And It’s Wednesday Night

Where does the time go? Every night I think I’m going to write a post, it’s late, I’m tired and I have nothing to write about – well, that’s not exactly true. Life on the farm is never dull. This is also what I did on Monday – two batches of pepper jelly ready for Christmas gifting.

And once again I have this question.

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I follow the recipe exactly and the jelly does not thicken – yes, I use Certo. Why doesn’t it get thick? Oh, how discouraging. It happened last year, too. Can somebody give me some pointers on making jelly?

On Tuesday afternoon my friend Dorothy called to remind me about picking up that “item” in her garage that she wanted to get rid of and that I was delighted to receive. So off in the truck I went – here is the “item” in the back of the pickup.

And here it is in my yard! An old wagon with iron wheels! I love it!

And a closeup of the contents.

I wish we’d have had this wagon when we were taking quilt pictures all time – what a great prop!

Reed and I dug the onions today – and more discouragement. Most of them were soft and rotting. Did I leave them in the ground too long? Was it caused by all the rain we had last week? The geese ate the tops off every single onion – is that what made them rot in the ground? Does anybody have some onion advice for me?

The next big job was getting all the grow lights set up on timers for the plants in the basement.

And Hazel helped – haha!

We brought all Reed’s plants here this afternoon, cleaned them and sprayed for bugs.

We moved plants to the basement but still have more in the garage that need to go down. I’ll take a picture when we’re done. Someone asked me to talk about using grow lights – I set them with the timer to turn on at 8 am and off at 8 pm. I try to do all maintenance during that time period. It’s not like having them outside but they do pretty well through the winter – I like to run the shower every few days to put some moisture in the air. I don’t feed any of them during the winter months and some go nearly dormant. I start feeding them in March/April and move them outside in May. Please ask more questions if you have them.

Tomorrow is more of the same – maybe I’ll have time to post the list of books. Would you close a few ads for me? I appreciate your support of this blog.

84 thoughts on “And It’s Wednesday Night

  1. Beth T.

    I have that same red chicken rug, in my kitchen. Now I’ll think of you when I stand on it, doing the dishes.
    I try to resist all of the cute chicken tchotchkes, but when something is cute and useful I feel justified in making the purchase. 🙂

    1. Debbie from Dallas Center IA

      I have the same love of chickens!! I’ve even gotten rid of all things chicken at one point and have now started bringing them back into my home decor!!

  2. Pamela

    Thanks so much for the grow light information. How far are the lights from the plants? I’m trying to judge by Hazel’s height and by the bricks but I bet I’m way off.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Pamela – they’re probably about 3’ above the top shelf – some plants are even going to be sitting on the floor. It will be a real jungle down there!

  3. Jo in Wyoming

    Well, I cannot help you with either the jelly or onions. Sorry. But please help me. What do you mean ”close the ads”?
    Should I click the X, or learn more box?
    That wagon is just too cute, and I see Miss Hazel Jane is helping as always.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jo in Wyoming – you can open the ads to look at them but we also get credit by clicking on the X which closes the ad. Either way is a big help to us! Thank you, Jo!

      1. Carol

        Thanks, Mary, it’s Carol from further down the page asking that very question! I should have read everyone’s Responses first!

  4. Kathy Hanson

    That wagon is amazing – will look forward to pictures of quilts on it sometime. Great full of pumpkins.
    So glad to see Hazel “helping” with your chores – she is so cute!!
    Hoping that you will get some rest!

  5. Diane in Central Ohio

    Mary, your ESP must be working. The Columbus Dispatch had an article about storing vegetables which I saved out. I know your onions aren’t stored, but it said not to put them near potatoes and not to put them in the refrigerator because the humidity and cold temperature will cause onions to turn mushy. Could the cold rain have caused the mushiness? I try to open the ads each time. Today they were gorgeous leather boots; too high for my budget, but fun to look at them:) That old wagon is a find for sure and the pumpkins and gourds look great.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane – I think if I had pulled them all before the 9” of rain last week they would have been fine. Thanks!

  6. Sue in Oregon

    It is so odd that the jelly won’t thicken when you are using Certo. That said, though, I am wondering since peppers have no natural pectin in them, like berries, cherries, and apples, that maybe it should be cooked longer. I recently read to put a spoon in the freezer before you begin. Then, to test the jelly to see if it is ready, take out the spoon and scoop some up. The cold spoon will help to see if it has jelled. Don’t know. Just a suggestion. I only make fruit jams and jellies.
    Darling wagon.
    I got LLBean and a drain clogging thingy…or unclogging. LL was the best.

  7. Dorothy

    Pepper jelly—be still my heart 🙂 Is Hazel trying to “grow”? She looks so cute on the shelf

  8. Sherry Whalen

    My garden wasn’t very good this year. The rainy week we had in June caused my tomatoes and cucumbers to blight – and they really didn’t recover. We got some tomatoes, but many fell off and a few days later turned to mush. I picked all that was left a couple of weeks ago, and about half of them have gone to the compost heap. Even the green ones would just turn to mush. I have never pulled vines this early! We usually make a lot of salsa and canned tomatoes. Same with the cucumbers, we didn’t can any pickles. The rabbits ate off all of my peas and beans when they found a way thru the fence. Several of my house plants were ruined/destroyed by chipmunks – eaten off, roots dug out and dragged out of the pot!!! You would think I lived in the wilderness. My onions started growing again with all the rain. I picked a couple to use immediately, they were okay to use but I don’t think they will store well – I think the rain/wet ground probably did them in.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Sherry Whalen – I am so mad that I didn’t pull them 2 weeks ago! It was our 9” of rain last week.

  9. Bobbie

    I’ve made red pepper jelly and sometimes it doesn’t set. So I put 2 packs of the Certo in my batch. That makes it thicker. But I usually cook a extra 5-10 minutes on low. I don’t have a garden here as our growing season isn’t long enough in our valley for everything to get ripe.
    That Hazel is just a little sweetie. I have a new pup I named Ginger. Oh boy is she giving me a run for my money. She chews everything. I now have 3 pairs of half shoes as she chewed the other half to each pair up. One use a new pair of SAS flats they are speedy shoes and usually last a long still having some trouble with house training. If we go out she gets excited and just plays. Then comes back in and potty’s. I’ve been out for a hour with her you would think she would go.
    You sure work harder than I do. I’m not so sure I could do all the things you do everyday.
    Love your blog!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Bobbie – excellent info on the jelly – I will drain the juicy peppers next batch and cook longer and will use two packs of Certo. I am going to get this right!!!

    2. CountryThreads Post author

      Bobbie – I forgot to add – what kind of puppy is Ginger? If she’s a big chewer, freeze a baby teething ring – it will feel good on those sharp baby teeth and gums. And now I am going to scold you – she’s a puppy and you’re an adult. It is your responsibility to put your shoes away. With a puppy in the house, you have to be diligent about such things. Do not give her the temptation. Buy some large chew toys that can keep her busy. Connie should write about house training Betty – she can give you some tips that I think will help. Smile – puppies grow up, Hazel did!

      1. Connie Tesene

        Hi Bobbie
        Something that helped me while I have been house training Betty is that when we go outside for a potty break she is always on a leash. No games or tummy rubs until she goes. I also watched a video which suggested giving 3 treats every time she went. This was ok, but I think just frequent breaks worked best. Betty is sleeping in a crate at night. Mary said it would make all the difference – and she was right. Good luck! Connie
        Ps. We discuss lots about puppy behavior in the class we are taking. The teacher said that our puppy’s are not good multitaskers, and easily distracted 😂😩😑

  10. Rita Mulvey

    It may just be my tablet but I have noticed as I have read your last 3 or 4 posts I have not been able to close any of the ads. No matter how many times I tap that X they do nothing.
    I love your wagon it would make a great quilt prop, but it looks great with your pumpkins and gourds.

    The onion rot is most probably caused by a fungus in the soil. This can stay in the soil for 15 years. It is important not to plant onion or any allium in that location again. Sorry this happened it is so disappointing when you don’t get a yield after all the work that goes into planting a garden.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Rita Mulvey – I don’t think that’s it – this was “virgin” garden ground last year and this is the first time it’s ever had onions planted there. Thanks for that link though – I can also use any information.

  11. Susan Burger

    I used to make red currant jelly. One particularly rainy year the currants grew so big and beautiful they looked like small cherries. They were pretty all right but the jelly never set up. I credited the rain that made them extra juicy and although they have natural pectin and I also added more the juice was just too diluted. Live and learn. Smaller berries make thicker jelly. This might have happened to your peppers.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Susan Burger – I think you have given me the answer. My peppers were very juicy when I ground them – I should have drained it and I wondered about that at the time. Darn!

  12. sandy williams

    I LOVE the wagon!! always pick an ad or two to help you
    love your blog & look fwd to reading it 🙂

  13. Vicki

    I have followed these onion directions for years:
    My onions have flopped and dried enough for me to pull by late July most years. I live in Iowa City, so my spring season starts 2 weeks earlier than in northern Iowa. I would imagine mid August would generally be flopped and dried time for your onions. And they don’t like getting soaked once they have flopped. When that happens, I often have dozens that get soft in the neck that I have to use up fast in canning or cooking.

  14. Carol

    Mary, when you say “close the ad” do you mean open it first and look/listen to the ad or just hit the “x” for closing (simple enough!)?

  15. Kathy

    Some days I ask myself why we plant vegetables when we have so many great farmers markets close by us several days a week to utilize and support. And then we had such a dry hot summer and got our water bill yesterday and it was the highest bill we have ever had to pay so it really made me say to myself what’s the sense. My goodness it’s just the two of us eating here now and I don’t feed an army nor am I happy with frozen veges so I think it’s time to be practical next year for us. We are lucky also to have grocery stores with fresh foods all within 10 – 15 minutes drive.
    Boy that wagon is a gem for your place!!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Kathy – I agree! Gardening has to be for the love of the act – the journey, not the destination! Support your local farmers market!

  16. Launa

    Mary, You are one lucky friend to be gifted that wagon! It certainly would be a great place to show quilts. Thanks for sharing the pictures. Always fun to read your blog. 32 degrees up here this early morning. Too dark to see if we have any wild critters out on the property yet. Time to get our flu shots today.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Launa – that freeze will be here tomorrow night! Yes, the wagon with a quilt draped over the edge is going to be beautiful!

  17. Pat in Vermont

    I didn’t know about closing the adds, but I did it today after I looked at them. I absolutely love the wagon and gourds. What a gift! I tried to have a garden for a few years but just don’t have enough hours of sun. We aren’t completely in the woods but close. I’d love to have some sunflowers, but the year I tried, the slugs got the little baby plants. Gardening has a lot of pitfalls! I look forward to seeing the wagon in a lot of your pictures.

  18. Katherine Gourley

    I love the wagon –I would love to see one of your country style quilts draped over it. You are an amazing woman and I love your blog.

  19. Kris Gavin

    Good Morning Mary!
    Love the wagon, love seeing Hazel, love reading your blog… have a great day, thanks for brightening mine!

  20. Ann in MN

    Your onions probably have some fungus, solved by crop rotation and don’t replant onions in the same spot for 3 years.
    I LOVE your new wagon! My grandfather made one with huge wheels and a narrow bed. I like yours better, love that square, stocky look!!

  21. Ann in MN

    My grandmother always said that the jelly mixture had to come to a hard boiling for a good long minute. Also, amounts of each ingredient seemed to have an effect on the end process as well.

    Even when I struggled, nothing went to waste – it was just repurposed. She would smile kindly and say, next year will be better! Give me a hug and we would move on to something else.

  22. Ann Barlament

    My grandmother always said that the jelly mixture had to come to a hard boiling for a good long minute. Also, amounts of each ingredient seemed to have an effect on the end process as well.

    Even when I struggled, nothing went to waste – it was just repurposed. She would smile kindly and say, next year will be better! Give me a hug and we would move on to something else.

  23. Dena Silberman

    I live in Dallas TX and my onions rotted and are soft with mold. I don’t know what I did wrong either.

  24. Starrla Opferman

    Your wagon couldn’t be in a better place. It looks beautiful with your harvest. I will look forward to see what you put in it for the Spring.

  25. Ann Barlament

    My grandfather made a flower cart out of old iron wheels, used mostly for planting geraniums and vinca vine.
    I love yours better, the deep stocky base enhances the look!!

  26. Holly Gangelhoff TH

    I’ve been bringing plants in to winter in my basement for years, though on nowhere near the scale of your operation. But I think I over water them. They don’t always do well. How often and how much do you water your plants under lights in the winter? Thanks, and my plants thank you, too!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Holly in TH – that would be impossible to answer. I don’t know what plants you have, air conditions, soil mixture. Buy a moisture meter probe and don’t over love your plants! They will do much better on the dry side. Moisture meters are available at Target, Menards, Fleet Farm, etc.

      1. Holly in TH

        Thanks, Mary! I bring in scented geraniums, gerbera daisies and pansies and violas so I can have some for spring. There aren’t any pansies or violas in the stores here until the middle of May and my heart is crying for spring by mid-April. Spring comes late to the North Shore. Our safe plant-out date is the first of June. The moisture meter probe is a great suggestion–I’ll look for one on our next trip to Duluth. Thanks again!

  27. Lori Porter

    Good morning from Montana. I enjoy your blog so much, & with all the comments, I learn so much. I also had a poor garden year. Lots of rain & cooler nights. I had to plant pumpkins twice. They never turned orange on the vines so we have them in the house by all the sunny Windows. Any suggestions for this process? I give to my grandkids & neighbor kids for carving. What a great friend you have to give you that wonderful cart. You’ll have lots of fun with it.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Lori Porter – since mine turned orange in the field I can’t give you any suggestions. Readers? Can you help her?

  28. Linda

    How do you save your geraniums???? Do you fertilize in the winter…I do cut mine back when I bring them in. I am wondering if cuttings are the way to go..

    Thanks for any help…

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Linda – I don’t have any luck saving geraniums – I need the same help that you are requesting.

  29. Diane

    I thought it was really important how long you process the jars for in the canner. Too little time or too much time can cause varying thicknesses.

  30. Dale Matlock

    What color of thread did you use to quilt the Devil’s Claw table topper. I read each blog and forward them to a friend🙂

  31. Tina from Oregon

    Love your “new” wagon! Is it just full of produce or did you put a filler in the bottom? I have a goat cart but it has open slats so I fill it with hay so the produce shows on top.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Tina from Oregon – it has two depth levels – slats lay across the interior to bring the produce up. With spruce tops, I’ll bet I use only a few slats. I’ll take a picture of the inside of the wagon.

  32. Linda Baker

    I feel your frustration with the jelly. When my husband worked second shift, he ate a lot of jam on toast. Trying to be a good wife, I made jam for him, but my jam never “jammed”. Had to use it for ice cream topping.
    I don’t know about your onions, but for the last two years I’ve had rotten luck with pumpkins. They start out fine, turn orange and look good, but then the vines turn brown and ugly. All of my pumpkins literally collapsed in the garden. Will be buying pumpkins at a farmer’s market again this year.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Linda Baker – I’m really sorry about your pumpkins – after all the work in the garden, it is a big disappointment not to get the produce! I had visions of chopping onions to put in my freezer – guess that’s not going to happen!

  33. Brenda

    Mary I always had trouble with my jelly not setting some times and my
    Mom told me this little trick and it works every time. Forget about timing dip a fork in your jelly and when the jelly sticks between the tines it is done. Sometimes it is very fast and sometimes it seems to take forever. Don’t ask me how this works I just know it does.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Brenda – wow!! I’m going to write that on my recipe card – thank you so much!

  34. Robbie

    I really like the wagon! You have a great friend. I enjoy your blog and look forward to Each post. I am also closing the ads. I’ve bought a few patterns from you and look forward to my retirement next year to start on those projects! I have two book titles for you. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper.
    My pumpkins ripened way earlier than normal this year and many rotted on the vine. The ones I put on my porch have been partially eaten by my neighborhood squirrels! I agree that gardening is for the enjoyment of it and not necessarily the bounty!!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Robbie – thanks for the book titles – we all look for good books now and then.

  35. Lisa Chaplin in Tonasket, WA

    Your onions got too much water and should have been harvested about mid August. I leave the tops on, set them out in the sun to dry for a couple of weeks or until the tops have turned brown/yellow and shriveled. Then remove the tops and store with some air flow around the onions. I usually use plastic milk crates, which seem to work better than mesh onion bags. Hope this helps you for next year! I love your new wagon with all the pumpkins! Happy sewing!

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Lisa Chaplin – yup, guess that 9” we got last week did them in. That’s the general opinion from the readers. Thank you!

  36. Diane M. from Elkhorn,WI

    The pictures of all the pumpkins and gourds are beautiful. I always want autumn to last longer. It seems to go by too fast. I wrote to you about my mother-in-law’s 90 year old Christmas cactus. I forgo to mention that her family was from Ladora, Iowa. My son and daughter-in-law went there last summer, took pictures, and made a book for her for Christmas last year. She hadn’t seen Ladora for many years. I was at Joann’s today and saw Jack Russell Christmas fabric. I dug up my amaryllis today; it really liked being outside. We are to have a chance of frost this weekend.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Diane M. From Wi – JACK RUSSELL CHRISTMAS FABRIC? I have to find some! Connie and I are going to the quilt show tomorrow -I think we will stop at Joann’s – thank you!
      What a nice gift for you m-i-l ——- I have both Reed’s and my amaryllis bulbs waiting to get into a dark cool place! Have you ever gotten one to re-bloom?

      1. Diane M. from Elkhorn,WI

        Yes, I had a simply gorgeous one called Chrisma. If I remember correctly , the first year the stems were nearly 24 inches tall. I didn’t do anything special to it, and I think I got it to bloom two more times. I always think I don’t need another one, and then I see them for the holidays and get one.

  37. Jolyn Olson

    I’ve had more trouble the last 2 years with making jellies…black raspberry, elderberry, grape. So I would pour it all back in the pot and bring to a full rolling boil again and add another packet of certo and then full rolling boil for one minute. That usually did it. I’ve also used one packet and a Tbls of dried certo (from the Amish) and that worked. Sometimes we’ve just used it for syrup. I make our own Greek yogurt and like 1/2 tsp of jelly added for flavor and it doesn’t make any difference if it’s stiff or not for that.
    Also…thanks for the inspiration from your Trunk Show at the Blue Earth quilter’s Expo in 2017. I have since finished over 70 small quilts using the straight line quilting and love it! These were all waiting to be finished but I didn’t want to hand quilt them and didn’t like my machine quilting. The straight lines (I call them Line Dancing) really makes a nice finish. I’ve been doing some cross-hatching on some lately. So nice to have so many finished and most have new homes. Too bad there are still a bunch to do.

    1. CountryThreads Post author

      Jolene Olson – HI, JOLYN! I did not know you read the blog! Thanks for the info about the jelly – maybe I should dump all 12 jars and try adding more Certo and recanning it. I hate to have it all go to waste! And about the straight line quilting – I still love it and honestly I think more quilts have been completed by readers who didn’t think they could do their own machine quilting than we know. Many people have expressed their appreciation of simple quilting that they can actually complete themselves. Hope you and your family are well! Remember – you sold Connie and me our very first rotary cutters, rulers and boards! About 1982? Haha!

  38. Sharon Geiger

    Love the wagon! I have no advice on the jelly or onions. Our tomatoes and potatoes did poorly this year in NE Indiana. My hubby thought it might be due to too much moisture. We can’t win on the farm. It’s either drought or too much rain. I love reading your blog!

  39. Felicia Hamlin

    I am envious, Mary! That wagon is the cat’s meow and all the different colors and shapes of the pumpkins look great. Stay warm, I don’t like this cold weather, but I am grateful that our house is dry. Looking at pictures of the destruction in Florida, makes me be so thankful I feel so bad for all the suffering they are going thru.

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