Common Sense Home Good News Letter 1/21/24

“I sort through seed catalogs with the enthusiasm that some women reserve for new clothes or new shoes.” – Laurie

Should I pick the blue sweet corn (Blue Jade) or the red sweet corn (Double Red)? I’ve never tried either, and we only have room for one, as we aim to keep the flint corn on one side of the house and the sweet corn on the other to reduce cross pollination.

In spite my best intentions, I still haven’t completed all my seed orders, though I did order some seed potatoes. For most of our crops I still have plenty of time (our last frost date is typically in mid to late May), but I do need to get our ​onion seeds planted in February​ so they have time to size up. White (or Yellow) Sweet Spanish is my current favorite storage variety, with Ailsa Craig as my go to for fresh use and canning. Both make big bulbs, but Ailsa doesn’t last as long in storage.

Something’s been rolling around in the back of my head for a while and came up again this week when talking to a reader.

I asked the reader if there was anyone local who might be able to help her with her gardening and canning, so she’d have extra hands and they could learn. She said, “I live in a rural area, so not lots of neighbours and most are doing the same thing I am. Also as with most farms around the world they are just getting bigger with remote owners of the properties which is sad to see. The community is aging with no young people replacing them. Workers are seasonally brought in.” I see the same thing in our area.

I’ve been talking to tradespeople, and their are precious few young people interested in the trades. They are chronically short on help. The average American farmer is 57 and a half years old.

This got me wondering – how old is the population?

As it turns out, the median age in the United States is nearly 40 years old, which is a record high. 17 states have averages above 40. In 1980, the average age was only 30. The Baby Boomers and their children are aging, and younger people aren’t having children.

This is likely to lead to continued worker shortages, especially in healthcare. We’re going to need some creative solutions in the years to come – and we “middle age +” folks better hang in there, because help is not on the way. (​Birth rates are declining worldwide.​)

One of the things I want to include in our Food is Health membership is sharing ideas for getting things done when you’re not able to tackle projects with brute strength. (To the age 50+ readers who can still tackle projects with brute strength, good for you!)

Before we make the membership available, we decided that we would like to talk directly with a small group of those interested in sharing their thoughts on how we could help the website and membership meet their needs moving forward. It’s gotten to the point where AI generated content has more volume online than people written content, so there’s no way we can match that, but we do have decades of experience that we’d like to share.

If you’re interested in sharing your opinion, you can ​fill out this short survey in google docs and let us know​. We’ll host an online meeting within the next two weeks to talk.

We are where we are, when we are, for a reason. It’s up to us to make the best of it.

All our best to you and yours,

Laurie (and August IV, August V, and Duncan)

This week’s featured articles…

Old friends made contact this past week, saying they wanted to get more serious about gardening this year given rising food prices, so I updated our ​Getting Started Gardening article​. This includes tips to help you avoid some common beginner mistakes.

We bottle up homemade kombucha every weekend, but at times we’ve also made water kefir as a probiotic soda alternative. ​In this article, we discuss the differences between the two, and which one is better.​

We still have a fair amount of winter left, so I’m sharing these ​25 Immune Boosting Herbs & Spices​ to help inspire you to spice up your cooking and boost your immune system at the same time.


I don’t know what was bothering our ducky buddy, but he’s back to his normal handsome, fluffy self. I don’t know if it was the cold, lack of available forage, if he ate something he shouldn’t have, or something else. He’s not talking.

He was having a hard time getting around for several days (​here he is climbing out of the tub​), but now he’s back in action (​you can see him walking here​).

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