go to seed. As long as we can keep these plants alive through this hot weather, we should be able to get more of these vegetables later when the heat decreases.

I am sure the garden could do better if I had the plants covered with shade cloth to protect them from excess heat and insect infestations. A fence around the garden would be great for keeping the deer out of the garden as well, but that will have to wait for another year.

Planted Some Plants Indoors for Fall Garden

This past week I planted cabbages and broccoli indoors so that I can plant them outdoors once the weather has moderated. Planting them indoors offers them the cooler temperatures of our air-conditioned house. Within the next couple of weeks, I will be planting lettuce and spinach indoors as well.  In late August I will be planting them outdoors to take advantage of the cooler fall temperatures. At that time I will also be planting root crops outdoors too.

How about you? Will you be growing a fall garden this year? If so, what will be in your garden this autumn?

Canning Filled Month

I have a Weston Tomato Strainer exactly like this one!

In my book, The Survival Garden, I share how you can grow vegetables that don’t need to be canned, frozen, or dehydrated. If you’d like to learn more about this book, take a free look inside on Amazon. In my book The Four Season Vegetable Garden, I share the techniques of how to enable us to eat from our garden in season. Take a quick look at this book here.

This past couple of weeks, however, I have been canning. There are certain things that I do want to can for the winter, and this week what I have been canning are tomato products, hot pepper jelly, and green beans.

What Size Jars Do I use?

Although I have used some mayonnaise jars, I mostly use jars made for canning when I can. Yes, it is an investment. Where I live, quart jars are about $12 per dozen. Pints and half pints cost me about $9 right now. The food that goes into the jars are also an investment. Whether it’s purchased food or whether it’s food that I grew or food that I obtained in some other way (see last week’s blog post), it’s all an investment so it makes sense not to waste any of it.

I can in the size jar that I need for each food item that we’re likely to eat in a single meal. I use the size jar that my husband and I are likely to eat. That’s not saying that a family of four or larger should use the size jars that we are using. A family of that size or larger would need to use jars that suit them. However, a family of four could use what my husband and I use as a guide for their own canning in that in most cases they would need jars twice a big as what we are using.

Canning Green Beans

Although we do eat fresh green beans every week during the green bean growing season, and I do leave the beans to go to seed for dried beans and next year’s planting, my husband loves canned green beans, so I am canning as many of these as possible this year. We finished our first planting of bush beans. We picked beans off for a while, but when their started to be insect damage to the beans, we decided to pull up the plants and pull the good beans off the plants.

This year from this first planting of bush beans we have eaten beans fresh and canned pints of green beans. Green beans are one of the easiest vegetables to can.

First, we wash (some people sterilize, but I believe the pressure canner does that when the beans are cooking) the jars, lids, and rings. For green beans we use pint jars for the two of us. A jar of green beans is 16 ounces which is just two ounces more than a 14 ounce can that you purchase at the grocery store. We then snap the ends off the beans and cut them up and put them into the jar. Next, we add a ½ teaspoon of salt to each jar and pour water that has been brought to boiling over the beans up to 1 inch below the rim of the jar and covering the green beans.  I double-check the tops of the jars to make sure there are no knicks or abnormalities on the tops and then clean off the tops of the jars with a damp towel to make sure that there’s nothing inhibiting the seal and put on the lids. I add the lids and rings that I tighten finger tight and put them into my pressure canner and process using the instructions that come with the canner. My canner recommends pressure canning pints of green beans at 10 pounds pressure (at my elevation of about 700 feet above sea level) for 20 minutes. I let the pressure go down completely and allow all the remaining air to escape before removing green beans. I then place the jars on a towel to allow them to cool. I leave them in that location for 24 hours before marking name of contents and date on lid and removing rings. I then move the finished jars to their permanent location.

If there is a jar that didn’t seal, I usually put it into the refrigerator and use it in a meal within the next few days. (Almost never have more than one that fails to seal and usually not even one.) I check the jar for defects and throw out the lid.

Canning Tomatoes

Because of how we use canned tomatoes, I can them in quart jars. We use canned tomatoes in pasta dishes (goulash), chili, and when we make Jeff’s Hamburger Soup (Check out this recipe on Hubpages).

I learned how to can tomatoes from my mother, and she almost never had a jar fail to seal. To can tomatoes, heat up clean disease-free tomatoes in a large pot of boiling water until the tomato skins begin to split. Now drain and cool the tomatoes in a colander. If you want, add a little ice to the tomatoes to cool them faster. Once the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove the skin, stem end, and any excess green area and place into jar. Fill the jar up to 1 inch from the rim and squish tomatoes down into the jar so that there is no air pockets in the jar. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of each jar. Don’t worry about mixing it in, it will mix in during the canning process. The canning process from here on out is the same as with the green beans at 10 pounds pressure except process for 15 minutes (as stated above, canning pressure and time may vary check out your pressure canner for details specific to your situation.)

Tomato Juice

Tomato juice is another ingredient I need for Jeff’s hamburger soup, and we also like to use it to drink as well so we are trying to put up as much of this as possible. I make this in quart jars as well. To make tomato juice, I cook clean, disease-free tomatoes in a pot until the tomatoes are cooked through and releasing their juice. Now remove the tomatoes from the water and place them into other containers to cool so that you can handle them. Next, I use the hand-crank tomato strainer pictured above and run the tomatoes through the machine to remove the seeds and skin. I usually run the tomatoes through the strainer several times to ensure that I get all the pulp I can from the tomatoes. I then put the juice I have made into the jars, add a teaspoon of salt and can like I did the tomatoes for 15 minutes in the pressure canner.

Tomato Sauce for Pasta and Pizza

I have started making our own tomato sauce. I can our tomato sauce for pasta in pint jars and tomato sauce for pizza in half-pint jars because as I said earlier, we don’t want any of our canned food to go to waste.

I juice the tomatoes just like I did for the tomato juice and put it into a large pot. If I make a major amount, I use the canner as that pot. I fill the pot with as much tomato juice as I have juice and add finely chopped onions, peppers, garlic, and sometimes zucchini squash to cook. (If you like chunky sauce, don’t chop the vegetables coarsely instead.). I like to fill the pot to the brim when possible and then cook it down to about half the pot. An electric roasting pan also works well for this process. Once the tomato sauce is cooked to about half, for a richer thicker sauce, add tomato paste to the thickness you like. Ladle into jars, apply lids and rings and I pressure can for 30 minutes for both pint jars and half pints.


To make salsa, I do much like I do for the pasta and pizza sauce except I dice the tomatoes instead of sauce them. I then add coarsely chopped sweet peppers, onions, and hot peppers.

When handling hot peppers, be sure to wear gloves because the juice from the hot peppers will burn your hands. Remove the stems. If you want a hot salsa, leave the seeds in the salsa. The heat will increase as the salsa sits on the shelf. If you want a medium or mild salsa, remove the seeds.

Put it all into a pot and cook down until the vegetables are completely cooked and add as much tomato paste as you want to thicken the salsa to the desired consistency. Can in a pressure canner for 20 minutes.

How Much Did I Can so far this month?

During the past couple of weeks, I canned 29 jars of green beans, four ½ pint jars of hot pepper jelly, (I used the recipe on the pectin package)14 ½ pint jars of pizza sauce, 15-pint jars of pasta sauce, 13-quart jars of tomatoes, and 6 jars of tomato juice. I haven’t done any salsa yet, but I have the ingredients to do a batch this week.

Do you can and how much have you canned so far? Feel free to comment below.

Finding Food In Places Other Than The Grocery Store (Not charity)

With a bit of imagination, you can find food in places other than the grocery store or farmers market.

Last week, we discussed how to save food money through gardening. Here’s a link to that blog post. This week I’m sharing some other ways to save on food this year.


All over the countryside, there are different ways that you can forage for various wild foods. Many backyard weeds like lambsquarters, dandelion, mustard greens, and wild garlic leaves are tasty, cooked greens among others. Mint can often be found along roadsides and stream beds as well.

A friend of mine used to gather cut grass along the roadside to use as mulch in his garden. However, since a lot of cut grass has been treated with herbicides, he’s stopped doing that. If you’re foraging along the roadside, you also need to know how anything you forage has been treated. You don’t want to be poisoned by your free greens.

Other things that you can forage for are berries. I have foraged wild strawberries along the railroad track (It’s okay if you’re a kid and want a few strawberries to pop in your mouth, but hardly worth the effort.) I also have foraged raspberries, blackberries, and elderberries, which I enjoy, but many people don’t. Just be sure to plan to protect yourself against insects and briars.

Mushrooms also are great forage if you know which kind you are finding. Again, you don’t want to poison yourself. Do more than just get a book about mushrooms or watch a few YouTube videos. Find someone who knows the mushrooms in your area and go out with them before wandering out on your own.

There are numerous foods that you can forage in your area, and it can be fascinating learning what all does grow wild where you live. Be on the lookout for Jerusalem artichoke which is an excellent source of carbohydrates as well as fruit and nut trees and other plants as well. Just remember, not every plant is edible, and not every part of a plant is eatable nor is a plant necessarily edible at all times of the year. Know your foraged foods before consuming them!


When I was a kid, we used to do a lot of gleaning. Gleaning is taking leftovers from a field after the owners came and took out most of the crop. I remember having done this with potatoes and green beans.

One year I also picked up field corn from a farmer’s field to finish feeding two pigs that we were raising. The fact that those pigs were eating the most that they had of their young lives made gleaning field corn a definite win for my purse!

Working for Shares

Another way that I have done several different times over the years is when I have been short on cash is that instead of purchasing fruit and vegetables, I have worked for shares. My most recent time of doing this was this past week. One of the other vendors at the farmers’ market had blueberries and blackberries and I volunteered to work for both berries for fifty-fifty shares. This worked well for me and for my friend because it meant that he would be getting his berries picked without having to hire someone to pick them for him. It was good for me because I was able to obtain tame blueberries and blackberries without having to pay cash for them. It was a win-win for both of us.

Years ago, I did the same with strawberries. I picked several quarts for myself and several quarts for the owner of the strawberry field.

Another form of shares happens when someone who has a garden leaves town and asks you to take care of the garden and to take anything that gets ripe during the time that they are gone.

Working for shares is also possible when dealing with animals like chickens or milk cows. Picking up the eggs or milking the cow and keeping the milk (assuming that you know how to milk a cow) will give the owners a break and give you a much needed protein source.

Several years ago, I had another friend who had several apple trees and a pear tree and I volunteered to pick her apples and pears in exchange for my own pears and apples. If you pass by someplace that has a fruit tree that is loaded down with fruit, you might consider stopping and asking if you can have some of it if you picked it for them. A question not asked is always “no”.

Pick Your Own

A variation of picking on shares is “pick your own”. “Pick your own” establishments used to be more common than they are now because of legal liability and insurance costs, but I remember doing this when I was growing up in Northwestern Pennsylvania with strawberries. We would come and pick as many as we wanted and then we would pay for the fruit at a reduced price because we picked them ourselves. It was a great way to spend a morning and then always ended with a homemade strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries.

Another crop that we sometimes got from a “pick your own” was corn. We often picked bushels of sweet corn and canned what we picked.


One activity that is common where I live is hunting. I personally don’t hunt, but my eldest son does and I am often a recipient of his hunting abilities. Most of the time around here deer is the prize, but I have known people who have eaten possum and groundhog (woodchuck).  Some people have even gone after wild pigs. Wild meat can be tough and strong tasting so cooking it in a crockpot with a lot of onions can be the ticket to tastier meat.  

Fishing and Seafood

Most of us know that you can take a pole out to a body of water and catch dinner but there are numerous ways of fishing. For instance, there are different types of nets that you can use to catch them. In addition, you can place a string of hooks and line and place them across a stream to catch fish even when you aren’t there. It might not be legal where you want to put your string so make sure you know the laws before putting out your strings.

Years ago, when I was living on the Tidewater in Virginia a friend took me to a brackish area where we went crabbing. They were like mini-lobster, and with butter, they are delicious. At different times of the year, you can get seafood from nature you just have to know what it is and how to get it.

Food Barters

Barters can be made for anything, not just food, but if food is what you need, there are a lot of ways to do that kind of trade.

If you have a garden with a few extra vegetables or chickens that are providing you with too many eggs, you have a source from which to barter. Last year I made a great barter. I had a few extra hens than I needed, and I traded a few for several nice round beef steaks and some lean hamburger. I have traded eggs for meat as well.

Have an apple tree with an abundance of fruit? See if your neighbor with a pear tree would be willing to trade with you. Have okra but need more tomatoes for canning? See if you can make a trade. There’s no end to what you can do for food barters.

There you have it, my list of locations to get food that is not the store. How about you? Do you do any of these to stretch your food dollars? If so, please share in the comment section below. I would love to hear from you!

Looking for Alternatives to canning freezing or dehydrating your garden vegetables? Check out the Survival Garden. Read a Free sample on Amazon!

The Survival Garden

Happy Independence Day!

I hope you’re having a wonderful independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! There’s nothing that says independence more than knowing I can grow my own food!

According to several sources around the world, the current food shortages around the world are going to be worse next year. That’s why I feel that we need to become as food independent as possible. I am not taking any chances! As a perpetual homesteader, I am working on ways to produce as much of my own food and energy as possible so that my husband and I can live more comfortably on our fixed income. This month, we are living as much as possible on what we grow ourselves and this month I am highlighting some of the ways that we stretch our grocery dollars.

Garden Produce

In my book The Survival Garden, I described how I can grow twelve vegetables that I don’t can, freeze, or dehydrate. Also in my book, The Four Seasons Vegetable Garden, I suggest eating food grown while it is in season.

I practice what I preach. Vegetables fresh from the garden are the least expensive way to utilize produce from the garden. Earlier in the season, we had salad fixings like lettuce, onion, other greens, spring onions, and radishes. We ate scapes and radish pods when they were tender and sweet.

Currently, our green beans, tomatoes, and hot and sweet peppers are starting to produce, and soon we’ll have cucumbers and zucchini ready for harvest.

We’ve also started digging up some of the early potatoes to incorporate into daily meals.

For longer-term storage, we dug up our garlic and laid it out to finish drying. We’ll use the smallest and least perfect bulbs to incorporate into tomato sauces and to make into minced garlic to store in the refrigerator.  


Eating fresh first always makes more sense than trying to can everything this summer, but there come times when canning, freezing, and dehydrating make sense. For instance, this past week we had more green beans, peppers, and tomatoes than we could eat before they went bad, so I canned what I had. So far, I have canned 16 pints of green beans. I will probably be canning the first of my tomatoes this weekend!

Farmer’s Market

I am a vendor at our local farmer’s market every weekend during the summer. When possible, I sell produce there. Another thing that I do is I purchase from other vendors things that I either don’t have enough of or don’t grow myself. What I sell, pays for what I buy from others. Often, they buy from me as well. Currently, I am selling garlic that we just harvested as well as some green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and hot and sweet peppers. Right now, blueberries and blackberries are in season, so we are picking those up. Last year I purchased blueberries, sweet potatoes, honey, and squash. This year, I hope to harvest enough sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes from my own harvests, so I don’t have to purchase any.

How about you? Do you have a garden growing this fourth of July? If so, how’s it going? Are you eating fresh from your harvests? Canning? Freezing? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to share in the comments.

Also, if you haven’t done so already, check out my Amazon Author page and get a free look inside each of my books.

The Many Benefits of Kelp

I’m using Kelp in the Garden

What most people don’t know is that most poor soils don’t lack specific mineral content. Here’s a case in point. Here on the Ozark Plateau, we are sitting on a bedrock of limestone. Our water is high in calcium deposits and yet, if you ask most people around here what plants need, they will tell you that most soil here is acidic and needs lime. They can even show documentation that indicates that their soil is lacking soluble minerals indicating acidic soil. How is that possible. It is because the plants cannot get what they needs from the minerals that are available in the soil.

I use dried kelp in my garden because it is chock full of every mineral known in the sea, and it is in a much more ready form for the micro-organisms in the soil to use. It’s not the final answer to

I’m giving kelp to my Chickens

I have given kelp to my animals for many years. When I had goats, I gave kelp to them. I currently don’t have goats, but I do give kelp to my chickens. I don’t do it all the time because right now they have access to all the greens and bugs they want. In the winter, I will supplement their food with kelp to ensure they get the nutrition that they need.

I Eat Kelp Myself

If you want a multi-nutrient supplement that is reasonably priced, kelp is one of the best answers to supplying micronutrients on a budget. I have put kelp into gel capsules and taken them like vitamin pills. Kelp

Kelp is a brown alga. There are probably around 30 varieties included under the general classification of kelp. It is a large seaweed that grows in shallow, underwater forests. Kelp needs nutrient-rich water between 43- and 57-degrees Fahrenheit. It grows rapidly and some varieties can grow over a foot and a half in 24 hours and reach heights of up to 260 feet in time.

Kelp is high in a natural form of iodine. It is also a lipase inhibitor in that it helps the body expel fat via excrement, rather than absorb large amounts. It may prevent diabetes and treat some blood disorders by preventing blood clotting. It may slow down some cancers and works as an anti-inflammatory.

To learn more about the benefits of kelp through my book Help from Kelp, check out the free sample of the book on Amazon.

Be sure to also check out my other books on my Amazon author page.

Is Your Location too Small to Grow a Vegetable Garden?

No space is too small for a vegetable garden that you can pick from year round. You just have to redefine “vegetable garden”.

You don’t need vast acreage to feed your families. Just yesterday I was remembering the first time I came through this part of Missouri in 1979. I came through at the end of July and I remember the numerous gardens I saw in backyards all throughout the state. That was what made me fall in love with the area, the vegetable gardens. It reminded me a lot of what I saw when I was in Canada a few years earlier. I remember rows and rows of suburban homes, each one with a vegetable garden, a couple of fruit trees, grape vines on the back fence, and some had fishponds in the yard as well. A lot of food can be grown in a relatively small space.

I published The Four Seasons Vegetable Garden early this spring detailing how anyone can grow a vegetable garden that will keep them in vegetables all year long and already, I see this book as being even more needed than ever before. Now, not only do we have the aftermath of the pandemic, but we also are facing inflation and recession. Anything that we do to increase our purchasing abilities will increase our ability to feed our families and pay the rest of the bills.

Imagine learning what foods grow in your area seasonally and learning to eat what is in season. Imagine being able to go out to your garden any time during the year, picking and eating what you’ve grown. How would you like to be able to have fresh vegetables from your garden every day all year long, no matter what the weather? The Four Seasons Vegetable Garden will show you what it takes to do exactly that.

In The Four Seasons Vegetable Garden,  you’ll learn the basics for making that happen. From this book, you’ll also learn some of the secrets to producing more than one crop from the same piece of ground. You’ll learn where to put your garden. How to utilize garden space so that you can make the best use of every inch of soil through interplanting techniques.

You’ll learn that you can grow nutritional food even in the winter no matter whether you live on a farm or in a high-rise apartment. A whole chapter is dedicated to what you can grow inside your home even if you have no acreage at all. Be sure to check out a free sample of The Four Seasons Vegetable Garden available on Amazon Kindle

Are You Growing A Survival Garden?

Potatoes are one of twelve vegetables that in The Survival Garden I demonstrate how to grow.

It’s easy to place blame on someone or something else in regard to the lack of food security in our world. We could blame the government. We can the disease that had us locked up for two years. We can blame the war in Europe. We can blame our president or our economic system. We can blame someone else or even ourselves or we can take responsibility by responding with a solution, at least for ourselves.

I have watched hundreds of prepper videos and articles and read dozens of prepper books. Most of them give a laundry list of things that you should buy to stock up on supplies for The End of Our World as We Know It. They tell you that you need to purchase food, water, medicines, energy for cooking, heating, and lighting, and a way to protect yourself from whatever may happen when dealing with others.

I have done many of those things and have been glad that I did them. When we didn’t have electricity for over a week many years ago, I was glad that we had water and food and a wood cookstove already for that time.

When we both lost our jobs a couple years after that, we had a lot of food that lasted us until we were able to get additional help. During this time, we also had a garden, and I canned a lot of our food.

What if We have an Extended Crisis?

What happens if the power is out for a long time, and we can’t use refrigeration, or we can’t get to the grocery store, or food isn’t available at the grocery store for an extended time? Our stored foods will only run out. Then what?

Some of these prepper videos also encourage canning foods for long-term storage. I do that too. I have canned meat, vegetables, fruit, ready-to-eat meals, and even canned reconstituted dried beans so that if we were to have an extended time where we couldn’t cook.

All the above are good for a limited time, but what will we do when our stored foods, canning lids, and power are no longer available? What then? How long will the food we stored last us?

Gardening, a Perpetual Skill Set

There’s a skill set we can all learn that previous generations all knew and that was the backbone to everything that they did and that was the fact that they gardened and knew what it took to store their food over the winter. Yes, some of the food that they grew they fermented or dried to last them through the winter months, but some of that food they were able to store without any kind of refrigeration, dehydration, pickling, or any other form of mechanized processing. They grew vegetables that didn’t need any of this. They knew which foods they could store that didn’t need it! They could store these vegetables all winter without

Not only did they grow the foods that didn’t need it, but they also knew how to grow the seeds, clippings, or sprouts that they planted. They knew what each variety needed to reproduce. The propagation of beans was different than the propagation of potatoes. The propagation of potatoes is different than the propagation of carrots. The propagation of carrots is different than the propagation of squash, and the propagation of squash is different than the propagation of sweet potatoes.

Why I Wrote The Survival Garden

I wrote The Survival Garden with this concept in mind. My parents grew up during the depression and I grew up in a poor family where I learned a lot from them about what I am sharing. This book won’t tell you about all the things you can plant throughout the year, nor does it offer everything that you can store over the winter. However, in this book, I’ve included the most common vegetables that can be grown in most parts of the United States and much of the world.

Want more? Here’s a link to a sample of The Survival Garden: Plant a Garden for Food to Last All Winter that You Won’t Have to Can, Freeze or Dehydrate.

Simply Vegetable Gardening, One Solution to Food Shortages

My first book about gardening

For the entire month of June, I am sharing my books in the first annual Cygnet Brown Book Club Month! All throughout the month, I will be featuring not one, but all of the books that I have written to date. The gardening-related books I am writing here on The Perpetual Homesteader. The first gardening book I am sharing is Simply Vegetable Gardening.  My non-gardening books are shared on my other blog HowMySpirit Sings. (here’s the link).

When I first started writing Simply Vegetable Gardening, we were living at my brother’s place after losing our home to foreclosure. I started writing it during the Great Recession with the intention of helping other people get started gardening by sharing what I knew about it. To tell the truth, I also wanted to begin earning a living writing about topics that I loved, and I do love gardening.

Here we are again facing uncertain times and many people have started gardening lately, but few have the experience that I have in getting my hands dirty with soil. I have had fifty years of experience getting plants to grow without fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides.

Home Garden to Combat World Wide Food Shortages

What I shared in Simply Vegetable Gardening is even more relevant today than it was then. In this time of food shortages and fertilizer shortages, I don’t worry. This year, my garden is bigger and better than ever because I don’t just talk and write about gardening, I practice what I preach.

I believe that one of the solutions to food shortages is increased home garden production. Anything each one of us can grow ourselves can make a difference in food shortages around the world because that is just one more thing that we don’t have to take out of the mouths of people in other countries. Every potato that we grow and eat ourselves is another potato available in the stores for someone else.

I wouldn’t say that I grow organically because to be able to say that specifically, my garden would have to be organically certified which it is not. I don’t purchase a lot of organic substances for my garden, and I use very few means of combating pests and diseases. What I do is build my garden using natural means and substances. I primarily feed the soil and provide the necessary nutrients to feed the soil microbes, creating a symbiotic relationship with my plants, making them both healthy and pest and disease resistant.

Consider starting a garden this year or at least learn to garden without outside resources. To help you do this I highly recommend reading Simply Vegetable Gardening.

From this book, you’ll learn techniques for growing your own vegetables without herbicides, pesticides, or purchased fertilizers. Get a taste of the book by reading a sample of Simply Vegetable Gardening on Amazon.

If you would you rather have a physical paperback copy, they are available on

Spring: The Season of Constant Changes

Spring is planting season, but it is also the rainy season here in the Missouri Ozarks and the temperatures are more variable than in any other area of the country. It can be dry and hot early in the day and cold and rainy by the end of that same day. It can be raining in one area and residents a few miles down the road can be begging for a few drops of water for their gardens. It is certainly a time of change. The objective is not to fight those changes, but to flow with them.

A Tragedy

RIP Henny Penney

The chicken setting on the eggs was taken by an animal during the night. I usually hear something, but not this time. When I got up in the morning, the door was open, but I thought I had closed it. My guess was an intelligent animal opened the door and wanted what was inside. I dreaded what I would find. Sure enough, eggshells were scattered everywhere. A few tail feathers showed that Henny Penney too had been taken. Our egg setting hen was gone. My guess is that the local fox population had a fine chicken dinner that morning. Unfortunately, I had no time to mourn. It’s spring! There was too much to do.

Canning Dried Beans

Early in the week, we had very cool temperatures, so I decided to take advantage of those temperatures. I decided to can the dried pinto beans that I wanted to do during the winter, but never found the time to do.

Why do I can dry beans? Well first, it takes less energy to can eight pints of beans than it does to slow-cook each batch one at a time. Second, the beans won’t dry out like they would if I didn’t process them. Dried beans, even though they won’t go bad, do take longer to cook the longer they are kept in storage. The third and probably the most important reason is that I don’t want to have to cook them during the summer when it’s too hot to cook. Plus, that heat helps keep the house warm so we don’t have to run the heater.

I canned and added 23 pints to my pantry. This summer we’ll be eating them in Mexican meals that we make from scratch.

If you’d like the recipe on how I can dry beans, click here on an article I wrote on Hubpages.

Making Granola

The actual processing of the beans doesn’t take much time, most of the processing is watching the boiling process. Therefore, there’s a lot of time to do something else.  I decided that I would use that time to make granola.

Granola makes a quick and easy cold breakfast cereal for hot summer mornings. Most of the ingredients I keep in my pantry and there’s no need to be concerned with artificial colors or flavors or preservatives. Everything that goes into my granola I can pronounce. For more information about this granola and the recipe, check out this online article that I also wrote on Hubpages.

Garlic Scape Pesto

This week I also made garlic scape pesto by using the scapes from the elephant garlic that I am growing. To make the pesto, I picked all the scapes (the seed pods) from my elephant garlic. Removing the scapes allowed the elephant garlic to focus more of its energy on bulb production. What’s good for the plant is also good for me.

Making garlic scape pesto is easy. With a knife, simply cut up the scapes into two-inch sections. Then place in the blender and blend the scapes until they are well pulverized. Next, add olive oil and blend to make a creamy base. Next, add about ½ cup of dried parmesan cheese and black pepper to taste. This easy, fragrant pesto can be spread on bread or crackers, put on pasta, used with fish, or as a substitute for garlic, onion, or scallions! Add to sandwiches, pasta, lamb, and fish dishes. Tastes great mixed with mayo.

First Green Salad

This week we made our first green salad from the garden this year. We had lettuce, radishes, radish pods, green peppers (yes, we have fresh green peppers in our garden already!), and green onions. I also added a little red onion that I had in the refrigerator along with cheese and some boiled egg and some Chipotle grilled chicken and topped with ranch dressing. I ate it with grilled bread and my husband ate it as a wrap in a tortilla.

Weeding, Weeding, Weeding!

You would think that with cool weather that the weeds wouldn’t grow as fast as they do, but with all the rain we have been getting we’ve not only been mowing the lawn more, but I have had to take some time each day that it wasn’t raining and devote to weeding the garden. The good news was that the rain loosened the soil so that it was easier to work, but the weeds already had deep roots. Next week I hope to replant bare spots in the garden.

Want to Learn More About Gardening?

Check out gardening books:

Simply Vegetable Gardening

The Survival Garden

The Four-Seasons Garden

My Morning Tonic

I have been suffering from osteoarthritis for years. Sometimes this makes it difficult for me to get things done on the farm as I want to do, but I have found a tonic that may actually help heal the problem.

When I normally think of tonic, I am reminded of Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies and her rumatiz’ medicine. Unlike Granny’s tonic, mine has no alcohol but as the dictionary suggests, my tonic does give me a feeling of vigor and wellbeing and it is restorative and offers stimulation. However, I wouldn’t exactly call my tonic a “medicine”, but rather a natural way of getting rid of the pain that zaps my energy.

The pain that I feel is from years of abuse to my joints. I had worked in factories, food service, nursing homes, hospitals, marched in the military, and am currently doing farm work, and since I am in my sixties, I am dealing with pain in my hips, shoulders, and back. For a long time, I had been dealing with the pain using over-the-counter medications like Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and Naproxen all of which are not good for the long haul. I decided to see if there wasn’t something out there that could help, not just ease the pain, but possibly even help heal the joints.

I know that there are a lot of products out there that claim to help with arthritis pain, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time and money on products that didn’t live up to their claim so I did a little research on my own. Here’s what I found that works for me.


What is it you ask? Well before I tell you that, I want to say that this is what I do, and it is not medical advice. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on television. All I can tell you is that it works for me, but I can’t tell you that the same would work for you as well. You need to talk to your own doctor and do your own research.

Researching the Ingredients

I had read some time back that turmeric and ginger both reduce inflammation.

Turmeric’s active ingredient, Curcumin, is touted for the ability to reduce inflammation. If a person has arthritis, gout, or muscle pain, it is recommended that a person add a little turmeric to meals. It has anti-inflammatory magic. Plus, it’s relatively cheap. A little bit goes a long way too. It takes only a quarter teaspoon for my purpose.

Ginger can be used fresh, dried, powdered, or as an oil or juice. It’s a very common ingredient in recipes. It’s sometimes added to processed foods and cosmetics. Its benefits are supported by science. It contains Gingerol. According to research, Gingerol has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects it may help reduce oxidative stress, which is the result of having an excess amount of free radicals in the body.

Research has indicated that ginger helps with the symptoms of Osteoarthritis, my problem, which is a common health problem. It involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms such as joint pain and stiffness.

Research has found that many people who used ginger to treat this type of arthritis saw significant reductions in pain and disability.

Apple Cider Vinegar is another ingredient that I include in my tonic. It is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which is a main active ingredient in vinegar and may be responsible for its health benefits. It contains some potassium, amino acids, and antioxidants. These benefits are science-backed. There are others, however, that are more subjective. For instance, it is said to be a natural energy booster. It also may boost the absorption of calcium thereby strengthening bones and improving health. Apple cider vinegar also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Honey- Honey is primarily composed of sugar, provides small amounts of several vitamins and minerals, and is rich in health-promoting plant compounds. Unfiltered, unprocessed raw honey is loaded with antioxidants including phenolic acids and flavonoids. Antioxidants help neutralize reactive oxygen species in the body, which can build up in cells and cause damage. This damage can contribute to osteoarthritis. I have also personally found that the locally produced honey that I get is great for reducing the allergic reaction I get from pollens in the air. (Again, this is not medical advice, it just seems to work for me.) Most importantly, honey makes the rest of the ingredients of this tonic go down.

Putting It All Together

I, of course, had researched other foods that may help with osteoarthritis pain, but I decided to include these four ingredients primarily because they are easy to procure (they are all available locally) and they are cheap. Ginger, honey, and apple cider vinegar were used in a drink called switchel that pioneers drank during the summer to quench their thirst, prevent nausea from drinking warm water, and provide electrolytes. The turmeric is an easy add and I think that it adds a complementary spicy flavor.

To make the tonic, I put about an ounce of warm water at the bottom of the glass and add a tablespoon of honey. I stir the honey until it is completely dissolved. Next, I add a quarter teaspoon of ginger and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric and a tablespoon of unfiltered raw (with the mother) apple cider vinegar to the mixture and mix it well. Then I add as much water as I feel like drinking to the mixture and drink it.

It May Not Be for Everyone, but It Works for Me

 It may not taste that great at first, but it takes better each time I drink it perhaps because the positive effects are obvious. Within a couple of minutes, I begin to feel the warmth of the ginger and the turmeric and soon I feel my joints loosening. The pain I was feeling usually subsides and I can do what I need to do around the farm.

If you enjoy reading this blog and want to read more of what I write, check out my other blog: How My Spirit Sings.