The “Right to Farm” in the Ozarks

Animals on our small family farm.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

No matter how one chooses to look at it, farming can have an impact on the quality of our water.  Like a network of blood vessels, capillaries, and arteries found in the human body, the Ozarks are riddled with craggy veins that carry surface water deep down into the earth through the highly-fractured slabs of limestone beneath our feet – and sometimes, back out again.  Everything that touches the ground on the surface – including soil, rocks, debris, chemicals, manure, fertilizers and even acid rain – will eventually find its way into our creeks, rivers and springs, and ultimately our aquifers and our water wells.

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Tips for Harvesting Flavorful Herbs

Cilantro harvest.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Harvest and storage methods are critical components of utilizing herbs or other plant material for culinary or medicinal purposes.  Gathering, drying and storing herbs correctly a big difference in the quality and quantity of essential oils in the leaves.  This not only affects the flavor of dried herbs, but increases their shelf-life and medicinal potential, as well.   Of course, it is possible to gather herbs at just about any point in their growth cycle and still obtain a decent product, but for flavor that will knock your socks off,  consider the following tips for harvesting the best culinary herbs ever.

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Itching for Summer

By Orrling and Tomer S (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer is a fabulous time to explore and hunt for wild edibles or to hike along a cool river, but people around these parts generally avoid venturing into overgrown and untamed places during the summer months because of the ticks and chiggers. How does one even begin to tell outsiders and visitors to our fair hills about the myriad of insects that inhabit our beloved Oz? I suppose if you’ve got a vicious sense of humor, you could just let them wade into the chest-deep grass and work it out later, because they’re not going to believe you anyway. Continue reading

Preserving the Freshness of Herbs

Cilantro is best fresh or freshly frozen.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I love cooking with fresh herbs, which is why when we moved here, the herb garden wound up being planted two steps from the front door.  I wanted to be able to step out and get a quick pinch of this herb or that between stirring the pot.  But even with my laid back life of no work (ha ha), it’s not always that simple or convenient to run outside when it’s raining, for example.   So, I have learned to keep plenty of fresh herbs at hand in the kitchen where no shoes or umbrellas are necessary.   But for an herb-fiend like me, that means finding a way to keep them at their just-picked best.

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Six Tips for Saving Seed

six tips for saving seed - by seed matters

It’s nearly the end of June and here in Zone 7, we’re just beginning to harvest seed from snow peas and lettuce.  Would you like to start saving your own seed?  It’s easy!  Here are a few great places to start… Continue reading

Free Seed Saving Class

Seed Saving Class Ava LibraryJill Henderson – Show Me Oz -

Have you always wanted to learn how to save your own garden seed?  Then check out my fun, no-nonsense how-to at the Douglas County Library, Ava, MO, on July 17th and start saving your own garden seeds!  The class is free and open to the public!  See you there!

Wild Blackberries and Wine–Part II

Blackberry Pickin - Image Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Wild blackberries are among the most productive and versatile fruiting plants in the wild.  The most difficult thing about gathering blackberries is deciding what to do with all those dark luscious fruits once you get them home.  Luckily, blackberries lend themselves to all kinds of luscious concoctions, not all of which have to be jams and pies.  In fact,  once the main harvest is neatly tucked into the freezer, the last pick is always reserved for makin’ Wild Blackberry Wine! Continue reading

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Food: Don’t Waste It!

Food: Don't Waste It!

I just found this great World War I poster at the USDA’s National Agriculture Library urging people to give more thought to the food they eat. Published by the Pennsylvania Committee for Public Safety, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Funny how some things never change…