Mail Call: September/October 2016

From raised beds to draft horses and cranky roosters, readers write in with letters to the editors.

  • Attaching a couple of wheelbarrow handles and two lawn mower wheels was genius!
    Photo courtesy Ken and Joan Roberts
  • A wood pallet fastened to two sawhorses and filled with dirt creates a sort of mobile, raised garden bed for Ken and Joan Roberts, of Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
    Photo courtesy Ken and Joan Roberts
  • Neighbors raising draft horses help them meet that goal.
    Photo courtesy Tammy Reiss
  • Tammy Reiss’ family set out to lower their dependency on fossil fuels by 80 percent.
    Photo courtesy Tammy Reiss
  • Cranky rooster looking for some trouble.
    Photo by
  • Grit played an integral role in the construction of the 36-year-old wooden covered bridge, which is a photogenic attraction in the area.
    Photo courtesy Jim Engel; C.O.O Bavarian Inn Lodge

Rural Ingenuity

We enjoyed your “Summer Strawberries” article, and thought you might like to see how we are trying to move our strawberry bed “closer,” as well. Both of us are at the age where bending down to weed and to harvest berries is more difficult; and at the same time, the chipmunks and robins have no trouble at all helping themselves to our strawberries before we do. So my husband took an old pallet, filled it with dirt, and fastened it onto two sawhorses. We planted strawberries and one row of lettuce in the cracks. We planted the first several rows with bare root plants purchased in a big-box store, and most of them did not grow. The healthy ones you see here were from a local greenhouse.

Since this experiment turned out so well, we’ll fill the pallet with strawberries next year. Also, as we went along, we realized it would be nice to be able to move them occasionally to a sunnier spot, or to mow under them, so Ken added old lawn mower wheels on one side and wheelbarrow handles on the other. They can be slid back out of the way when not in use. It’s a good solution for us, and perhaps some other readers may be interested in adapting it for themselves.

Ken & Joan Roberts
Johnstown, Pennsylvania

Awesome design, Ken and Joan, and one that will make weeding and picking berries a much less tedious chore. Thank you for sharing! – Editors

Back to the Basics

When I was a boy, some 50 years ago, my mother and father raised myself and my two brothers with mostly hard work, as did many others in those days. My father had a very large garden where he grew sweet corn, tomatoes, green beans, peas, and just about everything else you can imagine. I think the job I hated the most was picking green beans. He had two rows 50 feet long. At that time in my life, I hated everything about the garden.

He also raised about 150 broiler chickens every summer. I hated those just as much as the green beans. Mom and Dad are both gone now, and about 10 years ago, I started raising my own garden. I have started canning my produce as well as freezing it. This summer as I was canning green beans in my hot kitchen, my mind went back to another time as a boy watching my Dad plant his garden in the spring, and thought about the hundreds of jars of canned produce I carried down into the cellar for Mom.

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