Phillip and Panther were the subjects of my latest Forever Pet Portraits.
I think they turned out beautifully and so did their kitty-mama!
If you’ve been thinking about a pet portrait of your best buddy made, it’s easier than you think.
Simply give me a shout and I’ll give you a free, no-obligation quote on the size and style of your choice.
Check out my Forever Pet Portraits website for more details.
I’ve spent the last 10 years writing feature articles for Acres USA magazine and this year, I focused my pen on profiling some of the most influential women in regenerative eco-ag. My June 2021 female-farmer profile features Mimi Hillenbrand of the 777 Bison Ranch in northwest South Dakota. Here in the dry short-grass prairie, Mimi and the Hillenbrand family have been raising genetically-pure American Bison for over 30-years using an impressive array of holistic, humane, and sustainable practices in what Mimi calls “a partnership with nature”. My article made the cover of the print edition, but you can read it for free at Acres Eco-Farming Daily online.
In Part One of The Herbal Insectary, I explained what an insectary is and what types of food beneficial insects need and which plants attract and feed them. We also discussed ways to turn beneficial larvae, like black swallow parsley worms, from garden pest into garden ally by providing them a permanent home outside of your main garden. In this installment, I will explain how a dedicated perennial insectary is the best thing you can do for your insect allies and share a few important tips and tricks to make your insectary an even more appealing place for beneficials to call home. Continue reading →
Most gardeners grow herbs for their savory flavors and healing properties, but with a little extra planning the herb garden can become a powerful insectary that attracts thousands of butterflies, beneficial insects and pollinators right where gardeners need them most. Continue reading →
In Persimmon Pickin’ Time Part One, I talked about how to identify and harvest wild persimmons and how to process this delectable wild fruit. Today, we’ll take on the sticky-sweet pulp of persimmon in the kitchen with a couple of my favorite persimmon recipes to get you started. Continue reading →
The Ozarks are filled with wonderful edibles, like sweet and sticky wild persimmons. And now that the scorching heat of summer and its itchy bug bites are a thing of the past finding and harvesting these little gems is as easy as pie!
Jill Henderson – Show 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 for the long run. Plus, if the electricity goes out – or you need to bug out – dried herbs are not only lightweight and take up little room, but they won’t spoil, either. And while there is a lot of information out there on drying homegrown herbs, the truth is it isn’t hard or time consuming. Anyone can do it. And the best part is, 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 absolutely free!
With winter in full swing, the last thing you might be thinking about is gardening. But the two actually go together like pumpkin pie and whipped cream! In fact, if you grew your own pumpkins or squash this year, the holidays are the perfect time for saving seed! Read on….
Gardening and processing the bounty is both rewarding and time-consuming. So, any time I find a way to make preserving the harvest easier, I’m all in! Today, I’d like to share my recipe for Super Simple Refrigerator Jalapeno Slices and my best tips for slicing and deseeding hot peppers without the burn! Continue reading →
If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you already know that I am passionate about organic and sustainable agriculture. When I’m not blogging, I write articles for Acres USA, a fantastic magazine for ecological, sustainable, and organic farmers. This article, How Farmers Can Fight Climate Change, is not only interesting, but filled with valuable information for anyone who grows food in this unpredictable new world.
There is a new climate paradigm in town, and it is bringing radical changes to farm fields across the nation and around the world. On the short list of weather craziness is heavy spells of unexpected precipitation, more frequent and severe floods, fluctuating temperatures, crop-killing droughts, devastating super-storms and unpredictable “zone creep.” Continue reading…
You may have heard one of my recent interviews on the dangers of electromagnetic frequencies, particularly those of the new 5G cellular network. There is a growing body of evidence that proves that the radio frequencies that have been used for 4G and LTE networks, and particularly the new spectrum of pulsed-frequency millimeter waves, can and do produce devastating effects on the body. Today, I want to share with you just one document that specifically addresses those concerns. The Naval Medical Research Institute published this research paper way back in 1971. It is a “Bibliography of reported biological phenomena (‘effects’) and clinical manifestations attributed to microwave and radio-frequency radiation”. It includes 5 pages of physical effects to the human body that will shock even the most robust EMF denier. The title says it all. You can read more about the dangers of EMFs from our own government’s researchers and download the original document as a PDF from my article, Protect Yourself from Electromagnetic Radiation
Jill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz – I don’t really feel totally comfortable with the word clone. It’s a little too 2001 Space Odyssey kind of creepy for me, but if you have a seedling, transplant, or mature tomato plant break, you can turn a major-minor disaster into a gardening win-win by cloning it. I’ve saved more than my fair share of nearly-dead plants over the last 30-something years and it works almost every time. Continue reading →
Today, I thought I’d share some of the writing I do for Acres USA magazine. These articles all appeared in the print version of the magazine but are now being republished in their online magazine, Eco Farming Daily, which is a great way to read some of the best articles on sustainable and ecological agriculture anywhere. Enjoy!
With a score of recent legal victories against the makers of Round Up (glyphosate) herbicide for its role in causing cancer, there can be no more doubt about what activists and independent researchers have been saying for the last two decades: glyphosate is deadly! Not only is it the most-widely used herbicide in the world but one that is pervasive in our food, water, and air. Over 98% of people tested in the US had significant levels of glyphosate in their blood and urine – including pregnant women and their unborn babies. Despite both Monsanto and Bayer’s claims, glyphosate does not break down readily or quickly in the environment leaving untold millions exposed to this cancer causing herbicide. Today, we’re going to talk about how you can start to detox your environment and your body from this cancer-causing herbicide. Continue reading →
GMO’s are organisms that have had their natural genetic structure altered by literally forcing the genes of unrelated plants, animals, insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses and even human genes into the host plant’s embryonic cells using a virus as a vector to infect the host and spread the new gene. I don’t know what your spiritual beliefs are, but I don’t believe the Creator intended rice and mice to splice. And spirituality aside, there are serious concerns as to how these genetically modified foods act upon the human and animal body when consumed over a long period of time. Continue reading →
(originally published in Permaculture Activist – May 2017 issue)
I have been saving garden and native plant seeds for the better part of 20 years. What started out as a simple way to save a buck quickly became a deep-rooted passion. After so many years as a teacher and advocate, it is truly exciting to see so many people interested in saving their own seed. Yet, there are those out there who still think seed saving is just a pass-time or a fad – just another hash tag in a world of buzzwords. 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 exactly what this country needs right now. Continue reading →
My recent interview with Ciaran Boyle from the World Events Network – Vaccines, 5G – dives into the steep rise in cases of autism, Alzheimer’s, and digestive disorders and the role heavy metals play in this toxic dance.
CENSORSHIP NOTICE: Ciaran’s YouTube Channel was deleted in June (2019) along with all of his interviews due to the ongoing censorship of freelance journalists who dare discuss issues that don’t agree with the mainstream machine. It’s up to YOU to demand that the censoring of alternative opinions stop! If you would like to watch this interview, I will email you a copy directly (if I can). Just leave a comment below and I will contact you directly.
If you have been following this four-part series, you’ve already got a good idea of the types of materials that you want to use to make your own plantable botanical paper. If you missed any of those posts just zip on over to Gifts That Grow: Making Plantable Botanical Paper Part Oneand work your way back here. For those who have been following along, get your supplies together and get ready to make paper! Continue reading →
In the first two parts of this four-part series on making your own plantable botanical paper, I covered making and using molds or deckles as well as discussed in-length the various kinds of paper that can be used to make your paper with. This week, I’ll show you the different ways to bring your beautiful hand-crafted paper to life using textural elements, botanicals, and yes, seeds! Continue reading →
In part one of this four-part series on making your own unique plantable botanical paper, I covered the various tools you will need to start your project and how to find, repurpose or make your own paper molds and deckles. This week I talk in detail about the materials you will need to start crafting your botanical paper including the various types of waste paper that can be recycled and how to add texture and color to your homemade work of art.
Making paper is one of the easiest and most rewarding forms of arts and crafts – and a great way to pass the long winter days indoors. Not only can you use recycled materials found around the house to make beautiful paper of all kinds, but when it is done you will have a piece of art that is unparalleled in its unique beauty and functionality. And by simply adding a few special flower or herb seeds to your lovely hand-crafted paper, it will become a plantable gift that keeps on giving! Continue reading →
It is the dead of winter here in Oz, but my thoughts are already in the garden and on starting seedlings indoors. Truth is, I used to dread the days of starting seedlings indoors because no matter how hard I tried, eventually they would get long and lanky and fall over. What a waste of time and energy! But with one simple modification and a couple of cheap household items, I found a simple cure for the dreaded “leggy seedling syndrome”.
As an organic gardener and biological farmer, there are certain things I have come to understand over the last 30 some-odd years. Working with seeds, soil, and sun have taught me about the symbiotic relationships that all living things share in common. It’s a simple concept with a profound potential to transform, and it all starts with the soil. Continue reading →
Another holiday season is upon us and no doubt there will be moments of both stress and joy, especially in the kitchen. But don’t let a simple thing like making a couple of homemade pies intimidate you so much that you feel obliged to turn to the premade, nutritionless dessert options in the frozen food section!
Fennel is a wonderful and gentle medicinal, an extraordinarily versatile vegetable and spice and a tall graceful herb that should be planted and used much more often than it is. Last week, I covered the various types of fennel available to the home gardener and a couple of handy tips for growing this finicky herb. This week’s post is all about how to use fennel as a culinary herb in the kitchen and and and as an effective herbal remedy for every member of your family! Continue reading →
Among the many wonderful herbs available to the gardener, no honest-to-goodness herb garden is truly complete without at least one tall, stately fennel plant. I say that because fennel is not only edible, medicinal and downright gorgeous, but it also attracts hordes of beneficial insects and butterflies to the garden, too. What more could any gardener, cook or herbalist ask for? Continue reading →
It’s surprising how many people completely reject the idea that they might have intestinal parasites when the truth of the matter is that hundreds of millions of people in America alone have some form of parasite living inside their bodies. In last week’s post, I talked about what parasites are and how they can affect human health. I also posted a very short list of ingredients and a super easy recipe for black walnut hull tincture, which together, make up one of the most effective, simple, natural, and inexpensive parasite cleanses you can do at home. And this week, I’m giving you the entire protocol schedule so you can make the most of this wonderful parasite cleanse. Continue reading →
As creepy as it may sound, hundreds of millions of Americans are unknowingly infested with parasites that can cause everything from aching joints and fatigue to blindness and even death. If you don’t think you could ever have parasites, better think again! In this two-part series, I’ll cover the most common beasties found inside the human body and how you can get rid of intestinal parasites using a simple, safe, and natural remedy. Continue reading →
Food has the power to hurt or heal, depending on how it is grown and prepared. In this week’s article, I have a bit of “spicy” history and 10 fantastic naturally healthy spice blends that you can make at home and share with friends using common home-grown organic herbs and spices, which are not only super yummy but super healthy, too! Continue reading →
In my last post, I talked in depth about how GMO crops and the food made from them contain a genetically-modified-protein that the body cannot break down into usable glycine, which is crucial for human health. And as bad as all this is, the troubles with GMOs doesn’t actually start in the gut – they begin in the environment in which they are grown, with the farmers that grow them and perhaps, even in your very own garden.
As I pointed out in Part One of this series on toxic food, it is quite apparent that there is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects across the board. This has been demonstrated time and time again by numerous independent studies from around the world. Despite the length of time on the open market, people either are still unaware of the dangers or they simply choose to believe the lies paid for by Monsanto and company and those of the corporate chemical industry shills that have been put in charge of the FDA and USDA. But the real evidence of this deadly collusion is in the sudden dearth of leaky guts and bewildering levels of diseases that come with them, and the brave independent researchers and educators willing to put their careers on the line for the truth.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve shared with you just some of the damaging effects that disharmonic sounds and electromagnetic frequencies can have on the human body including sleep disturbances, anger, depression, ringing in the ears, headaches, memory loss, reduced fertility, and many others. Today, I’d like to share a few tips on how you can start taking control of the EMF’s in your environment to protect your family from destructive levels of electromagnetic radiation (EMFs) starting right now! If you want to check out the damning report by the Navy Medical Research Institute, entitled, “Reported Biological Phenomena (Effects) and Some Clinical Manifestations Attributed to Microwave and Radio-Frequency Radiation”, then read on! Continue reading →
This soft pastel painting was inspired by a lovely wilderness-filled summer haunted by the calls of a pair of these tiny “cat-faced” owls whose eyes seem to be the biggest part of their bodies. Saw-whet owls are found throughout the United States and southern Canada but this little guy will feel right at home just about anywhere you want to hang him. As a lover of birds in general, I have an especially soft spot for owls. This large 9×12 pastel painting fits into an 11×14 frame, but if you opt for a larger frame with plenty of matting this work of art will be the focal point of any room. This original one-of-a-kind work of art can be yours for only $225.00 plus S&H. Check out more of Jill’s work at https://foreverpetportraits.wordpress.com/
In Part I and II of this series on Water, we discovered how and why the earth’s water was being intentionally destroyed and poisoned by an elite cabal of eugenicists and industrialist polluters. And while they have tried hard to kill the living water, we’ve still got hope. Let’s be clear about this – water is not alive because it moves or stirs our souls, it is alive because it has its own memory and consciousness. Modern research on water memory didn’t really get going until Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese researcher and author began working with vibrational energy, or what Emoto called “hado” in Japanese. In fact, Emoto described his work as “…the intrinsic vibratory pattern at the atomic level in all matter, the smallest unit of energy. Its basis is the energy of human consciousness”. Continue reading →
In Poisoning the Elixir Part I – Water, we delved into how fluoride came to be intentionally added to our drinking water as a means of disposing of industrial toxic waste and mind control. Not only is the addition of fluoride to drinking water ineffective, a massive body of evidence exists that proves that fluoride is extremely dangerous to human health, too. At the very minimum, consumption of fluoride in water has been shown to causes irreversible dental fluorosis, which now affects 32% of American children. This drug-induced condition permanently yellows, spots, and rots teeth starting at a very young age. Additionally, accumulation of fluoride in the bones and joints causes skeletal fluorosis, which is a permanent and incredibly painful condition that leads to severe arthritis, bone diseases, and bone cancer. Continue reading →
Water has been sacred to mankind since the dawn of time as proven by the respect and even worship given to it by every religious philosophy and text in the world. The human body is made up of 75-85% water and without it, life on earth as we know it would end. We are only alive because water is alive. Yet, water all over the world – including the water we drink every single day – is being mindlessly polluted and willfully poisoned. Will this nightmare be the true downfall of mankind?
Illuminati Agenda 21 tells the story of the age-old battle between Good and Evil. The first part of the tale identifies the Luciferian perpetrators, tracing their origins back to ancient Sumeria, and tracking their hegemony over mankind through Babylon, Egypt, the Holy Roman Empire, and on to their modern-day lair known as The City of London.
Part two brings the battle into recent times, where the Illuminati’s Agenda 21 is quietly unfolding in an insidious creep towards global fascism and their long-awaited goal of a New World Secular Order, which threatens to strip us of our humanity, replace us with machines, and destroy all Creation.
I hope you will take a few minutes to check out this latest book, which I co-authored with my husband, Dean Henderson – a brilliant political analyst and economist and a noted international author and speaker. While some of my readers may find this book a bit out of the norm for me in terms of subject matter, it delves deeply into those things that I hold dear, such as alternative healing, organic gardening and farming, real food, GMOs and seed saving, as well as my reverence for nature and the spirit of being human.
All of these things and much more are portrayed both in my writing and in this new book, which uncovers what many people in these troubled times feel in their gut – that the system is broken and that the powers that be don’t seem to care all that much about our, or anyone else’s suffering so long as they stay rich and powerful…
So if you are literally sick and tired and want to find out why, step inside and find out the truth that is being hidden from us and what you can do to change the world for the better.
With the end of the Great Sleep, spring has asserted herself firmly in the Heart of the Ozarks. The rising intensity of the sun entices all living things to join in the brief but joyous celebration of new beginnings. Big or small, spring provides the perfect opportunity to search for new and interesting native plants. Continue reading →
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!
I 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/
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.
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.
It’s early Monday morning and head brewer Amy Fischer is standing on a step ladder in the back room of Wages Brewing Company carefully stirring a steaming vat of barley and wheat mash that will soon be fermented into a tasty batch of Whatknot Ale. After years of practicing and perfecting the craft of small-batch brewing at home, owner and brewer Phil Wages and his wife, Amber, officially opened their brewery and taproom in the small rural community of West Plains, Missouri, in early 2017. With an official population of just below 12,000 people, the last business most residents expected to pop up in town was a brewery, but for Phil Wages, it was the perfect opportunity. PDF
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.
If you have ever dreamed of keeping bees but found the process complicated, expensive, or the potential for losing your investment to disease and pests all too real, then you have never met Dr. Leo Sharashkin, a prominent wild bee enthusiast, educator, and apiarist who practices an ancient method of catching and keeping wild bees in specially-designed horizontal hives. If you have had the good fortune to meet Dr. Leo or to hear him speak to a room full of enthusiastic beekeepers or the crowd that inevitably gathers around his Horizontal Hive booth at grower’s conferences across the country, you already know that his encyclopedic knowledge of bees is boundless and the methods he uses to keep them, truly inspiring. Whether you are a budding beekeeper or an experience apiarist, you can keep happy and productive bees with less work and money than you ever imagined possible and do it in a sustainable, eco-friendly way. Read more…safe PDF opens automatically
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)
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
Jill 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.
Jill 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!
Jill HendersonShow 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 →
In the heart of the Missouri Ozarks the little village of Peace Valley wakes to another beautiful sunrise, revealing the rolling hills and hardwood forests that Jim and JudyJo Protiva call home. It is here in this small, but tightly-knit community that a former Grand Canyon guide and a Rocky Mountain Ranger decided to settle down to raise a family and grow food in a way that honored God’s creation to the fullest. Over the next 21 years, the Protivas turned their passion for clean, healthy food into Peace Valley Poultry; perhaps the oldest pastured poultry operation in the state. Read the entire article in PDF
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.
Real people growing real food. “It’s all about protecting the land and bringing it back to health. Not just taking what we can get from it, but giving back to the system to keep it fed.” Emily Towne, Full Plate Farm. Read more about Full Plate Farm in this article published in the January issue of Acres USA Magazine. Read the entire article here.
Winter is one of the best times to see bald eagles in Missouri. A few years back, on a winter day much like this one, Dean and I spotted a pair of adult bald eagles circling lazily above our house on the warm rising thermals of a mid-winter day. Their white head and tail feathers shone brightly against the clear blue sky. Since we don’t often get to see them for long, we watched the pair with much excitement and within minutes, a darker sub-adult joined them. We were thrilled to get a rare glimpse of this eagle family, especially since we were so far from the large lakes and rivers where the eagles prefer to congregate this time of year.
I love history. Particularly when I find it in a far-flung or unexpected place. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a tree with a huge hole in the side of it. Of course, it’s not uncommon to find trees with natural cavities in them around these parts, but this particular breach was not made by nature or time, but by man – and for a very specific purpose.
Today is one of those magical days that come about from time to time in the waning hours of November. The big winter sun hangs low in a crisp blue sky, warming the ageless rocks at my feet. The golden light of midday has taken on an ephemeral tenderness that highlights the sculpted edges of thousands of umber, scarlet and saffron-colored oak leaves whose active lives have come to the ultimate conclusion upon the bosom of the earth. In some sudden and mysterious way, they are no longer leaves, but individual pieces of a naturally fantastic jigsaw puzzle just waiting to be pieced together.
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!
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…
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.
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!
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.
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.
The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food, including the oh-so-delectable black walnut. Each fall, the huge green fruits come crashing down into parks, yards, and a multitude of public spaces, making them easy game for any wild or urban forager. Indeed, why pay $5 for a 4 ounce bag of nutmeats when you’ve got black walnut trees around? That’s just nuts! The problem most people face isn’t acquiring enough nuts to make it worth their while, it’s the cleaning, cracking and picking that really gets them. So, if you’ve never done it before because you’ve heard how hard they are to deal with, I hope this post will make the cleaning, cracking and picking of black walnuts just a little bit easier.
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.
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…
Jill Henderson – Show 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 →
Jill Henderson – Show 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!
Jill Henderson – Show 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.
Jill Henderson – Show 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!
Jill Henderson – Show 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.
Jill 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.
by 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 →
Jill Henderson – Show 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…
Show Me Oz – Sometimes the best “wild” medicine comes from plants that are decidedly not native, but rather naturalized and occasionally weedy. Plants like these are often considered to be invasive, undesirable weeds in cultivated fields and lawns across North America. And yet, many of these non-natives are incredible edibles and natural healers that foragers and backwoods herbalists should take note of. Dandelions, dock and comfrey are all great examples of naturalized invasive herbs. Another of these weedy invasive plants is a lesser-known little beauty with a plethora of common names, including Heal-All, Self-Heal and All-Heal among many others. And if a name could say it all, this one definitely does.
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.
Show 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Show 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!
Show Me Oz – The Ozarks are blessed with an abundance of wild food including delectable black walnuts, savory hickory nuts, sticky-sweet persimmons, juicy paw paws, tart wild black cherries, tart wild plums and serviceberries, nutritious black berries, wild grapes and delicate black raspberries. If you’ve spent much time here in Oz, you are almost certainly familiar with one or all of these wild foods and have probably spent your fair share of summer and fall afternoons gathering them by the bucketful. But there is one more wild Ozark delicacy that often escapes the notice (and the baskets) of many a wild forager: the wild blueberry. Continue reading →
I like to refer to winter as The Great Sleep, because although life outside the window pane seems dull and lifeless, it is anything but. Yet to find that elusive bit of life, one must go in search of it. Even this self-avowed nature freak has to remind herself of this from time to time. So today, I took a stroll through the woods with my eyes – and my senses – wide open.
The Ozark “Mountains” are an anomaly – an island in a sea of plains, a bump in an otherwise flat road. When viewed from the air the folds and contours of the Ozarks resemble a human brain; an interesting comparison, since the Ozarks also represent one of the most ancient and diverse landscapes in North America. Among the unique and dizzying array of flora and fauna, caves, sinkholes, crystal clear springs and toe-numbing rivers is a rich and tangled history of human habitation.
Show 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.
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 →
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.
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, Helleboresorientalis, 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.
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 →
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.
Of all the holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving is by far and away my favorite. And anyone who knows me, also knows that I love me some dessert. In fact, pies are a particular weakness of mine. I mean, who doesn’t love a sweet, crunchy, savory plate of unimaginable yumminess wrapped in a simple, flaky crust and slathered with a delectable topping? Of course, if you are the one tasked with bringing the pies and aren’t feeling up to the task you might just be in stress-mode. But don’t sweat it. In this week’s Show Me Oz, I’ll show you how to make a simply delicious pie (and crust!) that you can be proud of!
Quite a few years back, on a beautiful fall day just like this one, a bit of unpleasant news filtered down through our village grapevine. Apparently, an elderly and well-known gentleman in our little community had been arrested for bootlegging moonshine. That the man in question made and sold corn whiskey was no secret to many in the surrounding area, for he had been doing it for the better part of his life and made little secret of it. Some of the first official reports claimed that this gentleman and his immediate family made and sold up to 9,000 gallons of moonshine each year. And while that may sound like a lot of ‘shine, it didn’t come as a surprise to me or to anyone else living within a 100 mile radius, because this fella had a reputation for making absolutely top-notch hooch and everyone who drank alcohol wanted a jar of their very own.
Fall is here and we finally got enough rain to kick off the fall mushroom season. Among the many foragable fungi available in the fall, my favorite are coral mushrooms. Not only are corals super easy to identify, even for the novice mushroom hunter, but they are downright beautiful and oh, so good to eat.
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”.
This story happened many moons ago in a garden we used to tend. It was a sultry late summer morning and Dean and I were meandering through the garden discussing future chores. We were having a nice walkabout, chatting and discussing one thing or another, and I suddenly turned to him and said, “Do you feel like someone is watching us?” His perplexed look answered my question and should have set me straight, but I just couldn’t shake the strange feeling I’d had all summer long. Someone or something had been watching me.