Gardening 101

cole crops

What do you do when you see somebody just totally fucking up? I asked my dairy-farm-manager friend once why he let me keep Frances in a stall at night for a year or longer without telling me that it was the dumbest idea ever.  (Unless the weather is simply brutal, cattle prefer to bed down out in the field. Even in the worst weather, they prefer a run-in shed where they can seek shelter on their own.)  His reply was that some things are better learned on your own. And then he smiled broadly.

So perhaps the Nauglers will one day learn how to garden.

Perhaps they won’t.

But it actually makes me despair to see those kids work hard (and they are the only ones who do around that place) creating the Blessed Little Garden, and know that they are doing it pretty much for naught.

First, my credentials: I have gardened, successfully and not-so-successfully, in four states:  North and South Carolina, Alaska, and Kentucky.

sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes newly dug and cleaned from our garden in Kentucky.
canned stuff
When we grow more than we can eat fresh, I really do preserve the excess. This is just one set of shelves in the basement. There is another identical to it.

Those four states have widely diverse climates, and climate changes everything.


For example, this is the back of our house in Alaska. The dining room is the one with all the windows, and jutting out onto the deck is the greenhouse. Greenhouses are used oddly in Alaska.  I used to open up ours around tax day (April 15), as soon as the temperature in the greenhouse would reliably stay close to freezing or above. Then I could start seeds in there on heat mats and under some supplemental light.

But I used the greenhouse all summer long. Where we lived, tomatoes and cucumbers simply could not be grown outside. They didn’t die.  They would actually grow, some.  But they refused to set fruit. It was not warm enough at night. So I grew them in the greenhouse. The place looked like a jungle by August.

The garden there was located where the photographer is standing, off the deck in the side yard.  It was all  waist-high raised beds. There had been an in-ground garden in the back yard the previous owners had built, but I had little luck with it, due to the growth of the trees in the yard and the resultant shade.  Rather than cutting down trees, we just opted to move it.

And even with those high raised beds (to warm the soil earlier in the spring), even with clear plastic covers (again, to warm the soil), I still had to grow things like green beans and squash under clear plastic hoops. It was just not warm enough if I didn’t.

What I did not have to do was cover the cole crops.

cole crops definition

Ever see those gigantic vegetables being shown at the Alaska State Fair?  Like this?

alaska cabbage

Ever wonder how in the world they do that?

First, they use hybrid varieties. Second, they start the seed indoors well before breakup.  Third, there is almost 24-hour-per-day sunlight in Alaska during the summer. The giant veggies are almost all cole crops.  Coles just get bigger and bigger with increased daylight. Fourth, it is relatively cool in Alaska in the summertime.  No July and August steamy hot days.

And that’s the deal here. Alaska has cool summers (relatively speaking). Cole crops like it cool.

I didn’t have to grow mine (which did not get that big but were more than healthy) under tunnels because they like it cool.

In the Lower 48, the opposite problem occurs.  The soil and the air get too warm for the coles.  This can happen rapidly in the spring/summer, or we can have a longer, cooler spring and it happens slowly. In the first situation, all the cool weather crops bolt and go all to hell. In the second, they do great but the beans and tomatoes limp along.

This is the reason that a whole lot of people (including me) grow cole crops in the fall, not the spring.

Here are my cabbages (on the left, turnip greens on the right) from a couple of years ago here in Kentucky.


That was taken probably in September. I started the cabbage plants from seed in August indoors where I could monitor the babies and keep them cooler, then set them out when the evenings weren’t so hot. The hoop material is bridal veil tulle.  It’s cheap, very wide and keeps insects off, but allows rain and sunshine in.

We harvested all the greens it was possible to consume (and they were clean with leaves intact and no bugs) and about twenty cabbages, from which I made a mountain of kraut.

The nice thing about this is that as the plants mature, the days get cooler and cooler. They also get shorter, but not enough to significantly affect growth.

Most people I know around here grow coles and greens in the fall.

Gardening Rule #1:  When setting out to learn to garden, look around you.  Find a neighbor who actually has a garden in your area and ask them some questions. (Do not come back later when they aren’t home, take their water, and leave the hose running.  It’s bad form.)  Plant what they plant.  They’ve already made mistakes, and you can avoid those.

It is not necessary to experiment alone and have to make every single mistake every gardener on earth has made to learn to garden. Even you hate everyone around you, and none of your neighbors will speak to you because you call their family members names and accuse them falsely of assault, you can still find this stuff out by following blogs or videos of people who actually know what in the hell they are doing.

Here is what is most likely going to happen.

Nicole’s lettuce will probably come up. They might actually harvest a little of it provided it doesn’t get too warm quickly. If it warms up a lot, the lettuce will be there but it’ll be bitter.

Spinach might do okay, but that little raised bed will grow enough for a garnish.


If she did (or the children did, since they do all the work) what I think, and planted seeds for cabbage and broccoli in the ground directly (I see no plants), they are more than likely doomed.  There is a reason that garden centers sell those flats of started plants.  It’s to get a jump on the season so the plants can grow while it’s still cool.

If I’m completely wrong and a miracle occurs and everything in that wee little plot grows gangbusters, there will be enough for one meal.  Maybe.

There is nothing wrong with being a rank amateur.  I was born to city parents. I never grew anything in my life until after I was married.  I planted my first garden in 1971, and have had one for many of the years following, except for the few years we spent in an RV.  I’ve made every mistake imaginable.

But what is deplorable is to make no progress whatever toward learning anything, year after year, while simultaneously setting yourself up as some sort of guru or expert.

blog to teach
click image to link

And it’s even more deplorable to extract so much labor from children who never see anything positive in return for doing that.  What those “unschooled” children are learning is “don’t bother with a garden, nothing ever grows.”

It would be one thing if Nicole ever followed up on anything, so we could all learn from her mistakes.  But she doesn’t.  There are photos of outhouse/shower combos being started, but then we never see that again unless later on we get some off-hand comment that the project was abandoned.

There are photos of rabbits (poor, poor rabbits) who are never seen again.

There are photos of about a dozen roosters, fate unknown.

There are gardens with no produce.

And there are detailed photos of shit-containing buckets but not one of any compost bin(s).

They are about as “self-sustaining” as my little dog.


als garden
Al Wilson built this raised bed garden for his wife. It holds moisture better than most raised beds because of the size and mass of the concrete infrastructure. Photo used with permission.
als garden
Same garden. Photo taken January 4, 2016. The covers fold down to protect the greens from the cold. And I ate a delicious salad made from those greens. Photo used with permission.

65 thoughts on “Gardening 101”

  1. Ask your neighbors- they say nothing can be grown here. That I just can’t believe. Sage brush grows, lots of spring flowers and wild roses. The main problem I can see is when you dig you can get 3-4 inches down and you hit rock but it’s not just rocks, it’s rocks incased in a rock like substance and it’s solid. My answer was then build it up and I have a beautiful garden till mid June when it hits the 100’s until mid August. And I have nothing left. So I need to find what can handle poor drainage and high heat. Any suggestions? Btw your pantry looks amazing!


  2. Thank you. I learn something new each time I read one of your informative blog posts.

    You will make a proper vegetable gardener out of me yet.


  3. Any suggestions

    LOL Move. 🙂 See if there is a gardening group in your town or nearby. Try the local library. Sometimes they know everything about every one.

    Frankly, nothing is going to grow when it’s 100 degrees. We had a terrible summer a few years ago when it got like that. I decided to try to save my corn. So, I went out to the garden every day, about four different times. I took a hand towel and wet it and put it around my neck, put on a hat and only stayed about fifteen minutes. I kept it hoed and kept it watered. It survived and we got corn. (Fresh corn right from the cob is just something I love enough to make sacrifices for.)

    The answer to any soil problems is encased in one word: organic matter. Lots and lots and lots of organic matter. It breaks down and you have to keep adding it, but forget August.


  4. Preach it Sista!! Amazing post, as someone who had gardened from East Central Illinois up through and to very North Central Wisconsin (15 miles from the UP border), Nicole is doing it all WRONG…or I should say those poor kids are doing it all wrong!


  5. Horrible Gardner, I have most of the same problem!
    We only get a few 100+ days, but it can hurt. I have lost gardens to so many things, but not heat, yet.


  6. Why can’t they learn? Garden disaster 3 is already underway. If they would only put a small amount of funds toward laying down adequate garden beds things might actually grow. But, there never seems to be funds available to do projects properly or to completion. Why is that? She claims her business is thriving on so many of her posts. If the business is doing so great why can’t they use some money to buy top soil and other provisions to give this garden a fighting chance.

    Those poor children are robbed of joy and accomplishment at every turn.


  7. Kentucky Cooperative Extension’s handy pamphlet, “Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky,” can be read online for free. I found it in about 3 minutes on Google. It gives the basics for growing food in your yard, and preserving it, if you don’t have a lot of money or experience. There are neatly organize lists of things that need canning, things that can be cellared–even things that can be left in the garden for part of the winter. There’s a chart that shows exactly how to get the maximum amount of food out of a small plot of worked land using seasonal rotation.

    Five ‘ll get you ten the Nauglers never bothered to search for it.

    I bet they also don’t know that tenant farmers can hunt on the farm where they work without paying for a license, therefore avoiding being “whores for the government.” They are demonstrably tenants, and if they buckled down and worked, they could make something that was arguably a farm. Deer probably wouldn’t be a good idea because you have to be on good terms with your neighbors in order to barter venison, so they would have half-eaten rotting carcasses lying around. But I bet that they could get rabbits and squirrels.

    There is so much they–by which I mean the adults!–could be doing with the time, junk, and bandwidth they have available. Build a chicken tractor for the incoming hens and they’ll till and fertilize the land under their feet for free, plus be safer from free-range predators, plus leave eggs where people can find them. Mother Earth News has a free-to-read article about building a self-watering garden using a rain catchment system made from gutters, buckets (well hey!), and old hoses (Craigslist!). If they’re really going to get rid of ANOTHER Blessed Little Garden Shed–and probably leave the piano inside it out in the rain to be ruined–they could search on “build shelter in woods” and make some of those, or one long one if they simply must have their younger children in a pile. God knows it would be more weathertight than a three-wall shanty.

    But they can’t even put a door on that thing they call an outhouse. Then again, narcissists don’t believe in privacy any more than they believe that other people could possibly be have feelings that they don’t. (How could anybody on the place possibly have wet, dirty, cold feet? Joe has shoes.)


  8. Very educational blog, Sally. If I was attempting to garden, I would want to know someone like you as a trusted info source. So much work goes into gardening, what a huge disappointment it must be when the veggies don’t flourish 🙁

    My first thought when I saw the photo of the raised garden beds was how hard the children worked, with few resources, and hopeful they must be that the garden succeeds. The beds are not on leveled ground, does this handicap much? It does look like the boys cleared away the little trees that might cast too much shade on the beds. I also read raised beds are more successful if you have two layers of cinder block, so at least 12″ of soil. Correct me if I am wrong.

    The water issue is this giant mystery, and Nicole won’t answer the question: How will they water the beds frequently enough? Didn’t Nicole say they PAY for the water they use? That might be costly.

    I am crossing my fingers for the Naugler kids. The garden is their work and not their parents. But even a non-gardener like me knows that you need to seed the plants first and plant after they have sprouted.

    This looks like it will be more of a hobby garden than one to sustain them. Another illusion that this family is homesteading. And I agree that while organic homegrown veggies are amazing, one must wonder whether the work involved and water needed is more cost-effective than paying for veggies at the grocery store.


  9. The beds are not on leveled ground, does this handicap much?

    Probably not. But the soil isn’t deep enough. I don’t know if they did anything at all to prepare the ground before putting the blocks down. My guess is that they did not. So they have loosened soil that is less than 8 inches deep.

    Raised beds are just a bugaboo with me. I used them in Alaska, but only because you really need to get the soil warm (where we lived – north of there it’s warmer and less of a problem ) and that’s a good way to do it. Raised beds confine the plants, are mostly overplanted, and they are enormous suckers of nutrients. If you look at a tomato plant growing in your back yard and think of it like an iceberg. Only 50% of the plant is showing. The roots are a mirror image of the plant. Some of them are fine, of course, and if you pulled the plant up, you wouldn’t get a big root system with it, but that’s because you would have torn the roots off, not because they aren’t there.

    So if you cram five tomato plants into one of the Naugler’s raised beds, none of them will have enough root space and they will compete for nutrients and water. That’s one reason you have to water raised beds so much.

    Anyone interested in really knowing how to garden when it matters should get Steve Solomon’s Gardening When It Counts. There is no better book on the subject as far as I know. Steve is a bit gruff and has little patience when it comes to people who don’t agree with him (!!) but he knows his shit and I read and pay attention.

    more cost-effective

    Generally speaking, no. It’s cheaper to buy food than it is to raise it. Of course, you can’t get corn that was only picked ten minutes ago in your pot on the stove and so I grow corn. And while I’m at it, I grow extra because what the hell and the cattle absolutely love it.

    And no store bought tomato will ever equal one picked from your plant in the back yard. That’s not the fault of the store. That’s because if you tried to truck your gorgeous tomato 800 miles, it wouldn’t be in very good shape when it got there.

    Because of him, I spread my tomato plants out so they occupy twice the space they used to and they do better for it.


  10. My wife is an avid and amazing gardener. We had fresh salad, kale, and cabbage all winter long because of the cold frames. Just as you said, it’s all a learning curve and we did lose a few of the other more fragile crops, but that won’t happen this winter.

    Yesterday she spent hours thinning out the strawberries. Reworking the soil, adding black compost, mulching and finally straw. I saw her throw at least a hundred perfectly good strawberry plants in the compost pile. I actually thought to myself that it was a waste and that there were plenty of folks that would love to have them. Had things evolved differently with these folks — had Joe not pulled some of the things he has and Nicole not made many of the accusations she has — I would have happily donated them.

    That whole “neighbor and community” thing is true.


  11. We have sandy soil, albeit we live 4 miles from the great blue Pacific. I have pot gardened for years. I had 2 tomatoes that I babied through the winter, but one rogue windstorm literally drained one of every bit of moisture. It looked like Matt Damons potato plants on the Martian after the blowout. The one I saved has blossoms already.

    Because of the crappiness of our soul we are using raised beds, using storage bins placed in stands built on 2×4’s. That gives a decent amount of planting medium and ease to work with since I have a long-standing shoulder problem. We found it on the internet and it was easier to do than it looked.

    I can grow vegetables or flowers in them. This year will be more tomatoes and some beets. If I can do this, anyone can. My thumb is not very green.


  12. I am very impressed with the basket one of the youngsters made. There is definitely a sophisticated artistic eye there.
    I’m especially impressed because it was made completely by hand, with material that she gathered herself, and is very original.
    This kind of art has the potential to be sold to art collectors if done well.
    I’ve woven baskets myself. My favorite material to use was wild grapevines, long grasses and strips of wood.

    The public will not be interested in buying painted store bought statues. But I did notice how carefully they were painted.
    This could be built on.
    I noticed one of the boys had a knife on his hip. I’m wondering how good he would be taking some of the fallen dried wood on their land and carving/ whittling out folk art pieces to be carefully painted.

    Fun carved wood ( from old pallets) and painted signs could be fun to make and hang around the property…as well as put up for sale. (To garden, to man cave, off limits, to out house, watch your step?) they could be hung with bailing wire

    Fun walking sticks can be made, carved, painted and decorated (feathers, stones, bits of other woods). I’ve noticed lots of potential walking sticks being used on the property.

    Painted rocks as paper weights, or garden surprises.

    Another child, I understand, has learned to crochet. She could build this talent into a salable art by spinning her own wool using a simple drop spindle. I was taught to use the drop spindle by a family member who dyes and spins her own wool. A fun way to dye your own wool is to use koolaide (no sugar?). You get some fabulous colors. I’m wondering if koolaide would dye wood and fiber to make baskets… I’ll bet it would. I’m also betting there are many natural dyes growing on the property. ( good ol internet will help)
    I was taught to use the drop spindle by one of my family who dyes and spins her own wool. Its not hard to learn, just requires some perseverance. Every bit can be incorporated into a piece of art. (Baskets and spirit catchers)
    Spinning fibers with a drop spindle is an accident art. Drop spindles can be made from balanced smooth sticks and a balanced circular weight such as a carefully whittled round wheel. I have a collection of stone spindle wheels and pottery wheels made by the ancients.
    The spun fiber needs to be steamed before using so it doesn’t unwind. All the directions and history are on the Internet for free.

    My mother made beautiful braided rugs out of old clothes cut into strips, hand rolled and hand stitched in to long strips of similar colors to be braided into rugs. She was a fine portrait artist in big demand.
    And potter. She actually found a cliff near our house that had white clay. Mama treated the clay by multiple soakings to get out the sand and other dirt particles and created some fabulous pots and dishes. Pots and dishes can actually be fired in a fire pit outside. ( check out the Internet. There are very famous Native Americans who use this technique)

    Large spirit catchers could be made out of grapevines and decorated with found,around the property, objects and hung from the trees around the property and off pathways. Take pictures of how they look in the woods and hang one up to be sold.

    Make homemade cards of pressed flowers and grasses from the property. Make your own paper from otherwise trash and fibers, to make the cards and envelopes. ( again the Internet)

    Every thing I have suggested could be done by the children, and if done well put up to sell. They already have access to a store front. And lots of raw material.

    Home schooling should require that they research the history and how to of what they make, so that they could share their knowledge with the public who show an interest in their original, natures art. Original art with a story sells faster. People feel they are buying something special from the artist.

    The trick is to learn the technique first, spend close attention to detail and quality.
    No rush sloppy jobs.
    Make every piece original, no mass production and always sign what you make.
    Stay away from store bought baubles and materials, as they cheapen your creations.
    Any time you can use natural dyes and materials, it’s much better. ( make it part of the story of your art work)
    Take pictures of all your work being displayed in its natural sroundings. ( like a walking stick leaning against a tree) and use the pictures to sell you art, on the Internet, and at the store display. Also pictures of the pieces being created by the artist can be very interesting.
    Again, Always sign the original art that you make.
    Keep an ongoing art journal of ideas, drawings, and inspiration. (very important)
    Keep as well a running list of techniques to try, tried and worked… Tried and didn’t work too well.

    I’m retired and hang out with a large group of fabulous artist. I’m now a Metalsmith and enamelist and I sell my pieces in a gallery and occasional art show.

    I’ve now seen one young lady’s talent and fully believe she is capable of creating a name for herself through art if she works at it. I suspect the talent is shared by other of children.


  13. Raised-bed gardening is essential to a subsistence lifestyle in Kodiak, but it’s only cost effective because literally tons of free fertilizer are available for the taking. Seaweed and beach peat wash up after every gale, and the local boarding stable and meat-poultry farm will give you all the manure you want–well-rotted even–if you will load it yourself.

    Also, you have to compost like it’s a religion.

    So: where is the Nauglers’ compost heap and how often do they work it? After two years, using a three-box system, there should be some nice compost ready to go…right? How about all that humanure? Is it being monitored, contained, and worked on schedule?


  14. And a note on the gardening.
    We always started our plants on the window sill in Dixie cups. We also had two very productive bee hives.
    Now a days you have to be careful, if you purchase plants for the garden, that they have not been treated with neoncotinoids.
    This poison is highly toxic to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

    If the Nauglers decide to help out the kids by buying ready made plants for their garden, they need to check for this, especially at Home Dept, Lowes, and Walmart.

    I was planting a flower garden last spring and ran into this. I had gone to much trouble growing from seed and planting flowers to attract butterflies and bees. I wanted some quick annuals and discovered each one of these stores had plants treated with this. I didn’t buy there, and hopefully the message got through to them and they no longer do this… But check any way to avoid disaster.

    If your vegetable plant has a flower and was treated with poison, what a nasty thing to do to an insect that pollenates the flower so that you can have food to eat.

    It would be nice, however if the adults pick up some safe tomato plants, peas and lettuce so the kids have plants to care for.
    Also it would be fun for the kids to grow some of their own herbs to use in their cooking.
    Rosemary, if situated in a good permanent spot will come back each year if the weather doesn’t get too brutal. Basil is my favorite herb, as is oregano ( it will also come back if protected) and chives and thyme. They should do some research on how to care for these plants and they would probably do well as raised plants.

    We’ve grown some of the best cantaloupe and watermelons ever by laying down black plastic, cutting a hole through it just big enough for the little plant to be planted, and letting the vine and melons grow on the black plastic. Of course the soil was well tilled and full of composted horse manure.
    Does anyone know if goat poop is good as a fertilizer? Composted of course. If so, it could be collected in one of the buckets and a clean compost pile started next to their garden.
    Could the pond water be hauled as water. I’m seeing one of the boys designing a yoke from a branch to carry two buckets of pond water on their shoulders.
    Of course there are hand cranked pumps that could be used with hoses too…
    I’d love to see these kids succeed.


  15. Hey–am I misremembering or was there a wash-house on the property at one time, with clotheslines outside and everything?


  16. Nobody, absolutely nobody, is going to follow those goats around and scoop up their berries (goat poo). Nobody.


  17. I’m guessing the kids are using the square foot gardening idea. Popular on Pinterest. This is what they had and failed with the last 2 planting seasons.
    Last summer and fall many many freely gave advice on gardening, but the Mrs. excuses were many, too rocky, too busy, etc. Essentially gardening is up to the kids, and we all saw the failed gardens last year. And despite having more than adequate time to get a fall garden in nothing happened.
    It’s rather entertaining to read Nicole’s priorities listing gardening in the number one spot, and then see these itty bitty inadequate beds, and a plan for a 1/2 ac or ac. of all corn. Corn certainly would not be my sole choice if one is trying to put up food for a family of 13.
    It’s all bluster. Just such a shame to see such a waste of time, effort and money unschooling in this fashion. When will they realize they will never live long enough to only learn from their own mistakes. Such foolish people. “Waste”, the Naugler’s middle name. I am hoping just maybe this time the kids have more educated help.


  18. “We will plant as much as we can and save what we don’t eat.”

    Please don’t save it in bread bags…


  19. MIM offered several wonderful suggestions to help the children develop skills that will earn them money. However I doubt that in their little shed crammed with 11 children, there is any degree of calm and quiet for the learning child to focus. More like a perpetual tornado of chaos—a crying baby, boisterous toddlers, squabbles between sibs, the hum of conversations. No privacy. And at the grooming salon those children are put to work, so there’s no time for internet tutorials and reading to learn these skills.

    The Internet is great for many things, but for newbies at gardening or basket weaving or other arts, learning from a real live gardener, artist or craftsman would be much more helpful. An older mentor spending time with a young person engages that kid and makes him/her feel important, that what he is learning is important and worth paying attention to.

    The Naugler parents ought to shelve their obstinacy and pride, and ask their neighbors and town locals for help. They’ve tweaked some noses with the community, but that could be forgotten with a show of kindness and gratitude. Offering their neighbors free grooming, or buying them a pie for their help, would be a gesture. I wouldn’t suggest they make any homemade baked items, though. Too many people know about the pancake episode.


  20. To sell homebaked goods you also have to have your facilities inspected.

    I saw the sink in the photo and noted the complete lack of towels. Now, maybe people bring them along with them but if you’re coming back from doing something that got your hands dirty, it’s nice to have a clean towel waiting for you. I’ve also seen the reflection in the mirror. It’s not pretty.

    In other words, I wouldn’t buy something that had been baked at BLaH, by anyone. If they made it at the salon, at least there are facilities for washing their hands.


  21. In my opinion, she’s simply redefining “gardening” like she did “homesteading”. Since she declared that gardening is the top priority, she’s been planting photos on fb, video interviews on YouTube, and blogging of the hardships brought on by her own chosen lifestyle. Pretty sure she’s hoping for a huge crop of pity and compa$$ion this year. If at first you don’t succeed, try child exploitation again.
    Very enlightening post and commentary. I’m not a gardnerer but I’m lucky to live in a community with an awesome farmers market where I’m able to support local farmers twice a week.


  22. Making homemade baked items would be difficult without an oven and I highly doubt anyone would want to eat them if they did. The conditions and the BLH are far from sanitary and we all remember what happened with the pancakes.


  23. I am hoping that to spite the trolls, the kids will be old enough at this point to prove us wrong, and finally make their garden grow. Anger is a good motivator. That is if she gives them enough time to garden daily and not throw them into another of her many hair brained schemes. I don’t know if “unschooling” has taught the discipline necessary to be successful. What happens if they simply ‘don’t feel like gardening’ when it gets hotter than hell, and the inevitable gardening bugs, die offs, etc, begin. The past response has been to throw up their hands and give up. The boys I believe are going to be tasked with the new shack this summer. Staying on task and focusing will be an obstacle for the kids when they are the work force for a scattered brained planner, and they need to overcome a gardening obstacle.
    Overcoming simple obstacles and not blaming others and giving up will be a new skill that hopefully these kids will have the opportunity to learn.
    OK Nicole, let’s see what you got.


  24. I’m hoping that one of the kids uses the internet to find a local master gardener and arranges to learn from the person side-by-side several hours during the daytime for a week or more.

    THEN the kid suddenly starts doing things with and for the garden so that it can flourish. In order to show MOM how things are done properly. Presumably she knows how to do that, as her business is flourishing. If only she would apply the same principles to her home.

    I have a question – if their whole thing is to live off the grid and so forth, why do they live so far away from their business? After all, it takes a fair amount of fuel to ferry herself and several children 45″ to work. Spending money to purchase pre-made food rather than bringing sandwiches from home is also costly (including their “carbon footprint”). It seems to me that her business is one that would lend itself to the old custom of the shop below and the family above. They could have a rooftop garden.


  25. Landlord would never approve of them being on the roof. Roof repair is beyond expensive (I didn’t realize that until a friend schooled me on the subject of commercial real estate)

    Of course, they could relocate to someplace that they own, and then do anything they like on the roof, but they can’t afford that. They can’t afford anything.

    A master gardener is a statist slave and would never be allowed on the Blessed Little Property.


  26. ” Redefining gardening. ” ” Planting photos on fb, video interviews on YouTube. ”

    Of the children, always pimping out her children. They are her props and her shields. They are her meal ticket, she is not theirs.

    Even if you cannot stomach the parents, and who can? All those beautiful bright children and the hardships that their parents put them through. Who could resist? Who could be so heartless? It’s for them and not for the parents? Or is it?


  27. @Tekla: According to something she wrote a while back, Mrs. Naugler followed her usual pattern, but bigger. Instead of being Mennonite = making little caps or being polygamist = living with polygamists, it was being a homesteader = living in the woods. (I think Mr. Naugler is fine with whatever as long as he gets his smokes and his dinner.)

    No research that I can tell; no preparation. They just grabbed at the first piece of “wilderness” (ha!) that they could afford and proceeded to flail around on it.

    IIRC the eldest son on the place was at one point close to becoming an Eagle Scout, which argues for a considerable amount of self-direction and forethought. I wonder how much carrying of the family he’s doing, and how long he can go on.


  28. Oh, this post and comments is so rich! It’s ripening many thoughts, I am sure to come back a few times with additional comments.

    FB Refugee said, “I don’t know if “unschooling” has taught the discipline necessary to be successful.” And, “Staying on task and focusing will be an obstacle for the kids when they are the work force for a scattered brained planner, and they need to overcome a gardening obstacle.”

    Cynthia Bates wrote, “The Naugler parents ought to shelve their obstinacy and pride, and ask their neighbors and town locals for help. They’ve tweaked some noses with the community, but that could be forgotten with a show of kindness and gratitude. ”

    As BLB so eloquently shared in photos and story, successful gardening is not for the scattered brained planner. Even if gardening is a mere hobby. And by the way, hobby gardening has great value too, like any hobby. It is therapeutic and rewarding, to see the benefits of your hard work and skills come to fruition. Part of the hobby too, is learning and getting better at your finished product. If this is indeed the children’s gardening hobby or project, for gawd’s sake, give them the opportunity to be resourceful. And gain some success. Let them reach out in the community, and learn where others turned mistakes into successes. Failures over and over, are not good for the spirit. Especially children.

    I can appreciate MIM, with embellishing the child’s(children’s) artistic opportunities via self expression in arts. I ponder though, encouraging as a sustainable means of income as a profession. You know, the “starving artist” thing. I know several artists. It’s not their day job, if you know what I mean. Just like a child I know, who is a phenomenal basketball player. But odds are unlikely that he will make it to professional level. He is better to plan a more sustainable means of income with an education. I may have misunderstood MIM, if the intent is to encourage the children to work at their artistic talents as a means for family income. More work for the children to do, as their burden in supporting the family.

    And I kind of leave it right here. Feeling children’s hobbies, gardening and art, are the children’s work. Work and more work, as their burden in supporting their parents.


  29. Kentucky Bred wrote – Work and more work, as their burden in supporting their parents.

    You said it so well. The burden to support and care for this family is the parents, not the children.

    The older children should not be responsible for caring for the younger siblings. That is the parents job whether they like it or not. Having a large family was the parents choice and the older kids should be able to be kids, not stand in parents whilst the adults play about on FB.

    I understand the older children have been forced to be the parents of thier siblings but I hope that they break away, get the support they deserve and build a better life for themselves. They could lead by example. Show their younger siblings that groveling in the mud is not a gift from God but a curse from their parents.

    It would be so hard for the older kids to walk away from the Blessed mess but I sincerely hope they do. Just imagine what the future could be if the older kids learn a trade, gardening, and even math. But most importantly learn that they do not have to live in filth, in poverty, like their parents. That through hard work, education, and due diligence they can have dreams and make them come true.

    I notice Nicole never ask what the kids hopes and dreams or what the kids want to do when they grow up. She views them as an extension of herself, her slaves. They don’t have rights but boy we never stop hearing about her rights.


  30. I see the children pursuing their artistic abilities as self growth. Something unique that they can be proud of.
    Yes, there are successful artist, just like basket ball players who make a living doing what they do. That is not what I was talking about.
    I’m talking about the rest of us who get happiness and self satisfaction from doing something well.
    If the children can make pin money for their talents it will give them something else personal to aspire to.
    It can also help to cheer up their surroundings.
    I was impressed, as well, how the older boys took over the first abode and made it theirs. It looked neat and thought out. I can imagine how quiet their nights are away from the hubbub from the rest of the family with some time to focus on themselves as individuals.
    I have a deaf child who discovered his self-worth through competitive swimming. He swam American Swimming year around but got frustrated at never coming in the top three, no matter how hard he trained.
    We,for a break, put him in recreational swimming one summer and he came in first every time. He lit up. When he went back to the regular competitive swimming he started coming in every time in the top three with many first and was top five for his age group in California.
    My son from then on knew if he had a talent, it required discipline as well as spirit to make something of it. He’s not famous, but he is very happy with his life and Beautiful hardworking wife. They both work hard for their happiness.
    We also encouraged his artistic side.
    He has built himself a nice shop and is currently building a carved cradle for his soon to be first born son.
    He knows anything worth doing is worth doing well. He learned that as a child. And applies it to his day job. He gets pleasure in doing jobs well that others have no desire to do.
    That is my message to the Naugler Children.
    Use your talents and use them well, regardless of whether they become your day job. Find the spirit of each chore and activity.
    It helps to move you forward to a happier life and sets you apart from the rest of the world.


  31. Valerie umm sorry I mean disrespect but Joe & Nicole don’t take the children for swimming lessons, the fact is they don’t even get homeschool lessons. Heck, they don’t even get to take a bath at their home. Are you sure we are talking about the same family?


  32. If the kids are able to escape into making something beautiful, or at least neat and clean, or at any rate theirs, more power to ’em, I say.

    But they are never going to get anywhere in life if they have to keep prying little slivers of normal life out of the grasp of their parents. At this point their best chance, all of them, is to get out. CPS can’t get them out, apparently, or even get them into school, damn it, so their last hope is going to be ageing out of their parents’ legal control. The day each child turns 18, they can leave. They can even call a police/state trooper escort to help them leave, with their stuff. I would say “with their stuff, and the documents that establish citizenship and the right to participate in the economy,” but of course they don’t have any.


  33. MIM said, “I’m talking about the rest of us who get happiness and self satisfaction from doing something well.” And, “It can also help to cheer up their surroundings.”

    Unfortunately, “the rest of us”, isn’t the environment these children live(survive) in. Their norm isn’t ours. It isn’t like the rest of us. We cannot transfer onto these children.

    And if I am hearing in the words, “it can also help to cheer up their surroundings”, perhaps there is some agreement. The dismal neglect of their beautiful children, is sad.


  34. All of you who read or write here lead a different life from each other. When you look in the mirror you don’t see me. You see yourself.
    You assimilate what I and others have written here and interpret it using your life experiences.
    Just as I have done with the Naugler Children.
    I don’t see their life’s as being lost. I see their life as being hard and quite possibly filled with anxiety.
    My son’s life was hard in its own way. I used him metaphorically as a representation of tackling life and becoming happy.

    Nicole seemed proud of the basket her daughter made. I don’t know that she saw what I saw in the basket. I was truly impressed.

    The brick patio one of the boys laid. I saw a beautiful attempt that I would never had criticized. Had he been instructed by someone who knew how to do it it would have been flatter. BUT he did it! I would only encouraged him to do more… The dips can be fixed.
    Leaning how to prepare a site for brick patio, or a garden will come eventually.
    Knowledge will come, possibly with encouragement from well meaning strangers who write on this blog.
    You never know how what you say will affect a young life.
    Yes I made sure I got my son to swimming lessons, but he had to learn to live with his deafness.
    The Naugler children have to live the life, for now, that their parents created.
    Yes, I’m glad I don’t live next to them. I’d want to help and care for the children, and strangle their parents.
    So, instead I do what minuscule encouragement I can do, safely, here.
    And hope that something good sticks.


  35. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the children teaching themselves a skill, developing their artistic tendencies or selling the fruit of their labor. There is much to be gained from such endeavors in both self gratification and self esteem. Just imagination the satisfaction of having control of some aspect of their lives, planning, executing and actually successfully finishing a project. Even just the satisfaction of having something you can genuinely call all your own.

    I do think there is something wrong in their doing so for the purpose of supporting themselves and their family. Besides for the fact that that is not their responsibility, it adds a certain amount of anxiety and desperation to the activity. I think they have enough stress in their day to day survival, no need to add more.

    Art should be self directed and bring the artist some satisfaction and joy. The better artists I know could no more stop executing their art, than they could stop breathing. They firmly believe in art for art’s sake, and consider the time spent away from their art to sell or merchandise it a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless. They prefer to leave the business end of their art to someone else. Other artisans and craftsmen I know are quite aware of the business end of their projects. To be successful in this day and age of cheap mass production and overseas labor they endeavor to cater to a specific market, offering unique items or items of such quality that nothing else will do.

    To the children. Your parents keep publishing that you are freer than most children in the US. Exercise those freedoms. Your parents responsibilities are not yours. Your parents choices and mistakes are not yours. Be free, be happy, find what is in your heart and follow it. Move on and beyond. Your parents have chosen to put the responsibility of your upbringing into your own hands. This does not mean you are responsible for everyone else in the family, give that responsibility back to your parents. They chose it. Concentrate on yourself, because no one else is. The more you build yourself up, the better it will be for your siblings and even for your parents. As regards your parents, it is about time they took responsibility for their actions, it will serve all of you better than the current situation. As regards your siblings, you can set the example of what they can do and what they can aspire to. At the very least you can make your way out and bring them with you. Your current situation is not sustainable.


  36. MIM – the children are developing their skills at crafts. They make bows and paint statuary to support their parents. If it’s not in direct service to their parents dreams and desires, it’s not going to happen. There isn’t enough time or quiet due to the need for them to carve the homestead of their parents’ dreams out of the wilderness one way or another.

    Yeah, I can imagine that every child there has a dream of living on that particular piece of land as adults with their families rather than renting or purchasing something of their own. Maybe one or more of them wish to live somewhere else, or even GO somewhere else. Like France, Brazil, Thailand or New Zealand. Good luck with that kids, you’ll need your parents to provide the documents necessary to get a passport. At this point, they can’t even get a job somewhere else because they can’t fill out the W-2.


  37. How could they want to live elsewhere when they’ve never had geography or social science lessons? I sincerely doubt that either of the Nauglers has invested any time, much less money in getting the children books or workbooks to facilitate their learning. They know KY and the town Mom’s got her shop in. I don’t understand people wanting to raise ignorant and illiterate children. They aren’t going to be able to fill out a job application, take a typing test, do an excel spreadsheet or collate a term paper.
    The more I read of the neglect the more I detest the parents.


  38. Kids, if you’re reading here, please do go look up the Kentucky Cooperative Extension pamphlet I referred to several times before. Here’s a link:

    It was put together using the accumulated wisdom of thousands of Kentucky gardeners supplemented by solid scientific research. It has nothing at all to do with being a “whore for the government.” I promise.

    Now. If you want to have a reliable source of fresh food–well, you can’t feed yourselves off that tiny patch you’ve got there. Making more garden beds is probably not an option, because you’ve got to look after what you’ve got all year long, hauling water by hand, picking off bugs in the heat of the day, etc., and of course you can’t rely on your parents to help you consistently. So let’s focus on getting the most out of what you do have. That’s going to mean planting three times this year.

    You’ve got a pretty good spring crop mix going there, although next year I would focus on ANYTHING but lettuce (unless you need its thirst-quenching properties). When you’ve harvested everything, add another layer of cinderblocks to the walls and put in more dirt before planting your summer crops. You don’t have to work the soil all the way to the bottom, but you are going to want more soil than you’ve got.

    Choose summer crops that can be eaten raw. Carrots are a good choice. Pole beans: you can just eat ’em right off the vines. Peppers are a fantastic source of vitamins and delicious besides. Again, if you need a relatively safe way to quench thirst, you might want to stick with very juicy things, such as muskmelons, watermelons, and cucumbers. Try to convince your parents to buy the seeds now, before they get interested in something else.

    Your fall crops need to be things that can keep into early winter right in the ground, because the chances that you will have any food storage available are not high. Cooperative Extension suggests carrots, parsnips, and beets. Instructions for using your garden beds as a kind of low-tech fridge are in the pamphlet. Grow as many of these roots as possible, but don’t dig them up until the last minute, to preserve a source of fresh vitamins into the early winter. Peel them, cut them up into chunks of about the same size, drop them into a pan of boiling water, and cook until fork-tender. Add salt and pepper to make a simple vegetable stew.

    You can get a little food for yourselves this way, but you have to stick with it, and you know you’ll have to do the work yourselves. You have to make a list of the work that has to be done every day, and everybody who’s big enough has to take a turn. No “No fair!” or “I don’t feel like it.” Haul water, pick bugs, keep at it. Keep at it even if your parents suddenly have a brilliant idea about something you should be doing instead.

    For the future, compost will be essential, and I don’t mean that horrible pile of poop your parents currently have. Instructions for a basic compost box setup are also at the link I gave above. Again, make a list of what has to be done to make it work, and everybody take a turn. If you don’t return nutrients to your garden soil using compost or something, you’re going to wear that soil out and end up with no crops eventually.

    Don’t forget to grow yourselves at the same time. The period between the end of the fall harvest and the beginning of spring planting is traditionally the time for children to be in school. If you can’t get into public school, concentrate on getting what education you can. Here’s the link I gave before to a complete curriculum that requires only online access and some stuff from Wal-Mart:

    Big ones help the little ones, as it’s pretty clear you have been doing all along. The lowest grades take only a few minutes per day. If your parents develop a sudden need to get between you and your schoolwork, it might be prudent to have some type of boss program running at the same time. Pick something they don’t mind you looking at that you can tab over to instantly.

    If the above curriculum takes up too much bandwidth, consider this one instead:

    It requires a lot more work from the older kids to help the younger ones, but almost everything is presented as static text.

    You’re in my prayers, kids. Nobody should have to live in the little cracks left around their parents’ massive issues…but some of us end up in that situation. It sucks. It isn’t right.

    Hang in there.


  39. Do we know if they fenced in the garden? Are the chickens going to free range all day? I’m worried that the chickens might tear up the garden and it will be another disappointment for the kids.


  40. At one time there were plans to have the chickens in a mobile coop (chicken tractor), but, you know…plans. IIRC building it was supposed to be a learning experience for one of the sons–meaning of course that he was told to do it and then no time no money no guidance no transportation no no no.


  41. amulbunny wrote, “How could they want to live elsewhere when they’ve never had geography or social science lessons?”

    Well, they’ve probably seen movies and if they follow the international news at all, they’re probably curious about life elsewhere. Let’s say for the sake of argument that they’ve been The Lord of the Rings. Well, it’s all filmed in New Zealand. We don’t all have friends who are Kiwis to regale you with tales of the glories and wonders of New Zealand at lunchtime (former co-worker) but many of us see movies.

    Plus if they’re permitted to speak with anyone at all, they may have met someone who lived in another country at one point who mentioned its best and worst features.


  42. Crystal – are you really serious about those raised beds?

    First of all if they did not turn the dirt underneath them there is not enough loose soil for the plants to get a good root system. I am thinking they did not as they put newspapers down. Silly to put newspapers over turned soil as it makes it harder for the roots to get down through them to the loose dirt. Plants to grow good need a good root system, especially those that might not get watered properly. We know they are limited on water source. Using the pond water that is contaminated is just going to contaminate the vegetables growing. Especially the leafy green ones like lettuce, swiss chard and kale cause they will probably just dump the water all over the plants putting the contaminates on the greens. Not having a good water source makes it harder to wash greens properly too.

    They planted stuff from seeds in the beds that should have been started well before planting outside and then transplanted. Sure they might grow but will not get as good of a yield as if they were started earlier.

    Most of all those few raised beds and their piss poor gardening in the past there is not enough space to grow enough to sustain a family that big let alone have any to can and put up for later. Lettuce well that pretty much is a filler for the body has no nutritional value at all. Spinach or swiss chard would have been a better choice. If picked while young and tender it can be used like lettuce and has a much better nutritional value.

    The only reason I can think of why they put down the newspapers is to help cut down on the weeds. Well there is a small army of kids there that can help weed the garden. Heck Joe could plop down and sit on the blocks and weed too. Assign each of the kids that are old enough to under stand what is weeds and what is not a plot and let them take care of it. But damn it plant things that have nutritional value and plant them the way they should be planted not just throwing seeds in the ground.


  43. to help cut down on the weeds

    Weeding those beds might take 15 minutes max. Maybe twice or three times a week.

    Hell, I’m one old woman and I weed a huge garden all by myself and manage to keep up with it pretty well most of the time.


  44. I guess I should have said where I was so excited about them I forgot. I ment the ones al built for his wife I missed them before. I instantly started dreaming about fresh salads in winter.


  45. I believe Crystal is talking about the photos of Al’s raised beds. They are even more impressive in person, Crystal. Producing all winter long. I have garden envy everytime I visit.


  46. Old time farm girl,

    Lasagna gardening or No Till gardening is quite effective and popular.

    Lettuce is very healthy and low in calories.

    Seeds are much cheaper than buying bedding plants. The Nauglers goats would have eaten any overwintered plants. And you can get cheap heirloom seeds that allow you to try to save your own seeds for next year. If life gets in the way in the fall, I still plant seeds in the spring.

    Just because the Nauglers do it, and you don’t like the Nauglers, doesn’t mean it is wrong. Just saying.


  47. Lettuce is very healthy and low in calories.

    Well, not so much. After I originally read the article (back a year ago or so), I cut back seriously on how much lettuce I grow and certainly quit buying it. We often have “salads” now that consist of the stuff you’d put in a salad without the lettuce.

    And certainly if I get a craving for a nice crunchy, leafy salad, that’s fine, but I swear it wouldn’t be my priority when raising children, who don’t need low-calorie foods. They are active, play outside a good bit (and that’s arguable, since they seem to spend a good deal of their time not on the BLH, but at the shop), and need lots and lots of calories.

    And my comments about starter plants still hold true. Planting broccoli from seed in Kentucky is very unlikely to be successful. So yes, the seed is cheaper than buying the plants, but it’s money tossed in the white shit bucket if it produces nothing. Nobody was discussing overwintering anything. And who says the Naugler goats aren’t going to eat this garden as well? There is a strong possibility they will unless Nicole can dump them quickly.

    Just because the Nauglers do it, and you don’t like the Nauglers, doesn’t mean it is wrong. Just saying.

    I have no problem whatever agreeing with Nicole when she’s right, as you will see if you keep reading here.


  48. Being a huge nerd, I started fiddling around with the lists and charts in Kentucky Cooperative Extension’s home vegetable gardening booklet. My guiding principle was “the fewer moving parts, the better.” I restricted my choices to things that don’t need to be started indoors according to the booklet, and further narrowed my list down to things that can be stored by mulching or in a pit with a clean trash can in it. I dropped flint corn and dry beans because I figured that they would require more complex tasks than the Nauglers can handle. Even building a hut to prep Irish potatoes for storage is probably pushing it. I did allow for a pickle crock and a sauerkraut crock because they can be started, then left alone, which is kind of a Naugler trademark. Here’s what I came up with.

    To be mulched for fall use: Beets, kale, leeks.

    To be mulched for winter use: Carrots, turnips, parsnips.

    To be stored in pits for winter use: Cabbage, Irish potatoes, onions, pumpkins, winter squash, cucumbers (crock pickles), more cabbage (sauerkraut). (This doubles as a list of vegetables that can be bought when cheap and stored in this way.)

    Additional crops: Dill and garlic for the pickle crock; radishes to break up the soil for the parsnip sprouts.

    Most of the storage crops would be planted in summer, leaving space available for spring planting of about a dozen types of vitamin-packed greens (not lettuce!) that can be directly seeded into the garden, plus peas for a treat. Rotating the garden beds between mulch-storage and a fall cover crop of oats and field peas would add labor, but help to protect and nourish their soil.

    I note that the above list, plus some cheap storebought stuff like Quaker oats and canned corn, could also keep a small flock of chickens healthy. The point of keeping chickens in this system wouldn’t be getting the eggs (welcome as they would be), but getting the poop, which would be composted to build up the soil. The compost bins could also be built from scrap wood, and extra organic matter could be provided by collecting leaf litter. The chickens would have to be kept in a chicken tractor made of more scrap wood and junk, which would have to be moved regularly during the warm season to provide fresh forage. Goats would not be feasible until they got some more money, and dogs would be right out.

    Of course, if they hadn’t made themselves unwelcome at every food bank within driving distance and deprived some of their children of the ability to prove citizenship, they would have food boxes and WIC, not to mention the free meals at school, the weekend backpack program, and USDA summer lunches.


  49. Bea, Lasagna or “no till” gardening CAN be effective. And of course everyone who gardens perfects what works best for their conditions. Presently the Nauglers seem to be attempting to augment their raised beds with bagged soil and peat. Good for them. But only one cinder block high, filled to a depth of about 6″.
    I’m going with Old Time Farm Girl’s & BLB’ers recommendations. The roots for most plants would do better if the ground had been turned and left uncovered with such shallow beds. This is my opinion, and it has nothing to do with liking or disliking the Nauglers. Please don’t try to make this something it is not. My opinion has to do with a lifetime of gardening successfully and seeing pictures of the Naugler’s unsuccessful and non productive attempts at growing things. Maybe this will work for them, but their choices and pictures so far don’t look like they are making the best use of their little plots. And unless they do a proper job of fencing their little garden, even if they do get rid of the goats, they will suffer disappointment yet again.
    Without fencing there is a long list of critters that will easily destroy their garden in minutes including but not limited to, dogs, cats, birds, moles, groundhogs, deer, mice, rats, raccoons, squirrels, even kids. ( Repurpose the stick shack siding here, & get some bird netting or bridal tulle.) There is an easy way, learn from others mistakes, or the hard way, continual trial and error. Sharing successful gardening knowledge, whatever the method used, is not based on being a supporter or non supporter, or disliking the Nauglers, it is based on what lifetimes of combined experiences of many are offering. Take it of leave it. This advice is not Naugler hate mail.
    FWIW: I have tried both lasagna and no till gardening. Neither produced as well as my conventionally tilled garden.


  50. Bea
    I am not a newbie to gardening so I do know what works and what does not. I also know that gardening is something that requires constant upkeep and tending to so to get a good crop.

    We have a garden that is well over an acre closer to two. We sell what we grow and I can what we grow. It is nothing for me to put up close to 1000 jars of canned goods a year for us, our pets and extended family and friends. So I guess you can say that I am well versed in canning. Last year we planted 300 purchased already grown tomato plants alone. Then add the corn, beans (green, yellow, purple and Italian), summer and zucchini squash, beets, carrots, strawberries, raspberries, many varieties of herbs, cabbage (red and green), broccoli, brussel sprouts, radishes, multiple kinds of lettuce, onions, multiple kinds of potatoes, swiss chard, kale, spinach, endive, escarole, peppers multiple kinds sweet and hot, patty pan squash, winter squashes such as buttercup, acorn, carnival and buttercup, pumpkins and decorative pumpkins. Every year we have some things that do great and some that do not do so great.

    IMO those bed things they are using are all wrong and not big enough to feed that family even just during growing season. Are the beds going to work? Maybe if they get lucky and it is a perfect growing season which never happens for all things planted as different things require different aspects to grow and produce good. They will be lucky if they get enough out of those beds to give them some good meals just during growing season.

    As for broccoli that is a limited crop as to what you can do with it especially with no means to freeze it. Canning broccoli really does not work good as for the time it would have to be processed in a pressure canner it would be mush.

    They would be better off buying some good tomato plants already started and grow tomatoes as you do not need a pressure canner to process them only a water bath canner that is so much cheaper and easier to use for a novice. Lots can be done with tomatoes = spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, whole tomatoes and other sauces such as sloppy joe sauce. You can even cook and puree other veggies and mix with tomato sauce to make a veggie sauce to use over spaghetti. I do it have a recipe created by myself that hast 32 different herbs and veggies in it. Next beans are a good choice to grow and can be canned but they like most veggies require a pressure canner. Carrots and beets are good choices but they require having the soil turned so to be able to have a good dept to grow down in the ground. Peas can be canned but it takes bushels and bushels of them to make it worth while to can and they are a lot of work to can as they need to be shelled. IMO if you do not have unlimited space to grow a garden peas are worthless when it comes to canning. Summer squash and zucchini can be canned too. I mix mine with cut up tomatoes and onions and use spaghetti sauce instead of water to can them. All greens such as spinach, swiss chard and beet greens are easy to can in a pressure canner and so good for you. Beets are best to grow as you can use the beets to can and the beet greens too so no waste there. Pumpkin and winter squashes can be canned in chucks in a pressure canner.

    The problem with the Nauglers is that they do not have the means to can money and resource wise. Canning is not cheap to get started you have to purchase a pressure canner, water bath canner, jars (if they are new you will not need to purchase lids the first time you use the jars but will there after) and misc canning supplies such as canning salt and spices. I have been canning for many years and do reuse my jars but every year I have to buy more as some will break or chip and every year we seem to run out and need more. Canning takes a lot of time. You have to pick the produce, wash it and prep it, pack it in the jars and then can it. If using a pressure canner you have to be right there by it to babysit it to maintain proper pressure it is not a put it on and leave it thing. Canning takes a lot of water from cleaning the produce, washing and sterilizing the jars, filling the jars and canner to washing the jars after. Yes I wash all of my jars 2 days after they have been canned before putting them on the shelves as there always seems to be some siphon drain that gets in the canner water and is on the outside of the jars. Washing them helps to ensure that if critters such as mice come around they are not going to be attracted to the jars. Jars have to be treated with the utmost respect to ensure that they do not get chipped on the rims so you can reuse them, they are an investment and should be treated as such. Last of all you need space to store all the canned goods, empty jars and supplies that you use to can. I have a spare bedroom that is used for all of this. Yes a whole bedroom with sets of shelves to hold all the filled jars and more shelves to hold all the supplies.

    What the Nauglers have set up is just a beginners hobby garden nothing serious and no where near enough to feed a family that size. But it is probably a good thing that is the set up they are using as they seem to fail at it and bigger would be a waste of money. If they took advice and asked for help they would be successful.


  51. The article you cited wasn’t really ranking vegetable by how much they contribute to the family dinner table. It had a poor view of cucumbers and radishes too. I can’t imagine my summer or winter (pickles) without growing my own cucumbers. Growing a small patch of lettuces has a tremendous value for our calorie needing, active kids for just the reasons that the article poo pooed them. We like salads and sandwiches and taco burgers, beans and enchiladas covered in lettuce! We don’t want to buy organic lettuce at a ridiculous price that has been grown far away and trucked here.

    The Nauglers should start small and just learn to grow a small successful garden that helps feed them fresh veggies in the summer.


  52. Bea, I’m not dissing what you’re saying. I am saying, however, that in bang for the buck lettuce ranks very low. Turnip greens would be far better choice. (although a fall veggie).

    And organic lettuce is a terrible choice for families with children. Organic vegetables are responsible for approximately 30% of the recalls due to ecoli and salmonella and only represent about 3% of the market. I won’t buy them, period, especially organics that you eat raw. I do not like my salads with a side of salmonella.

    The Nauglers should just start, period.


  53. Bea
    They started small and failed at that too.

    Mrs Naugler should learn to get off her high horse and realize that she is not the master of all things and learn that being nice and asking people who have experience with things can and will give help and advice that will make them successful. But no she professes to be a master at all. It is kind of funny reading supporters asking her advice on gardening on the BLH page. I guess they must be a little slow on the draw to not know she is pulling the wool over their eyes and she really does not have the experience that her postings lead them to believe she has. Worse yet she tends to ignore questions like that or glosses over them to keep her persona intact so they will continue to hang on her every word and support her like she is the master at all. She is not master at anything but lying and birthing children they can not afford.


  54. If I were their garden adviser, given the size of the beds, their lack of experience, and the limits on their ability to store food effectively–no freezer, no safe set-up for canning, no food dryer–I’d say beans and more beans.

    They don’t have room in their beds for a mixed garden to provide anything more than a few snacks for a family of 12, so a monocrop that can provide some nutrition seems like the best use of resources. And beans are so forgiving. They don’t need super-rich soil; they help fix nitrogen for more demanding crops later; if you don’t catch them in time for green beans, you can let them mature and use them shelled. Drying for winter storage doesn’t require any equipment. Since they are tall, you can get a lot out of a small space. I favor Romanos because they are delicious at every stage–green, fresh shelled and dried.


  55. I’d say beans and more beans.

    I agree with that. There is a reason why you see so many gardeners planting beans and squash. 🙂


  56. Oh, you can let them dry in the field in Kentucky and they won’t rot? Well in that case I withdraw my earlier plan. Yes, beans, beans, beans! No cooking required if they’re eaten green: just send the kids out to the garden patch. If there are any dry ones at the end of the season, put them in jars.


  57. Good point. And a reminder that local knowledge rules. Where I live it rains all year except, usually, for July and August. I’ve had few issues with field dried beans. Kentucky mileage may vary.


  58. I just realized that my post with the list of storage vegetables and pickling herbs and such omitted the prime requisite: that one of the Naugler PARENTS be out there every day working the land! The kids need to stick to the short list that I outlined earlier, to get the most out of those tiny plots that are probably all they can handle, especially when summer really heats up.


  59. Considering the Naugler’s situation….I still believe that even a tiny garden with spring lettuce and summer tomatoes and cucumbers would be very helpful for them. Nicole will work everyday and never spend time in the garden. Somebodies got to make money. It’s very doubtful that Joe will ever work in the garden. We have a store in our town that sells a 3 pack of vegetable plants for 79 cents. If the Nauglers plant just five dollars worth of tomatoes and cucumbers they would have enough fresh, easy veggies to go with the canned food all summer. They can throw lots of mulch on those beds to reduce the need to haul water and weed. I just think we should be realistic with what the kids can do alone.


  60. Well, I did take the time to read the history of what was going on. I actually feel sick to my stomach. The part about the “composting” toilet a.k.a “bucket” and dumping of feces was, I think, what finally did it for me. It’s a damn shame to live this way. That said, I don’t know how much it helps you to keep up with them.


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