Category Archives: Organic Gardening

Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part two)

Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

Last week I delved into the history of moon gardens and why, after all this time they are still a popular type of garden that anyone can create at home.  If you are like me, the first thing you want to know is what kinds of herbs and flowers work best in a moon garden. Because it will be enjoyed primarily in the evening or after dark, plants for a moon garden have several things in common. To begin with, moon garden plants generally have blooms that either stay open or bloom exclusively at night. These flowers generate the most “shine”. White, yellow and gold are all good color choices, though red and purple flowers can add a nice jolt of color for sunset viewing. Also, having one or two plants with sweetly fragrant flowers such as night blooming jasmine, white roses, or angel’s trumpets adds yet another layer of enchantment to the moon garden. Continue reading

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Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part one)

garden-2393245_640By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Often associated with the mystical, moon gardens have been lighting up the night for thousands of years. Adored by lovers and philosophers alike, these midnight gardens were places of secrecy and silence, contemplation and meditation, ritual and ceremony. The moon has always given mankind a reason to look towards the heavens in search of answers and inspiration. The cool solid stillness of the night is the perfect venue to relax and reflect. The moon garden provides just such a place. It is no wonder moon gardens have become not only a popular gardening theme but a true place of peace. Continue reading

Winter Sown Seedlings

2012 8-29 Seedlings (4)_thumb[7]By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Many gardeners know the benefits of planting crops, such as garlic, in the early fall and winter months, but did you know that many common herb, flower and vegetable seeds can be treated this way, too? Winter sowing is the age-old practice of planting seeds directly in the garden sometime between late fall and mid-winter. Because they are living organisms, seeds have the ability to sense the environment around them, which allows them to determine when weather conditions are just right for germination. As a result, winter sown seeds often germinate earlier, have higher rates of germination and have less problems with seedling diseases such as damping off. They also tend to grow faster and stronger than their indoor-sown counterparts, which allows gardeners to get a jump on the growing season.  Read more!

Seed Saving for a Healthy Future with Juice Guru Steve Prussack

Jill HendersonI had a super fun time being interviewed recently by Juice Guru, Steve Prussack.  We talked about common seed saving mistakes, the differences between GMO, hybrid and heirloom seeds, why saving seed is an important aspect of healthy living and a critical component of any disaster preparedness plan; what botanical maturity has to do with saving seed; sprouting seeds for food and more!  Saving seed is so easy, anyone can learn how in less than 50 pages using my book, The Garden Seed Saving Guide!
Listen to the entire podcast free! 
https://juiceguru.com/radio/ep-64-seed-saving-healthy-future-jill-henderson/

Making Herbal Tinctures: Part II

Mortar and Pestel - Copyright 2012 Jill HendersonBy Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

Last week, in Making Herbal Tinctures: Part I, we discussed the different types of solvents (menstruum) used to make high-quality herbal tinctures, including alcohol such as vodka, Everclear, brandy, and wine, as well as non-alcohol solvents like vinegar and vegetable glycerin.   But choosing the right solvent is only a small part of the equation.  Indeed, measuring your ingredients properly is the critical key to creating reliable and consistent tinctures.

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Making Herbal Tinctures: Part I

By Jill HendersonShow Me Oz 

In the world of herbalism, tinctures are the star of the show.  For those who grow, gather or use herbs for healing purposes, learning to make tinctures is one of the most important – and easiest – skills to learn.  Unfortunately, many people believe that all they have to do to make a good tincture is to pour alcohol over herbs packed in a jar.  But the truth is, tinctures made this way are almost always inconsistent in their potency and effectiveness.   In this two-part series, we will examine the right way to make tinctures so that you can be assured of obtaining the best, most healing tinctures possible.

Pink Ladybugs in the Garden

Pink Ladybug - Coleomegilla maculataJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

Gardeners are always facing new and interesting challenges when it comes to pest management.  The first line of defense includes correctly identifying the culprit so that the right measures can be taken to control it.  I was recently talking to a fellow gardener about organic control of blister beetles on tomatoes when I happened to mention being cautious about using any kind of pesticide for fear of killing the pink ladybugs that have spent the last several weeks feasting on the pollen of nearby pepper plants.  Her immediate response was that those pink ones were just another type of spotted cucumber beetle.  I understand her confusion.  I used to think that, too.

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River Hills Harvest Raises Elderberry Production to New Levels

Durham shows off a full head of elderflowers.jpgJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Acres USA – April 2017 issue

In the heart of the Midwest, River Hills Harvest is riding the new wave of demand for elderberry products. At the helm of this enterprise is Terry Durham, a long time advocate of sustainable agriculture, a builder of ground-breaking organizations and an elderberry expert best known for his devotion to developing the entire elderberry market from the ground up. “There is no competition for elderberry producers and growers are desperately needed to fill the rising demand for elderberry products.”  Read more…safe PDF opens automatically.

The Sweet Cicely Revival

1200px-Myrrhis_odorata_in_bloomJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

If you are a lover of kitchen or healing herbs, you have most likely heard of or read about Sweet Cicely, but have never seen it in person or grown it yourself.  The truth is that this lovely herb is rarely grown or used in America today, which is why I often refer to it as one of the “forgotten herbs”.  That being said, I think it is high time that herbalists and culinary artisans turn their attention back to this delicate beauty and return it to a place of honor in both the culinary and ornamental gardens of today.  (Feature image by Amanda Slater, Coventry, England – Sweet Cecily, CC BY-SA 2.0, edited,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4225926)

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The Roselle Zinger-Growing Hibiscus for Food, Profit & Fun

The Roselle Zinger Feb 17 Jill Henderson Acres USA

Jill Henderson
Acres USA – February 2017

What do you call a remarkably ornamental plant that produces an obscure yet desirable international commodity plus a wide array of useful products like seed meal, cooking oil, coffee alternative, fruity beverage, natural food coloring agent, organic pectin, medicinal herbage, and strong hemp-like fibers? Most English speaking people call this plant Roselle, but around the world it is known by many names including Rosa de Jamaica, Florida Cranberry, Red Sorrell, Jelly Okra, Karkadé, and Bissap (bee sap), just to name a few. But if you are a producer living in an area with a long growing season, you might wind up calling roselle a money maker. For such a desirable crop, most people in Europe and North America know roselle only by taste. That’s because it is the singular ingredient that gives Celestial Seasonings popular Red Zinger Herbal Tea its infamous berry-like “zing”. Yet, for all of its flavor and versatility, this tropical beauty is rarely grown in the home garden or in the fields of American farmers.  Read more…safe PDF opens automatically

Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 3)

moon gardenJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz
Now that you have an idea of the types of plants that can be grown in a moon garden, let’s get down to the bones! Start by selecting a location for your garden. It can be in a little used corner of the yard for privacy or meditation, or it can sit smack dab in the middle of the yard. For trip-free nighttime strolls be sure and allow plenty of room for pathways that are both wide and clear. And if you are not the type of person who really wants to wander in the yard at night, consider placing the garden near a porch or deck where it can be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety.

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Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night (part 2)

2016 8-16 MoonflowerJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~ In last week’s post (see it here), I talked a little about the history and lore of moon gardens and how they have been used by lovers, philosophers and for religious and ceremonial purposes throughout the ages.  In this week’s post I will share with you a whole host of plants that will look fabulous in your very own moon garden – some of which might just surprise you!  So, let’s get started!

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Moon Shine: Herbs of the Night

Herb Borage flowering (4)Jill Henderson Show Me Oz:  Often associated with the mystical, moon gardens have been lighting up the night for thousands of years. Adored by lovers and philosophers, these midnight gardens were places of secrecy and silence, contemplation and meditation, ritual and ceremony. The moon has always given mankind a reason to look towards the heavens in search of answers and inspiration. The cool solid stillness of night is the perfect venue to relax and reflect. The moon garden provides just such a place. It is no wonder moon gardens have become not only a popular gardening theme, but a true place of peace. Continue reading

Fenugreek: The Forgotten Herb

clip_image001Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

When I first began gardening 25 years ago, the variety of garden seeds was extremely limited.  Heirloom vegetables were just beginning to make a come back and culinary herbs were seriously limited to a handful of the most popular types.  Today, the number of seed varieties available to the average gardener is mind-boggling, which is wonderful if you love to garden.  But for all the choices available to us, there is one small herb called fenugreek that is not only hard to come by, but one that has been almost entirely forgotten by gardeners, cooks, and herbalists in America.

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Green in December

Green in December Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress (12)Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

The weather in December is always a hit and miss affair here in Oz.  Some years it’s mild while others roar in like the Siberian Express that has blanketed our northerly neighbors in snow and ice.  And while that train has yet to roll into the Ozarks, we’ve had our fair share of temperatures in the teens already.  Yet, for all the cold we’ve experienced so far, there is still an amazing amount of green lingering in the yard and garden like this like this pretty Dwarf Stonecrop Angelina peeking out from behind a cedar log.   It’s enough to please the eye and tease our gardening souls into dreaming of spring.

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Winter Seed Saving: Pumpkins and Squash

Butternut Squash with seeds. Copyright Jill Henderson

Jill HendersonShow Me Oz

With the holidays in full swing, the last thing people might be thinking of is gardening.  But trust me, the two go together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream!  In fact, if you grew your own pumpkins or squash this year and plan on using the sweet flesh to make delectable holiday pies, breads or savory dishes, now is the perfect time to save seed!

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Bamboo Goes Berserk

Bamboo Goes Berserk Copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

No matter how many years you’ve gardened, one day, you will wake up and say to yourself “Why on earth did I do that?!”  I know this is true because it’s happened to me and many gardeners I know.  Take, for example, the lovely, modest, tiny clump of what I believed to be switch cane (Arundinaria tecta), a small North American species of bamboo, that Dean and I found growing in the front yard (soon to be the vegetable garden) when we first moved here.   It looked to me like the native, well-behaved switch cane we had growing over yonder behind the shed, which has stayed pretty well put for going on 8 years or more.  So, we dug up the little clump, divided it and spaced it just so in a more appropriate spot.  Or so I thought…

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Using Seed Screens to Save Better Seed

Seed Saving sorting black-eyed peas using seed screens.  Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

Saving heirloom seeds is really pretty easy, even for the beginning seed saver.  Of course, you need to know a few things about how plants mate and produce seed early on, but once the seeds are harvested there are a few tricks that can help you save seeds that are much more likely to germinate quickly and grow well in the garden next spring.  Naturally, the first trick for saving seed is to harvest them at the right time.  The second trick is simply to clean and sort your seeds.  There are many ways to do this, but the fastest and easiest way to sort any kind of seed is by using a simple set of seed screens.

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Don’t Toss Those Mums!

Mums are often used to dress up seasonal displays.Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

Every fall, big box stores and greenhouses everywhere display rack after rack of brightly blooming mums.  Ostensibly, the showy plants are used by homeowners and businesses to bring a little color to the ever-increasing drabness of fall and to pretty-up outdoor Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations.  Most people just drop the relatively inexpensive pre-potted plants into a larger, more decorative container for display and then forget them until they are deader than door nails.  That’s shame, because mums are actually hardy perennials that if given half a chance, will survive in the garden and provide you with colorful, showy blooms year after year!

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Stair Building 101–Flanking Stones

Stair building 101 Image copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

When you live on the side of a hill like I do, everything is either up or down.  There’s almost no flat, straight way to get anywhere.  When we first moved here, the entire site was denuded of nearly all low-growing vegetation and the earth was eroding and sliding down the hill with each rain.  As we developed the gardens around the house, it became obvious that we were going to need some stairs to make getting up and down a little less treacherous.  Six years later, we have four nifty sets of stairs entering and leaving our garden space.  If you have ever wanted to try your hand at building stairs but were worried about the outcome, I’m here to tell you it’s lots of hard work, but also much easier than you might think.

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Fall Leaves: Good for the Garden

2013 11-22 Fall MosaicBy Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~

The clear, cool days of fall are perfect for wrapping up last-minute garden chores, such as winterizing perennial herbs, flowers and shrubs.  It’s also a good time to cultivate existing garden beds or create new beds for spring planting.  But there’s one chore in the fall that not everyone looks forward to – raking leaves.  Sometimes there are so many leaves that homeowners spend weeks trying to get rid of the deepening piles.  But instead of raking and burning, or bagging leaves for the garbage, consider putting your fall leaves to use in the garden as a protective, nutrient-rich mulch.

Crafting Herbal Oils & Vinegars

Herbal Vinegars (1)Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz ~
for Acres USA Magazine

The summer harvest is never truly complete until I have at least a few bottles of garlic chili oil tucked away in the pantry and a handful of spicy golden vinegars gracing the windowsill. These flavorful and versatile condiments are super easy to make and add layers of flavor to your favorite dishes.

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Yellow Birch Hobby Farm: Self-Reliant Homesteading

Erin Blegen's KitchenJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

I love being a writer because I get to meet and learn from extraordinary people like Erin and Josh Blegen. This young couple grow, raise, hunt, and wildcraft a huge percentage of their own food on their small farmstead in the small village of Grand Marais, Minnesota.  One way the Blegens make the most of the very short growing season found around the shores of Lake Superior, is by employing the hügelkultur method of gardening.

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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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Drying Herbs Fast, Easy and Free!

Freshly dried thyme the fast, easy and free way! Image copyright Jill HendersonJill HendersonShow Me Oz
As a gardener, backwoods herbalist, and foodie, I absolutely love my home-grown herbs.  They are so easy to care for and even easier to put away for the long run.  I freeze a few herbs like cilantro and basil pesto, but honestly, drying is the very best way to preserve the flavor and medicinal qualities of culinary herbs. Plus, if the electricity goes out – or you need to bug out – dried herbs are the best.  And drying homegrown herbs isn’t hard or time consuming, either.  And you don’t need to buy or build a fancy or expensive dehydrator to get the job done.  In fact, when you dry herbs my way, it’s fast, easy, and free.

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Squash and Cucumbers: All Flowers and No Fruit?

Winter squash flowering, but no fruit - yet! Copyright Jill HendersonJill Henderson Show Me Oz
It happens every year. The weather warms up, the rain comes at the right time, and the squash, cucumber and melon vines have finally taken off. At last, the small baby plants you’ve coddled all spring are literally sprawling all over the place and flowering for weeks now. Yet, not one single fruit is in sight. For years I went through the same thing – worrying and wondering what the heck I’d done wrong. Eventually, the fruit would come and I’d forget all about it.  But, it wasn’t until I started saving seed that I actually found the answer as to why I had all those flowers and no fruit.

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Dandelions: Love Your Weeds!

By Ragesoss (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsJill HendersonShow Me Oz  – If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I enjoy tweaking people’s perceptions of the wilder parts of our world – especially those that we cannot completely control.  That’s why this week’s article is all about dandelions – those pretty little yellow flowers folks either simply love or absolutely hate.   But what is it about this non-native species that drives some people up the wall and how can we harness its potential to our advantage?  If you’re tired of battling those little yellow flowers, perhaps it’s time to embrace them and use them to your benefit.

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Seed Saving Time: Radishes

Description Raphanus sativus, Wild Radish. Date August 03, 2002 Location Glen Canyon Park - San Francisco, California Photographer Franco Folini CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=722804Jill HendersonShow Me Oz – I don’t know about you, but our spring garden is never complete without at least a few rows of crisp, spicy radishes.  We love to put them in salads, on sandwiches and, of course, for snacking on while we weed!  Common radishes are super easy to grow, have few pests and diseases and can really tolerate the cold, wet weather of the early spring months.  Radishes are also among the easiest seeds to save, provided you follow a few simple rules.  As a bonus, by saving your own radish seeds you get to enjoy an entirely new round of tasty edibles in the form of the young green seedpods, which are a taste treat in their own right.  So don’t pull all your radishes just yet…

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Wild Walk: Cream Wild Indigo

The creamy yellow pea-like flowers of Cream Wild Indigo. Photo Copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.com

Show Me Oz – Spring is in full swing here in Oz and the vast array of lovely wildflowers are blooming in quick procession.  Most of the delicate spring ephemerals like Trout Lily, Spring Beauty, and Bluets come and go so quickly that it is easy to miss them all together.  Thankfully, we have an ocean of natives to enjoy all season long.  One of my early spring favorites is the lovely Cream Wild Indigo, which blooms much longer than most spring flowers and puts on a show-stopping floral display fit for even the most refined garden.

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Flycatchers: The Gardener’s Friend

By Peter Wilton (Eastern Phoebe  Uploaded by Magnus Manske) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – People sometimes laugh when I tell them that I always know when spring is about to dawn on our Ozark homestead – even if it’s freezing outside.  It’s not the weather, or the slight budding of plants that clue me in.  And it’s not the warmth of the sun or my local weatherman, either.  No, the way I know that spring is on it’s way is when I hear the first shrill song of the Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe).  This slim, mousy-grey flycatcher with a creamy-colored belly and a big voice has a penchant for perching on low, leafless branches and compulsively wagging its long tail up and down.  And it’s one bird that every gardener should hope for.

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Seed Saving Time: Flowers and Pollination

2014 7-1 Straight Eight Cucumbers (2)Show Me Oz – No matter where you live in the country, you are either itching to get your hands in the dirt or are already in the garden digging, planting and dreaming! If you want to save seed this year, you have come to the right place! Because today we are talking about flowers and how they achieve pollination – and what those two things have to do with saving pure quality seed. Understanding these things not only helps you reap a larger harvest of fruits and vegetables to eat, but also ensures that the seeds you harvest from those fruits will come true in next year’s garden. So, let’s get right to it!

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A New Way to Grow Sweet Potatoes Slips

Starting sweet potato slips in pots.Show Me Oz – I have been growing my own sweet potatoes for years, but I always do it the same old way and with varied results.  The most common method of starting sweet potato slips is to root a whole sweet potato in a jar of water.  The sprouted shoots are then pulled off the mother tuber and rooted in potting soil before being set in the garden. (see Start Your Own Sweet Slips). Yet, I always seem to have trouble getting the tuber to root and send up enough shoots during the cold winter months to have the slips ready by planting time.  And I never seem to get enough slips.  So, this year I tried a new and very simple method of producing an abundance of sweet potato slips with a lot less fuss and muss.

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The Terrace Project: Year Five

2015 5-6 The berm garden (5)Show Me Oz – As I was searching for something to write about this week, I came upon two articles I wrote waaay back in 2012 about the twin terraces (or twin terrors, as I used to call them) that “grace” our small backyard.  When we first moved here, the two slopes were badly eroded and washing clay and rock against the house and down into the valley. It has been quite a challenge to tame the runoff, stabilize the soil, and grow something, anything at all, on these two steep clay hills, but a lot has changed in the last four years!

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Garden Time: Common Herb Diseases

2015 5-26 Oregano (1)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Spring is prime time for buying, starting, propagating and transplanting herbs into the garden. However, should you find that one of your brand new store-bought herbs (or one you’ve just started or have been growing indoors over the winter) isn’t looking so hot,  take a moment to thoroughly inspect it for pests and diseases before introducing it to the garden.

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Garden Time: Watch Out for Early Garden Allies!

Box Turtle HatchlingShow Me Oz – Although ‘official’ spring has yet to arrive in Oz, the weather outside my door tells me it’s already here. As always, Dean and I are at it early and have already cultivated most of our garden and planted the first round of cold-hardy seeds. But while we’re hard at work cleaning up and organizing the yard and garden for the season to come, we are constantly on the lookout for sleepy, still-hibernating and just-hatching garden allies like frogs, toads, turtles, spiders, and all manner of beneficial insects and creatures that help us control insect pests in our organic garden!

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How Big Will Those ‘Maters Get?

Demystifying Tomato Sizes PosterDemystifying Tomato Sizes from the Show Me Oz archives…

Have you ever perused a seed catalog looking for the perfect tomato and been a little confused by the size descriptions? I have. And as someone who recently has had to learn a whole lot about writing short variety descriptions, I appreciate what information I do get from seed packets and catalogs. But I also don’t have time to sift through all the varied ways that tomatoes are described in terms of size. What I needed a way to compare tomato sizes at a glance: Is tomato A bigger or smaller than tomato B? So, I set out to make some sense of all the numbers, weights, measurements and obscure descriptives for comparing various sizes of tomatoes. Read the entire article and get the full-size chart here! Happy gardening! J.

Black Cumin: The Blessed Seed

AndreHolz at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsShow Me Oz – As a gardener, cook and herbal enthusiast, I am always on the lookout for new and interesting plants. Because my garden is relatively small, every single plant that makes it through the front gate either has to look fantastic, taste great or have useful healing properties.  One plant that fits all of my criteria is Nigella sativa – also known as the Blessed Seed.

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Seeds of Significance – OP Seed Sources

Saving-Cherokee-Pony-Peas_thumb.jpgJill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Today is one of those cold blustery winter days that give me a good reason not to go outside.  Instead, I’m cuddled up near the  wood stove  dreaming about seeds – wonderful, open-pollinated seeds devoid of genetic modification and over-hybridization.  My seed dreams consist entirely of varieties that are either tried-and-true open-pollinated heirlooms or rare and unusual varieties of open-pollinated fruits and vegetables.  Thankfully, those kinds of seeds don’t have to live only in my dreams because thousands of varieties of unique open-pollinated seeds are readily available to the home gardener – if you know where to look. Continue reading

Nature Notes: Milkweed, Monarchs and You!

Close up of Purple Milkweed flowers. Copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

As a gardener and lover of nature, I garden with butterflies and beneficial insects in mind.  Yet, for all my efforts, the one North American butterfly that I have failed to lure to my garden is the bright and beautiful Monarch.  For years I thought the failure was mine, but the truth is that these icons of the butterfly world are in dire straights and their numbers are spiraling dangerously downward.  The good news is that there is something we can all do to help them – and all their colorful kin – to flourish once again.

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Winter Wonder: The Lenten Rose

Hellebores - copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress (5)Show Me Oz

I have been gardening nearly all my adult life and have had the pleasure of knowing and growing many lovely flowering plants and shrubs.  But it was by sheer luck that I became acquainted with the hardy evergreen, Hellebores orientalis, more commonly referred to as the Lenten Rose.  These unique flowering perennials not only sport durable evergreen foliage and are easy to grow and maintain, but the softly delicate flowers appear at a the most unlikely time of the year.

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Seed Saving Time: Testing Germination Rates

 Testing seed quality and germination rates. showmeoz.wordpress.comShow Me Oz

Last week, I received my first spring seed catalog.  And while it’s a bit early for me to even think about ordering seed for next year, it is an early reminder to test some of the seed stock I currently have on hand. Checking the quality of the seed you save is just as important as saving it. After all, there’s nothing more disappointing than spending hours planting seeds that either germinates slowly, patchy, unevenly, or (gasp) not at all.  So, whether you save your own seed or lean heavily towards “accumulating” seed, you should be testing at least a portion of your stash every winter. Continue reading

Healthful Ginger for the Holidays

A spoonful of ginger.The Holiday Season is in full swing and with it comes an almost insane schedule of shopping, entertaining, special events and, of course, dining out and cooking for friends and family.  And while the holidays sure can be fun, they aren’t always so good for our health in terms of stress, lack of sleep, colds and flu and the good old-fashioned belly ache from eating way too much “good stuff”.   Luckily, the holidays are naturally festooned with some of the most potent healing herbs and spices in the world including cinnamon, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, and ginger – one of my all time favorites.  Not only does ginger taste great in a dizzying array of holiday dishes, it can also make you feel better when the holidays get the best of you.

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Sensational Sedum: Autumn Joy

Sedum Autumn Joy flowers turn a deep maroon color as fall arrives.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Fall has finally arrived in our neck of the woods and the mild sunny days are punctuated by clear blue skies and a parade of technicolor foliage.  But for most gardeners, fall usually means that the garden is beginning to look a little rough around the edges.  Because our vegetable and herb gardens surround the house the last thing we want is to let things get too ragged looking.  Over the years we have grown various perennials around the perimeter of the garden in an attempt to screen and draw attention away from the less attractive bits.  Of the many varieties we’ve grown, our fall favorite is a lusty and beautiful sedum that is appropriately named “Autumn Joy”.

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Grow Pure Seed with Blossom Bags

IMG_4007by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Seed savers know that the key to obtaining pure seed is by controlling the pollination process.  Each species is made up of many varieties.  If two – or more! – of those varieties get too close to one another during flowering their seeds will not come true.  Of course, not all gardeners have the room to grow multiple varieties spaced far apart.  Sometimes, we just don’t know that we’d like to save a certain variety of seed in early spring and so we don’t pay any attention to the spacing requirements for purity.  If this sounds like you; have no fear!  Blossom bags are here to save the day!

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Essential Herbs: Basil

Classic Genovese basil ready to harvest.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Summer just wouldn’t be summer without a plethora of lusty basil plants flourishing in the garden.  In fact, I love the sight, smell, and taste of these leafy annual herbs so much that I always over-plant in the spring and by mid-summer wind up with more basil than I need – or even know what to do with.  Yet, every spring when my husband asks me if I think we might just have too many basil starts, my reply is always the same… there’s no such thing as too much basil!

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Seed Saving Time: Harvesting Dry Seeds

Freshly harvested lettuce seed ready to be cleaned.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

For gardeners, the most rewarding part of the season is when the harvest begins and all those luscious fruits and veggies really start to add up.  For seed savers, that joy is doubled when, in a few short weeks after the fresh harvest begins, the handful of fruits or plants that are purposely left on the vine to mature begin to set seed.  After a long season of planning, cultivating, monitoring and harvesting the bounty of the garden, the reward is more than bountiful!

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Make Your Own Garlic Braids in 10 Easy Steps

2014 6-30 How to braid garlic 2 (26)by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In my kitchen, garlic reigns supreme.  I use it for so many dishes that I like to joke that I put garlic in everything but dessert! Because we use so much fresh garlic, we always grow enough to last us all year.  The only problem with growing a ton of garlic is storing it in a way that saves space, preserves quality, and allows for quick and easy removal of bulbs that develop bad spots, bruises, or those that have begun to sprout.  To solve these problems I began braiding our garlic. With garlic braids, not only can I easily choose which bulbs need to be used first, but the long strands can be hung virtually anywhere and take up absolutely zero storage space on my shelves.  Of course, garlic braids look great and they make wonderful gifts, too.  So get your garlic on and let’s braid it in 10 easy steps!

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America’s Native Bamboo – Part II – Identification and Culture

2012 2-13 February Snow (15)by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

In last week’s article, America’s Native Bamboo: History and Ecology, we learned that America was once home to massive colonies of native bamboo, better known as canebrakes. These lush cane forests played a critical role in the ecology of the regions they inhabited by filtering sediments, controlling erosion and providing food and shelter for many native animal and bird species. Cane also played an important role in the lives of the earliest inhabitants who valued it as a nutritional food plant and an important material used to fashion tools, weapons and lodging. In the early days of settlement, America’s native cane fields were first used to fatten cattle and then cleared for farmland. Today, a whopping 98% of America’s once-abundant native bamboo has been extirpated from the landscape. This week, I will discuss the ways in which native bamboos are being used in restoration projects and how we can help return them to their rightful place in nature and beautify the home landscape, all at the same time.

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America’s Native Bamboo – Part I – History and Ecology

Switch Cane copyright Jill Henderson showmeoz.wordpress.comby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Mention the word bamboo and most people in the Western world naturally think of panda bears, China and steamy exotic jungles. In fact, the majority of the 1,450 species of bamboo in the world do originate in countries located in South and Southeastern Asia, with a few scattered species in Saharan Africa and the very farthest regions of South America. In these places, native bamboo species can grow as dense as the thickest forest you can imagine and produce giant canes as big around as small trees, while others are as diminutive and slender as a clump of our native Big Bluestem.  In fact, bamboo is actually a grass belonging to the Poaceae or True Grass family. With over 10,000 recognized species, true grasses represent the fifth largest plant family on earth. Knowing this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that the United States has three very distinct native species of bamboo, known collectively as river cane.

Wild Walk: Monarda

Monardaby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

There is nothing quite as enchanting as a chance encounter with a wild patch of flowering monarda. The electric colors of their shaggy, upright flowers light up the shady places they prefer; dazzling the unprepared eye. Once familiar with the sweet oregano-like scent of this delicately delectable herb one can often smell a colony of monarda long before seeing it. And if the scent doesn’t give it away, the sound of buzzing bees will.

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GMO’s Threaten Seed Savers

Seed really matters!by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

There’s a wonderful feeling that comes over me when the garden I have planned and tended and nurtured finally begins to pay off.   Of course, I’m pleased with the success of producing food for my family, and I’m excited about the nutritious fruits and veggies that will grace my table for the entire year to come, but the best feeling of all is knowing what is (and isn’t) in or on the food we eat.  In years past that statement would have been all about chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  But these days, the threat of food crops infected with Genetically Modified Organisms is a major concern.   That’s why learning how to save seed is so crucial for organic gardeners and farmers.

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Lawnmowers and Strangers

lawnmower smBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

After a long summer of bashing against rocks, half buried stumps, and knee-deep grass the Ozarks finally killed our lawnmower.   We worked that machine pretty hard and despite regular maintenance, managed to break just about every part there was to break.

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Seed Saving Time: What’s in a Name?

The heart of every fruit is its seed.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

If you garden, I’ll bet you’ve talked to your plants before.  Don’t worry, I do it, too. It’s perfectly normal. Common even. People talk to all kinds of animate and sometimes inanimate things – they also give them names.  Take trees and fast cars, for example.  It doesn’t matter if anyone knows you talk to your plants or not, we’ll keep that our little secret.  But if you are a gardener trying to save pure seed, you’ll want to take those pet names and give them some botanical teeth!

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Garden Time: Walking Onions

Egyptian Walking onions in early spring beginning to set bulbils. Image copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Growing up in the heart of Cajun and Creole country, I learned early on that no dish is truly complete unless it begins with a mess of sweet and savory onions.  Of course, when I began to garden it was only natural to want to grow my own.  But I soon found out that good cooking onions aren’t necessarily easy to grow. They come with very specific needs, including the perfect conditions for long-term storage, that I just couldn’t seem to provide.  For years I limited myself to the growing of onion chives and leeks to satisfy my need for easy-to-grow oniony flavor.  And then I found Egyptian walking onions.

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Seed Saving Time: Legumes

Snow peas will cross with snow, snap and shell peas.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz 

If you’re planning on saving some of your own seeds this summer, the very best time to start is before a single seed goes in the ground.  In fact, your seed saving efforts should begin with that catalog you’ve been perusing all winter.  In addition to a myriad of valuable information such as germination times, growth characteristics, suggested planting dates and so on, many seed catalogs now list each vegetable’s Latin botanical name, as well.  You know the one I’m talking about…those two  little words written in italics and perched between parenthesis can mean the difference between seed saving success or seed saving failure.

Demystifying Tomato Sizes

Demystifying-Tomato-Sizes-Poster.jpgBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Have you ever perused a seed catalog looking for the perfect tomato and been a little confused by the size descriptions? I have. And as someone who recently has had to learn a whole lot about writing short variety descriptions, I appreciate what information I do get from seed packets and catalogs. But I also don’t have time to sift through all the varied ways that tomatoes are described in terms of size. What I needed a way to compare tomato sizes at a glance: Is tomato A bigger or smaller than tomato B? So, I set out to make some sense of all the numbers, weights, measurements and obscure descriptives for comparing various sizes of tomatoes.

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Why You Should Grow Heirloom Seeds

2015 1-25 Seed Packing Party (5)Guest Post by Sam at Organic Lesson

Those who are unfamiliar with the seeds industry would be unaware of the growing battles between the types of seeds that exist in the market today. In general, seeds can be categorized into the following three categories: heirloom, hybrids, and GMO. It is important to understand each type of seed because they provide different pros and cons. For a more visual representation, you can check out the infographic below by Organic Lesson which highlights the main differences between heirloom, hybrid, and GMO seeds. Continue reading

Harvesting and Using the Flowers of Herbs

2014 6-27 (11) Garden Walkby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

After a long, cold winter, spring has finally arrived in my neck of the woods.  At long last, the dormant herbs in the garden have erupted in a wave of fresh green leaves that brighten the garden path.  And dotted here throughout, are winter hardy alliums, which will soon bear the very first herbal flowers of the season.  And while I will relish their beauty, herb flowers are more than just pretty – they are downright tasty, too.

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Fun in the Garden with Critters

Male Pileated WoodpeckerBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Ahhh! Who doesn’t love a spring day? The birds are singing and the flowers are blooming and it’s just a beautiful free for all.  We’ve spent a lot of time in the garden recently, planting and weeding and the general stuff.  I was standing there in the garden, when a beautiful pileated woodpecker sailed by me and beyond, into the woods.  I suddenly thought of an interesting gardening experience from some years before – and in another garden. It involved a pileated woodpecker, a hollow tree, a mess of squirrels, and me.

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Don’t Let Your Garlic Die! Make the Most of Your Winter Stash

Don't let your stored garlic go to waste!by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Every summer, Dean and I spend a measurable amount of time harvesting, cleaning, curing, and braiding the organic garlic we produce in our garden.  We use garlic in almost every dish we prepare at home and often utilize its amazing curative powers, as well.  I like garlic braids because they are beautiful to look at and compact enough to hang in the kitchen pantry without cluttering things up.  But no matter how and in what conditions you store your garlic, there comes a time when the living bulbs begin to sprout and slowly rot. But you can salvage the wonderful flavor and medicinal properties of garlic before it’s too late…

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Garden Time: Starting Seeds Indoors (Part Two)

Are you starting seeds indoors? Enjoy Part Two of this in-depth two part series on how to start quality vegetable plants at home from our trusty archives!  Don’t forget to follow the blog for free via email, Facebook, Twitter or Word Press using the multiple options on the sidebar!

Garden Time: Starting Seeds Indoors (Part One)

An oldie, but a goodie from the Show Me Oz archives…

BORROW…GROW…SHARE! A New Seed Library in Springfield, MO

Seed LibraryI am so excited to share with you the new Heirloom Seed Library located at the Library Station and the Midtown Carnegie Branch Library in Springfield, MO.  These folks have worked really hard to build and organize a working seed library in our state and it’s a great example for any library, or group, that would like to start a seed library where they live!  The following bit comes directly from the Heirloom Seed Library webpage.  Also, check out the heirloom seed library flier PDF that talks about the library and all the fantastic classes and presentations that are scheduled for 2015.  This is such an exciting development for our community and an incredible learning opportunity for all.   Continue reading

Are You Surrounded by Green Inside?

The gardeners soul is never far from the garden and I love the way Robbie shares his love of gardening with simple words and powerful images. Sowing the future of flitting butterflies, savory scents along the herb garden path, and warm tomatoes glistening in the sun – one seed at a time.  I think Robbie’s title has a deeper meaning in terms of the gardener’s soul. – Read on and Enjoy! Jill

Are you surrounded by green inside?

Palm Rae Urban Potager

IMG_7677-tatso

I am!!! All my spring annual vegetables, herbs and flowers are taking over my life. Hectic time of year but I love it! I am sure it is busy for all of you that are growing from seed. Years ago, I started my spring crops either too early or too late. After many years of trial and error, I have a system that works for my growing area.

IMG_7648-paper-pots-2015To my blogger buddies, please forgive me if I have not stopped by and commented the past few weeks on your posts. I will be back soon! I am not spending much time at my computer lately. The seedlings are calling! I have tables filled with plants all over my home. It is a sea of green inside my house! I don’t have much time to read blogs. I will play catch-up after I get all these plants in the ground. My…

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Why Save Seed? Patents in the Garden

Are your seeds patented?by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Another issue related to GMO’s is the patenting of life forms by the grain giants and the pharmaceutical industry. Make no mistake – the money to be made on the ownership of genetic patents is staggering. That’s why the big agriculture, chemical and pharma-giants like Cargill, Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont are racing to patent plant genes – and not just the GMO’s they create, but all plants with any value – like the vegetable crops that you and I grow in our gardens.

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Why Save Seed? GMO’s and Your Garden

Don't let your garden become contaminated with GMO vegetables and fruits.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Last week we discussed some of the more obvious reasons for saving your own seed: to be more self-sufficient and save money, to adapt varieties to the local environment, and to increase genetic diversity in food crops.  But, of course, I can’t talk about saving seeds without discussing Genetically Modified Organisms, (GMO’s) otherwise known as Franken-food.

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Why Save Seed? Selection & Genetic Diversity

Saving lettuce seed couldn't get any easier. Image copyright Jill Henderson ShowMeOz.wordpress.comby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I have been saving seed for almost 20 years.  What started out as a simple way to save a buck, quickly became a passion with very deep roots.  After all these years, it is exciting to see so many people interested in saving their own garden seed.  In fact, saving seed has become quite popular. But there are those who still think it’s just a fad – another hashtag in a world of buzzwords. And perhaps seed saving is just another trend in a long line of trends – like bacon everything, backyard chickens, and kale, but for those of us who have worked towards seed sovereignty and food freedom for years, an American seed saving fetish is just what this country needs!

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The Power of Flowers

Tulip Image copyright Jill Henderson Show Me Ozby Dave Trinklein, MU Horticulture
via Missouri Beginning Farming

February brings with it Valentine’s Day and the prospect of millions upon millions of flowers being sent to those who hold a special place in the hearts of the people who send them.  Indeed, it is estimated that nearly 200 million roses alone will find their way into the lives of “significant others” throughout the United States this year.  Flowers are remarkable in many ways, not the least of which is their influence or power over those around them. Continue reading

Rock Pickin’ Snow!

Rocks and snow.By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Even though we just had a string of lovely, sunny days, overall, it’s been a pretty gloomy winter here in Oz.  Early cold and snow, persistently cloudy skies, and a generous dose of downright gloomy days are enough to chase just about everyone indoors.  The temporary respite we just had will be followed by a weekend of snow and rain and who knows what else.  Despite all that, there are good reasons to get outside; and get movin’. My reason of late has been good ol’-fashioned rock pickin’ – a hillbilly pastime if there ever was one.

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Jill’s Herbal Diary: Herbs for Natural Hair Care

Straining an herbal oil infusion. Copyright Jill Henderson - ShowMeOz.wordpressBy Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

When I first started studying herbs and herbalism more than two decades ago, I was fascinated by the multitude of natural ingredients used to create herbal preparations.   The following article includes interesting tidbits of information, but is by no means a complete list of their attributes or actions.  Of course, a lot more could be said about each ingredient or recipe, yet these herbal tidbits might just inspire you to look for more ways to use a particular ingredient or to try some of them in a new way!  I haven’t adulterated my herbal diary notes to include my modern-day uses of herbs for natural hair and skin care, so please feel free to add your knowledge or share your thoughts and recipes with us! Enjoy!

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Winter Sowing: Get a Jump on Spring

2012 8-29 Seedlings (4)_thumb[7]By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Many gardeners know the benefits of planting crops, such as garlic, in the early fall and winter months, but did you know that many common herb, flower and vegetable seeds can be treated this way, too? Winter sowing is the age-old practice of planting seeds directly in the garden sometime between late fall and mid-winter. Because they are living organisms, seeds have the ability to sense the environment around them, which allows them to determine when weather conditions are just right for germination. As a result, winter sown seeds often germinate earlier, have higher rates of germination and have less problems with seedling diseases such as damping off. They also tend to grow faster and stronger than their indoor-sown counterparts, which allows gardeners to get a jump on the growing season.

One Woman’s Journey Through Oz

2002 - 5 - Caney Mountain Herb walk - vistasby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I am not an Ozarker by birth.  I was actually born in  the West, grew up in the Deep South, and spent 10 years or so roving about the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana and other points beyond.  I love them all.  But when the day came that I first laid my eyes upon the rocky and rolling hills and hollers of the Ozarks, something deep in my bones told me I was home.

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Seed Saving Time: Start with Quality Garden Seed

Pepper - Paprika (4)I’m always going on and on about why it is so important to focus our seed saving efforts on making sure that seeds are saved correctly.  Specifically, that seed savers learn to avoid cross-pollination between varieties within the same species.  If done wrong, your seeds won’t come true to type.  In practice, it is a small job that takes little time.  In terms of results, it means the difference between quality seed and failure.  But there are other ways to help ensure that the seeds you save will not only germinate and come true to type, but will thrive and produce abundantly in your garden.

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Demonstration Garden Spotlight: White Dog Walipini

Share the Seed

2014 4-6 Walipini Tour (1)Share the Seed member gardeners, Sunni and Jason Fine, take the group on a tour of their walipini as it undergoes the final stages of construction.  The walipini, also known as a pit or earth-sheltered greenhouse, is essentially a 6′-8′  deep, rectangular hole in the ground that is covered with greenhouse plastic sheeting.  Sunni and Jason’s walipini is a whopping 32 x 42 ft!  The roof is angled steeply towards the south to take advantage of the winter sun.  The earthen walls help regulate the temperature inside of the walipini, both in summer and in winter – much like a geothermal heating and cooling system.  

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The Winter Herb Garden: Bring it In!

Potted oregano Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

No matter how hard the bitter winds blow or how deep the snow gets, the avid gardener can still enjoy the sights, smells, and tastes of fresh home-grown herbs all winter long.  All you need is a few pots, some potting soil, and one or two relatively warm and sunny windowsills on which to perch them.  And while an indoor herb garden will likely produce less than those summer-grown herbs from the garden, they are still useful, flavorful and oh, so beautiful to look at.  In this week’s Show Me Oz we’ll talk about indoor herb gardens and how to grow your own, including special cultivars bred specifically to perform well in pots.

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Pure Momentum Network Interview

Pure Momentum Network Interview

Yesterday’s interview with Pamela Tartar on the Pure Momentum Network .

Click on the image or the link below to listen:

http://puremomentum.net/hosts-2/november/factor-nine-jill-henderson-seed-saving-gmos-seasons-in-nature-herbs-water-and-fracking/

Garden Time: Chives and Their Oniony Relatives

Spring onion chives in bloom. Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s mid-November and an arctic blast is about to make its way all the way to the Gulf Coast.  But even though it is really beginning to feel like winter, gardening season isn’t over just yet!  Here in Zone 7 – where we’ve already had several hard freezes – the chives and their oniony relatives are still churning out a plethora of tasty leaves and succulent stems for the kitchen.  If you’ve never grown winter onions, you might be surprised how long “stinking rose” family members last in the winter months.  And believe it or not,  early winter is a great time to plant a few seeds of your favorite onion wanna-be!

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Seed Saving Time: Drying and Storing Your Home Grown Seeds

Paper packets work great for storing most types of seed.by Jill Henderson Show Me Oz

Seeds are living, breathing, life forms capable of remaining dormant for long periods of time, germinating only when environmental conditions are just right for the growth of the plant they will soon become.  But even the best kept seeds don’t last forever.  If you save your own flower, vegetable or herb seeds, you can help increase their lifespan by following just a few simple steps.  In this week’s Show Me Oz, we’ll talk about the right way to dry and store your seeds and how long you can expect them to live.

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Winterize Your Garden for Spring Success

Rocks make excellent mulch for woody perennials like lavender.by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Winter is a fact of life and as now that fall is here, our top priority should be to prepare our perennial plants to endure whatever winter throws their way.  In the plant kingdom, dormancy is not a type of death; rather, it is a reduced pace of living. Even in the coldest climates, perennials continue to respirate, grow roots, and utilize stored food to keep them alive and strengthen them for the growing season to come.  Which is why it is so important to give them a little extra protection and care before winter’s chill takes over.

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Tree Bombs and Praying Mantises

Falling acorns. Copyright Jill Hendersonby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With the lovely fall weather moving in at last, we can once again spend most of our time outdoors without fainting from the heat or being attacked by voracious insects. While it would be nice to sit under the oak trees and relax in the slight breeze, the squirrels just won’t allow us to. Right this minute, there are thousands and thousands of ripening acorns in the oak trees and the squirrels, looking for early fall forage, have been sorting through them one by one.

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Wild Walk: Goldenrod

goldenrodby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Although the meadow below my house is still lush and green, I can see fall working its way into our lives.  I see it in the falling golden leaves of the black walnut trees and in the burning-red leaves of sassafras and sumac. And even though the meadow is most definitely green, it is also suddenly dotted with the purple and gold blossoms of asters and early goldenrod – plants we sometimes love to hate.

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Multiply Your Plants the Cheap and Easy Way!

2013 5-12 The Herb Garden (1)By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

It’s hard to believe summer is almost over, but I can tell by the ragged look of the garden that fall is on it’s way.  Even so, there’s plenty of gardening left to do before winter’s chill sets in.  Among my favorite fall chores is propagating perennial herbs and flowers using techniques like stem cuttings, layering, and division to generate tons of new baby plants the cheap and easy way.

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OCA: Deadline September 8: Tell the USDA to reject Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ crops!

Organic Consumer's AssociationCritical Action Alert! from Organic Consumer’s Association

Take Action Now to Stop Dow’s “Agent Orange” laced insecticide!

On August 6 (2014), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), over the objections of 50 members of Congress, and more than 500,000 citizens, scientists, farmers and health professionals, moved one step closer to approving Dow’s new Enlist “Agent Orange” brand soy and corn crops.

The crops are engineered to withstand massive doses of Enlist Duo herbicide, concocted from a combination of 2,4-D (used to make Agent Orange) and glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.

The USDA has admitted that approval of Dow’s new crops will cause the use of 2,4-D to skyrocket from 26 million pounds to 176 million pounds. Scientists predict worse.

Dow’s 2,4-D is already the seventh largest source of dioxins in the U.S. It’s been linked to a host of ills, including birth defects, infertility, allergies, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption and cancer.

It’s unconscionable that the USDA would approve these crops. Yet the agency is less than 18 days away from doing just that. Unless we stop it.

Deadline September 8: Tell the USDA to reject Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ crops!  

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Easy Refridgerator Picklesby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

After several years of extreme summer heat and drought, this year we decided to give the cucumbers the  most fertile spot in the garden and trained them to climb a 10 foot tall trellis.  Before they ever reached the top (and crawled on to the roof of the house!), they were producing an abundance of fruits.  Needless to say, we have had to come up with quite a few novel ways to prepare cucumbers, but nothing beats a classic crunchy dill pickle for long-term satisfaction.   In this week’s Show Me Oz, I’ll share a few pickling tips and tricks and the easiest, most laid back pickle recipe ever!

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Violets and the Great Spangled Fritillary

Fritillaries on Milkweedby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

I know I promised this article a couple of weeks ago, but between blackberry pickin’, the garden and seed saving classes, I just couldn’t get back to it.  But while we were up berry pickin’, we saw lots of butterflies – including the Great Spangled Fritillary.  Of course, I love all butterflies, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Fritillaries because of their softly muted-orange coloration and complex wing patterns in brown, black and silver.  I had been wanting to entice more fritillaries to the garden but wasn’t sure what to do, so you can imagine my excitement when I realized I had already done it!

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Washing Herbs: The Good, the Bad and the Messy

Thai Basil sm_thumb[6]by Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

Now that the weather has finally warmed to normal summer temperatures many of the late-flowering herbs in the garden have exploded into a tangle of arching stems and resinous leaves ready to be harvested for drying and storage.  But before I begin cutting, I want to make sure that they are relatively free of dirt and debris.  But should herbs harvested for drying be washed at all, and if so, how and when does one go about washing them?

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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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!

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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…

Pink Cucumber Beetle? Look again!

Pink Ladybug [Coleomegilla maculata] Image by Jim Conrad [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commonsby Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz

With the onset of summer, legions of gardeners will soon be out in force doing battle with bad bugs and wily critters up to no good in the garden.  But not all the bugs in your garden are bad. This pink ladybug is a real beneficial, but is often mistaken for a “pink cucumber beetle” and destroyed.  So, before you whip out the spraying wand, look again!
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The Wonderful World of Mints

The Wonderful World of Mints - ACRES USA MagazineCheck out my latest article, The Wonderful World of Mints, in ACRES USA Magazine by clicking the link below or the image to the left.

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