8/31/2014

September, Hot Sauce Time!


Hot sauce can be made from any peppers you grow.
This has been an outstanding year for peppers and tomatoes in our area. We've been canning spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and tomato juice, and now it's time to turn attention to making hot sauce for winter and gifts.

One of the reasons I write books is so I can keep track of my recipes and my hot sauce book is a good example. When I wrote it, I tried and tested my recipes before putting them in the text. All are easy to follow, can be varied according to your heat preferences and it tells how to preserve, can or freeze each recipe. So this week, I'm making hot sauce!
40 pages of my own favorite recipes.
Here's one of my recipes, which is quite simple and easy to make. You can keep it in the refrigerator, or can it (instructions are in the book for safely canning hot sauce). To order the book, or read more, click here.

Quick & Easy Hot Sauce
This is a tasty, versatile recipe, vary it with the ingredients you have on hand.
Use it on scrambled eggs, grilled meats or as a marinade.


4 cups coarsely chopped mixed
peppers, such as cayenne,
Serrano, etc, stems removed but
caps left on, stems removed
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
3-4 garlic cloves, peeled
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 tablespoon salt

1. Combine the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If the sauce
is too thick, add water.
2. Strain, discarding solids, or leave them in where they will continue to
further flavor the sauce.
3. Refrigerate for up to 5-6 weeks. Makes 3-4 cups.


7/28/2014

St. John's Wort in the Landscape

We're fortunate to have several St. John's Worts in our area and they are at their finest in mid to late July. This one is known as shrubby St. John's Wort.
Shrubby St. John's Wort (Hypericum prolificum)
In our area it is almost evergreen, only losing its leaves in the coldest part of winter. The plant grows to 3 or 4 ft. tall and 4-5 ft. wide. It's care-free, has no insect pests and requires little beyond a bit of pruning if it gets larger than I want it to. It also occasionally drops a seed giving me an additional plant to move to another location.
Shrubby St. John's Wort flowers.
The late Billy Joe Tatum described the fragrance of these as akin to a pleasant burnt sugar or butterscotch smell. The spent flowers turn a pleasant shade of butterscotch-orange.
Common St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
The name, perforatum, alludes to the leaves appearing as if they've been perforated. There are tiny "holes" which are actually tiny clear spots scattered about on the leaves. This one grows along roadsides and in fields, about 12-14 inches tall. Bees and butterflies love the flowers.

St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has a considerable reputation for use in treating depression by folk healers. If you want to read more about current uses and studies, go to Drug.com
 by clicking here.

We have an additional Hypericum growing in our woods that I can't remember the Latin name for. It's low and almost ground-hugging and one of the few plants that grows happily under cedar trees. I may add it here later. For now, I'm just admiring my Shrubby St. John's Wort bush in the front yard.
Shrubby St. John's Wort makes a wonderful addition to the landscape.
 Happy summertime!


7/20/2014

300 Year Old John Bartram

300 year old John Bartram, in the form of Kirk Ryan Brown, spoke to the Tulsa Herb Society this week. Less known than Carl Linnaeus, the notable plant botanist, Bartram, was responsible for enormous numbers of plant discoveries and plants entering general usage.
John Bartram, prolific botanist of the 1700s.
John Bartram ranting about Carl Linnaeus.
John (Kirk Brown) in the background, shown next to the statue of Carl Linnaeus in Tulsa. John never received the recognition that Linnaeus did, partly because Linnaeus was a self-promoter and a "hog for the headlines" according to Bartram. Carl Linnaeus, did eventually call Bartram "the greatest natural botanist in the world."
Our friend, Sue Stees, who co-hosted Kirk's visit to the Tulsa Herb Society.
John Bartram, telling his story of botanizing and seed selling.
Bartram was sometimes called "the father of American botany" because of his extensive plant and seed collecting. Bartram started the first retail seed company in America and the company continued to thrive for several generations after him.
Tables of refreshments were on hand - herb groups always love to eat!

Delicious refreshments and period beverages were enjoyed by all.
John Bartram, an American hero.
Bartram's contribution to American agriculture and gardening is enormous. While Carl Linneaus got publicity and naming rights to enormous numbers of plants, Bartram is almost forgotten today.

Bartram's Gardens survive to this day and you can visit them. Here's the link to details.

7/10/2014

Long Creek Herb Farm Garden on a Rainy Day

The Herb Shop where I sell my books and products when we have tours.

Gazebo and one of the several gates to the garden.

A lightly rainy day in the garden today gives the plants a happy, unusual color. Glad for the rain.
Some of the culinary beds.
A momma bluebird watches me take photos.

Two of the 12 varieties of basil we have this year.
These lilies are wildly fragrant in the late afternoon.
Cool place to sit under the gazebo.
Yard long beans on the left, rose arbor in the distance.
Various pepper varieties in foreground, hardy bananas in the background.
Bountiful crop of muscadine grapes this year.

 My Grandma Long's rocking chair, too worn to still rock.

 That's what our garden looks like on a rainy day.


7/06/2014

Coffee for Roses C.L. Fornari

If you listened to NPR Weekend Edition Sunday (today, July 6), you would have heard Linda Wortheimer's interview with C.L. Fornari about her new book, Coffee for Roses. If you missed it, you can click here to listen to the interview.
Coffee for Roses...and 70 Other Misleading Myths about Backyard Gardening, is a delightfully readable book, packed with delicious surprises. C.L. Fornari is host of the very popular GardenLine radio show on WXTK and describes herself as a true "garden geek."

I met C.L. at our annual Garden Writers Association conference many years ago and have been anticipating her newest book release. This morning, while I ate my breakfast and listened to NPR Weekend Edition Sunday, I had the book beside my coffee and read along as Linda Worthheimer interviewed C.L.

C.L. Fornari

Some of the myths C.L. "busted" in her extensive research, include:
- Rusty nails turn hydrangeas blue (I've heard that all my life)
- Cedar mulch keeps bugs out the garden
- Eggshells prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes (another myth I've long believed; I think I'm disappointed it's not true!)
- Plant red flowers to attract hummingbirds. Research has shown hummingbirds don't care one bit about color, they go where the nectar is. That also means they don't care if the hummingbird feeder is red or purple!
- Marigolds keep bugs out of the vegetable garden. Tests show no benefit from inter-planting marigolds in the garden.
-Don't plant pumpkins near squash because they'll cross-pollinate. I've heard that myth many times, as well as the other silly one, "don't plant fennel and dill together because they'll cross-pollinate." Plants only cross with other plants in the same species.

Not only is this great little book filled with myths busted, but also outstanding information about successfully growing vegetable crops. "When Squash Don't Produce" for example, gives specifics for trouble-shooting your squash plants to find the problem and fix it.

C.L.  Fornari explains why oak leaves and pine needles do not make compost or soil more acidic, and why putting a layer or rocks or broken clay pots in the bottom of pots for drainage is a bad idea.

This is a fabulous book, full of great information and now-dead myths that many of us have held dear for decades. You can order it here and I believe you will be delighted with this highly-entertaining, very educational, downright exciting book!

You can read more about C.L. on her GardenLady website.

6/24/2014

Annual Lobsterfest

I don't know if 2 years in a row makes for an annual event, but as far as I'm concerned, it does. Our friends at Bear Creek Farm - Jim and Robbins Hail, and Wild Goose Gardens - Mike and Susan Jones, along with their garden interns, kids, grandkids and a whole passel of friends and neighbors, once again had a big feast in Mike and Susan's back, front and side yards. Following here are some of the highlights, 52 people including 20 kids, 45 lobsters, 40 ears of corn and more pies, cakes, casseroles, salads and other dishes than anyone could count. The lobsters came from flyinglobsters.com, in case you want to order up a bunch for your own back yard get together.
Propane cookers being fired up by Ed and Josh with Robbins supervising.
Ethan Jones gave tours of his cut flower operation, which looked great.
Josh, Ed and Lonnie checking the water temperatures.
Josh Young giving Lobster 101 demonstration.

While the water heats, Liz attacks a salad.
The kids took to removing the rubber bands on the claws quickly and were good help.
Ed pulling cooked lobsters out of the pots.
Lobsters are ready!
Half of the table of food. Desserts came later.

The food line begins.
Ruan, who works with Ethan, ate his first lobster that day. Seems there aren't lobsters in  Sri Lanka.
Debbie Jones made a lobster pinata, Josh is hanging it up for the kids to hit.
Lobster pinata.
Who better than an attorney to explain the rules of the game!
Children, ready to whack the pinata for candy treats.
But what the day was about, more than lobsters, corn, casseroles, gooseberry, pecan or chocolate pies, or anything else, was an opportunity for friends and families to get together and visit. And there was a lot of that that went on!

5/07/2014

Elephant Rocks and Pickle Springs

Josh and I went on a short trip last week before the Baker Creek Spring Festival, where I was speaking. Our trip took us to Elephant Rocks State Park, Johnson Shut-Ins, Mammoth State Park and Pickle Springs Nature Preserve. At Pickle Springs we found a colony of unidentified plants (below). Funny, I can pass a dozen people on the street and not feel I need to know everyone's names, but when I cross paths with a plant I don't know, I just have to find the name. Now I know, these are American Colombo (Frasera spp.).
American columbo - Frasera caroliniensis
Perfect time to walk in the woods, so many wildflowers, mushrooms and trees in bloom.
Stream from Pickle Springs
Elephant rocks, atop the mountain, amazing.
One of many "kissing rocks" at Pickle Springs
Rattlesnake orchid, a plant which doesn't grow where I live.
"Fat man's trap", I was glad I could pass through easily.
Ferns at the base of the rocks, I just love seeing these in spring!
Even though our morel season is over in the Ozarks, they were still finding them up near St. Louis.
I always think of my mother when I see dogwoods in bloom.
Turtles sunning themselves in the old quarry at Elephant Rocks.
What amazing things nature creates!