Dear MOTHER: June/July 2014

Reader letters about threshing wheat, saving money on groceries, clay soil, hunting and self-sufficiency, walk-behind haymaking equipment, childfree living, and more.

| June/July 2014

A Garden Runneth Over

I’m an avid organic gardener along the Maury River in the mountains of Virginia. Gardening brings me immeasurable joy, and I want to share a few photos from last year’s plots. My house is only 515 square feet, so the garden tends to take over. I don’t have much growing space, but I make the most of it.

Suzanna Garrett
Lexington, Virginia

DIY Wheat Thresher

We’ve been growing ‘White Sonora’ wheat on our small homestead for three years. As your article From Field to Flour: How to Grow Wheat (April/May 2014) indicated, threshing wheat can be a challenge, and we definitely struggled to find the best way to do it. We tried a couple of hand-threshing methods at first: beating the heads against the inside of a bucket or smashing the heads with a rubber mallet. Both processes were quite tedious.

We looked into machines, but even the cheapest models were still too pricey. That’s when we came up with an easy, quick device of our own: a thresher made from a bucket, drill and chain. You can see a video of our bucket thresher in action and get instructions for making your own in DIY Wheat Thresher. Because threshing wheat by hand is so labor-intensive, it deters some people from growing it. We were unsure about continuing to grow it until we put together the bucket thresher. Now I don’t think we’ll ever stop!

Jenna Winkeller
Gilbert, Arizona

Nursery Plants: Bee Cautious

In response to the article Neonicotinoid Insecticides: Are Your Nursery Plants Being Treated With Bee-Killing Chemicals? (February/March 2014): I’ve always preferred purchasing transplants at the farmers market simply to support local, small-scale sellers. Avoiding these dangerous chemicals now seems an even more important reason. No more starts from mainstream garden centers for me!

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