Shiny Beetles, Square Tomatoes and Crafty Coons

Garden late summerJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

As we near the end of August I am so very thankful for a long and productive season in the garden.  February is when we begin to dream about this day – planting seeds, rooting cuttings, planning rows.  As always, a lot of work has gone into our small patch of organic Eden. Some days were happy, some were frustrating, others were just downright back-breaking.  But in the end, lessons are learned, food is abundant, feeling thankful is prevalent and many, many a dawn has been spent simply inhaling the beauty of a garden in full swing.  And so, as the gardening season here in Oz begins to wind down, I look back on the good, the bad, and the down right weird…

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Healthful Horseradish

Young horseradish. Image via Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Horseradish is one of those herbs that everyone knows about, but few actually grow. Perhaps that’s because it isn’t used much in today’s cooking, or perhaps because it’s hard to process. And like mint, horseradish has a nasty reputation for overstepping its boundaries in the garden. Yet, for its flaws, horseradish is a pretty perennial that is tough as nails and easy to grow. And not only is horseradish full on flavor, but it is totally jam-packed with health benefits that include fighting cancer, improving cardiovascular health, and even reducing plaque on teeth!

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Seed Saving Time: The Float Test

Tomato seed float test. Image copyright Jill Henderson Show Me Oz.wordpress.comJill HendersonShow Me Oz
Gardeners face many challenges throughout the year, but there is nothing quite as frustrating as planting seeds that don’t germinate well or at all.  You plant and wait.  And then wait some more. All the while precious weeks go by, delaying your carefully planned planting schedule and putting your future crops at risk. I have experienced this a number of times myself. That’s why I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about the causes of poor germination and a simple test to help reduce the chances of it happening to you. Continue reading

Seed Saving Time: Watermelon

Saving watermelon seeds. Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill HendersonShow Me Oz
Whether you like it seeded, juiced, sliced, cubed, or just straight off the rind, there’s almost nothing better on a hot summer day than a big ‘ol chunk of juicy-crisp, sweet-ripe, just-from-the-garden watermelon. M-mmm.  Of course, if you grew that melon in your own garden, the level of satisfaction rises even higher.  But if you really want to reach gardening nirvana, try harvesting a watermelon that you not only grew, but grew from seed you saved yourself.  And the best part? Saving your own watermelon seed is soooo dang easy!

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Parsley: More Than a Garnish

Curly parsley. Image via Wikimedia Commons No Copyright Via RanveigJill HendersonShow Me Oz
Parsley: That ambiguous and often frilly herb that many gardeners grow, but few actually use.  If you haven’t grown parsley yourself, you’ve surely bought it at least once or twice in your life to use as a garnish for dressing up platters or plates. Or, perhaps you’ve gone so far as to sprinkle it sparingly atop mashed potatoes or added a pinch here in there when making soup or stuffing.  And while many recipes call for at least a bit of fresh parsley, most people don’t go to the trouble – or worse yet, they use bland dried parsley from the grocery store.  (Egad!) If this sounds like you, I’m about to rock your kitchen and your herbal medicine chest by showing you that parsley is much more than a pretty garnish: it’s a virtual powerhouse of flavor and a game-changer for your health.  And best of all – it’s super easy to grow and use.

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Controlling Squash Bugs Organically–A Simple Solution

Squash Bug image by Katja Schulz from Washington, D. C., USA (Squash Bug) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsJill HendersonShow Me Oz
If you are like me, you love squash.  I particularly enjoy rich, meaty winter squash and every year I endeavor to have lots of them stored up for the winter larder. The only problem I have with growing squash are the dreaded squash bugs – SB’s for short.  And in last week’s article, I covered most of the traditional and non-traditional ways to control squash bugs organically, including growing the one species most resistant to the effects of squash bugs. And this week, I’m going to share with you a nifty trick that I came up with to very nearly (I don’t want to say entirely, as I am a humble gardener, after all) obliterate SB’s from my squash patch! And you can, too!

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Controlling Squash Bugs Organically

By Downtowngal - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49873322Jill HendersonShow Me Oz
Squash bugs. What a pain in the arse! Absolutely nothing in the natural world preys on them, their hard outer coverings resist even the most intense organic insecticides, the little buggers are masters at hiding their eggs, and they multiply faster than fleas. On top of that, they spread devastating squash plant diseases, have the uncanny ability to know when they are being stalked, and are eerily good at evasion.  If you do manage to get a hold of one, they emit a nasty, long-lasting stink that’s incredibly hard to entirely wash off.  But after a lifetime’s worth of battling this raunchy bug, I’ve learned how to live with them.  And this year, I came up with a new way to get the upper hand.

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