Dear MOTHER August September 2018

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The interior of the Pickering's dog kennel greenhouse.
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Here are a few samplings of Kathy's successful canning experience.
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For this photo, my son and I had recently arrived after a bike ride, and we cut fresh flowers straight from our garden for vases in¬side the house.

Rocky Start for Colorado Transplants

I absolutely love Mother Earth News, and I’ve been reading it since the ’70s, after dis­covering it in college. I lived in Pennsylvania for 63 years before moving to Colorado less than two years ago. In Pennsylvania, gardening was so easy; I could grow stuff just by breathing on it! In 2013, my 13 tomato plants produced a few thousand tomatoes.

However, living in the Colorado foothills is quite different. In the time we’ve been here, I haven’t grown a thing. Our soil is shallow, dry, and not exactly nutrient-dense. There are boulders under everything. I would love an issue devoted to mountain gardening. I’m sure others living in the Rockies would also appreciate it. Perhaps there are some longtimers who might share their tips for success with those of us new to this arid gardening environment. On the flip side, sun is plentiful here, even if water isn’t.

Karen Arencibia
Morrison, Colorado

Fond Memories of Cutting Hedge Posts

Hank’s “Growing Resources” (February/ March 2018) hit my memory bank. My dad cut tens of thousands of hedge posts between 1960 and 1990. He would custom-cut them or cut on shares (the land owner received a quarter of the posts). As I recall, he would cut 75 to 100 per day in all kinds of weather. In about 1970, I believe he was selling the line posts for 70 cents each and the corner posts for $2 or $2.50. He also custom-built a few hundred miles of fence in my area of Illinois. Many times, because he was cutting ahead of a bulldozer, he worked long hours. I remember he said that cutting hedge posts (or probably any wood) was much easier in a valley than on a hill, where the woodland was much denser. One time, he was cutting hedge posts on a hill and he said the wood was so hard that the saw re­quired constant sharpening. But those posts likely lasted much longer because they were so strong.

Sharon Crum
Perry, Illinois

Rhubarb and Mulberries, Perfectly Paired

I enjoyed reading “Abundant Summer Mulberries” by Clyde Myers (April/May 2018). I’m from southern Indiana. One of the things the author failed to mention about mulberries is how well they go together with rhubarb. The tartness of rhubarb blends well with the sweet blandness of mulberries. Opening a pint on a cold winter day brings back the memory of warm spring sunshine. I have a stand of rhubarb that’s over 50 years old that I like to use, but the fruit needs a lot of sugar to be enjoyable.

Adding the mulberries helps make both taste better. I use a blend of 1 part rhubarb to 2 parts mulberries. I make a sauce with sugar to taste, and cold pack the sauce for winter use. The mulberry seeds are no prob­lem, and the stems cook right into the sauce. The sauce is one of those good-to-eat things that’s also good for you, with vitamin C and lots of fiber. And for me, it’s food free for the gathering. I have two black and two white mulberry trees.

I’m 81 years young, I’ve been an organic gardener most of my life, and I still grow most of my fruits and veggies on a 1/4-acre city lot. I have a pet bunny that works hard to supply my fertilizer needs!

Shirley Overmyer
Fort Wayne, Indiana 

Can’t Put It Down

I was telling my friend about Mother Earth News and she liked what I had to say about it, so I ordered a subscription for her. She’s already received a notice informing her about the subscription and thanked me for it. She can’t wait to get it.

I’m 83 years old, and whenever I get my latest issue in the mailbox, I immedi­ately sit down and look through it. I can’t hardly put it down. My friend and her husband have a garden, and their yard looks like something in a magazine. I’m sure they’ll put the tips from Mother Earth News to good use.

Avaleen Porter
Kennedy, Alabama

Dog Kennel Greenhouse

Over a year ago, we saw the Country Lore tip about using a dog ken­nel to build a durable greenhouse (“From Dog Kennel to Greenhouse,” October/November 2016). We’d been thinking about a greenhouse, and this seemed just the ticket. We got the kennel but only recently got around to turning it into a 10-by-20- foot greenhouse. We’ll be adding a gravel floor and some shelves soon.

Corky Pickering
Cottonwood, California

Small-Scale Homesteader Dreams Big

In 2016, my husband and I purchased what we plan to make our retirement home in northern Michigan. Since the purchase, I’ve set my sights on becom­ing a small-scale homesteader. I’m getting lots of ideas from Mother Earth News. I can’t wait to try the breads fea­tured in the December 2017/January 2018 issue!

Late last summer, I took a stab at canning. I used some recipes from The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving by Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard. This year, I’m setting my sights on planting as many tomato plants as my garden can handle. In 3 to 4 years, I look forward to being the canning CEO of the Lareau household!

Kathy Lareau
Dimondale, Michigan

Have Faith

I turned 95 last September. I have a garden and grow four types of berries. I don’t get sick. I don’t get flu shots. I keep away from prescriptions because I think some of the products Big Pharma puts out there do more harm than good. My Bosch wheat grinder is 17 years old. So as long as I’m here I hope to be able to take care of myself, tend my garden, make bread with fresh ingredients, and have faith.

John Wandrei
North Bennington, Vermont

What Runs in the Family, Runs in Mother Earth News

I’ll bite on Hank’s invitation to share our work in “Common Ground” (April/May 2018). If you go back to Mother Earth News issue No. 48 from 1977, you can find an article about my family: “Report From Them That’s Doing, Homesteading the Wright Way.” That’s us. The boys in that story are grown now, with families of their own, and both live within 5 miles of the farm. In 1978, we moved to a 40-acre spread that was 100 years old at the time, and looked it. We raised the boys there — three as a blended family, plus two more adopted, a foster daughter who needed a family, and many others that stuck along the way.

I worked as a carpenter and farmed when I could. We had greenhouses, sold bedding plants, and worked as hippie-dippy produce farmers on the farm market route. Slowly, many of the others went their way, got jobs, bought suits, and died. I said my goodbyes when I could, cried when I needed to, and tried not to sell out. I got my building license, started my own company, and did OK, but I tried to give back to a world that didn’t always seem appreciative.

I’ve been supervisor in my township now for almost 16 years. I started the local his­torical society and initiated a prairie restora­tion project on 40 acres of unused cemetery property. I’m also the chairman of the cem­etery board. I’ve served on so many county boards that I can’t remember them all.

You have to stay true to what you believe, and I believe in service to my fellow man. All of this came about because when I moved here as a long-haired hippie, barefoot and carrying kids on my hip, the old people of this wonderful area took one look and said, “You are who you show us, not what you look like. Let us teach you our area’s history and why we’re proud of our heritage, so you can be proud also.”

Because of the love and acceptance shown to me those years ago, I was bound to the same service and love. Hold fast to your heart’s true path, do what’s good and worth­while, and show love to the planet and your fellow man, and the world will have changed just by your actions. World news stations won’t ever come see you, but you can be news to the world. Peace and love, man.

Dave Wright
White Cloud, Michigan

Love of Flower Gardening

I enjoy spending time outside in my yard surrounded by Mother Nature. I love planting and animals. I have a flower garden that includes daffo­dils, zinnias, black-eyed Susans, and lavender. I like to identify the plants by painting their names on pieces of wood. A stone path extends from the flower garden to our favorite laying hen’s chicken coop, which is next to our garden shed. For this photo, my son and I had recently arrived after a bike ride, and we cut fresh flowers straight from our garden for vases in­side the house.

Yaneiza Baez
Knoxville, Tennessee

Committed to the Cause

I knew most of the information presented in “Foraging and Eating Cattails” (April/May 2018), and I enjoyed reading it. However, something important was left out. Many times, cattails are used to clean toxins, such as the runoff from sprayed field crops, from bodies of water that livestock drink from. So caution must be used when choosing a cat­tail source to forage.

I’ve been reading Mother Earth News magazine for decades. In 1983, I met my husband through his personal ad in your magazine. We married later that same year, and we have three adult children. Our first grandchild, Evie, was born in March of this year.

We’ve lived on 5 acres since 1995, where I grow a lot of our food and preserve as much as possible. I have habitats for all sorts of critters. I have a certified Monarch Waystation for raising and releasing monarch butterflies. My garden is a Certified Wildlife Habitat too!

Deb Berning
Jenera, Ohio