I am seeing a lot of new visitors to my site, so I thought I would take some time and re-introduce myself. My name is Kathi and I live in Minnesota. I was born and raised in rural Wisconsin and also lived in the desert in Arizona for 12 years before coming to MN. I have lived in MN since 1994. Gardening has been a part of my entire life. My parents always had a large garden - we had a whole extra lot next to our house which was our garden. My parents grew a lot of the vegetables that we ate all year round. We had a stinky root cellar basement for storing the root crops and canned goods. My earliest summer memories are of my and my father out in the garden planting potatoes or picking beans and with my mother picking raspberries. When I was real little, Dad mostly did the veggies and Mom grew some flowers. We also had a bee hive under the apple tree and sometimes had chickens. As I grew older, my Mom started learning about organic gardening and built a compost bin. We had moved out in the country by then and did not have any trash pick up - you took everything to the dump or burned it (or if you were my father, you might have even just dumped it in the edge of the swamp), so composting made sense - reduce the trash naturally. But my Dad kept using all of his chemicals and my Mom wanted pure organic food - this was in the 70s when very few people were aware of organic gardening. Finally my mom created her own garden with a compost bin in the middle seperate from Dad's and they had a contest to see who could grow the best tomatoes. I think my poor
dad over fertilized his tomatoes trying to beat mom - I just remember you couldn't mention tomatoes in our house for a couple of years without Mom gloating and Dad sulking. When I married for the first time in the late 70s, I started my own garden and it was strictly organic. I don't really remember my early efforts that much, but I know that the first year or two a lot of things didn't grow real well and I was shocked since I always remember my parent's gardens flourishing. I didn't realize how much they had learned from trial and error and I was planting some new things that they had never grown (and perhaps that is why). But I kept with it and from the beginning, I did not want to waste anything - so I learned to can and make jams and jellies. Over the years I realized that the canning and jelly making was a lost art - everyone loved it when I gave them some jelly. When I divorced and moved to AZ, I had to learn gardening all over again, but in the end I conquered the desert and had a nice garden. When I moved to MN, it was nice to be in a more gardening friendly climate - even if the winters can be harsh - I do love the 4 seasons and gardening here is so much easier than in the desert. Over the years I have continued to can and preserve my garden produce. Every year in December I make baskets for my son's therapists, teachers, daycare workers and my and my husband's friends, family and co-workers. I include jams, jellies and other things as well - canned apple pie filling, dried tomatoes and dried apples and salsa - all made from ingredients I have grown myself. It is so much fun to put these baskets together and also it adds a new dimension to my jelly making. Andy loves to help me pick the fruit and gather the stuff for the canning and as I work in the kitchen I picture who we will give them to and how it will make them feel - and we talk about that as well. It is so cute to see Andy handing out the jams and jellies to people and say "I made this for you" and then as an after thought - "my Mom helped" and then "OK, my Mom made them and I helped". My circle of friends has grown international as I have found community and support on the internet. It is so nice to be able to connect with other parents of children with Autism and Celiac Disease as well as other working moms. I have started to share my jams and jellies with them as well. I have wanted to keep a diary of my garden for years and I have started to several times, but I just never seem to keep it up - it is just too much work to write it all down and if I want to take pictures and then get them developed, etc. So the idea of a blog appealed to me for 3 reasons - 1. it could be that gardening journal, 2. it would allow my friends that I give my homemade gifts from the garden to to actually see the ingredients being grown (and see how Andy helps with it) and 3. perhaps it would help me make new friends. I am old enough that we didn't have computers when I was in school, so I don't know how to do a lot of fancy stuff on my blog. But I do use a computer daily at work and I know enough to keep a basic blog and post pictures. So, that in a nutshell is who I am - Welcome New Friends as well as old ones. I do hope you enjoy what you see.