Dear MOTHER: June/July 2013

Reader letters about full-time homesteading, hoop houses, buying a mower, the White House garden, pesticide drift, broody hens, distinguishing sorghum from molasses, the legality of home distilling, and more.

  • Hannah and Eric Noel, along with their two children, raise organic produce, grass-fed beef, and free-range chicken and eggs on their homestead in Highgate, Vt.
    Photo By Orah Moore
  • Snow is no match for reader Joe Mironov’s hoop house.
    Photo By Joe Mironov
  • Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton (and their canine companion) chose to homestead, producing much of their own food and running a home-based business.
    Photo Courtesy Anna Hess
  • Using a broody hen is rewarding and fun, especially with a fluffy Silkie mother hen.
    Illustration By Elayne Sears
  • Look for the logo from the National Sweet Sorghum Producers and Processors Association (NSSPPA) to be sure a product was made with 100 percent pure sorghum cane and without any additives.
    Illustration Courtesy National Sweet Sorghum Producers
  • First Lady Michelle Obama is seen with Bo, the Obama family dog, in the White House Kitchen Garden, Sept. 14, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
    Photo By Lawrence Jackson

No-Frills Gardening

In response to the letter “Does Gardening Really Pay?” (Dear MOTHER: December 2012/January 2013): I think it comes down to your values and what suits you. The quality, freshness and flavor of homegrown food are hard to put a price on. When you involve your children in gardening, you’re not only teaching them the skills, but also how you get rewarded for your work with the food on your table. It’s always exciting when a child gets to pick the first ripe tomato, strawberry or carrot!

I agree with the letter writer that people can spend a lot of money on garden gadgets if they want. But they don’t need to. You can start small — even just a container or two — and then build on that.

My garden is about 75 by 150 feet. No raised beds, no fertilizer costs (we have cattle to provide that) — just a few packets of seeds, a shovel and a hoe. I’ve never tallied up what we save or even whether we save, but what we have gained is priceless, and we are so much richer for it.

Deborah Butler
Fort St. John, British Columbia

Buying a Mower: Don’t Cut Corners

I appreciate your assessment in Zero-Turn Mowers: Best Rides and Best Buys (April/May 2013) that there was a major difference between the less expensive mowers and the high-end units.

I’ve been in the mower business for about 50 years, and the easiest person to match up with a quality machine is one who has experienced the problems that a low-quality mower brings with it. Your comment about finding a good dealer for parts and service is great advice for anyone.

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