A dog kennel?

We will be super busy this spring and summer building out a simple cabin on the land we bought up north.  We need something that will be quick and easy for our year one northern test garden.

We have had a few dogs over the years.  Some have been huge – 140 pounds.  Sandy (our guest in the garden) is 9 pounds.


We know a bunch about dog kennels and crate structures.  So when I was trying to figure out how in the world we were going to keep deer and bunnies and moose all OUT of our test gardens up north, dog kennels came to mind.  I know it sounds crazy but I’ve run it by a few folks and they think it might just work.  The kennel panels are 6′ high and we can easily line the bottom of the perimeter with chicken wire and even boards dug into the ground.  If it works, we could easily add on to the structure in year two.  If it doesn’t, we can do something else next year.

What are your thoughts?

Next up:  How we plan to plant – Hugelkultur (with two dots over the u that I can’t seem to get to work 😉).


Upcycling, staying uncluttered, and seed starting

This week we received the heirloom seeds we ordered for the first test garden up north.


Next up is upcycling toilet paper and paper towel rolls for the next month, to be used as biodegradable seedling starter plant pots.

Since the size of our townhome is modest, and I am super into a peaceful, uncluttered home, I am struggling a bit with the amount of stuff that is being staged in our townhome, waiting to go up north, at least two months out.  If it has to collect, it needs to stay organized 😉   Hence, the pink craft box.  Hopefully things can stay relatively contained until I begin to start the seedlings.  Then, unfortunately, I suspect things will be pretty busy looking around here until all those seedlings are safely in the ground.

More to come on how the seedlings will stay safe from the deer, rabbits and moose.

Prepping for up north

One of the things my husband has been reminding me of is that our habits for up north will need to be very different from our townhome.  One of those habits has to do with those tiny little creatures called field mice … who love easily accessible people food … and who can fit in the tiniest of spaces.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I am no stranger to field mice.  But we are here every day, and the guest in the garden is here (Sandy the dog ☺) so we don’t have to take much precaution with dry goods food storage.  I buy in bulk bags from Costco, and we leave things like brown rice and chia seeds in the heavy duty ziptop bags they come in.  But that will be different up north.  Given free reign, field mice laugh at plastic bags.  So while we wait out the end of winter before we can get in to start prepping the cabin site, I have been making lists.

One of the things on the list was airtight food storage containers.      ✔ that as done.  I found a 10 pc set of lock tight containers on sale.  They looked so snazzy I bought a set for up north and a set for the townhouse.  Pretty much loving them 😍


Heirloom Seeds and the Shamrocks

Yesterday I bought heirloom seeds for our test garden up north – pickling plume lettuce, scarlet kale, asparagus, echinacea, zebrina hollyhock (one of my all time favorites), and some more milkweed.   I’m getting excited to get started.  It feels a bit like old times when I had seed starting trays by our west facing patio door.  I suppose I will start the seeds indoors again, but will wait for a month or so.  My guess is we won’t plant up there until the end of May or even early June.

Yesterday I also did some “indoor gardening” on the shamrocks and the amaryllis.  The shamrocks are the healthiest they have ever looked in March.


Usually by this time at the end of winter they are very scraggly and I can hardly wait to get get them back outside in April so the birds pluck away all the dried stems in between the live ones and use them for their nests.  This year it may be a bit longer.

The amaryllis did not bloom for the second year in a row.  I suspect I should follow best practices going forward and put it in a dry dark place for a few months.  I am, however, tempted to send it to compost in the spring, along with a leggy succulent.  We’ll see.


The Robins Return

Over the past couple days we’ve seen a few more robins in the trees.  Today dozens at a time were flying in.



Tonight we’re having what is supposed to be the last sub-zero night of this long winter (-6°F).  I hope they were able to tuck into warm places.

Snow is on the way for the weekend, but the temperatures are slowly warming.  Soon we will see kids out wearing shorts on 40°F days!  It’s a sure sign we are all ready for the massive mounds of snow to start melting.





Last week I ordered our first 6 deer resistant plants for up north.  Asclepias (milkweed) are the plant where monarch larvae mature to become butterflies. Some sources say the monarch population has decreased by 80% in the past 20 yrs, partially due to pesticide overspray that is killing asclepias.  They are not to be a cut flower (poisonous) but are very beneficial for the monarch population.  They also attract honey bees and hummingbirds use the seed pod floss to line their nests.  We’re going to try them as a naturalized plant up north.  More to come – bearded iris and coneflowers will be our next purchases.

Beautiful day; more snow on the way


Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day following an almost aqua colored night due to the upcoming super snow moon.  Last night’s sunset, however, told a “not yet” story as clouds rolled in for the 6-10″ of snow we are supposed to get today.  It looks like we are headed into our typical March snow pattern, with big snowfalls followed by slowly increasing temperatures.  It may not feel like it today, but spring is on the way.

Up north, it may take longer.  We hear the snow is waist deep.  But Minnesotans are hearty folk 😉  One gentleman told us he and his wife snowshoed out to grill shrimp on the fire.  We are dreaming of that day!  Maybe next year winter we can do that.