Melissa K. Norris from Modern Homesteading and the Pioneering Today Podcast where everything is Homegrown and Homemade!


Melissa K. Norris from Modern Homesteading the  Pioneering Today Podcast where everything is homegrown and homemade!

Win a copy of Melisa’s New Book Here

Read the full transcript here in this issue of our Golden Seeds Newsletter.



You know what I have to say is that gardeners ~ which you know cuz you do this show and if you’re listening to this you’re a gardener!

Gardeners are some of the most open-handed, homesteaders too, but especially gardeners ~ we are so excited to share what’s worked for us in the garden and what we’ve learned with other people who are interested in it!

Because sadly there’s just not enough gardeners in the world so a lot of people when you’re growing a garden you do not have as many people around you who is quite as excited about it as you are!

So when you meet somebody that’s interested you’re like I can’t wait to talk a whole bunch so I feel like that that’s what we going to do on Garden podcasts and I love them!!

So a little bit about me if you don’t how can introduced yet let me just say I’m very excited and pleased to meet you.


My name is Melissa K Norris and I’m a fifth-generation homesteader but what that really means is we just grew up raising our own food.

When I was younger, in hindsight right? Looking back I didn’t really understand how lucky I was to be raised, my dad got married, his second marriage was much later in life and so my parents are 20 years apart. 

But that means I was really raised by an even older generation and my dad was brought up, when he was young through the time through the Great Depression and they live off of the land. I mean if they didn’t grow it then they wouldn’t eat during the winter.

So they very much lived that very rural home steading lifestyle and so even after you know by the time he had me like I said I was the second marriage and he already had seven seven half-siblings of it already had raised those families even though you know he had an income my dad has always been a really hard worker and provider, we still raised a lot of our own food.

I thought that everybody did that!

We did live out in the country but I just thought everybody had a garden. Like everybody’s mom cans and everybody’s mom cooked you know from scratch.

My dad raised around beef cattle so we raised, we didn’t have chickens by the time I came along or dairy animals as he did when he had more children at home.

My older siblings were out of the house by the time I came along, so it was just one kid at home but I really had till I hit high school and started go to friends houses in staying overnight at getting a little bit more in the world have no it wasn’t a product that time I just thought that’s what everybody did so I came to this lifestyle just because I was raised in it but then has an adult we all have that decision like are you going to keep with what your parents did just cuz that’s how you were raised

Then when I got married of course and my husband I had to decide what we wanted to do and so thankfully he was very on-board with having a garden cuz he was not raised that way!

Then it became really interesting because growing up my dad was self-employed and so he always had you know steady income but he worked for himself so I got to know kind of watch that. But my mom was a stay-at-home mom and so when I got married my husband and I moved out on my own and I had a job so I was working 40 hours a week and community and so I had to learn how to bridge still raising a lot of your own food, cooking from scratch, growing it and the preserving.

I had to really learn how to balance that with having a regular day job and commute and  still having that whole household to run instead of just get it you know to do one or the other

That was probably where my biggest challenge is came out of my insights and things I’ve learned through we’ve been married 20 plus years out of over two decades as learning how to merge those two together with this modern world so that you can make it work .

And you have done such an amazing job! like when I truly think it’s interesting, my husband is 14 years older than I am and I feel like he grew up in a very similar life to what you grew up. He grew up in a 1200 acre cattle ranch in Montana I think he did a lot of the things that you did when you were growing up.

yeah it’s so funny because people will say about the age difference of people especially dating and what not and I just have to laugh cuz I’m like 10 years but ain’t nothing I actually could be pros and cons to any situation but I actually feel blessed now that I got to have all of that Insight from that older generation!

heal from my dad and to witness all of that it’s actually served me very well but oh my goodness is a teenager and even probably in my young twenties I didn’t quite have the same  view.

Do I remember that right, you were working as a pharmicist,  cuz like I first heard about you from listening to Porterfield online marketing Made Easy class and podcasts and just right and then and then and then you changed and ended up getting to stay home right?

Yes oh okay so you guys are probably going to start doing the bathroom but I will come probably right out and tell you that I like so at 8 I got married at 18 my husband was 5 years older than me and we got married when I was Eighteen and that’s also when I started working at our local pharmacy and then I was able to do an on-the-job training program in traveling to a college and kind of doing like a work work college program where I became a pharmacist tech. I  wasn’t actually a pharmacist that I worked in pharmacy from the time I was 18 years old and I worked there for in that industry for 18 here so you can you guys could do I had to get away. Or two kids in between there so happy I brought kids into the to the farm in the homestead life and still working at the pharmacy and doing all of that and then I started really sharing about homesteading cuz

I’ve always wanted to be a writer I have loved books I started I cut my teeth on a Little House on the Prairie series.  My mom would read to me every night before I went to bed and she had a strict rule like so many pages every night and it didn’t matter that we had the end of those pages for that night and that was it

Book love

like it don’t matter how much I begged you like you read the rest tomorrow night so she really instilled a love for me with books and especially because we did live

There really there was at that time there was just one neighbor that had another child that was my age so it wasn’t like there was even a lot of kids to play with around here and I laughed because yes we had TV. TV but we didn’t have cable and we still don’t have cable where I live. We live across the river and they just don’t stretch it over to we can’t get cable if we wanted it it was an old antenna like the metal antenna that sticks up on top of your house and I kid you not in the summertime you could get tv and sound now but once there was snow on the mountains every time you wanted to watch TV you had to go outside and you had to turn the antenna and just to get it to come in clear enough that you could see the picture and it that we only got like three or four channels!

about your like a vet like I don’t watch them are you acting right so cartoons that are but you were very limited to what you can work cuz we only had like three channels and so really like my love of books so that’s your what

I tell I was I read books and I love books that I love I’ve been read the Laura Ingalls you know the whole Little House on the Prairie series and I’ll just so many so many wonderful books so I knew from the time I was like eight-years-old I wanted to be like I want to be able to write books that have been my lifelong dream but I thought that I was going to write historical fiction!

it’s so it 18 and I got married in but the funny thing is I was always writing historical fiction so like on the cattle drives in Dutch oven cooking it and I used to Barrel race and train horses and have horses!

They don’t currently at the moment but I was very into that lifestyle and so it actually came into my writing and so I learned that even though goodness I this was he know probably just ten ten years ago at least that if you wanted to get published that

You needed to have what they called a platform.

you needed a website you needed a blog, I was at a writers convention at those writers, like I don’t even know what a blog is I mean so I’m like okay but I can learn like I’ve always had that

my dad instilled in  me at a very young age like you figure out a way to get stuff done you know you can figure out anything you just got to set your mind to it so that’s what I did on my pal figure this out had dial up internet could barely going to take forever and so I figured out what a sound like we’ll all right about like

My Heroine is a Dutchovern expert

so all right like not knowing it was a homesteading Blog at the time and it was just to get people interested in and that and that they would you know hopefully they want to read my books or something this time.

So that’s really where the whole online thing a teacher what we were already doing it I have grown up with was born with this flag and so time went on it I wrote many many books and none of them ever got published I got in a literary agent protection and we shopped it around and I was really excited but just nobody ever ever none of the publishing houses ever bit on those projects and so

Long story short the last publishing house that I had submitted to they rejected my novel but she said oh my goodness you have got so much content on your blog would you write non-fiction for us And I was like YES! yes I will and so that’s how I came out and then he or the website and end this. They offer you like in in my resources to help people is just continue to evolve it looks like a very baby beginning but to answer your question I stayed doing I did that

plus we raised all of our own met here

  • beef
  • pork
  • chicken
  • and chicken for eggs

and also our meat and then every year we just kept increasing the garden in the fruit trees and all of that you know plus working at a job and then writing about it and doing a podcast and actually both of my my first two books were all written and done while doing

all of that and still working my regular day job so thankfully I was able to

Two years ago I was able to cuz I am still in my 30s via my lights time to the writing and let the podcast and the courses in all of those fun things and the books from Home And continue to raise all their own food so doing all of that will still holding a day job has been very very helpful

Powerful because I know there’s so many people who are in the same boat I was four years they wanted this lifestyle but a lot of people aren’t able

readers all of the regular part of life you said that and I was able to say like hey you can do it and and this is how we’ve done it and let me help you

And help you do because that’s what I love about learning from you so much as you give us these actionable tips and it’s like time-saving like I think you learned a ton of time ever doing and putting it together an sharing it it and and you give away so much free content it’s it’s just crazy how much free things you do but then you are so go way into death with your different classes and all your different.

I know what my listeners really want to hear about like I’m dying to read your new book that’s coming out about gardening like being able to feed your family cuz that’s something that we struggle with like my husband’s goal is to achieve that but I just feel like were working other people and we’ve been working on this for over 20 years!

by play some of the I don’t know just like I like the things that you want to share and

My new book is called the family garden plan it’s raising a healthy and sustainable food because a lot of times people see where we’re at now we’re a lot further like I said 20 plus years of on my own in my marriage with my husband died and then also 18 years prior to that of watching it being from my parents and learning from them !

So often times people see why I say we raised all of our own meat and or harvested from fishing and hunting what we’re not raising ourselves and we raised about about 55 to 65% of our own fruits and vegetables out for the year not to having to buy them from the store here at home said

But that’s not how we started out when we first started out as newlyweds have always raising of green beans to can to take us through the year because that’s one of the crops that my parents raised

and not through the whole year so I just kind of knew this is how much I need to plant this is how much I’m going to need to can accept that so I had that mirrored

and then we always had our own beef and so and that’s kind of easier to know a family of two you know we only needed like a quarter 1/4 of you feeling it was just my husband and I are easy for me to see so that’s where I started

so if your goal is to raise a Year’s worth of food my number one best advice is you pick one thing to start with.

Maybe you want to do one vegetable and you want to do one fruit that doesn’t mean that you’re not growing other fruits and vegetables by any means but it means that you’re saying okay this is the one that I’m going to grow in my growing climate that will be able to eat off of it for us during the growing season cuz really that’s like ideal like there’s nothing just going out to the garden and taking it right off the vine it’s ripe ready to go when you just get it but I’m also going to grow enough of it that I can preserve it so then we can eat it all the way through until the next time you know the next year when it’s ready to grow and produce again for us so pick

one thing to begin with if you are not doing this already with an item so for example you know green beans is when that my family is also seeds safe for over a hundred years so we always did raise enough of the green beans and preserve them because you couldn’t buy those variiteties anywhere in the store they just weren’t available and we are very spoiled and I can’t eat store-bought green beans neither can my children because they don’t taste the same

of the things maybe it’s Tomatoes you know tomatoes are extremely versatile to use and are cooking so maybe you’re going to grow a Year’s worth of tomatoes to put out the

pick that one thing and then you grow a Year’s worth of that or you try and sometimes it takes you a couple years to get it down and that’s fine

but once you’ve gotten that down and it’s like okay I know this is about how much we need and I’m pretty good at growing this,  like it’s common kind ot of easy then you add in the next item so every year my goal and this is what I am I teaching all of your the podcast and with my members inside our membership in my classes and all of that but you your goal

is to each year to just add one more thing so that way it’s not overwhelming you’re not going to drive yourself crazy it’s very attainable but each year if you add one thing and then one more very quickly and sometimes people choose to do like two or three things but I just say you’re just pick that one thing it add to it and very quickly you’re going to increase and then you gain confidence and it’s very contagious and so then you build

you’re still excited to do it even when there is there still those work hours and we all have those times like in the in the busiest part of Summer sometimes you kind of want to tear your hair. You’re like oh my goodness I’ve got so much to deal with an account in the weeds are taking over I need to get all of this preserved because it’s all going to go bad and it’s all coming out at once and you’re like why on Earth did I do this?

we all have those moments when you see everything on the shelf and you realize I that I don’t ever have to buy this from the store again or at least for a whole year !

when you feel that feeling it takes all of those times when you’re feeling a little bit of the crazy away and you remember like this is why I’m doing this

a search totally worth it rather than if you try to just like you everything at once and you’ve never done it you are going to become so overwhelmed that you’re like this is just crazy and dumb and I can’t do this so it’s making it in a way that for you to have life-long achievement with it and just build block by block by block!

It’s just all awesome advice and it makes me feel like we are much closer to our goal cuz it’s kind of how we’ve done it slowly over the years

so your in  Washington like I always imagined you kind of close to where Erin Benzakien lives? Is that correct for listeners?

I we live up in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains whereabouts 500 feet above sea level altitude we are about smack-dab in The Middle on the west side of the mountains between Seattle and the Canadian border so I am fairly far north it’s about an hour and a half drive for me to hit the Canadian border but we’re not the coast is like an hour and a half away but we go from the coast straight up into the mountains so gardening wise and climate lies I’m technically a sound seven but we have because we have a more of a microclimate being up in the Foothills it at a pocket of the valley where we live up here in the mountains

Usually our last frost is about usually about the 1st of May so that I’m able to plant out like my tomatoes and those things just out in the garden Anywhere from mid-may sometimes it’s Memorial weekend it really depends on the weather for the year and then a lot of times we will have a frost mid-september sometimes we’re lucky like this year and I didn’t have one till the first part f October and I was super excited but that’s so that’s kind of like my gardening zone and then the growing days we have about warm weather crops which is really the end of May just do that mid-september it’s a relatively shorter growing period then I think a lot of people at thisnk in the pacific northwest.

sometimes when you say Washington or Pacific Northwest longer than our climate here but you know I was listening to one of your episodes where you were talking about different microclimates and different things and so we have a lot of that here too but I’ll bet it’s a lot like that there

I was kind of wondering also cuz I was watching your video of about that it’s likely that you have in your pantryand you had all that salmon and I thought but you probably get salmon from the Pacific Ocean where do you get that salmon ?

My husband does work a day joband he works at a mill actually that size tell me why it’s so he sellss guitar tops and Brace word for used Taylor Guitars has one of their biggest customers but also send for Martin but I promise it is we are really blessed that one of his bonuses that his boss provides is keep we get a fish bonus which is really amazing and it is from yes from the ocean and its fresh caught salmon and then they flash freeze it and vacuum seal it and then we get so much of that a year!

so some of that we totally I can’t we smoke and then can pressure cancel it. It just sitting there on the shelf and it’s one of my I love and smoked salmon it is delicious an amazing just showing what we have on the Shelf

I love home smoked salmon.

but we do live about an hour away from the coast and so what a little like 20 + year old 17 ft like ski boat but if we just stay in the bay like like really close to the bay in the summer months we have six little crab pots and we go out with our little boat and stay right close to Shore and we are actually able to get usually limit out and get enough of our own crab and catch that ourselves and have our own crab but we do have enough to take us to ththrough the year!

actually fishing for her to see herself together we’re just really blessed and given to us

What was some of the questions that you normally ask yes cuz I have so much I’m not sure where it’s like a good point take to come back to certain face talk about this year and

you were talking about you know I was asking about your book and growing a years worth of food, I always  some of the techniques starting with just like one crop and like I always talk about you no start with something like to eat well that’s why I was asking where do you live because maybe like we make my husband also does the same thing with green beans and the she likes the bush beans because the pole beans he says he gets really frustrated because we also get a frost usually around September or the first week in September sometimes the end

of August in Psych is always right when they’re just about to pick and then they freeze on me let’s talk about that so what’s your guys’s planting date when do you guys so we are usually it’s just a little bit later than you like the first week in June the second week in June and then we’re very similar like sometimes we’ll get it to end up like the last week in August but usually about the first or second week in September okay let’s talk about that actually because I do have a section and I would love ya love to share about picking varieties that grow the best for your climate specifically so I think that would be great so if you want to ask me something just jump in how do you want a

Segway that part just just jump in because I always interesting like what they can do to be more productive and visited website on my blog is the 10 most productive crops to grow in Montana so I’m sure they’re interested in so what does that mean so what are the things that I really like to tell people when you’re planning out your garden or at your indefinitely if you did grow a garden this year it’s really a good thing to do and the following the winter months is to look at the Garden and say okay this dude like really amazing and distant do quite so well, it’s really fresh in your mind and you think that your spring timer even winter time if you’re starting seeds indoors which is kind of pain upon your crime and what you’re growing that you’re going to remember everything but the garden gears and season start to go together and I’ve noticed if I don’t take notes like right afterwards I think I’m going to have this fabulous memory and remember it all and then I don’t

and I got was that last year was at this year and which one did I say I didn’t want to do it again which was Fridays work so I really learn to take notes app host of this summer annual vegetable garden kind of like an audit and be like okay this this is what we doing again or this is something I need to try  to fix the ETC so do that if you did have a garden this year and if you didn’t well then you’re going to know that you need to do it for next year cuz you’re going to have a garden this year but a lot of times when we come into especially this time of year is in a fall as we’re recording this and then into the winter is we want to start planning and getting our seeds and deciding what we’re going to be growing the next year and a lot of times it’s really important to take note of crops that were cut short because of your growing season

So for example I’ve tried some different types of tomatoes in the past and some of the varieties they were just more heat-loving than others and that something we struggle with in the Pacific Northwest

even though I do grow my tomatoes actually in it’s basically a high tunnel so it’s an unheated Greenhouse that we just used an old carport frame and put some plastic on so that we didn’t have blight

It’s actually rainy here and cooling of sympathize why I said I really have not been able to successfully grow tomatoes without keeping them under some type of cover!

I tried someone varieties and usually always do an heirloom San Marzano Lungo No. 2 number to which is an heirloom paste tomato

Paste Tomatoes

Especially if you’re looking for that whole year saying and preserving them!

You want to have the majority of the ones that you’re planning on preserving and putting up be a paste tomato so when you’re making your

tomato sauces

pizza sauce

pasta sauce


and just all of those things I paste tomato doesn’t have as much water so that means you don’t have to simmer it as a long or when you are making your size take can so it just cuts down your time and they are there last year but usually they have a better flavor like for cooking wise so when you’re looking at doing your Tomatoes make sure you’ve got some peaceful varieties and they’re not like I said my favorite happens to be a San Marzano Lungo No. 2

what exactly is a cucumber a pickle a cucumber like what pickling cucumber what are those varieties so

I try to some fun new heirloom varieties and so I did a it was a

Russian purple and then we did a

black Cherokee

They were fun and I still think it’s always important to try new varieties at cuz you never know when you’re going to discover a new beloved favorite, but they just weren’t as prolific for me and they seem to set a little bit later than the San Marzano and so they took up some of my growing space and they weren’t really well suited for the sauces and stuff

They were delicious just to eat like on sandwiches or two you know to put some mozzarella in basil and do it in real quick and the other like that but I didn’t feel like they were something that I would do a whole lot of. So I’ve only grown like one or two plants max, since that first-year just to make sure for fun but to make sure I didn’t cut myself short on by preserving ones.

one of the things that we want to take an account especially if you are trying to new variety or if you feel like you’re getting cut short on some of your crop. Is you want to look at the varieties for your area that maybe have if you’re in a colder climate have a shorter days to harvest!

So one of the beautiful things about when your seed saving is as you’re going to seed save and I am Switching gears but just with me, when you’re seed saving your going to be picking from the plants this one produced the soonest so you’re going to be kind of marking those plants like okay this one actually started to produce beans the fastest.

I had these plants started to produce blossoms and form their beans the fastest and also the most disease-free and are the most prolific so the ones that are producing the best and also earliest too!

The awesome thing about the seed saving is as you’re going to seed safe from those and so every year you are getting plants that are more climatized and better suited for your specific garden and microclimate and garden zone!

Pretty soon, within a relatively short time, within your a few short years and gardening seasons you’re just going to get this plant that is perfect for your environment because all of us have a little bit different, even within the same gardening zones, first Frost and last frost excetera

so that’s one of my favorite things to do with what she’d say it’s because you got these class but you might not be in to seed saving yet, and get in there that could be in a whole other episode, that’s an entire few episodes on its own at the intricacies with seeds but look at variety’s if you’ve got that short growing. Look at their IDs because even within your green beans for example of your Tomatoes there’s going to be some varieties that say you know ready to harvest within 90 days it’s a ready to harvest 120 + days that’s a whole month!

If you have frost dates coming that’s a difference between you actually getting to harvest the full Harvest for 3 to 4 weeks and something like this for like a week or a month, so that is actually a really big deal!

so look at those things on seed packet and research some different varieties and find the one that’s best suited to your area with those growing days and also you’ll see some that say you know struggle in cooler climates, or some that say produce really well in cooler climates

So pay attention and do a little bit of research with those and then try those right is in your own garden and if you find that they perform well for you that you know okay these are the ones that I want to keep and maybe each year instead of reordering these seeds from wherever I order them from I’m going to try seed saving to see if I can get an even closer to what I need for my garden planting times

so that’s one of the things that I really suggest to do now if you haven’t done that or you’re not, it’s a really start kind of researching those that are best suited to your growing space!

See listeners I knew that you were going to love and just there was so much great stuff there! Do you make cilantro like our paste tomatoes good for cilantro like maybe that’s why I always struggle with cilantro not cilantro salsa canning

Yes, because  you don’t want watery salsa and that you don’t like it

when you’re doing that it’s obviously with heat because you have to can salsa you use a paste tomato especially a good meaty fleshy paste tomato like a San Marzano lot of people like that the Amish paste switch haven’t personally grown but I have a lot of gardener friends and Counting friends who like an Amish paste or there’s lots of different varieties within that that paste variety but

yes it definitely helps you have a much thicker salsa so it’s not watery!

Because nobody wants Water and Sewer free salsa when they’re trying to put on a chip right ?

Absolutely and my listeners tend to be like bigger gardeners, more like on my husband’s level and like you know like a like a whole backyard full of garden or they’re Master Gardeners are there people who have been gardening for quite a while and I didn’t dare truths about like some of the things that you talk about a lot for like with fruit trees and just how you know like decide where you’re going to like how much and what to do with all the produce, I know one thing I struggle with is everything coming on at the same time.

One of the things that I do when I picking varieties is just like for example that I used to that paste tomato is you need to think about how am I going to be preserving this and using it in my kitchen year round.

It really doesn’t do us good if we decide to put up you know 20 jars of hot mustard relish if we only use one jar a year like that’s just silly!

Sometimes you don’t know that like sometimes like I’m super excited to try this recipe and getting into preserving and canning and you just don’t realize that you’re going to go through that and it’s been there a long time it happens to all of us!

This is one of the things from the book that I say that you should do and I actually do this yearly and the reason for that is because you know 10 years ago I cooked differently my kids are obviously older now.

Our tastes changed a lot of times I just cook different foods and therefore I’m using kind of different ingredients jam and jelly is that used to because my kids are little and they’re not eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a very regular basis like they used to so I don’t put up as much jam and jelly!!

but you want to look at and I recommend tracking if you travel planning this is totally already done for you but if you don’t do meal planning just I’m not a very good meal planner start over again

Someday when I grow up I will be a meal planner!

what’s a straight down like this is what we had for dinner so write down did you use a can of tomato sauce you know if it was at home again if it was from the store then you know you probably know that

Trying to keep track of those ingredients all I do is do you know 4 cups of green beans when I made a stew or we had green beans as a side I just got to keep track of the produce stuff that you’re accusing and cooking with if you can do a month awesome if you can’t join with your like there ain’t no way

I’m tracking that for a month do a week do two weeks and then just time’s it get at 2 weeks times it by two that you don’t averagely that’s how much you use of that item and times it by 12 just going to give you a rough average but it’s going to give you a very good idea then it so that you know how much you would need to plant in order to have enough of that produce for you to preserve and take you through a whole year!

And you’re like, I don’t know how much?

How many plants do I need? if we are using 4 cups a month. That’s going to be x 12 however many 4 x 12 is 48.

The Family Garden Plan: Grow a Year's Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food

You are going to this chart that I have for you at the and the book is filled with these charts that say okay was I need you no one green bean plant is going to give you an average amount of Cups so you know okay well then this is how many I need to put in

We did it for all of the fruits and vegetables because a lot of charts will show you vegetables but then when you get to your perennial plants

Then you know asparagus and then of course all of your fruit trees and your berry bushes that like will goodness how many blueberry plants would I need for my family to take us through a whole year?

It’s going to change on the size of your family but it’s also going to change if you basically how much is your family eating of that food so it’s never going to be the same. 

We got two families of four that live next door to each other have the same growing season but how much I need for a year and how much they need for your each food is going to be different!!

This allows you to dive in and be like oh it’s all done for me! Here we go ok this is the green beans this is how many I get per plant on average of cups this is how many plants I need to grow.

We made these very easy to use charts and you actually get access to that specific chart and  worksheet for free when you go to the book website! the

Every chapter in the book has amazing worksheets like that that’s just one but it really helps you to know exactly how much to put

It also like when you’re picking the varieties like I said it’s knowing how am I going to be preserving that to take us through the whole year so the paste tomatoes was an example for us.

For Cucumbers

I actually always do a pickling cucumber, because we love garlic dill pickles! Also we do my husband’s great grandma’s mustard pickle relish that we use, it’s kind of funny I was talking about relish before and not using a hot mustard one because I don’t like spicy, but we use this one all the time!

I know that when I’m putting in my cucumbers if I want to do one plant of just like you know cucumber English cucumber that’s fine but the majority of the cucumber plants that I put in or going to need to be a pickling cucumber and a Chicago pickling cucumber as one of my favorites!

It stays nice and firm, it’s very prolific and it actually has really good taste if you do just want it like twice and chop it up and put it in a salad or dip it into like a Greek yogurt sauce or something eating it fresh!

I feel like it’s a dual-purpose cucumber and so usually I just grow all of that and that’s the cucumber variety I know I’m putting in for the year.

I hope I don’t like I covered a lot of stuff there but to that answer to that answer your question?



It did and I want to make sure while we’re on the topic that listeners know if you go to pre-order the  the Family Garden Plan now not only do you get the early access to the charts and workshops you’re talking about.

But also you have crop and rotation and companion planting videos that you get!

If you pre-order The Family Garden Plan now, and get free access to the:

  • Crop Rotation & Companion Planting Videos $29 value
  • Seed Saving 101 Video & e-book Package $29 value
  • Organic Soil Amendment Guide $19 value
  • Early Access to the Planting a Year’s Worth of Food Chart & Worksheets straight from the book $19 value

There’s what a seed saving 101 video and a package and there’s an organic soil amendment guide and just listen to show organic soil amendment guide the other day when I was going back and re- listening to them and just that alone is worth like just gold! It sounded like there was so much in that Do you want to talk about that a little bit cuz that’s like soil health?

Yeah, yes yes so in the Family Garden Plan book if you preorder the book hits store shelves like Nationwide and action physical stores like Barnes and Nobles and all that January 7th!

The cool thing is, if you pre-order now you get access, like I said to the worksheets! Tthen I have a whole bunch of bonus items because as gardeners for me like there’s a lot that I need in charts, that I need to be able to flip to and to learn quickly!

But there’s some things that I actually like wanted to be able to see and so we’ve got a couple of different video packages that you get for free just by pre-ordering the book and like you said there’s the companion planting one and the crop rotation!

When I first started doing crop rotation and looking into doing companion planting a lot of what I found overwhelmed me! I was like oh my goodness between these two things alone like there is so much for me to keep straight in my head!

How how do I do this? and how do I do it in a backyard garden? where I’m putting in early spring crops and then I’m putting in summer crops and then I’m putting in fall crops all in the same space!

So I’m like I have to try to companion plant and crop rotate basically three times a year? It really overwhelmed me!

I need a way to be able to break this down so it’s very usable in a backyard garden, when you don’t have like a big traditional Farmer or big agriculture and you know you have huge fields!

So you’re just crop rotating a lot of it is is based words that sound like these really big farms and fields which is a little bit easier to do when you just got one cup mono crops in this big huge acres of land versus a small backyard garden where you’re putting you know almost all the things in a much smaller area!

All of this is what I needed and use. I’m like, I need this in an easy done format and so as I implemented and figure that out and did out my own charts.

I take all of that is what went into these videos and within the book as well. When it came to the soil amendment guide that one and it’s all from an organic and natural standpoint!

You can find a lot of things you know online that are synthetic and that’s just not the way that we want to go!

so if you want to do that in your own garden that’s fine, but for me I really needed to know how can I fix my oil when I have issues with things that are organic and are totally natural and can be done easily like I said and that smaller backyard start type environment not unlike this huge commercial operation

For the  soil amendment guide we had our soil tested and we had some of the levels that have been out on the same piece of gardening spot for like 12 years and we’ve been putting some wood ash from our garden out there while we put too much in and I had gotten my pH level had gotten off

It had affected the garden the year  a positive back to the Garden Theatre before and so I did a soil test don’t really do a soil test every year but I just felt us cuz we just had some different growing issues that we’re going on I was having some blossom end rot and just kind of producing a grin like they normally were even though it was like my same seeds and same varieties and the weather was fairly typical as you can get an ID card in Pride and always varies from year to year super interesting because it it came back and it showed me I pH level is off and you don’t really look at those 12 micro and macro nutrients as well as pH level and nitrogen levels that most that your garden soil has and it will eat your vegetable and fruit production the most and so I’m like okay this is great now I know that these levels are off how how do I go about fixing them I’m so I tweeted a ton of research on like Signs without a soil test so different signs that show you if that level is either too high or too low cuz cuz it’s too high or too low you’re going to exhibit some different signs and it can cause problems if it’s not liking that optimal range and so rexha visual signs that will tell you okay this is probably the level that’s off and then this is organically how you fix it by either increasing or decreasing depending on what it is so that you can get everything back into that Harmony place you got your soil Health it got best spot that candy for everything to grow and just give you the most produce that at heart Vegas, so that you can get and

it just sounds like you have put so much thought and effort and Research into that like I said I feel like that alone is worth the fight then you got all these other great things that you’ve been doing this for so long and feeding your family and just I know there’s so much in your book that my listeners are interested in and I can’t wait till it comes out!

So at teh end of my show, I kind of do this thing called Getting to the Root of Things that are like kind of like just what was the first thing that comes into your head type of questions and so do you have a lease favorite activity that you got to force yourself to go into the garden and do?

Oh yes you know I hate to say probably like overall my least favorite thing when it comes to a garden is I don’t love to weed.

Now, once I am out there and weeding I find that it can actually be very therapeutic and I get some great creative ideas out there when I’m doing it but like if I’m thinking about my favorite things to do in the garden weeding is not high on there!

It’s like oh I love planting time I love Harvest Time you know I like even just kind of one of my favorite things to do is to go out in the morning and just kind of stroll through the garden keep an eye on things and just you know just be out there and enjoying it but if it’s like oh so I would probably say weeding!

On the flip side then is planting and harvesting your favorite thing to do?

Actually my favorite things is actually pruning I love to prune I couldn’t tell you increases the health of your plants and is going to give you a larger yield the most in most cases but I like to prune

pruners garden tool

oh my gosh I can totally relate but I will be honest with you I don’t know if I would have said that a year ago at this time but the last was the last remembers the Christmas where I just my mom got me a set of really nice last summer I took them out in the garden so much more that I ever have and I really fell in love with pruning and now I know why cuz they can like make cutting like a lilac like cutting butter so sharp and just so perfect!


Just my thing that I want to do is like I like to paint mailboxes and like I want to paint in the mailbox and I keep them down there because the garden at the bottom of the hill all the time so but anyway I can totally relate to pruning! I fell in love with it after I got those pruners! And when I was a kid, I have so many memories of my mom carrying around her CutCo Pruners so I think she likes them too.

okay I got to put those on my Christmas wishlist cuz honestly I’m like do tell me to tell me that I’m making it a note to put a pair of those on my Christmas wish list.

All right I’ll send you the link cuz I actually think like she bought them like the school behind her house I was like it’s like a little Waldorf school, and they have a crafts fair and she likes to go support them and I think she bought them from like the salesman but I want to say he’s really close to you in Washington State.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I don’t think that’s a good question I like that I think you don’t really live the best gardening what advice that I got was really was crop rotation and soil Health actuary broad things but one of the best pieces of advice I got was we were growing for the first time and we are fortunate in our area that I actually have a certified organic farmer and she’s a professional grower but she’s a close family friend!

and she’s been an excellent Mentor! She taught me how to prune blueberries too!

We were growing broccoli in our garden and I was like how excited I was that you know what all of that and she said okay, I’m sure you know this, she has such a nice gentle way of being like, I’m sure you know this, but you want to make sure that you don’t plant anything else that’s in brassica in that same spot for at least three years because there won’t be enough nitrogen and you won’t get a good crop!

like I said it you know it just takes so much so make sure that you’re rotating and that was my first introduction actually to crop rotation the only form of crop rotation that I did was like I didn’t even dive into it even further than that so that’s still probably one of the best pieces of like individual advice that I got!

That’s awesome I love that broccoli is by far my favorite food and think to grow for the garden and I was listening to you I want to see you were talking to Jill McSheehy and the year we got the most broccolis and we got squirrels, those stinkers like pooped on my broccoli bites out of everything you have any tips for animals getting into your crops that I know you said you have squirrels but you had something else?

I was kind of close yet the nerve of those squirrels! Sometimes I feel really bad for saying that we don’t have a squirrel problem here because I know for people that deal with them at their super frustrating and I don’t throw your Tomatoes at me for saying we don’t have that you’re a very destructive to our to our plans especially or fruit trees that are perennials not not just a regular garden and so honestly like for keeping the past and even that birds like off of your berry bushes for not stripping them

Barrier Method for Pests

The best method that I have found to be the most effective like time and time over and over again with kind of the least amount of Hands-On work after you’ve put it into is to use some type of barrier method!

so I use netting on all of my blueberry bushes and we met on the blueberry bushes I’ve used netting before I didn’t do it this note to self evaluation thing to it again this year we didn’t block offer fence off some of our younger through trees that we put an eye out of sinew fruit trees and the more they grow up higher and they don’t have all the chests a tender young branches it’s a deer go through they don’t seem to damage them as much but my younger ones that actually broke a lot of the branches off and kind of ruined the shaping of it as a that I was trying to maintain

cuz they were you just three-year-old fruit trees are pretty young still so I need to put up some fencing just around the top vegetative part of the trees again and or netting as well

If you can get like some type of row cover or cages or something like that which I know it’s not always be able to do your entire Garden like I I totally understand that

But for us like even with the like the Cabbage moths, all of that like if I can use a row cover I found that that just is more effective than trying to use all the different sprays and sense and shiny ribbon and flashing CDs you said all those different things a barrier method has always proven for us to be the most effective.

I wonder how we can put barriers on the broccoli, we do have row cover, so we will have to try that!we did the one thing was one of my guests said that they thought maybe it was because of your we were having a drought year because then we haven’t had that problem in other years and it was a really bad brought that year.

How big is your place?

it’s really funny because people assume that you will have to have this huge huge amount of space an order to grow that much of your own fruits and vegetables and again he is definitely and how much you eat of one particular item is going to indicate how much space you need so some people more than others are less that really so we have 14.96 Acres of almost 15 Acres

But our house is only situated on one acre where our house and yard is everything else is woods and or pasture where are cattle and pigs and chickens and everything else is. But I’m not growing out in the pasture pasture lands or the deeply wooded areas

Except for blackberries which are technically an invasive weed where I live they grow everywhere even if you don’t want them!

But I’m not growing any of our crops in those pasture last because the cattle are kind of like the pigs and destroy most of the things if I try to come out in a pasture.

Our house and yard is on 1 acre and on that less than a half of that occur is actually housing our orchard and my berry plants and our perennials and then where I grow all of our tomatoes and the majority of our peppers and the title is a 20 by 10 foot structure so 20 feet long and 10 feet wide and that’s about 18 to 20 tomato plants of those pastes San Marzano Lungo No. 2 and goes takes us through an entire year’s worth of tomato products and they have one space for a 10ft row of putting in some hot peppers that grow in there as well along side them

Then our regular vegetable garden

which is where I have you know how to say all of you know your annual summer vegetables and then fall too but it’s not like my asparagus bed and blueberries and raspberries ~

That is about 56 feet wide and then it’s about 20 feet long

I don’t actually know how many square feet that is, but it’s not as large as you would think and then we’ve got great plants that just grow vertically.

That is another thing I taught that is is finding ways to grow things vertically.

We have a cement patio off our back dec off our back porch. With a grill etc, but my husband rbor that goes up and over it and we have to grape plants that climb over it on either side and then they climb up and over the summer and great but really like the square foot of actual ground space of them it’s only like like you know. Two plants on each side it’s like a 3 foot circumference around the bottom of each of these and like and then it just as all up and space!

it really takes up very little space!

Then we do some container gardening.

I have my herbs mixed in with my flowers and landscaping that most people have a few flower beds around their house in their doorways and then we just have a couple rows of our blueberries and raspberries and and asparagus patch that I put my rhubarb in with my blueberries because they both like acidic soil and I only have to amend one are at once

I’m really about working the least amount of possible believe it or not for doing all of this so if I can find a way that it’s got to be like the lazy way to do it but doesn’t affect anything negatively like I’m your girl!

I’m so really it’s not as nearly as much space as you would think so on less than a half an acre were able to put all of this close cuz just like you said I don’t have a lot of time I don’t want to be traipsing over 14 acres of a course to go to all of these different areas I want to be able to to just go out and have things close to the house or close to water supplies so if I need to water an irrigated all during the summer I can do so if I forgot to get the pruning shears it’s not that huge do you know back!

And I’m wasting the time that I do have available you know Gathering supplies and going back and forth but everything’s in its early congregated closer I feel like that helps with productivity to

well I think that’s what it is it’s not that you’re busy it’s just you’re trying to be efficient cuz you’re doing so much and you’re able to do so much because you are being efficient and effective and kind of like systems and and things in place

Back to the favorite tool question what would you take with you if you had to move in can only take one tool with you oh that’s a good thing if I had to move and could only take?

I can’t say that I would really consider it a tool but it would definitely be are heirloom strain of seed being set with my family’s been saving for like I said over well over a hundred years and generations and generations back!

If I could only take one thing it was Garden related it would be my my seeds there’s one specifically!

How about a favorite recipe you like to eat from the garden?

Well, you know almost all of my cooking is from the garden, but if we’re going with a very very favorite one of my favorite recipes and probably because I have just got done baking when this morning is my husband’s Grandma’s pumpkin roll!

Sugar Pie Pumpkins

Always grow sugar pie pumpkins because they just give it the absolute best flavor when you’re doing  anything

I believe it or not I’m not a big fan of pumpkin pie pumpkin! but Pumpkin Roll and Pumpkin Savory soup so kind of like in this pumpkin absolute favorite is probably pumpkin roll!

I just downloaded your Pioneering Today Fall Magazine that’s full of great recipes and one of the easiest things in the world is to make your own pumpkin I just can stand people who use canned pumpkin!

there’s so many like I have to pick one? I have to say when when I’m really like in research mode which I did as how to research for the book ~ like scientific studies and etcetera.

Not, just say things we’ve always done in the garden.

Actually data from scientific areas is Extension office’s you know extension offices all over the US have so much info there.

A lot of it is backed by science of gardening to preserving so making sure that are preserving practices cause I’m really big on on safety!

I love being able to do so much at home and use old-fashioned methods but I want to make sure I’m up to date with keeping my family safe and myself safe and also safe what I’m sharing with other people.

I would say probably like I look at Extension Office first and I always double-check anything that if I don’t know I get with an extension office and there’s so many of them that you can usually find it from what extension office or another and I’ll be in my own state but I think that there are a great sometimes very underused resource my question.

I have a really quick on that topic of like hearing things and preserving things safely and doing things in the garden safely? How do you come up with recipes like I know not for preserving the baking that pumpkin thing like do you have any tips for like creating recipes? Or where do you find them?

Creating recipes you don’t think I know that God gives each one of us individually what whatever your. I believe that we’ve all been given certain gifts and I think that he has gifted me with like let’s throw things together recipes except when it comes to canning that is not the case but otherwise recipes are a guideline.

That’s how I feel,  the recipe’s a guideline and so let’s try this and that and let’s see if it works

I’ve been very fortunate that most of the time they really well!

A lot of times like I’ll just kind of look at like a base like cook time for something if it’s something I haven’t really done before I kind of look at a base and then I just kind of start throwing stuff together the only down fall to that is if you don’t document what you thrown together and it turns out phenomenally sometimes it’s hard to replicate it!

Especially now that I share so much in books and in like you said that the free online magazine that we’ve got in and those different resources as I’ve learned that I really need to write things down when I’m doing it the next time

That’s so true cuz like I’ve been trying to like recreate this hemp seed oil salad dressing recipe and every time I try to like write it and then follow my measurements it never works but when I just wing it it comes out right every time

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

That’s a great goodness sake I’ve been pretty voracious reader so I don’t know that I’ve ever had to pick an all-time favorite of course I’m just going to go with the Little House on the Prairie series because I feel like every time I’m serious. Well my daughter and I were reading through it like I said I couldn’t even tell you how many times from since childhood to adulthood

IDK how many times, I am looking at it more I feel like I pull out something new or notice something new especially like in Farmer Boy for example or we know when they are doing things where I was when I was younger obviously I was focused more like what Laura was doing or Mary or one it would probably be that serious but I read like I read all the time I listen to audiobooks.

I listen to podcasts like one favorite but I would say like my my fall back on like I think is so good would probably be that one but I like bouncing all the time.


I do really like as far as magazines go I do like The New Pioneer Magazine and also Mother Earth News which I’m sure most people are super familiar with good solid good salads.


That’s always right up my alley is a gardener and  a homesteader resources when I’m surfing on the internet I like to look at Mother Earth News 


Then what do you think about the Magnolia Journal? Chip and Joanna Gaines newest adventure?

It’s funny is, I actually enjoy watching their show I don’t watch a ton of TV but I have enjoyed watching their show in the past and I did get one edition of her magazine a few issues back cuz I think it’s quarterly and I thought it was very interesting. I love that she’s bringing to like the mainstream like some more simple type famish type ways of living at and incorporating that. I feel like it’s a really great thing!

I like that, cause my mom’s always like nobody wants to know about canning. Nobody’s canning anymore, she thinks my husband and I are crazy. And I do get scared, when my husband’s canning and the pressure cooker’s going. But that’s me.

But anyway I forgot my final question cuz I know you are super busy  and we’ve gone over an hour and you would like to see to create a Greener World what would it be for example is there a charity organization your passion about our project you’d like to see what you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either locally and nationally or on a global scale?

That’s a great question and

You know really I was so what it boils down to for me as I really feel like we would see the biggest change in our world as of every single family and every single household grew at least one item of their own food!

Then they cooked with that because I feel like if everybody could see even in an apartment you can grow your own basil on a windowsill in water you don’t even need to have dirt! I have a blog post on that, I didn’t mean that got be a plug.

Often times people say well, not everyone can do that, if you live in the city or you live in an urban environment or everything.

For goodness sakes you can grow sprouts in a mason jar in 3 days!

I feel like if every single family and every single household grew at least one thing that they would notice the flavor difference!

Then if you’re growing something you’re going to use it to cook from scratch with it or you’re going to add it to a dish and you’re going to notice that the flavor change like oh my goodness like this tastes better!

Especially when you get kids involved! When my kids grow a vegetable if it’s something we purchase in a store before their like, I don’t like that I don’t want to try that!

Which is I get older I hear more of. But if they have a hand in growing that and  harvesting it then they are more willing to try it.

It’s like this phenomena! 

But I talked to many many parents with kids that start gardening and they they say the same thing because homegrown actually tastes better and it does have more nutritional value when it’s home grown then you can get even from a local farmer’s market!

I feel like if every household did that, that it would grow and evolve and you would get them growing more which mean less things having to be shipped less and less things you know just traveling all over!!

Then we would have more people cooking from scratch so then their health would be improved and not only their health but their family dynamics because when you’re making meals together then you know you’re eating together.

Usually if you get take out you might just eat it on the fly but if it’s a home-cooked meal usually you at least sit down and eat that together!

It just has a different dynamic for the family

For the whole evening and therefore you’re going to change your health. Your kids are going to see you cooking you’re setting a precedence and then you have the opportunity to teach them so that we don’t have these generations like we do right now.

Just they don’t know how to do it, it’s not that they necessarily choose not to they actually, they actually don’t know that you can make homemade condensed soup very quickly with five ingredients or less that are real food and less for a minute you don’t have to buy that GMO laden junk in the store from a tin can!

I do feel like that’s the fastest starting point if we could just get every household to grow when things I think that would be the seed that would Ripple out and caused a change for the entire Next Generation and then the whole planet!

I do love that and like I can’t wait to go read the post about during the basil plant in water because I always like to have a basil plan on my windowsill and like when I started my podcast that was about all I can keep alive and that’s and that’s so true!

Tell listeners where do they find your podcast and your website and order your all these great things to get the bonuses and listeners.


is where you’ll find everything. You’ll find the Pioneering Today Podcast which is of the  courses available on iTunes and Spotify at all the places that you would listen to a podcast! I love podcasts they are my favorite medium for everything and then at

on a website where I’ve got a ton of different tutorials and recipes and resources to help you grow preserve and cook your own food.

The Family Garden Plan: Grow a Year's Worth of Sustainable and Healthy Food

Then to see the books there as well and it’s The Family Garden and you’ll see all of the info on pre-ordering it and also how to get to claim and get instant access to that entire bonus package.

Thank you so much for having me on at this was so much fun and I just love to see that there’s so many people who are interested in growing their own food! So thank you!

Oh my gosh. Thank you and listeners you know what I’m going to say is that when you go to pre-order MElissa’s book but you also want to go to her website and maybe get one of the other books or you can probably do it if you order on Amazon like right there so you can get a book delivered right away cuz she also has a book called The Made-from-Scratch Life: Simple Ways to Create a Natural Home then the other book is and make sure that you leave her a 5-star review because we know even or on the podcast because we know you know that I’m always saying that I hate when I find a new podcast listeners have not left the reviews for that it doesn’t show up in my feed when I searched that topic !

Make sure that you and I know you’re going to become a listener to the podcast because it’s just full of Great valuable chips and just Melissa like I said she comes up with all these awesome tips, like simple systems to me what is the other books called Hand Made: The Modern Woman’s Guide to  Made-from-Scratch Living

so there’s no shoe box that you can get right now and thank you so much for sharing with us for  having it was so much fun!

Let’s take a minute to thank our sponsors and affiliate links

Please support us on Patreon so we can keep the show up on the internet. It cost close to $100 a month just to keep it up on the internet for the website etc so if you could help by supporting it with an $8/month contribution or $10/month to join the Green Future Growers Book Club where we can delve deep into some of the best gardening books that have been recommended on the show! GoDaddy even is bugging me for dollars just to have the domain name…

OGP Patreon Page Green Future Grower Book Club

Health IQ Logo

The Organic Gardner Podcast is sponsored by Health IQ, an insurance company that helps health conscious people like runners, cyclists, weightlifters and vegetarians get lower rates on their life insurance.  Go to to support the show and see if you qualify.

Over half of Health IQ customers save between 4-33% on their life insurance.

Health IQ vegetables celebrating the health conscious

  • Health IQ uses science & data to secure lower rates on life insurance for health conscious people just like you green future growers! Like saving money on your car insurance for being a good driver, Health IQ saves you money on your life insurance for living a health conscious lifestyle.


To see if you qualify, get your free quote today at or mention the promo code OGP when you talk to a Health IQ agent

Good Seed Company Seeds

The Good Seed Company

Now Let’s Get to the Root of Things!

Organic Gardening Podcast Group

We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

The Organic Gardener Podcast is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here.

and don’t forget if you need help getting started check out our new 

Free Garden


 Free Organic Garden Course 

Remember you can get the  2018 Garden Journal and Data Keeper to record your garden goals in our

You can  download the first 30 days here   while you’re waiting for it to come in the mail. 

Organic Gardening Podcast Group

We’d love if you’d join  Organic Gardener Podcast Facebook Community!

If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us review and hopefully a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here.