January 2020, Week 5

Okiedawn OK Zone 7
2 months ago

In what can only be considered good news, we have arrived at the last week of January. Hooray! May this long, gray, cloudy, misty, foggy, rainy, icy, snowy and cold month hurry up and get on out of here so we can move on to a new month with, hopefully, more sunny weather, more work in the garden, and the start of the planting season.

Many trees sure are forming visible buds here now and I fear they are going to be blooming too early. This is not an issue for most types of trees, but is a huge issue for fruit trees, and one of the reasons that growing tree fruit is so iffy in our state. Even when you choose varieties with the proper number of chilling hours, you often lose your blossoms and/or young fruit to "late" freezing weather, which isn't necessarily late at all....it just is late in relation to trees that lost their minds (not their fault) and bloomed too early because of erratic winter temperatures. Most years it is the pecan trees that remain the sane, logical old wise plants of the forest, rarely succumbing to the urge to bloom too early, so I tend to watch our native pecan trees carefully to see if they are starting up early. So far, they are not.

I also look at the ground everywhere and see a sea of green, which right now consists of cool-season grasses like poa annua and many broadleaf 'weeds' that aren't all weeds and which are, in fact, wildflowers. There are many, many more of them up, green and growing well this year in our front wildflower meadow than usual due to the warm winter and elsewhere on our property you see it as well....a virtual thick carpet of green that is visible even in our other pastures that still have dry, dormant prairie grasses 3-5' tall because we haven't mowed those pastures yet. We like to leave those standing grasses and forbs for the wildlife all winter. We did mow down the front wildflower meadow in the fall so I could broadcast sow wildflower seeds in it....similar to the way you overseed a lawn with winter rye grass...I overseeded our front wildflower meadow with more wildflower seeds. Usually in the unmowed pastures you don't even notice the small green plants sprouting at the ground in winter and early spring because they are sort of hidden by taller, dormant plants. This year, though, you cannot miss them because everything is so green already. We have had dandelions blooming (and going to seed) since late December. That's not exactly normal every year, but it happens some years. It is important to note that the plants that sprout this early are adapted to erratic weather and generally are not damaged badly by cold, not even by snow, while they still are very small and growing down low to the ground. Does this huge, early green-up mean an early spring is happening? Probably. What it really means is that our winter weather has not consistently stayed cold enough to keep these plants from sprouting, but that sort of warm winter in and of itself often is followed by a warm March, which I guess we could consider an early Spring. I want to caution everyone though that Oklahoma weather is very unpredictable and remind y'all that we have had, in some previous years, nice warm weather in February and March followed by snow and sleet in April, so if you decide to get busy planting early this year, do not plant more than you are willing to cover up and protect.

Late January and early February are a great time to finish pruning chores. You can be doing corrective pruning where limbs, for example, need to be completely removed for various reasons, but also can be doing your regular annual pruning...perhaps shearing back evergreen shrubs a bit to reshape them, pruning fruit trees to maintain their proper bowl-like shape that will facilitate easier harvesting & also removing water sprouts, freeze-damaged tissue, and any dead or damaged branches. Please DO NOT commit crape murder. Also, be judicious with your pruning if you are pruning summer-blooming shrubs because too much pruning can results in less flowering if you are pruning plants that bloom on old wood. With spring-flowering shrubs, you wait for them to bloom this year and then you prune after they've finished blooming. If anyone here grows grapes, please be sure to prune them properly. Proper pruning of grapes mean that you will remove around 80% of the vines. You do this for a very specific reason---grape plants allowed to grow too rampantly have major disease issues caused by poor air flow, so heavy spring pruning is required to control their growth and ensure you get a quality crop of grapes. Down here in southern OK we prune rose bushes in late January and in February. I am not sure of the timing for those of you further north, but wanted to mention that the appropriate time to prune is approaching, even if it is not quite here yet for those of your further north than I am. When you are doing your winter pruning, watch out for signs of scale insects on trees and shrubs. If you want to spray those plants with a preventive horticultural oil (often referred to as dormant oil because it only is used when plants are dormant), now is the time to do that is well.

For anyone dying to add a little cool-season color to their gardens, if you can find transplants of pansies, dianthus, violas, snapdragons, stock and such, you can plant them now, but be prepared to cover up these plants if your temperatures are going down into the 20s at night because that is a bit cold for them, especially if they have just been transplanted and haven't had a chance to harden off to cold weather via prior exposure.

Right now, while we still are in the winter dormant season, is a great time to move any trees or shrubs that need to be transplanted before they begin leafing out for 2020. If you are transplanting something, take as large of a rootball as you can manage to dig up. This also remains a great time to plant bare-root fruit trees, brambles (as soon as you see them in stores), grapevines, roses, and perennial flowers. If you want to plant asparagus crowns, you can do that now as well. I saw the first bags of asparagus crowns in stores last weekend.

The time is approaching when it is possible to begin planting some cool-season plants in the garden, namely potatoes and onions sometime in February if you are further south and, for some folks further north, either later in February or early in March depending on your local conditions.

It is not too early to start seeds indoors for cool-season veggie and herb transplants, and very soon it will be time, at least in some areas, to start seeds of tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants indoors. If you are wanting to grow wildflowers from seeds in flats, be sure to check and verify whether the varieties you are planting need cold stratification in order to germinate. Most of the wildflowers I'm starting from seed this year need anywhere from 30 to 70 days of cold, moist stratification, and mine are stratifying in the garage refrigerator right now....some of them in peat pots in flats, some of them in moist sand in ziplock bags, and some of them in moist coffee filters in ziplock bags. I marked each container with the date the stratification started and with how many days of stratification is needed so that I do not get confused and remove any of them from the refrigerator too early. Unless you are dealing with one of the very slow growing warm season annual flower varieties, it still is too early to start warm season annual flowers indoors. The types of warm-season annuals I'd start indoors now, were I growing these from seed, would be petunias, begonias and angelonia, all of which start out incredibly small after they sprout (the size of the head on a pin) and grow very, very slowly over many weeks before they are large enough to transplant outdoors.

More rain is expected this week. I don't know about any of y'all, but more rain is the last thing we need here. I'm starting to wonder if Love County's rainfall is going to be record-setting for January, although it will not set an official record at our Mesonet station, which was offline for 8-10 days and likely did not properly record all the rain that fell during that time. It is possible it recorded the data but failed to transmit it, or it is possible that the Mesonet station area did not receive nearly as much rain as we got at our house, because their numbers are a lot lower than ours. I know that the Mesonet staff goes back and retrieves/corrects data when they can, but then the totals for the month are marked with an asterisk because some of the data may be more of a scientific guesstimate/estimate than an actual recorded rainfall amount.

So far at our house this year we are growing a huge crop of mud, puddles, and dandelions. Oh, and clouds, fog and mist. We've been raising a bumper crop of cloudy skies down here .There has been a huge lack of sunshine in January and I've really missed the sunshine, which is here today for the second day in a row! What are y'all growing at your house this winter?

Have a great week everybody.


Comments (46)

  • dbarron

    Yesterday eve, I soaked cyclamen and hellebore seed from my plant-world seed order. Today I will put the hellebore in a baggie with peat, to give them warm vernalization for 60 days, then into the fridge for 60 days. The cyclamen can go outside and to *hope* for sprouting this spring if enough cool weather remains.

    I will start the allium and a tuberous begonia (sutherlandii I think) in pots as I feel they need the extra time growing (tiny as you mentioned).

    Additional things will get started over the next month or so. A few will wait till warm weather outside, because I see no reason to rush them (not going to bloom this year anyway) and growth is always strongest outside.

    Oh, first crocus tommanianus yesterday...and hellebores coloring and gaining size (not sure when within the next month they'll fully open though..depends on temps I guess). Cyclamen blossoms growing. Winter aconite showing first yellow turned upright, so very close to opening..it'll be the first time in like 4 years that they haven't bloomed in a sudden heat wave that makes the blossoms last only a couple of days before they're just seed pods. This year, the cool moist temps may allow me a week of bright yellow (lol)..we can hope, right?

  • Rebecca (7a)

    I’m moving forward with winter sowing. Cool season flowers and hardy herbs. Really trying to put the brakes on tomatoes and warmer season stuff. I know the jugs protect them. I don’t want to be too early. I’m overthinking.

    I need to transplant my huge Arp rosemary bush. Is now a good time? And what about dividing chives?

    Re-starting my search for feed tubs.

    My fall planted pansies, Johnny jump ups, snaps, and dianthus are still alive, and my daffodils are poking up above the leaf mulch. I have volunteer parsley in the back pots, and some of the herbs are coming back. Sage and tarragon.

    I have a dried okra pod from last summer, the seeds are rattling around in the pod. Can I plant them this year? Not sure if I dried them right.

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  • slowpoke_gardener

    Rebecca, I am sure there must be a better way to save seed, but I do it the way you are talking about and it works fine for me. I often leave the lower pods on the okra plants because they are harder for me to pick. Bending really hurts my back, so I do as little of it as I can. Later in the year I may have an okra plant that I think is a much better "parent", and I will leave pods on it also. If I have a good year I may have a lot of parent plants to chose from. I always try to plant from my best plants, saving my just so so seed for the great grand son and I to sit on the porch and shell. Those seeds may end up in his mothers flower, or anywhere under God's great sun.

  • HU-939938193

    It' been a too wet January in my locale as well. It's throwing me behind in my manuring up the garden. With water standing around in places I can't even get in it very far without bogging down in the mud. I've been hauling manure by wheelbarrow and shoveling it over the garden fence. Got the outside perimeter pretty well manured but still bare out in the middle of it. I can borrow a small tractor with a platform lift on it to haul with but I don't dare drive it out on that soft ground and make ruts and pack the ground down too hard.

    I hear its supposed to dry out going into Feb. That's all right with me. I sure wouldn't plant potatoes in ground this wet. I haven't got the onion fever just yet but I will before long. Don't want to get them too early and have to hold them too long before putting them out. I usually put them out in the latter half of Feb followed by the potatoes depending on the conditions

    I suspect that they'll probably be a late Arctic spell or two sometime in March or a late freeze in early Apr . There usually always is. Last March it got down to around 4 degrees about a couple of weeks after I put out my onions out and I had to get in a mad rush to cover them.

    I'm still getting fresh collard greens that I put out way last spring. They took a hit with that early Blue Northern last Nov but survived it pretty well.They're sure enough sweet. They got their "antifreeze" up. Arctic air usually takes them out by now but hasn't happened yet. . Might have to pull them up later for the spring plantings unless I want to grow seed. I have a winter supply of collard greens in the freezer from the summer pickings but haven't had to use them yet.

    okmulgee boy

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    dbarron, I don't mind the whole cycle of cold scarification, but I think filling up the extra fridge with my seeds in their various containers makes Tim a little antsy. He is old school and thinks refrigerators are only for food, but then he isn't a gardener himself. I use the extra fridge all the time to pre-chill bulbs, so pre-chilling seeds in a moist way is really just an extension of that. Our son planted over 1,000 pre-chilled bulbs for this Spring. He has one of those refrigerators that has 4 doors and you can convert the freezer part (or 1/2 of it) to a refrigerator, which is what he did when he first started pre-chilling his bulbs. Then, he kept buying more bulbs. He read the manual with his chest freezer and learned he could take the frozen food out of it and keep it turned up warm enough to essentially use as a refrigerator to pre-chill his bulbs, so he did that too. He did keep a refrigerator/freezer thermometer in his freezer to make sure it didn't get too cold, and he was careful to maintain good air flow. He was pleased with how well that worked, but I also think he was relieved to get all those bulbs out of the refrigerator and freezer so he had more room for frozen food again. When they were maxed out on chilling bulbs, they couldn't buy much frozen food at once because there wasn't space to store it.

    I do think the weather may work to the advantage of spring-blooming bulbs in late winter and early spring because we have had a lot of warmth for winter, but not extreme heat for winter---no highs in the 80s or 90s in January like we had about 3 years ago. Even just 1 or 2 hot winter days like that are hard on cool-season bulbs.

    Rebecca, I'd divide the Arp now before it starts a period of more active growth. Same with chives---divide any time you want, but if you enjoy their blooms, the earlier you do the dividing the better. I divided mine a couple of years ago, though, probably in January, and they bloomed like mad a month or two later like they'd never been divided. Chives are very resilient.

    Your okra seeds probably are dry enough. Just crack open the pod, soak a few seeds in water for a couple of hours, and wrap them in a moist coffee filter or a moist paper towel placed inside a ziplock bag to run a germination test. Keep them in a fairly warm place since they need heat to germinate, but not such a warm spot that they might start growing mildew or mold. Check daily to see if they are germinating. After a reasonable time, you can calculate the percentage that germinated and how long it took them and that will tell you how viable your saved seed is (or isn't).

    Uggh. It is foggy again today, with a fog advisory until 11 a.m. I am so tired of gray skies and fog. We did have sunshine yesterday, and it got a lot warmer than they said, and it was a very nice day except for all the mud.


  • jlhart76

    Rebecca, how close are you to Grove? My brother lives up near there (forget exactly where) and runs a few cattle. I can ask if he has some more if you can pick up.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    I came back to whine about the lack of sunshine. They extended our Dense Fog Advisory through 1 pm, although our actual point forecast now says the fog could last through 3 pm. Apparently Mother Nature doesn't want for us to have too much sunshine today....any sunshine at all would be nice. On the other hand, it is winter and we don't have ice or snow on the ground or in our forecast. I did noticed that northwestern OK has a Winter Storm Watch from tonight through tomorrow afternoon, and I'd rather have our Fog Advisory than have that.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Jen, I’m a couple hours away. Doable.

  • jlhart76

    Rebecca, just sent you his number in Facebook. Get in touch with him & work out a meeting time.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Thanks Jen! I’ll do my best.

    I got 2 hours of vitamin D manufacturing time this afternoon. What I could do was limited by my back, but since winter sowing is easy to do while seated, that’s mostly what happened. Calendula, poppies, cup and saucer vine, lavender, hollyhocks, convolvulus, salpiglossis, iceplant, Shasta daisy, cilantro, blanketflower, and bunching onions, red and white. Direct seeded some parsley. Last years parsley has made roots, but since I’m not a fan of the root, I’m just going to let it grow for the greens.

    I have 3 packs of Shasta daisy seeds. 3 manufacturers. One says annual, one perennial, and one biennial. I always thought they were perennials. Are their different cultivars? Depends on growing zone?

    I cant get the rosemary out of the current pot. I’ll let it get rained on and dig it out in a week or two.

    Now I get to start making some serious decisions about warm weather plants and tomatoes. I need to make a list and stick with it, but I’m not good about doing that. I also need to check with the friends I exchange winter sowing jugs for plants with, and see what they need this year. And y’all, for spring fling. I’m sure I’ll start too many, as always. There’s always Facebook marketplace or NextDoor.

    Also working on an auxiliary herb garden on the front porch, in decorative containers, just enough to harvest a handful for dinner without getting fully dressed to trek out to the back yard. Thinking a couple different basils, parsley, cilantro, dill, chives.

    Winter the next 2 days.

    oh, I also read a suggestion online to set jugs in a foil pan (with drain holes) if plants need bottom warmth. Trying it with peppers.

  • HU-422368488

    Thanks for the link Amy.

    I ordered some "Whippoorwill" peas . http://www.heirlooms.org/store/p63/Whippoorwill_Pea.html

    Been looking for those for a long time.

    okmulgee boy

  • OklaMoni

    Dawn I am not happy with Mother Nature either. All this up and down in temperatures.. sure makes my arthritis hurt.

    but, I was out digging Bermuda grass again today, for about 2 1/2 hours. I am sore, but glad I got as far as I did.


  • dbarron

    I remember grandma growing Whippoorwill peas. I can't remember how they tasted though...I seem to think kinda mealy.

  • HU-939938193

    my Mom use to grow them in my early childhood. She usually harvested them dry.

    They have to be dry to be speckled. Then she would just put them up in a gallon glass jar for storage. It's been a long time since I've seen them around.

    okmulgee boy

  • hazelinok

    Hi Everyone. I'm far behind. It was a busy weekend. I worked most of the day on Sunday and then went to dinner and then grocery shopping. I also checked in on a friends cat and house while they were on a trip.

    I had to work today, which was a killer. I'm used to having Mondays to regroup. I will also work tomorrow. BOO! I won't go into all the reasons why.

    This is why I won't have my mini cow anytime soon: my job.

    And thanks for everyone's thoughts and concerns about a cow. I suppose if it's not working for me, I can sell her.

    As far as predators go, I'm not real concerned. We do have coyotes come up once in awhile. Not daily. Not weekly. Not monthly. Usually because neighbors start shooting them. The neighbors to our east have a lot more land and a pond and a wooded area. They have lost chickens from time to time. And their dog (a few years ago) didn't stay on their property and ran after coyotes into the woods. He was killed. Their goats---even their newborn kids--haven't been bothered by the coyotes. Or their ponies. The mini donkeys in the neighborhood haven't been bothered either. I know there's always a risk. Just a couple of weeks ago, we had a couple on our property.

    The cow would sleep inside a little barn at night.

    Also, thanks for sharing all of your experiences with pea shellers. I didn't buy one. It was in a box of mason jars that were given to me. I might see if I can figure it out--just try it and see. I think the instructions said something about using it with a hand mixer???? It's still sitting in the shop. If it's not useful or helpful, I'll put it in the donation box.

    Dawn, also thanks for sharing your experience with canning on an electric stove top. Pressure canners still scare me---the noises they make and the fear of doing something "wrong". My canner isn't an expensive one.

    Not much going on. I got home from work and cleaned the coop droppings boards. Took the recycling in. Fixed dinner. Did some exercises. That's it. It feels good to sit down. Really good. I'm so ready for bed.

    I'm trying to sit us at the table for dinner every night, except Wednesday night (healthy pizza night) and Sunday night. We used to do that when the kids were little. We've gotten into the habit of eating in the living room. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But, sitting at the table gives us a chance to talk, without the distraction of the TV.

    That's all from me!

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    I think I will forever have whippoorwill in my garden because it sometimes shatters and I have volunteers. I didn't plant cow peas last year at all, just used the volunteers. The only cowpea I thought was mealy was the Lady Peas. Now most people cook their peas with ham. I like mine cooked in chicken broth. (Also greens).

    Rebecca, how does the foil pan help warm seed starts? Reflecting light? Is there more to it? You had a good afternoon for it.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Amy, that’s about it. Reflects light and gets warmer in the sun to move germination along.

    Jen, I may not get to talk to your brother yet. I have plans next Saturday, work Sunday, then I’m out of town the next weekend.

  • HU-422368488

    Pressure canners still scare me---the noises they make and the fear of doing something "wrong". My canner isn't an expensive one.

    Jennifer, the noises that they make is just natural from steam pressure building up , the little hisses from the vent etc.. As long as the pressure is not too high on the gauge(..like over 15 psi)

    and your burner can handle it you're OK.

    What kind of canner do you have , brand , model# , post a picture of it or a link to it ?

    Here's a YouTube vid comparing All American and Presto canners showing their basic features. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGQ5MYNsiuc

    I have the All American , two of them , except instead of the weighted gage vent thing , I have just a manual toggle valve to release pressure with.

    I've been using them for over 20 years now , ever since Mom died.

    Here's another one :


    okmulgee boy

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Amy, I cook southern peas in chicken broth sometimes, but also sometimes with him or bacon, and sometimes with jalapeno peppers and onions. Tim's favorite is when I cook them with bacon, jalapenos and onions, but I'll eat them any old way at all.

    I have liked Whippoorwill when I grew them.

    Jennifer, I prefer boiling-water-bath canning just because it is quick and easy, but I have sometimes done pressure canning. I actually learned pressure canning first, and then later learned boiling water bath canning. My pressure canner is packed away in storage out in the garage and I have no intention of taking it out and using it any time soon, so that probably is an indication of how seldom I use it. Anything we grow that would require pressure canning, I tend to just blanch and freeze instead, or sometimes I dehydrate it. Trying to keep it all simple, you know. My canning peaked from around 2000-2012 and I've been progressively cutting back more and more ever since then. I loved doing it, but it requires so much time and energy over a long harvest period. Having said all that, the noises the pressure canners make are just normal sounds and you do get used to them. Well, our cats never have gotten used to them---I think they think the canner is hissing at them, but they also don't care much for the sounds from the BWB canner when it is boiling along merrily. I find it easier to do all food preservation when the cats and dogs are either outdoors or closed up in a different part of the house and cannot come wandering through the kitchen. The cats have been known to come to the kitchen window and meow, demanding to come indoors while I'm canning, and I just ignore them.

    Moni, I'm sorry the weather affects your arthritis so much. I hate this weather. I wish it would just stabilize and stop jumping around all over the place.

    Rebecca, That's a lot of wintersowing jugs. At our house, coons, possums and other varmints would be tearing into those jugs at night....which I why I don't leave anything out in areas where they could reach them. All the wildlife here gets so hungry by Jan or Feb of most winters, and they'll get into anything I leave sitting outdoors...they'll even dig in containers that are empty except for the soil-less mix. I hate it, but it is what it is and the wildlife certainly isn't going away. If anything, it seems like we have more wild critters now than we had when we bought this land in '97 and moved here in '99.

    It has rained all day, although I use the word rain loosely. It has misted all day would be more accurate because generally the rainfall has been incredibly light. Since the ground is super-saturated, though, the rain pools and ponds on the ground and doesn't soak in. Lake Murray is so full from all this January rain that the road across the spillway has been closed for a couple of weeks now since water is flowing over it. This means that folks who live near the lake and regularly use that road now have another 30-45 minutes added to their commute---one way. I wouldn't like that.

    I don't think I've mentioned that the bird population has gone up significantly the last couple of weeks, but it has. They are out there singing and eating and carrying on daily and it is good to hear all of them. We have had birds all winter, but we have a lot more now. I wonder if they are as starved for sunshine as I am. All the animals are so cranky. They fuss and want to go out into the icky, misty, muddy weather, so I let them out, and then they almost immediately fuss and want to come back in. Might be a case of them thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence (or, to be more accurate, door). Going outside sounds good to them until they set foot on the cold, wet, muddy ground and then they hurry back onto the porch and start scratching at the door to come indoors. I can't say that I blame them either. I don't like it out there when it is like this.


  • hazelinok

    Nothing new to report. Just a lot of mud at our house. Unhappy, bored pets. Unhappy chickens with muddy feet. I think the rain is wrapping up and moving out now. I don't see anymore rain on the 9 day.

    I was going to start flower seed tonight, but got a little lazy once the dinner dishes were cleaned up and my exercises were finished. I'm not starting anything fancy. Just some impatiens, zinnias, and coleus. Someday I'll do more with flower seed starting.

    I skipped Pilates tonight. I wasn't sure if I would be working until 6 or not. Luckily I got to leave at 4ish....but just wasn't in the mood to go to Pilates.

    Okmulgee boy, I can't remember what pressure canner I have. It's out in the shop. I haven't used it in almost 4 years since the remodel. It was under $100. I've been freezing my produce. I would like to start canning again, though. I've thought about hauling it all up to our church. They have massive, heavy duty, gas stoves. I'll look at my brand of canner tomorrow and let you know. For some reason, I think it doesn't have a gauge--it has a weighted thing. I was new at canning when I bought this thing 4 years ago. I canned that summer and then we started the remodel. And I never started back up. For a number of reasons. But I'm ready to start again.

  • HU-939938193

    Jennifer , if you have any questions about canning don't be afraid to ask me. I 've been canning on the old style electric stoves for years now. I don't have any experience on the glass top stoves but have been researching it out. I'm sure Dawn will do the same.. I've lurked here for years now but trying to open up now. I'm an older man , struggling Christian , sort of ...

    okmulgee boy

  • jlhart76

    Rebecca, I'll let him know it may be a while. Since he runs cattle, he has a regular supply.

  • Rebecca (7a)

    Anyone grown endamame/soybeans? My niece and nephew can clean up a plate of them.

  • slowpoke_gardener

    I don't like them much. My wife is sort of a health nut, and likes soy products. She even makes something they call "Nut Meat". It was a treat for her family, but not for me. I think the nut meat is flour with the gluten wash out and peanut butter added, and maybe other things also. Last year Madge was wanting some endamame and could not find any. I ask her to just buy a bag of soybean seed and try them. She cooked the soybean seed and I tried some. I know you are not supposed to eat seed because you dont know what is on them. I thought the dry soybean was even worse than the endamame. I did not eat many and still have plenty to plant. She bought a #50 bag and I planted near half of them in the wildlife garden. I told Madge that we could eat steak cheaper than nut meat. I am not sure what all she uses the endamame for, but I dont eat much of it. I think it is just what you get use to eating. I think Madge is a great cook, but some of her dishes I just let other people enjoy. One of Madge's grand daughter is a vegan, some of those dishes takes a little getting getting use to also.

    I know that this is all chopped up, but I am too tired to go back over it. I have been trying to help my helper with math, and found out that I need a little help also. I know we have phones that can tell use anything we want to know, but sometimes you may not have your phone, and will have to figure something out the old fashion way.

  • hazelinok

    Okmulgee boy, my canner is a Presto. It wasn't very expensive and doesn't have the dial. It has a weighted gauge. Not sure if that is good or bad. I was able to pressure can in it just fine. It's been awhile and I think I was confused on altitude. I figured it out, but its been awhile. I'll probably pick it back up this summer. Hoping for a great crop of beans!

    Rebecca, I tried edamame a couple of years ago. Only one seed sprouted. It's possible the seed was very old. I got it from Dale at a garden event I helped with. Someone had unloaded a bunch of seed packets on him to hand out to people. I think they were all old seed. I would like to try it again, though.

    Anyone who has grown Anuenue Batavian lettuce and Jericho Romaine...are they slow germinators?

    Blackberries. Chester blackberries? I thought blackberries did well here, but then I read they like slightly acidic soil. Because blueberries are such a chore around here, I thought I would try blackberries, but if they need acidic soil too...then might as well try blueberries. Or just plant a lot of strawberries. But I would like a variety. Maybe I should just stick will mulberries. LOL. Now, those do well here.

  • HU-422368488

    Jennifer , is it this one?


    The description says it can be used on a smooth top stove. (flat top)

    Here's a YouTube vid that shows how to use a weighted gauge canner. It's not a presto but it's the same principle.


    You'll need to use the 10 psi weight for our altitude.

    I would prefer to have a gauge but as long as that weight is working it's OK.

    okmulgee boy

  • hazelinok

    Yes! That looks like it. I really didn't know what I was looking for when I purchased it. It was an impulse purchase. I know I wanted one, but had planned on researching them first. But didn't. Saw that one and just grabbed it not knowing about the different type of gauges. I think I would prefer the regular gauge too. Maybe someday I'll upgrade.

    My grandma and mom did some canning, but they never had me help. I've said it before...my grandparents never taught us gardening because they thought they had finally "made it" and didn't need for their children to learn to grow food because they could afford to buy food at a grocery store. However, they always kept a small garden with onions, tomatoes, southern peas even when they moved to the city.

    My Mom and aunt tried to get back into it in the 70's when I was a tot. Maybe there was a surge of back- to- the- earth type of thing going on...but they didn't keep up with it.

    After I was grown and left home, Mom and Dad started gardening again in their small city backyard. It didn't last long though because my Dad got sick and passed at 53.

    Mom kept up with her flowers and ornamentals, but that was all.

    Anyway...I'm excited to try again.

  • dbarron

    Blackberries grow natively very tenaciously in NE Oklahoma, I can testify to that. My legs got considerable lacerations from dewberry and blackberry vines in my prairie area. I let them go because of high wildlife value to birds, but it was probably a mistake.

  • HU-939938193

    Jennifer, that small a canner could probably be used on your flat top . Where you get into trouble is when you try to use the larger heavier canners , like mine or larger. Too much weight on the glass top is the problem along with reflected heat back down from the bottom edge back on the glass if the canner is too big around , that is,larger than the burner diameter . And the canner needs to be completely flat and smooth on the bottom for good surface contact for good heat transfer , no dished in areas like some of the galvanized cooking pots. Set that canner down on your largest burner and see how it fits . If it doen't extend no more then an inch or so when centered over the burner outline , you're OK there . Don't drop it or slide it over the surface and scratch the glass.

    It looks like no more than 4 or 6 quart size jars fit in there so it shouldn't be too heavy..

    I process shell beans at 10 psi with about 1 inch headspace for 40 minutes for pints and 50 minutes for quarts. Start timing it after the weight thing has stabilized at 10 psi. That's what my Mom's canning book says.More recent guidelines call for a longer times like maybe 70 minutes for quarts but that's probably because somebody is worried about being sued for liability.

    After whatever process time you use just turn it off and let it cool down before taking out the jars,leaving it overnight to cool is fine. Sometimes you'll hear the lids "ping" when you take it out.

    That's when the jar cools and sucks the lid down. After the jars sit a while check the lid sealing by smashing down on the lids with your thumb . If it pings up and down it didn't seal .You'll have to reprocess it or have it for dinner. When you fill the jars check the lip of the jar for nicks and wipe off the sealing edge before fitting the lids to ensure a good seal.

    If you can cook a pot of stew in the same size pot as that canner for an hour on your flat top then you shouldn't have any problem using that canner on it.

    Lets see if Dawn agrees.

    On those YouTube links I posted yesterday are some more good canning vids.

    Here's one where she cans dry pinto beans and Black Beans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHQq9DBUSgk

    okmulgee boy

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Blackberries do very well around Fort Smith area also. I hope to start a thicket of blackberries in my wildlife garden this year, but if it is like everything else I will be years late.

    Hazel, my stepdad got pretty bad burns from a Presto cooker with weighted gauge. This was a long time ago, I dont think they had the safety features back then as they have now.

    I think the hole where the weight goes got plugged and he opened it with pressure in it and water, steam and what ever blew all over the kitchen. This may have been 50 years ago and I was not at home anymore. I would sure want to follow the instructions very closely.

  • HU-939938193

    There were horror stories about explosions from pressure canners back in those years. But they didn't have the safety features then. These days canners have a rubber plug in the lid that will blow out if the pressure gets too high along with some safety valve or petcock.

    okmulgee boy

  • HU-422368488

    Jennifer , looks like Houzz lost one of my detailed posts last night. Maybe it'll show up later.

    In short , I was saying that your canner will probably be OK to use on your flat top but I would get a second opinion from Dawn or anybody else that wants to chime in.

    ......OK now it showed up.

    okmulgee boy

  • AmyinOwasso/zone 6b

    I posted something last night that doesn't seem to be here either. Maybe I got distracted and didn't hit submit. Or, there is a vague memory of losing the post before that.

    I read somewhere that sometimes the gauges on pressure canners weren't accurate and needed to be calibrated. My old one had a gauge. My new one is weights.

    My mom didn't can, except for pickles. I don't know about the grandmas, well my dad said there was plum jelly in his mom's basement that must have been 20 years old, canned with wax poured on top. He said it still LOOKED good. She had a big garden and preferred gardening to house cleaning.

    I had a blackberry plant I called Sid Vicious. It would reach half way across the patio to make you bleed. It got put in the ground. Ron tried to kill it after it shredded him. We bought thornless blackberries last summer. The next door neighbor took my city girl mom wild blackberry picking once. It was all good until she said look out for snakes.

    I don't like edamame, either. I choked when you said Madge bought a 50 bag of soybeans, LOL. They don't teach math the same way they taught us, Larry. It is very confusing.

    I laughed at your comment about the '70s being a back to the earth era, H/J. Mine was 1981ish. My family calls it my "Earth Mother" days. I wanted to grow all our food. I didn't have the benefit of this forum. We tilled the back yard and put down black plastic and hay. I couldn't understand why the zucchini just collapsed and wilted. Some how I found out what a SVB was and was out in 103* heat cutting vines open to look for larva. I tried growing beans up sunflower plants. Later I read that sunflowers are allelopathic. We did grow the best ever melon. It was sold as a pineapple cantaloupe. I have never found it since. Ron loved the lemon cucumbers. We bought peaches that I canned as brandied peaches and those were good. The next year I was pregnant and not thrilled with gardening. The following year was the end of Earth Mother days, I was too busy caring for 2 human children.

    Today is my dad's 93rd birthday.

  • hazelinok

    Happy Birthday to your Dad, Amy!

    I had a small garden when Mason was 2 (mid 90s) and enjoyed it SO much. I had no idea what I was doing really. If I remember correctly, I had okra, zucchini, corn (bugs got it), lettuce (it was bitter and yucky), and tomatoes (they did amazingly well).

    My father in law was a gardener. I was always so thrilled when he sent us home with beans, potatoes, melons. He helped me with that first garden. I loved it so much and have always wondered why it took so long to get back into it.

    When we finally got settled into our first (owned) house, I could have gardened. The backyard was a good size. Not sure why I didn't. It was always at the back of my mind. Our last house had a very small backyard. It took forever to sell that house. I had a garden plan, though, in case it didn't sell. I would have "snuck" in hens too. Luckily it sold and I didn't have to activate that plan.

    Pineapple cantaloupe sounds amazing.

    So...I should just try these thornless blackberries, then? They are at Tractor Supply and have the name Chester. I almost bought them the other day.

    Okmulgee boy and Larry, thanks for the info about canning. I'm sure once I start, I'll have more questions. Just to practice, I should grab some beans from the store and give it a try.

    Okay...back to work.

  • HU-939938193

    " I'll have more questions. Just to practice, I should grab some beans from the store and give it a try"

    That's a good idea. Try it out now before you get bogged down with fresh produce later , while you have time on your hands. If you need any help let me know.

    What kind of stove do you have , brand , model# ..?

    I'll look into the stove side of it as well , specs , burner size ..ect.

    okmulgee boy

  • slowpoke_gardener

    If any of you guy ever see the sun again, will you please post a picture? I have forgotten what it looks like.

  • Nancy RW (zone 7)

    Ha! Hi, everyone. It looks as thought I've been absent all week. Why, I simply cannot believe it. Yep, I can. We had a busy week, traveling here and there. Monday to Pryor for a basketball game and dinner; Tuesday I had the program at a Wagoner Study Group and so worked part of Monday and all day Tuesday on that; Thursday most of the day in Tulsa and then back to Wagoner for a meeting. Wed and today--resting. Tomorrow meeting the Tulsa crew (yay!).

    I'm so discombobulated! I cannot wrap my head around seed-starting. I'm certainly glad I purposely decided to plant later this year or I'd be panicking now. I DO have wildflowers stratifying in the fridge, at least.

    Although I grew up helping my mother can, and observing her with the pressure cooker, I've never really used one myself. And don't plan to at this point. But one of my favorite friend stories involved her pressure cooking exploding and seeing beans (they must have had tomato sauce in them--or maybe it was chili) splattered everywhere. We'd been sitting at the table visiting. She simply jumped up and hollered, "Son of a bitch!" And then she began laughing, as did I, and we laughed and laughed and laughed. I helped her clean the mess up, but she had splatter stains on the ceiling until they moved out a couple years later (so had to paint the ceiling first). (And that was about 40 years ago.)

    It's supposed to be sunny here tomorrow, Larry. I'll try to get a picture in case you don't get it. I am just kind of out of it this past week. I was busy figuring out how to reduce single use plastic. Fun project, but time-consuming. Later!

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    Jennifer, I've grown Anuenue and Jericho and both germinated just fine at normal indoor temperatures. Check the date on your seeds because lettuce seed loses viability really quickly.

    I agree that your canner should be fine. Like okmulgeeboy, I also prefer the gauge though. I would not use one of the really big heavy pressure canners---like the big All American one that can hold 19 quarts, for example, on a ceramic stove top. I think the combination of weight and heat from that one would be too much.

    I remember horror stories about pressure canning accidents too, although by the time I was old enough to listen to older relatives talk about them, they were way, way back in distant history and were talked about laughingly, though I am sure they were not funny at the time they occurred.

    Amy, I think they are supposed to be calibrated annually? Not that I know anyone who actually follows that rule....

    My maternal grandmother canned a lot of things. What I remember most is cucumber pickles and pickled beets (which I hated). It seems like she was mostly freezing green beans, southern peas and stuff like that by the very late 1960s or early 1970s, so she canned less and less over time and froze more and more. I cannot say that I blame her. The potatoes and onions were root-cellared in a little dirt-floor lean-to built just off the garage. My paternal grandmother canned everything that could be canned, stored it in a huge dug out combination root cellar/tornado shelter that was mostly only of earthen construction (including the roof) and my aunts and dad and their male siblings learned from helping her. She died in the 1930s, I believe, so this was long ago. During the Dust Bowl and Great Depression days they canned everything they could scrounge up, and they still nearly starved to death because you couldn't raise enough to keep you alive in those hard days. They even canned certain weeds that were edible. I never understood this as a child, and thought for sure my aunts were crazy, but what they really had was a knowledge of "survival canning".....you know, canning anything that would help your family survive hard times. (How spoiled all of us are by comparison.) I still didn't understand it at family gatherings in the 1960s and 1970s---they had a table loaded heavily with every sort of pickled food you can imagine, and some you cannot---and I guess it was because they grew up on a diet heavy in home-canned and home-pickled food. I can appreciate all the time they spent canning and pickling though, and their ability to create meals out of practically thin air.

    Amy, I went through the whole Earth Mother thing in the 1980s too, but it didn't really explode until we moved here. By then, Chris was in high school and I had a lot more time for gardening and canning, and the space to do all of it. I do remember life in our community in the 1960s/70s when everyone had gardens, fruit trees and brambles, and a few had chickens, goats or meat rabbits, and everybody canned everything back then too. We lost a lot of those skills in our neighborhood when the women became 'liberated' and went to work full-time, and no one had the time to garden and can so much any more, and the kids began living on TV dinners and fast food instead. Most of the kids didn't even learn canning like I did back then because their parents didn't "make them" learn it by helping with it like my dad did, and I'm eternally grateful he did. I remember people older than me moving 'back to the land' in the 1960s and many of them did it all...gardening, raising meat animals, having a goat for dairy, and eggs for chickens, and making everything themselves like baking their own bread, making yogurt and cheese, etc. We called them hippies because it wasn't all just about living off the land, but love and peace and the end to all wars and freedom to grow your hair long if you were a man and to burn your bra if you were a woman. I still know some of those back-to-the-land folks, though most are a good 15-20 years older than me, and a lot of them gave up their back to the land lives in the 1980s and moved back to the suburbs to live a somewhat easier life. Or, maybe we should say working at a paying job replaced working on the land for them.

    Larry, We kinda, sorta have the sun today, in and out from behind clouds, on and off. I think the weekend weather is supposed to be lovely, and we have a very slender chance of snow/cold rain down here around next Wednesday. Our weather cannot make up its mind. The bad thing about lovely weather in the winter is that it usually drives up fire danger, even when the ground is very wet and very muddy....because the standing dormant plants still are dry.


  • HU-939938193

    Canning Wild Greens

    Back when I was a boy , Mom would can Poke Salad Greens




    She would also mix in Lambquarters



    and "Dock"


    Mom and Dad was raised during the Depression in Arkansas.

    Some of these wild greens are poisonous when picked raw but can be eaten when cooked or canned. My Dad always said , cook them in grease (bacon grease) to reduce the toxic.

    Poke greens can be canned the same way as spinach.

    I've canned them but I learned to not use the same water that they were boiled down in when filling the jars or they will be too strong and not taste right. Boil some fresh water separately to fill the jars before canning them.

    Anybody interested in canning Poke Greens later on in the spring just let me know and I can tell you just how to do it.

    I remember my Mom would always get over the winter blahs by looking for poke shoots and dock starting to come up in early March or so.

    okmulgee boy

  • HU-939938193

    Jennifer, you got "us" looking out for you.

    Have a good weekend everyone.

    okmulgee boy

  • hazelinok

    Larry, we had sun today. It wasn't all that warm, but it was sunny.

    Dawn, my seed is new. Ordered, received and started this month. Some of it has sprouted now. But, the other new varieties are way ahead of those two.

    I love reading about y'all's 'growing up" years...and about your families. SO interesting to me.

    My Grandma was born in 1926 and her family had a farm near Gotebo. It's amazing that they didn't starve during the 30's. I've read The Worst Hard Time too. For some reason their farm kept them fed. My Mom told me that my Grandma (her Mom) told her that they didn't have any money, but they always had food. How did they grow it?! Wasn't that one of the hardest hit areas?!

    I remember the farm. When I was little, they still had chickens running around, although my Great Grandma had moved to the town of Gotebo. One of her sons kept up with the farm. They grew cotton and sometimes corn--large crops of it. In my teens, the barn fell. But the house is still standing. Pretty sure my Grandma was born in that house.

    My Great Grandma's house in town didn't have running water. We had to use an outhouse. I'm still SO impressed that she cooked made from scratch meal with NO running water! I saw her do it, but don't remember the details.

    Her "in town" house had a dug out cellar too. It had that dirt dome over it. Anytime my cousin or I attempted to climb on it, we were quickly scolded. I NEVER went into that cellar. It was terrifying. She had canned goods stored down there...and I could see a cot with an old quilt. She was afraid of tornados so would sleep down there during storm season. Y'all, she lived to be in her 90's and climbed down there?! It was the spiders that freaked me out. I'm one of those people who carry spiders outdoors when they're in my house, but I sure don't want to sleep in a dirt cellar with spiders crawling around! The other things I remember about that house: the apricot trees and the feral kittens. I wanted so badly to catch them all. She told me, "you'll never catch them" and she was right. They would hide under the house.

    They sold the farm, but kept the mineral rights which have been divided up between my Mom, her siblings and their cousins.

    I'm trying to be careful with plastic too,, Nancy, I just don't know how to do away with it all.

    That's one reason I want to can instead of freeze my produce. Although I've had success with freezing in jars instead of plastic bags.

    I think we all have our own areas of trying to be better Earthlings. I really want to eat local as much as possible AND grow as much of my own food as possible. I'll never be perfect, though. There was a challenge going around. For 30 days only eat local food. You got 10 items of non local. But, that included things like salt, olive oil, and tea.

    Have y'all heard that it could get really, really cold mid February...and the cold could stick around for awhile.

    I still haven't ordered onions!!!

  • HU-939938193

    Hi Jennifer, haven't been in any hurry to order onion plants just yet. Looks like we are getting a winter storm next week. It might be a rough Feb. Some winters are like that

    While I'm here on line with you. About the canning on your stove , Dawn agrees that you can can

    on your flat top.

    About what what you said about practicing canning beans. What you might do is just jar up some water and just can that to get used to the mechanics of your canner and your stove in interaction in regards to setting the process time. And then get some beans from the store and then can them. This to just train you one step at a time in the process.

    One thing i want to say. Larry made a point about the weight port clogging up.

    Each and every time you can , make sure that you clear the port where that weight goes.

    When you are heating up the canner and venting out, once you put the weight on that port the pressure starts building up. DO NOT MOVE THAT WEIGHT during the whole process. even when cooling off ,DO NOT MOVE OR TOUCH THAT WEIGHT until the pressure drops enough for the pop up sealing valve on the lid drops down. that weight is the only thing that is holding the pressure during the process.. Just let the weight rock and roll or jiggle on its on like its designed to do..

    If you move the weight during the process you'll get what Larry was talking about, a hot geyser of steam and hot boiling water. If you were to to get burned on your face from hot boiling steam and water I would never forgive myself if I didn't tell you about it.

    About canning on your flat top stove . If I said something to cause you to break your stove, I would feel obigated (spelling) to buy you a new stove in order to erase the guilt (and the shame).

    "WE" are looking out for you.

    See you all Sunday Morning

    okmulgee boy

  • slowpoke_gardener

    Some of these comments bring back old memories of tales I heard from some of my folks, like moving into Oklahoma in a covered wagon and camping out side of town. My great grand dad marring a Chickasaw Indian. Mom moving to the Oklahoma/ Arkansas line when she was very young. The Government giving away food, but my grand father and great grand father being too proud to go into town and get it, but they did hitch up the team and LET the women and a wagon load of kids go into town for the food to bring home.

    I dont like some of the tales I hear about the "Men", in my family.

    The first contact my grand mother had with a pressure canner , she was afraid of it at first, but the government had people to go around and show groups of people how to use them. Often women from different families would get together and can. If they were lucky they could have a place outside, under roof, and not heat up the house. My grand parents butchered, made soap, rendered lard and washed clothes outside, but I dont ever remember the area having a roof over it, just a tree to hang the animal from.

  • Okiedawn OK Zone 7

    okmulgeeboy, My dad loved wild greens and always had at least one poke plant and one lambs quarters plant in the back corner of the yard right by his compost pile in the 1960s in our little Fort Worth suburb. No one ever really ate the wild greens except him. My father-in-law, who lived in Pennsylvania, was that way with dandelion greens in late winter/early spring and my husband still talks endlessly about dandelion greens. I tell him they are out there in the yard if he wants to collect them, clean them, eat them, etc. but he doesn't do it, so I think they probably weren't all that great---but they remind him of his dad who's been gone for 16 years now. I tried to grow dandelion greens for him in my garden and never could make it happen, but I got credit for trying. It always struck me as funny that I failed at growing dandelions from purchased seed and giving it a serious effort, but they reseed themselves all over the place naturally and grow in the yard and pastures with no help from me.

    Jennifer, I love The Worst Hard Time. I re-read it every summer when the droughts get tough here to remind myself how easy I have it compared to the folks back then. My dad would tell you that they made stuff grow even in the worst years because failure was not an option---they had to grow their own food or die of starvation. The few remaining photos from those years so people I barely recognize---my dad and his siblings looking so horrifically thin, but they survived. They lived across the Red River in Spanish Fort TX just SW of the southwestern corner of the county where I live now, and they were so close to the river that the kids would walk to the river, fill up a bucket with water, and walk back to the garden to water one plant...over and over again. With 9 kids (there were several more, but they didn't survive the first year of life), there always was someone fresh to haul water, but it was a never-ending task. They mostly raised what would tolerate drought and heat, so field corn and pinto beans, and they ate them for three meals a day....cornmeal mush for breakfast, cornbread for lunch, and beans and cornbread for dinner. In spring they had greens...turnip greens, collard greens, whatever was green and edible. For my dad's entire life, he ate red beans, greens and cornbread for dinner every Wednesday because he loved it and because it reminded him of his childhood. It wasn't much food compared to how we eat nowadays, but it kept them alive, and they supplemented the meals with milk from their cow, eggs from their hens, occasional meat from a hog they had slaughtered, etc. All the kids quit school to go to work around 3rd or 4th grade because the dollar a day they each earned from, for example, picking cotton from sunrise to sunset, was the only cash income the family had to buy shoes, sewing needles or salt or whatever they needed from the little general store. I admire my grandmother for being able to feed her family on almost new money and erratic crops. Even when she had cream and butter from their cow, they almost never got to enjoy it...she took it to the general store to barter for something they needed more desperately. My grandfather worked so hard to raise their animals, the few that they had because those animals put protein in their bellies and milk in the babies' bellies, and to farm, but it never paid off for him financially. I didn't understand until I was an adult that my grandparents were poor white sharecroppers their whole lives. For their entire lives, until the day they died (and my grandparents died young before my dad even had grown up), it was just a daily struggle to survive that I find hard to imagine. I think they were a million times tougher than we are. When World War II broke out, it saved my dad and his brothers...they couldn't leave the farm fast enough to join the military. They were patriotic, their nation needed them, and they wanted to serve. They had no idea when they left the farm that they'd be eating three square meals a day and it was all kinds of wonderful food that they'd never had growing up....plenty of meat, potatoes, a very wide assortment of veggies, fruit, etc. They all gained a lot of weight in the military, they said, and they still were skinny when they came home after the war. For the rest of his life, my dad spoke in glowing terms of how wonderful the food on his navy ship was, and he was still in awe that they always got three meals a day, three "good meals", as he put it, while in the navy. He never had three guaranteed meals per day until then. As children the only fruit they ate was basically one orange per year, which they each received as a Christmas gift--their only Christmas gift. Imagine those poor children growing up and then being on a navy ship and then having fruit of some sort available most days. It must have seemed like Heaven to them. I wonder how many of us would thrive under those conditions and struggle nowadays?

    I love your memories of the farm, even the spiders! Those country women were strong and tough, and I guess it is because they had to be in order to survive. My dad's family survived a tornado by running from the house and into their tornado shelter/roof cellar during dinner one night. Dad would tell us that the tornado picked up the house with the food on the table and the kerosene lantern lit and sitting on the table, and sat it down about 50 feet away (no foundation, just a tiny wood frame house sitting on four cornerstones, and the tornado didn't move the cornerstones) and nothing on the table spilled. They came out of the cellar and finished dinner. This story both fascinated me and horrified me when I was a kid. For them, the worst part of it was that the house was moved so much farther away from the cellar and the water pump than it had been before. I am sure there was an outhouse when they were kids, but by the time Dad took me to see the old house in the early 1970s, the cellar had collapsed, the outhouse was gone and the guy who owned the place was storing bales of hay in what remained of the house. That little house where they all lived would fit into my living room/dining room now, and it is hard to comprehend their living conditions in that tiny little shack.

    Nancy, I think everyone has some sort of pressure canner horror story. I don't remember my dad's canner ever exploding, but remember it locking up, pressurized, and he couldn't get it unlocked to remove the lid. I guess, as a kid, I stopped paying attention to what he was doing with it but he must have gotten the lid off of it at some point and that batch of jars removed because we continued using that canner for years. My mom hated canning and wanted nothing to do with it (all her life she described herself as inherently lazy, and she was being truthful), but my dad made her can with him when he was canning stuff. Her "I am lazy" excuse just didn't fly with him. lol. I never would have learned to garden, can or sew as a kid if my dad hadn't taught me because she wasn't going to. Without realizing it at the time, my dad was teaching me to be self-sufficient in ways that mattered to him, even if they didn't matter to my mom. I'm grateful to him for that and so much more.

    okmulgeeboy, That jiggling of the weight is, to me, the sound of summer in the kitchen. Well, that and the sound of the jars as the lids ping and seal---a favorite sound. I remember the old canners that had the petcocks on them, and don't miss those. The canners we have nowadays seem so much safer. I do still wear a water-proof oilcloth apron when canning---and if you ever knew anyone who had some sort of steam burn or spill burn on their body from a canning accident (I never did have such an injury like that myself but knew plenty of older relatives who did at some point in their lives), you know why I think it is important to wear that oilcloth apron.

    Larry, I love your memories! My mom's parents farmed and ranched but not successfully and never had two nickels to rub together, not even long after they gave up farming and ranching, moved to the city, and took paying jobs. So, they qualified for some sort of government food assistance program in the 1960s and the 1970s and they gratefully accepted the food, though it really hurt their pride to take it. What I remember from all that is that we kids thought the government cheese was the best cheese on earth and we loved eating it at my grandparents' house when we went to visit them.

    One of our neighbors when we first moved here in the late 1990s used to tell me stories of coming to Oklahoma in a covered wagon when he was three years old. He was in his late 80s when we met him, I guess, and I loved his tales of Oklahoma's early days. His uncle came here first and lived in a dugout on the banks of the Red River, not far at all from where we live now, and one by one all the other brothers moved here and brought their families so they all lived pretty close to one another here on separate little farms. He remembered that dugout of his uncle's (and didn't have much good to say about it either), but his family built an unpainted house from lumber when they moved here and he was grateful they didn't have to live in a dugout like his uncle's...even though they were too poor to paint that house after they built it. One cool thing about this part of the country is that those days are not so far behind us....we still have a couple of really old folks here (older than 100) who are like walking history books of our county.

    Fred's house was built by his uncle in the early 1900s, and that uncle must have been pretty prosperous because there was a second structure, located maybe 70 feet from the house, that had a nice hip roof and lots of windows, and it was their summer kitchen. It was still standing when we moved here and I believe it is still standing to this day. How cool is that? I'd love to have a summer kitchen so our house wouldn't heat up on canning days too. Also, that house had a front staircase and it had a back staircase that came right down into the kitchen. At first, I thought the back staircase was just for convenience, but then I came to realize it really was a safety feature because if the house caught fire when everyone was upstairs sleeping, there were two routes to come down to escape the fire instead of just one. I've always loved that house and hope Fred's family keeps it in the family now that he is gone. There's just such a long family history in that house that I'm afraid a new purchaser wouldn't appreciate.

    My dad's family did all those outside chores under a tree, no roof, but were grateful for the shade of the tree. They did have a smokehouse to smoke the meat after they butchered a hog, but the smokehouse was no longer standing by the time I got to see their childhood home once I was a older child (I think I was about 11 or 12 the one time my dad and his brother took my cousin and I to see it, and we were the only kids from our families who ever got to see it). My dad used to joke about them being sharecroppers. The man they rented the farm from had given up on farming and moved back to Tennessee. They were, of course, supposed to farm on shares and send him his share of the profit from the farm in lieu of rent every year after they sold the cash crop. Of course, they never made a cash crop and never sent him any money, so once a year my grandfather had to write that letter to explain about the heat and drought and lack of a cash crop and that there was no money to send him, but surely next year would be better. Then, they lived in fear of being evicted off the farm until they heard back from their landlord that he understood---he couldn't make a living on that land either, so he didn't expect my grandfather could as well. When my dad would talk about the pigs and the chickens and the milk cow and all the crops when I was a kid, I thought it meant they had plentiful food if nothing else, but later on I realized that despite their hard work they barely had enough to survive. Yet, all their memories really were happy ones. My dad got a stick (like a twig from a tree) and a piece of string for Christmas one year, and he thought that was the best thing ever---it was really the only toy he ever had, just a stick and a string, but he was a little boy and entertained himself with it. Another year there must have been more money and they each got an orange and one piece of hard candy, and they remembered that as their best Christmas ever. It wasn't until my great-uncle Charlie died in the 1970s that I learned he was the source of one pair of new shoes a year for my dad and his siblings, and the oranges and hard candy at Christmas. He must have been a more prosperous farmer than my grandfather was. For all that we fuss over our gardens and work in them and enjoy eating the harvest and preserving the excess, we still don't have the struggle they had to raise edible crops. If I had to walk a quarter-mile to the Red River to haul home water one bucket at a time to water the garden, well then, I wouldn't have a garden!

    The weather here was nice on Saturday and will be insanely hot (upper 70s) today, and then we turn drastically colder Tuesday and have a chance of snow. I hate the Oklahoma weather roller coaster that we have every winter, and you'd think I'd be used to it by now. I haven't ordered onions either. I haven't started seeds, although today is the day I usually do that, and I might manage to find time to do that late today. If not today, then tomorrow. I do have wildflower seeds stratifying in the extra fridge out in the garage, so at least there's that. I'm hoping today's sunshine and heat dry up the mud in the yard, and then maybe I'll get a couple of days where I won't have to mop up doggie and kitty pawprints off the floor when they come indoors. I swear, it is like the dogs, especially, stomp around in the mud and puddles just to see how much mud they can track in on their paws every time they come inside.

    Signs of spring really are appearing now, but I'm looking at the February forecast and weather outlooks and thinking spring still remains a long way off.


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