Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing all the friends of The Celtic Ozarkian:
Athbhliain faoi mhaise duit!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Let's Get Into the Garden in January!

The Ozarks is always an interesting place to live in the month of January, but there are still items to be done for the garden. Typically, we will get a few good days of weather during the month, so that can also provide an opportunity to do some outdoor maintenance. (As I write today, it is 58 deg in Springfield, Missouri.) Here are some of the agenda items for the New Year.

1. Now is the time I put together my seed order for the next year. I like to go through my current seed inventory thoroughly, to make sure I use up old seeds first. Then, I place an order with my favorite seed dealer! I want to put in a plug for the Baker Creek Seed Company of Mansfield, Missouri. There are heirloom seed company with great customer service, and seeds that can actually produce useful new seeds. Many hybrid plants of today lose this ability. Just so you know, I receive no compensation for plugging my friends at Baker Creek! They’re just good business people! (Free, though, to tell them you found them on my blog!) You can find them at!

2. I also like to get out and “turn over” my garden in January. As I add compost, it helps to thoroughly blend everything. It also helps to kill off bugs that need to stay out of my garden! It is one of the best pesticide plans I have ever used. Work that soil and it will pay dividends in the spring!

3. You can also continue to work with a greenhouse. You just have to make sure the temperature stays high enough not to kill plants. This year, the weather has been cold enough, in the Ozarks, to finish off my greenhouse. Just got too cold. (Drat that Farmer’s Almanac!) I will probably not start anything else until it is time for starting spring seeds. However, given temperature and ability, growing through the winter is an option.

I hope you will take the time to enjoy the month of January, and the opportunity it brings to get that garden in shape. Being a good Irish family, the planting season will be back soon, and we intend to be ready!


Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Enjoying a belated Christmas with my brother today. Should have went fishing.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Master Gardeners Clubs in the Ozarks

I wanted to take a moment and provide folks with a list of the Master Gardener Organizations in the Ozarks. They are worthy of consideration, if you like being part of a group. Master gardeners also provide hours of free help each year to people wanting to know more about gardening. Consider giving them a call.

Area Clubs and Organizations
Moon City Garden Club(located in Springfield's Historic Midtown district)Mary Jo Frazier, PresPh:
Springfield Area Herb Club 2630 S FR 87Republic, MO 65738 732-8391
Cherry Court Garden Club 4231 N FR 129Springfield, MO 65803 883-8278
Springfield Floral Arrangers Guild1505 E SunshineSpringfield, MO 65804881-7284Iris Society of the Ozarks 815 N MainSpringfield, MO 65802831-2548MO Organic Association, Springfield Chapter 9853 N Hwy HPleasant Hope, MO 65725759-2463
SWMO Council of Nationally Accredited Flower Show Judges 2765 E CragmontSpringfield 65804883-6793Springfield Garden Council 1505 E SunshineSpringfield 65804881-7284Botanical Society of SW Missouri 2765 E CragmontSpringfield 65804883-6793Missouri Prairie Foundation 204 E 550thWalnut Grove, MO 65770788-2308Rose Society of the Ozarks 2305 S Hilton AveSpringfield 65807887-2097Greater Ozarks Hosta Society PO Box 2131 Lebanon, MO 65536532-2349Ozark Greenways, Inc PO Box 50733Springfield 65805864-2014MO Community Forestry Council PO Box 14076Springfield 65814890-7776

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So What Is Raised Bed Gardening?

I became an avid fan of raised bed gardening when I moved to the Ozarks in 2000. I grew up in the fertile soil of southern Illinois. Needless to say, the rocky, clay based soil of the Ozarks was quite a disappointment. One need only spend a couple of hours in the yard with a pick, trying to break up rocks, to realize the advantage of growing vegetables in a raised bed.At the most basic level, raised bed gardening involves growing plants above ground. Through the use of special techniques, growing beds, soils, and fertilizers, the raised bed gardener creates the ideal growing environment without ever digging into the actual ground. Raised beds can be built directly on top of the ground, or in some sort of frame placed on legs, sawhorses, etc. A box can even be built into decks, porches, etc. The main idea here is NO DIGGING!Raised beds come in many different shapes and sizes. In my own particular garden, I have raised beds that are 4' x 4", 2' x 8', and 4' x 8'. I am sure there are many other varieties as well. The size of the raised bed is typically dictated by the ability of the gardener to effectively reach across the space. I can comfortably reach across a 4' bed without hurting my back.Raised bed gardening is also a departure from traditional gardening in its use of compact space. Traditional gardens are planted in rows, and can require a lot of space. Raised bed gardens attempt to make better use of space by planting in squares and rectangles.This makes raised bed gardening ideal for small yards. I have even seen great gardens raised on the back porch of apartments. A 4' x 4' bed only takes up 16 sq. ft.Special soils are used in raised bed gardening, in order to maximize the amount of vegetables that can be grown in the small space. Typical ingredients may include potting soil, top soil, compost, leaves, fertilizers, vermiculite, cotton seed hulls, and many other things. The special soil is designed to be very rich in the nutrients needed to grow so many plants in such a small space. In addition, it is designed to be very loose, so plants can root themselves deeply. In small raised beds, the grower typically does not step or stand on the soil. Hence, the soil tends to be less compacted, and easier on root growth.Raised bed gardening also makes it possible for the average gardener to extend the normal growing season. It is very easy to build a simple greenhouse or "cold frame' over the top of the bed. The greenhouse holds in moisture and heat. Special underlining can help to keep the soil warmer. I am writing this article two days before Thanksgiving, and I still have a productive garden in my 4' x 8' greenhouse. Here in the Ozarks, we are consistently dropping below freezing every night!Slainte,Ray ProvinceThe Celtic Ozark Garden

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Earth Friendly Cold Frames

For two years in a row, the Ozarks has experienced a late in the season spring frost. The frost was far enough along to cause damage to crops that had been placed out in early spring, as well as some things like fruit tree blossoms. The typical advise you get on the evening news goes something like this: “better cover those plants tonight!”

What if there was an alternative? Indeed, that is the question. Earth friendly cold frames can be one such alternative. There are essentially two items needed to build a good earth friendly cold frame: an old window frame (glass intact) and some straw bales. It does not get much easier than this.

A straw based cold frame has some very distinct advantages over other options: 1) the straw is stacked end to end, and does not have to be “constructed,” 2) straw is one of nature’s best insulators, 3) it is “earth friendly’ in that is will eventually decompose, and can be added back to the soil, or into a composting bin. This also gives you the advantage of not having to store a lot of items in the off season.

Now is the time to plan for spring. A 4’ x 8’ plot will need 6 bales, plus windows to cover. Old windows can often be found in flea markets, garage sales, thrown in trash, etc. Start looking now.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Growing Cabbage From Seed

It's hard to have a "Celtic" garden and not grow cabbage! It is a flavor-rich food. We use it in a corned beef and cabbage meal. We add it to stew. We even cover it in aluminum foil, add some butter and Greek seasoning,and grill it! Now you got yourself somethin'! (That's hillbilly for this tastes good!)There are many varieties of cabbage that can be grown from seed. I grow heirloom seeds to help preserve the variety of plants we have available to eat! Imagine how poor a world we would have if we only had one kind of commercial cabbage to eat! My favorite site for heirloom seeds is! Take a look sometime.I have a small plastic container, 9"x13"x4" that I keep full of a good, quality potting soil medium. The trick here is to use sterile potting soil, so nothing inadvertently kills your seeds. I start cabbage 8-10 weeks before I am ready to plant. Typically, cabbage is a spring/fall crop. They are not real found of Ozark summer heat. I shoot to start my outside spring crop around St. Patrick's Day for my growing area. I also have a greenhouse that protects my young plants against any late year frost. (Can go into April in the Ozarks!) The blog connection below can lead you to an article on my greenhouse, if you want more on how to build a small one.Here is the rest:1. plant 1/2 inch deep.2. water throughly. It's the water that will start things.3. After sprouting, just keep water moist and add some light to the plants. I have a grow light. (Old hippy!)4. Feed the seeds 1/2 strength liquid fertilizer every other week til you plant.I still have cabbage in my winter greenhouse. After writing about it, I think I'll have some for supper!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Persimmon Weather

One of my favorite fall treats comes from the wild, but can easily be added to the Ozark garden. The Persimmon tree can be a wonderful addition to the landscape.
The tree produces a beautiful blossom in the Spring of the year. Typcially, the trees don't get much above 30' in height, so it's not like adding an oak to property. The tree produces a yummy fruit that does not come into play until this time of year. It takes a good, hard freeze to cause the fruit to darken and sweeten, but it is worth the wait. I have posted a recipe for persimmon jam on our Hillbilly Cookin' blog.
If you are a wildlife fan, then you will especially love this tree! It is one of the single best attractions for deer I have ever seen. This time of year, and into the rutt, deer will jump through hoops of fire for this treat! You will have a yard full of deer by planting just one of these on your property, but you will have to pay attention! The deer will get these quickly.
Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Indoor Plant Grow Lights

An Introduction To Indoor Plant Grow Lights
Written by Ann Knapp;

There are basically two types of grow lights used in horticulture. These are:
High Intensity Discharge Lights (HID) - These come in two types, the Metal Halide Grow Light (MH) and the High Pressure Sodium Grow Light (HPS)
Metal Halide - bulbs are designed for plants during their growing cycle. That is, for non-fruiting or non-blooming plants. Metal halide lighting is therefore the best HID choice for the plant's growing phase.
High Pressure Sodium Lights (HPS) - The HPS grow light is used primarily for plants that are in their blooming or fruiting phase. Modern high pressure sodium lighting can, however, be bought, which is enhanced for blue spectrum (for vegetative growth) and for red spectrum (for flowering growth). This means that they can be used throughout the entire growing process for most types of plant.
Fluorescent Grow Lights emit less light than high intensity discharge lights and although they can be used throughout the plant cycle their lack of brightness will produce small yields. The light produced tends to be softer and less damaging to tender young plants. For this reason, the fluorescent grow light is popular for seedlings and cuttings, an excellent way to establish young plants.
All of the above types of lights use some kind of a ballast system. The one most people are familiar with is the fluorescent light. This has, a small, built in, ballast. It allows the fluorescent tube to build up enough energy to strike, and excite the molecules within the tube, causing light to be given off.
Metal Halide and HPS grow lights are usually run from remote ballasts. These are external boxes containing the electronics to pre-heat and run the lamp. The ballast is connected to the lamp holder and to the mains power supply. Each ballast used is rated for the lamp wattage and so it is necessary to have different ballasts available for each of the different values of lamp to be used. HID bulbs should be replaced after 12 to 18 months of use. Although HID lamps will continue to light beyond 18 months of use, they will have lost up to 30 percent or more of their lumen output while consuming the same amount of electricity.
Think of a plant as a well-run factory that takes delivery of raw materials and manufactures the most wondrous products. Just as a factory requires a reliable energy source to turn the wheels of its machinery, plants need an energy source in order to grow.
Usually, natural sunlight is used for this important job. However, during the shorter and darker days of winter, many growers use artificial lights to increase the intensity of light or to expand the daylight length. While the sun radiates the full spectrum suitable for plant life, different types of artificial lighting are selected for specific plant varieties and optimum plant growth characteristics. Different groups of plants respond in physically different ways to various wavelengths of radiation. Light plays an extremely important role in the production of plant material. The lack of light is the main inhibiting factor in plant growth. If you reduce the light by 10 percent, you also reduce crop performance by 10 percent.
Light transmission should be your major consideration when purchasing a growing structure for a protected crop. Glass is still the preferred material for covering greenhouses because, unlike plastic films and sheeting, its light transmission ability is indefinitely maintained.
No gardener can achieve good results without adequate light. If you intend to grow indoors, avail yourself of some of the reading material that has been published on this subject. If you are having trouble growing good plants, then light is the first factor to question.
A large part of the success in growing hydroponically is planning where to place the plants. Grow plants that have similar growing requirements in the same system. Placing your system 1-2 feet away from a sunny window will give the best results for most herbs and vegetables. Even your regular house lights help the plants to grow. Make sure that all of the lights are out in your growing area during the night. Plants need to rest a minimum of 4 hours every night. If your plants start to get too tall, move the system to a spot that has more sun. Once you find a good growing area, stick to it. Plants get used to their home location. It may take some time to get used to a new place.

About the Author:
HydroWarehouse is a Discount Hydroponics Supply Store . We offer world class customer service with warehouse prices. Our Secure online catalog contains over 1000 hydroponics , hydroponics system , hydroponics equipment and gardening products.Article Source:
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rose Gardening in the Fall

Rose Gardening in the Fall: The 4 Most Important Tasks of Autumn

For me, rose gardening in the fall is a little bitter-sweet!My blooms are smaller, leaves are showing signs of wear and tear and yet the rose gardening I do now will be crucial to the success of next years growth. Lets call it rose gardening insurance.The last rose show is over, the days start getting shorter and the children are back in school but as rose growers we still have work to do—the four most important tasks of fall.PICK AND CLEANStop fertilizing and start your clean up. From the beginning of September on, there is no need to fertilize your rose beds and pots because you do not want to encourage new shoots to develop as winter approaches. This is also the period of the highest incidence of mildew problems such as black-spot so it is time to pull away all leaves that show signs of disease and to rake the beds below to remove all traces of the black-spot or mildew spores. Yes, they overwinter so get rid of them with your garbage. Deadhead, keep the beds scrupulously clean and pick away at the damaged leaves.RE-CONSIDER YOUR SPRAY PROGRAMContinue spraying if you want clean leaves and blooms into early fall but put away your spray equipment as your rose bushes begin to go into dormancy. Leaves are beginning to curl and drop, rose hips grow darker in color and no new shoots are developing. These are the signs that your rose bush is slowly moving into the dormant stage and the the "do not disturb 'till spring" signs are about to go up.If you want to spray with dormancy spray, usually oil and sulfur, wait until December or January when your bushes are fully asleep, otherwise store your spray in a dry, safe place and take a close look at how successful you were this season and whether you could cut down or at least be more aware of the environment. Did your plan work?PRUNING RE-VISITEDYou should have pruned your old growth roses or any that only bloom but once a year. Your climbers should be pruned to shape now and tied in to train them to grow in the right direction and shape for next season.All other rose bushes are simply cut back to about waist high to stop the wind from causing them to whip around and break off, or worse still, loosen the crown of the bush.Miniatures can be cleaned of wayward shoots or broken stems and given a short haircut.Leave the serious pruning until spring, just be prepared for the winter storms.PLANT OR RE-PLANT FOR THE NEW YEARNow is the time to plant your bare root roses in preparation for spring growth. It is also a very good time to move roses and to re-plant them.Always plant with good, new soil with compost or manure added, but do not add nitrogen based fertilizers at this time of year. A cup of bone meal would help with root growth.Bare root roses should be soaked in warm water for eight hours before planting to re-constitute them immediately following delivery to your home.Don't forget to mound up all your rose bushes with soil to protect the crown from winter winds and the possibility of drying out. This protective mound will be slowly removed as the air temperatures warm up in the spring.As you go into winter and your rose bushes go dormant remember that any rose gardening actions taken now will have a great effect on what happens in the spring.Even in the Pacific North-West I have had the occasional rose bloom at Christmas and if you do it should be in a clean rose bed on a bush pruned and mounded up for winter protection.Consider the four important tasks and your rose garden will thank you for it-- next year!
Organic Gardening Articles:
Author: David LeAcheDavid LeAche is the author of where you can find out all about rose growing, photographing roses, crafts with roses and using petals, hips and rose-water. FREE monthly newsletter and FREE e-book for subscribers.Check out Html//

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Victory Gardens Symbolize a New Age

By Barbara L. Minton
(see all articles by this author)Key concepts: Food, Nature and Gardening

(NaturalNews) Victory gardens are popping up all over. Last seen during World War II, these gardens now represent our fight to regain control of our lives and our health. They are the first battlefields against the increasing corporate tyranny, a battle that may end with us throwing off the philosophy of every man for himself and a realization that we are all together in this thing called life.World War II united people and allowed them to reach into the depths of themselves and pull up a resourcefulness they didn’t know they had. During this time of horror and hope people realized that they were living out a great saga in their lives, and in this saga they all had a part to play. The world was a violent and dramatic place, yet also an awakening happened, a vision of unity and understanding. The victory garden has come to symbolize this unity and vision.What’s a victory garden?It was emphasized to urban and suburban dwellers that the produce from their gardens would help provide the nutritious food needed by the soldiers to keep them fighting strong. It would also help keep the price of that food low, so the War Department would have more money to spend on other military needs. The victory garden would also help solve the shortages of labor and transportation that made it difficult to harvest and transport produce to market. One poster from the mid 1940’s reading, “Our food is fighting” portrayed the high sense of patriotism so characteristic of the time.The Department of Agriculture along with agribusiness corporations distributed booklets providing information about basic gardening techniques. In 1943, 20 million gardens were producing 8 million tons of food. Victory gardens were planted in backyards, apartment building roofs, vacant lots, backyards, and pretty much every available patch of dirt and container throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, doing whatever had to be done.Magazines printed stories about victory gardens, and women’s magazines provided instructions on how to grow and preserve garden produce. Sales of pressure cookers to use in canning skyrocketed as families were encouraged to can their own vegetables. Home canners used non-toxic glass mason jars. The government as well as businesses urged families to make gardening a group effort. At the peak of the effort, 9-10 million tons of produce was produced, an amount equal to all commercial production. Even children and teenagers willingly took part in the work of the garden.The victory garden was clearly a victory on many levels.Why victory gardens are back in styleToday we are again involved in fighting a battle, but this time the battle involves how to stay healthy and live genuine lives in a world where everything is increasing stacked against us.Today’s commercially grown produce comes from soils depleted of the minerals and nutrients so necessary to keep us healthy in our polluted and stressful environment. Plants grown in depleted soils are less healthy and able to resist attack by pests, so the use of pesticides is more prevalent than ever. Much of our big agribusiness produce is now being grown in foreign countries not subject to highly controlled use of pesticide. Today’s big food corporations choose the cheapest, most effective pesticides, not the ones that are least toxic to humans and other life forms. Along with pesticide residues, our produce contains residual amounts of soil depleting synthetic chemical fertilizers which are toxic to our livers.Parabolic gas prices are estimated to increase wholesale food prices by 30 percent in the coming months. We wonder how we will be able to continue buying quality foods to keep us healthy. Fruits and vegetables are on the road for 1500 miles on average, before they reach the supermarkets. Produce is picked without having a chance to ripen so it can withstand the long trip to market. During this process, even more of the nutrients are lost. When it finally reaches the supermarket, produce can sit in cold storage for a week before being put out for sale.We want to have access to health promoting fruits and vegetables during the winter months without them having to be flown in from other parts of the world. Asparagus from Argentina in January is a luxury few can afford. Yet we are told that our commercially canned produce contains carcinogenic and toxic bisphenol-A.We’re short on money to put gas into the SUV to drive our children around to their programmed activities. At the same time, we are realizing that our children are not really learning what is important in life. We yearn for projects and activities that will bring our families together.We are stressed out and overworked trying to get the money to buy all the stuff that corporations have decided we must have. Our closets and homes are filled, but our bank accounts are empty. We are so busy that we seldom see our family as a whole or do activities in which the whole family participates. It’s time to say ‘no’ to the big corporate food sellers and big oil. It’s time to reach inside ourselves again and rediscover that kernel of resourcefulness. It is still there.Victory gardens and the new ageA victory garden is a manifestation of new thinking, new vision and an explosion of new understanding. We not only live in this world but we help create it. We can choose to participate in unity and renewal, and to become part of the higher forms of consciousness. We are at the point now where evolution can become conscious of itself.We can choose to participate in a new age of creative intelligence and love. This new age is like a rising tide which may wash away those who seek to go on working in accordance with that old law of every man for himself. It is a movement just beginning like the emergence of a tiny shoot in spring. You can tear out that shoot or stomp on it, but there is no way that you can hold back the coming of spring.We have had enough of the old ways of thinking, and we are here to take back control of our lives, our health, our resources, and our futures. We are resisting the control of destructive governmental and corporate forces. We are developing an energy and enthusiasm that characterizes new values, new ways of living, new survival techniques, and new experiences.A garden that symbolizes our part in this evolution is a challenge and a source of immense hope. If a family or group is able to achieve this, others will follow and the movement will grow. In a time of famine for many and threatened famine for many others, the victory garden is an indication of a new way the earth can be made more fruitful. We must have a vision.We realize with horror what the human race in its greed and arrogance is doing to the earth, and the life forms on it. Our ignorance of the realities of nature has led us to follow all sorts of practices which hurt and alienate. We are at the juncture where we may either come to be parasites upon the planet, or we may come to a new enlightenment. The choice is ours.A victory garden can be our symbol of the victory of the decision to be part of the new enlightenment. It can provide us with a way to re-establish a positive relationship with nature as we are called on to love life-giving plants, to cherish and nurture them, to talk to them, and thank them for all their work for us. When we have reached out to do this, we are breaking down barriers within our minds, and our resistance to this new age will dissolve. We are readying ourselves to go forth openly toward nature with a loving attitude.Remember, this is not somebody’s thought out plan. It is a phenomenon and an expression of the living energies for renewal that are sweeping through our society. This is a creative energy to renew in many facets, the garden being just one of them. The garden is an expression of a community filled with energy, enthusiasm and love for all life.A garden teaches us the secrets of creation in various ways. Once we make the decision to pull back from the getting and spending lifestyle, we learn the power within us to create our world by the choices we make. We realize that we no longer have to be controlled by the power of events, but that by our power of thought, we control events. We can bring about what is in our thoughts.When this is our direction we will have the confidence to succeed in the garden. Gardening is about the relationship we have with the plants. When we love and cherish them, they will return the favor. Plants are like our children. A child who is loved thrives no matter what the conditions are, but a child who has no love dies. Gardening is never about technique or the color of your thumb. It is about what is in your heart and spirit.

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hard Frost to Come to the Ozarks

It happens every year, unfortunately! We have our first "killing frost" of the season, which drives many gardeners in doors for the winter! Not so here! We will be adding a plastic cover to our greenhouse frame this weekend. (Hopefully the frost won't come til the predicted Oct 28 date!) From this framework, I will be able to keep my broccoli, cabbage, onions, greens, and carrots going for some time to come. I will add some pictures on a later blog. I build my greenhouse from PVC pipe and plastic, a fairly simple process! I owe a debt of thanks to the person who first showed me the process: Len Pense of Stafford, Missouri. Another fine example of why everyone should live in the Ozarks! Check out his website at: !
I also will be covering my herbs, and the tender bottom roots of my hop plants, in straw and some leaves. It makes a great insulation. It will help to keep them toasty all winter. I will also insulate the bottom of my pea plants. Fortunately, peas like the cold! It is always a proverbial "throw of the dice" to see if they do alright through the cold!
We have added some wonderful new items for sale to our online shop! Please check it out! It helps us pay to keep our blogs running!
Here's to fall!
Ray Province, the Celtic Ozark Garden.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Green Beans from the Garden

I had an opportunity to pick the last of my "Blue Lake" green beans today. It is always exciting when I can get in that third crop of beans each year. Boy, are they good. They are also easy to grow! One might even argue that green beans are the easiest of plants to grow in the vegetable garden. Certainly, this plant is a must for the beginning gardener.

I want to take a second and tell you about the type of beans I grow. I am a big fan of heirloom seeds. These are beans that can reproduce successfully, and have been a round a long time. Many of our plants today have been "hybridized" so much, that they loose their ability to successfully reproduce. Many times, the plants will also lose a lot of their original flavor! One only need buy a commercial tomato today to know what I am talking about! There is a whole movement in America to preserve our heirloom crops! I support this. One day, I will blog on it. For now, let me just put in a shameless plug for my favorite supplier of heirlooms seeds from the Ozarks: the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company of Mansfield, Missouri (the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder). You can visit there site at:!

I plant green beans in 4' x 4' sections of my raised bed garden. The seeds need to go in the ground 1", and should be spread 4" apart. I put 9 seeds in one square foot of ground. Keep them watered well. They will grow high, so have something in place for them to climb. I use wire tomato baskets, or I let them climb a stock fence wall built to a height of 4'. Once you see blossoms, you will be ready to pick green beans in around 8-10 days. You can get several pickings out of your planting, if you keep up with the picking. When I quit seeing new blossoms form, I replant. Simple!

My favorite way to store green beans is by freezing them. Snip the ends off a green bean, and break it into bit sized pieces. Blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then, shock the beans by immersing them in ice cold water. After 5 minutes, remove them from the water, and pack in quart size freezer bags. Done! You'll be glad you did!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An October Treasure

I wanted to discuss a topic that is near and dear to me: wildflowers! The Ozarks have some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the world. I do not grow any wildflowers in my personal garden, but I have made room for some in the yard. In addition, I just think that is a great topic.

One of my favorite October flowers is the sky blue aster (aster oolentangiensis). It is found throughout the Ozarks in prairies an open, rocky sections of the woods. To me, it has an almost purple color that is beautiful to behold. I first became familiar with this flower via my dad, who taught me to locate them during turkey hunts! (Turkey happen to like them!)

They grow to about 3 feet tall, and have leaves that are very rough. The leaves are kind of heart shaped, and get around 5" long, and 2" wide approx. The flower gets about an inch across, and has a yellow base. The buggers grow like weeds.

Next time you are in the woods, see if you can locate them. The color is a true October to Early November treat!

Ray Province

The Celtic Ozark Garden

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Soil Mix Recipe

I also wanted to place my soil recipe on the blog today. It is the result of several years of experimenting with different mixes. No doubt, it will change again! I make changes to my recipe for many reason: 1) I read a good article on soil mix, 2) the needs of the plants that I intend to grow, 3) weather conditions in the Ozarks year to year. These are just a few. Making soil, then, is a bit of an art form. Don't get too hung up in the technical components of exact duplication of soil (unless you are going commercial!) Gardening is a hobby, and a source of stress relief; so I try to have fun with my experimentation. All of this information not withstanding, I can tell you that I am able to grow a great deal of the vegetables my family needs each year in 120 sq. ft of garden, using this basic soil mix.


6 cu ft of Canadian peat moss (don't buy the cheap stuff!)
2 cu ft of a good garden mixture soil
1 large bag of vermiculite
2 cu ft. of compost (I use real horse poop, at least 1 year old)
2 cu ft of sand
1 quart of my fertilizer recipe (read the blog on this)
3 large bags of rice hulls (around 4 lb bag/5 gallon bag)

I have had some gardening friends argue with me about the compost. Horses or cows eat seeds, which can then take root in your garden, leaving you with more work to do! Personally, though, I like how it helps plants grow, so I am willing to pick a couple of weeds. For the most, this soil mix will stay weedless. In an earlier blog article, I discussed my garden design. I use two layers of plastic under my raised beds, to help keep weeds out of the garden, and minimize the amount of time I need to pull weeds. Even with the compost, I may spend 30 minutes in a whole growing season pulling unwanted plants. You can buy sterilized compost. I don't, because I get the horse poop for free from the folks that board our horses!

I also make my own compost to add to already existing gardens. In my bin, I throw in all my grass clippings, old garden matter, sub-standard apples from my fruit trees, horse poop, leaves from my trees. I try to stay away from putting in any weeds! Be picky with the clippings. Leftover scraps from vegetables we eat can also be added (no meat, milk, etc.).

Hope this helps. Let me know what your mix looks like!


The Celtic Ozark Garden

My Fertilizer Recipe

Wanted to take time and share a recipe for dry, organic fertilizer. The components of the mix can be bought at most garden stores, or Farm & Home Supply type places. In the Ozarks, my local MFA can typically handle all my need. I usually try to buy ingredients in the spring, when they are most prevalent. However, I always watch for sales in late summer, early fall, when local garden shops are trying to clear inventory.

I keep this mix in an old plastic kitty litter container (because I am cheap!) It is also easy to pour that way. When mixing ingredients, I have an old plastic storage bin that lets me stir and shake away.

I might also add that this mix is very potent! It needs to be worked into the soil well, or mixed with compost, manure, etc. I also mix a garden trowel's worth into a 5 gallon bucket for wet fertilizing. There is lime in the mixture, which can kill your plants if applied too liberally. My general rule is mix 3 quarts of this mix into 100 square feet of garden. In my typical 4'x4' beds, that would be a pint of dry mix all through the bed! In my 4'x8' beds, I use 1 quart. As you can see, it will go a long way.

Late fall, after the crops are done, is a great time to add this mix. I also typically add soil mix to the garden at the same time. Then, this mix has time to blend. The PH of the soil will also be better. After adding soil and fertilizer, I cover the bed in leaves or straw to take a good winter's nap! In my greenhouse bed, which is 32 sq ft, I put in 1 pint in the spring and fall, respectively. Since this bed goes all year, I like to be a little extra careful with the fertilizer mix.
1 gallon of seed meal
1 quart of agricultural grade lime
1 quart of gypsum
1 quart of dolomitic lime
1 quart of bone meal
2 quarts of kelp meal
1 pint of sulphur
Yield: 2 1/2 gallons of mix, which will cover a maximum of 250 sq ft of garden.

Would love to hear from you on what you use!


The Celtic Ozark Garden

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Celtic Fall Garden

We are very blessed in the Ozarks to have a nice extended growing season. On average, we do not get a freeze until mid to late October. We have extended that date even further the last couple of years. It's a fine time to be growing vegetables.

Being Irish, of course, we have lots of fun things to grow like cabbage, and onions, and broccoli. We also like to grow snap peas, spinach, and mixed greens as well. Of course, we have turnips! Get yourself some turnips, and a little greens, and cook them to tender. I add a touch of Greek Seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, bacon grease, plus a cap of liquid smoke! Mmm, Mmm! Now you got yourself somethin'.

With any luck, we will be growing all winter. One might ask: "how is that possible?" Even the Ozarks gets its share of cold weather. In my time, I have seen it get to -22 deg F. Unlike some of my Nordic friends, I don't like that kind of cold! The plants don't like it either!

The secret is the magic of small, well designed greenhouses. My winter greenhouse is 4' x8' x16". It is a raised bed garden made from concrete blocks. I use 1" PVC pipe to build framework, and I cover the garden with a thick layer of clear plastic (like you will typically see used on large greenhouses in commercial garden stores!) Under the raised bed, I have laid two layers of thick, plastic liner. Double layering can essentially create an extended growing season. The ground stays warmer, so the rich earth in the garden stays nice and toasty (from the plants point of view). There is rarely a time that I won't be able to extend the garden til the end of the year. Many times, it will go all the way to Spring planting. On a very cold night, I will stick a small space heater in one corner, far enough away from any plants so as to keep them safe. I stay away from the plastic pipe and plastic also.

In later articles, I'll discuss other aspects of the winter garden.

Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Welcome to the Celtic Ozark Garden

It's pretty hard to have been raised in the Ozarks and not have your own garden. It's a great part of the Ozarkian tradition. This forum has been created to share information on raising vegetables, growing flowers, and all other things green. We will even explore related topics: canning, growing from seeds, heirloom gardening, seed preservation, etc.

The Province family has been very interested in developing a natural food supply again. So, we have explored lots of gardening methods. We invite you to share you stories of gardening in one of nature's most beautiful places: your garden! Here in the Ozarks, our rocky hills aren't good for raising much besides goats and kids! So, we will always listen to a good story!

Good Gardening,
Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden