Monday, December 13, 2010

A Tradition of Celtic Jams

The Irish and Scottish people that settled the Ozarks area of Missouri and Arkansas have had a long history of making some of the world's best jams and jellies. In fact, that tradition continues into modern times in the Ozarks. So, let's take a trip down Ozarks Jam and Jellies Lane.

The traditions of Celtic Jam makers can be seen with the love the Ozarks have for blueberry, blackberry (also called Braeberry), and strawberry jam. You can also see the influence with local berries like gooseberry and elderberry. Orange Marmelade and Lemon Curd are also popular Celtic jams to be found in the Ozarks.

The process typically makes use of real fruits that are picked and then made into jams or jellies right away. It is possible, though, to make jams or jellies from frozen fruit. Pectin is used to make the product thicker, and real sugar is used to sweeten the product. High fructose corn syrup varieties just don't taste as good, and many people are now avoiding the long term effects of fructose.

Besides making the product taste good, the sugary environment also helps to preserve the product over time. The environment is not condusive to bacteria, mold, etc. You may often still see old Ozarkians just scrap the mold off the top of old jams and jellies and eat them. It may look grose, but it probably will not be a health issue. Any product sold in the state of Missouri or Arkansas should have an expiration date to be safe, though. Unopened jams and jellies last a long time. That is part of the reason our Celtic ancestors made the items: they lasted a long time, and provided a nice bit of carbohydrate to a meal.

In modern times, people in Missouri and Arkansas just like the taste of home made jams and jellies that are made in the Ozarks. If you do not live in the Ozarks, take a moment and order some. You'll enjoy the fine Irish and Scottish jams and jellies of the Ozarks.

Ray Province
The Celtic Ozarkian

Ray Province is an IT Programmer by trade, and owener of and co-owner of . He frequently writes about Irish and Scottish history in the Ozarks. You can reach him at or @celticozarkian on Twitter.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stanley and Livingstone Men's Line comes to Ozarks Celtic Marketplace

The Stanley and Livingstone line of men's products and gifts have been added to the Ozark Celtic Marketplace family. The news men's line features distinctive smells and sensations that are designed to appeal to himself. We also wanted to honor the Welsh heritage of Stanley.
The line features a Mists of the Falls scented bath soap for men. We have worked on the scent for some time, getting it just right. After much testing, we think we found the perfect smell for soap, that is appealing to both men and women. Lads, we don't want you to smell like a girl.
We have noticed for some time that the old art of shaving with brush and soap is starting to make a comeback. So, we have also added our Zambezi Spice Men's Shaving Soap. It is a distinct plend of scents, mixed in a shea butter soap, that will leave your face feeling clean and fresh.
We also added a Cherry Pipe Tobacco Scented candle for men. Most of us can remember the people in our lives that smoked pipes, in times gone by. In fact, both Stanley and Livingstone were know to smoke a pipe now and then. We have captured the pleasing smell of cherry pipe tobacco, in a way that keeps the real "smoke" out of your home.
Thanks much to the people who have helped us research this new line, and have given kindly of their thoughts and ideas.
Till next time,

Ray and Dale
Ozarks Celtic Marketplace

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Time to Clean the Celtic Ozark Garden

The Ozarks has been very lucky this year. We have not had a killing frost yet. However, it looks as though that will happen this next week. So, for the Celtic Ozark Garden, it is time to clean.

All the left over plant life that has not been sent to the compost pile will go there. I also like to shake the soil out of the roots of those plants, prior to going to the compost pile. Once done, I like to break up all the soil, and get out as much of the roots as possible.

Once this is done, it is time to add fertilizer to the soil. I have written before about my Soil recipe. That is what I still use. If you want to check out that article, go to and you can read the article on how to make it. I like to fertilize now, because the elements have time to fuse into the soil all winter. This also helps to insure that the soil will not contains large clumps of fertilizer, that could potentially burn delicate plants.

I am also going to pull the basil in my garden today. It is more than due, as the basil is very unhappy with the weather. I will pick the leaves, and place them in a paper sack. Then, I will punch some air holes, and tie the top shut. The sack will go to a dark place in the garage, until the leaves are dry and ready to use for seasoning.

Finally, the last of my green beans seed pods need to be picked and stored for the next garden year. I always try to leave some behind for this purpose. The pods are now yellow, dry, and shriveled. This is how I want to share them. Leaving them on the vine has also helped to insure that they will not get moldly and rotten.

So, go spend a day in your Celtic Ozark Garden. A little clean up can be good exercise. Slainte va to all.

Ray Province is a retired minister and now IT Programmer in the healthcare industry. He is the owner of The Celtic Ozarkian, a website that chronicles all things Celtic and Ozarks in Missouri and Arkansas. You can check out the site at, or you can reach Ray at, or @celticozarkian on Twitter.

Raising Chickens for Eggs

Springfield just recently passed ordinance that allows residence to raise up to 6 chickens for egg production-no roosters allowed. There is just nothing like a good fresh egg for breakfast! There are so many good reasons to raise your own chickens for eggs. However, chickens are not low maintenance critters.

First, let me say that I have never raised chickens in the city. We allowed our chickens to free range when we lived in the country. The chickens had about 5 acres to roam over to gather bugs and just generally be chickens. We did coop them up at night and in really nasty weather. We allowed our chickens to stay on a natural cycle of day light and dark. We only left a light on in the coop for warmth on really bitter nights.

Having given that disclaimer, raising chickens is fun and we still miss them. The eggs had a wonderful taste and had a much richer, deep yellow yolk. Since we free ranged our chickens, cleaning the coop was only a weekly job. We had hay in the coop floor and then composted the hay and droppings.

Starting a new chicken coop in the winter months may be more of a challenge than the average urbanite will be willing to undertake. Unless you are starting with full grown laying hens, spring is really the best time to start a new coop. Chicks do not tolerate even moderately cool temperatures. If you start them in the fall or winter, there will be lots of work involved in keeping them warm.

Also, egg production is a function of the amount of light available to the chicken. So production will naturally fall off in the fall and winter, and then increase again in the spring. If you are going to fool the chickens and leave the lights on in the coop to increase production, you might as well just by your eggs from the store. Now is the time to gather information, understand the ordinance and all its nuances and gather your supplies. Starting your new chicken project in the spring makes so much sense.

Coops are one of the most important aspects of raising your hens. You can easily make your own coop; there are several good designs on the internet. Here is just one example: . Another option is a chicken tractor which is a portable coop. We started with a chicken tractor, but then added ducks and guinea hens to our growing chicken brood. They quickly out grew the tractor space. But a chicken tractor is a great idea if you have any interest in letting your chickens safely free range your yard. This link will show you a couple of designs:

Pre-made coops are also widely available. Hostetler Feed and Farm Supply in Buffalo, Missouri has a nice supply of hand made coops. It is worth the drive to check them out. The Amish Furniture and bulk store in Branson also has some small coops. These are only two of the many places around Springfield to purchase your coop.

You will have to feed your chickens in the winter months when there are no bugs to eat. In the summer, you can back off on the feed a bit and let the chickens eat bugs and greens. Your chickens will always love fresh green when they are available. Thinned garden plants and any grubs that we found while gardening always went to the chickens. We always tossed a little calcium supplement to keep the shells strong. Fresh water is an absolute must, as is fresh bedding.

As you can see, this is rapidly becoming a big project. You will need to have a place to store the chicken feed that will keep the rodents out. A place to store the bedding to keep it dry will be needed. And a plan for changing the bedding and what to do with the waste is essential before you start. Be sure to keep abreast of the rules regarding waste composting and disposal. At this point there are limits on how much waste can be composted.

Be honest with your self if raising chickens is for you. If you decide that the answer is yes, you are in for a great treat. Once you get into a routine with the chickens, the rewards are great. Fresh eggs that are generally higher in folic acid and lower in cholesterol than store bought eggs. Plus you are in charge of what your chickens eat or donĂ¢€™t eat. It is rewarding to know that there are no antibiotics in your morning scramble.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Time for Corn Salad

Well the last of the tomatoes and peppers are gone for the year. We have yet to have a frost in Springfield MO, but they decided that they had enough.

Now, I want to go back to a Springtime favorite: corn salad. I did an article on it on the spring. It should last into January, with a little cover. The lettuce tast is very mild, with little to no bitterness.

It will join our carrots and onions as the Celtic Ozark Fall garden.

Till we blog again

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
Celtic Ozark Solutions

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Summer Heat in the Celtic Ozark Garden

Summer Heat in the Celtic Ozark Garden has been very bad this year. We have been suffering greatly with days of 100 degrees, and very little rain. But this weather is not only hard on people, it is hard on the plants in your Celtic Ozark Garden. Even the tropicals like tomatoes can have trouble. Here are some simple maintenance tips to help your garden beat the heat.

Keep your garden plants mulched. Mulch can help to hold in moisture, and keep the roots of the plants cool. As long as you have a good root system, your plants have a fighting chance of recovery from heat. If segments of your plants dry out and die completely, remove them. Just be careful to make sure they are fully dried out.

Make sure to weed your garden. You can really make a big difference in the summer garden by keeping out pesky weeds. Even in my raised bed gardens, I will have a seed land in the dirt, brought in by the wind. Get them out. They take up precious moisture. If you garden in the morning, the dew may also help make it easier to get the weeds out.

Add some manure to the garden. Plants that have quit producing, because of heat, will often fire right back up with a little food. Manure is a kind of quick food, which gets nutrients in the grounds quickly. Just make sure the manure is over a year old, so it does not burn the plants.

Finally, make sure you water the plants and water yourself. You can drink out of the water hose. For the plants, I recommend warming the water first. Cold water can shock plants. You might consider even getting a water barrel for such things. Periodic rains will even help you fill the barrel. In the Celtic Ozark summer, though, it doesn't take long to heat a barrel of water.

Ozarks Weather Has Been Hot

The last month of Ozarks weather has been hot. Several summertime heat records have been broken. In Springfield, we have bumped along 100 degrees for several weeks. It sure makes me wish we had the summer weather of the last couple of years.

Today, we have yet another heat advisory and warning. So, there are several things to be on the look for today in the Ozarks. Try to confine outdoor work to the early morning and late evening. The temps are at least coooler then. Be on the look out for heat exhaustion, in yourself and others. Drink lots of water and little alcohol. (Sorry, even the Irish/Scots cut back on this hot a day!) Also, watch pets. Make sure they have water. We even put out an extra water dish for the animals that kind of roam our part of little Fair Grove, Missouri.

Please also, if you have older family members, check on them a lot. Many of these folks do not run air conditioning in the summer. They can dehydrate just as quickly. Ozarks weather has been hot, but we can beat the issues by sticking together.

Watch your gardens also. They really need water this time of year. We have been lucky to get a little rain the last two days. That really helps, cause plants love the warmer water temp. Cold water tends to shock vegetables.

Stay cool, fellow Ozarkians!

Ray Province, the Celtic Ozarkian

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What to do with Squash

As we got home from vacation, we found ourselves overrun by squash. As you might expect, it was too large for optimal use. So, what to do with squash that is too large is our subject.

My first task always involves harvesting some seed. I choose a big, healthy squash and take out some seed. I clean as much junk off as I can. Then, I place the seeds in a bowl, add water, and cover with plastic wrap.

Eventually, the left over gunk will spoil. The seeds will be fine. I will finally scoop off the gunk, and be left with water and seeds. I'll drain the water, and set the seeds in a paper towel for a bit to dry. Once the seeds are completely dry, they can be stored in a dark cool place. The difference: there will be no gunk on the seeds to spoil them later.

Another good use of overgrown squash is for breads. Many people make zuchinni bread, but you can make that type of sweet bread with any squash. Use an old fashion grinder to grind. Then put it in freezer bags raw. Pull one out when you are ready to make bread.

I also like to add oversize squash to cornbread muffins. We have also slices it in small chunks and baked it like you would a butternut squash. Add some butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon and you have yourself something.

So, don't throw that old squash out. Use it! I think I'm hungry now.

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
Celtic Ozark Solutions

Location:S Woodsman St,Fair Grove,United States

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tomato Time

It is tomato time in the Celtic Ozark Garden, and indeed all across the Ozarks. So, I wanted to take a moment and talk about getting good tomatos. It is worth the effort.

It is time to add a little fertilizer to the tomaotes, that has a nice bit of calcium. I like to use a liquid at this point, to help make sure that I don't add too much fertilizer. This could burn the plant. Miracle Gro is a good one, if you are not sure how much to add.

I have a spray connector, that came with Miracle Gro at one point. I just add my dry fertilizer to the same level marked on the container. Make sure you do not spray the fruit. Keep the watering low on the plant.

Proper watering is also important now. Too little or too much can mess up the plant. I have very loose soil, that drains well. So, I figure 1 cup of water per plant twice a week. Too much water can cause blossom rot, and can cause the plant to start making more leaves.

Remember that tomatoes, like any other fruit, will only produce so much. If you want bigger tomatoes, you may want to remove some of the tomatoes. That's what I do.

Enjoy them. There is nothing like a vine ripened tomato.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Japanese Beetles Come to the Celtic Ozark Garden

Well, I am very sad today. Japanese beetles have come to the Celtic Ozark Garden. I have found the little pests in my apple trees, and my beautiful Cascade hops. I don't think the beetles understand that I can live without apples, but I can't live without fresh hops for my homebrew. Argh.

The Japanese Beetle is a real threat to the Celtic Ozark Garden. They will eat grape vines, flowers, and a host of other things. They can destroy a garden.

The best way to get rid of the pest is with a bucket of soapy water, and a butterfly net. Catch the bugs, and drop them in the soapy water. The water kills the Japanese beetles, and doesnt harm the envirnoment. If you use a pure dish soap like Ivory, the water will even be good for the soil. It's one of the ingredients in my liquid fertilizer recipe on this site.

Wish me luck. It may be the Battle of Fallkirk in the Celtic Ozark Garden full of Japanese beetles.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Squash Are In

Today we get to pick a summer favorite. The squash are in. We have yellow neck and Zuchinni ready to go.

I have picked them when they reached 8 inches in length and about an inch and a half in diameter. They stay nice and tender that way.

What we don't eat fresh, we will shred for zuchinni bread, and freeze in a freezer bag. Make sure the fruit is clean and dry before freezing. We use a food processor to shrewd the fruit. Later, we will also just cut some in 3/4 in thick slices to freeze for soup and stews.

Ray Province

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
Celtic Ozark Solutions

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Summer Squash

The summer squash is slowly starting to appear for the season. I have zuchini and yellow neck. Both types are easy to grow,and produce a lot of fruit.

You can start these as seed ahead of time, and transplant in mid May in the Ozarks. They will go into August, when you often get Squash bugs. They need to be picked when small. Once they grow real big, the skin gets tough. Those I save for seed or breads.

A standard all around fertilizer and plenty of water
make these take off. A well drained soil is good. Size will be the big issue, as these buggers get very large. One plant needs 16sq ft.

Later in the season, I'll add some recipes for squash. For now, we stir fry with onions, garlic, Greek Seasoning and a little Soy Sauce. Ya boy howdy!

We'll talk again soon,

Ray Province
The Celtic Ozarkian

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
Celtic Ozark Solutions

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spring to Summer Garden Transition

I finished a video today on Spring to Summer Garden Transitions. In this case, I was finishing up a great year of sugar snap peas, and then getting the garden ready for breen beans. Hope you enjoy the video.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Peas to Green Beans

One of my favorite transitions of the year is from growing sugar snap peas, into green beans. I am picking the last of my snap peas this weekend. Once I have picked, and refertilized the soil, I will be ready for green beans.

I usually grow a Blue Lake Sytle Green Bean here in the Ozarks. It does well in wet or dry conditions. And the harvest is 60-70 days, so I can usually get a couple of rounds in each year.

Nitrogen is a big deal here. Peas and green beans both love it. So, I make sure I use a good fertilizer with plenty of nitrogen. The leafy plants love the stuff.

Green beans are one of the easiest plants to grow also. So give them a try. You can check out my video of green beans on this blog for more info.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Snap Peas

Well, I have not had much time to blog lately, but I promise to make up for it. The combination of cool weather, no frost, and lots of rain brought in a very nice crop of snap peas this year. My peas are now taller than my fencing that holds them.

They started putting on blossoms around 7 days ago. That is a significant sign for me, because that usually starts the beginning of the peas. Sure enough, the rule of thumb has proven true this year. I found my first pealets of the season. That's a good think too, because we jumped to around 86 degrees in the Ozarks the last couple of days, and that will not make my peas happy.

The snap pea is part of my Celtic Ozark Spring garden. They don't mind a little cold weather or snow, but frost is not good. I planted them around St. Patrick's Day, and we got our last day of frost around April 4th. Had to cover them once.

They make a great salad addition, or you can even eat them raw from the garden. I also like to make a stir fry out of them. They are a nitrogen lover, and like full sun and plenty of water. In our case, we had a fair bit of snow last winter, so that really helped the natural nitrogen level.

Can' wait to pick them.
Ray Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Protecting the Garden from Frost

Last night saw frost coming to the Celtic Ozark Garden. So, protecting the garden from frost was my top priority last night. We hit 35 degrees. That is certainly not freezing, for which I am grateful. However, it is cold enough to create frost in low lying areas (like gardens.) The temperature is not as critical as the frost setting in on the plants.

My plan includes watering, covering, and moving plants from the garden. I like to water the garden in the late afternoon, so the water helps to protect the plants. That was a good option yesterday, because it was nice and cool, and sunny. That gave leaves time to be dry, but roots wet.

Then, i covered everything vulnerable with a sheet. I keep old sheets around for just such an emergency (as Foghorn Leghorn used to say). The sheets are light enough to not damage the plants, but strong enough to keep the frost from settling on my plants, and burning them. Today, I will remove the sheets, so the plants can get sun again. Unfortunately, I will cover them again tonight, as we have one more night of cold air coming to the Ozarks.

Finally, I move everything in doors that is still in pots. I have many seedlings in small containers, that have been taking advantage of the warm weather we have had for two weeks. Those little squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc. get to sleep in the house.

With a little planning, you can protect your spring garden, and also your budding summer garden to be. The average last frost date in Missouri is around April 15th. WE have recorded frost dates to the end of the month in history. This time of year, you just have to pay attention to the temperature and weather.

We'll talk again soon,

Ray Province
Celtic Ozark Garden

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Spring Crop Time

In the last couple of days, we were able to get our spring garden in the ground. In the Ozarks, we are setting about 4 weeks out from our average last frost date of April 15th. So, there are lots of crops ready to hit the ground.

I have added lettuce, spinach, onions, endive, carrots, and snow peas. And of course you can't have an Irish wife and not plant potatoes. Now is the time to get them in. In an earlier article, we mentioned we already had our corn salad planted. All of these types of crops can be sown directly into the ground. You don't even have to plant deeply for most. I do cover my onions and peas. For the next two weeks, it ought to be a good time to plant through much of the Central United States. Southern states are ahead of us, and it is a bit early yet for the northern most states.

We were blessed with a 60 degree day today, and my wife Robin was off work. So, we were able to bring all our plants outside for the day (the ones we have had growing a couple of weeks now in seed planters inside. I am sure the plants have enjoyed the sun.

So, get with it! St. Patrick's Day has come and gone. It's time to get your Celtic Ozark Spring Garden in the ground. In our next article, we will talk about broccoli and cabbage.

We'll talk again soon,

Ray Province
The Celtic Ozarkian

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Plant Some Corn Salad: Mache Verte D' Etampes

Spring has almost made it to the Ozarks! I say almost because we did have a few snow flakes yesterday. Of course, we were listening to tornado warnings the day before, so that is a sure sign that spring is on the way!

The coming of spring gets me in the gardening mood. This year I have planted a new green for us: Mache. I have never eaten it, but read about it a couple of years ago in Mother Earth News and tucked the information away in my brain. This year I decided I wanted to try some. During our early spring trip to Baker Creek seeds I found several varieties of mache seeds. I decided on the small seed variety: Mache Verte D’ Etampes.

Mache is popular in Europe and slowly becoming more available in the U.S. It is an old green commonly found growing wild in fields. It goes by several names: corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, and Rapunzel to name a few.

I planted Mache because it tolerates the cold better than other lettuce varieties. It is usually planted in the fall to grow most of the winter long. It will tolerate temps down to 5 degrees without much extra care. We do get colder than that here in the Missouri Ozarks, so I won’t have lettuce all winter long, but I will extend my season by quite a bit this fall.

When I went out to plant my mache last week, it was a wonderful warm day. I turned my garden spot over to get the soil ready and the bottom layer of the garden was still frozen. I brought the frozen bottom to the top of the garden, let it lay in the sun for a day, and then planted my little mache seeds.

God has been kind enough to give them a nice gentle rain and a few snow flakes to keep the soil moist. I can’t wait to see those little plants pop through the ground! If we like the taste of the Mache, I am going to save the seeds when it bolts this summer and plant a fall crop. Left alone, mache will self seed, but we rotate our spring, summer and fall crops in the same garden beds, so I will save the seeds for our fall crop. I might even try the large seed variety this fall too.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tomatoes are On Their Way

Well the garden season is well under way in the Celtic Ozark Garden. I have officially gotten sprouting tomatoes. The tiny seeds are starting to come to life, in their little mini pots. Nestled away in the spare bedroom, they will soon be ready for even more sun. I don't want them to get too "leggy" by only getting a half a day of sun.

This year, I have started three varieties: a return visit will be made from the Illini Red, from my home state of Illinois. I have also brought back the beefsteak tomato. I didn't grow any last year, and really missed the size of this monster. There is nothing like being able to cover the whole piece of bread in one slice.

Finally, a new comer will be in my summer garden this year. I have started some Arkansas Travelers. They are always a popular tomato in the Ozarks, so I thought I would get on the band wagon this year.

In the beginning, the seeds need a good soil and water more then anything else. So, you have to make sure you keep your seeds well watered. Since my tomatoes are in the spare bedroom, I use a spray bottle to bring them water. It keeps down on the mess. It is obviously a different matter if you have a greenhouse ready to go, or some other sunny room with water near.

Once they get their first two green leaves out, I am going to want them to get more sunlight. This will help them take off. Water will still be important, but not as much. I just keep the soil moist at that point.

Regular watering will help to keep the plant healthy throughout the growing season. Too little water, then too much water, can cause the tomatoes to develop a disease called "blossom rot." Practicing the art of consistent, regular watering will get you ready to keep your tomaotes healthy all year.

The tomatoes are on their way. In just a couple of weeks, it will be time to get more going.

We'll talk again soon,

Raymond C. Province
Celtic Ozark Garden

Sunday, February 21, 2010

2010 Trip to Baker Creek Seeds

Had my chance to go back out to Baker Creek Seeds for the first time this season. It was a rainy day, but that did not damper my spirits. I got to take two friends to the shop for the first time. A couple of hundred dollars later, we were ready for the gardening season.

I went and found some old friends this year, to come back to the Celtic Ozark Garden. For one, I grabbed some beefsteak and Arkansas Traveler tomatoes. I really want to get some BIG tomatoes this year. Both of these varieties will not let you down.

The Blue Lake green bean and purple top turnip will also be coming back to the Celtic Ozark Garden. Last year, I did golden glob turnips, and a different green bean. Both of these are easy to grow, and great crowd pleasers in the Ozarks.

Baker Creek was also carrying onion sets this year, so I had to grab some white onion seeds, to see what they would do. I'll let you know how my 1/2 lb. bag fends. I've never been dissapointed with Jere Gettle's seeds, so I doubt I will have a problem with the onion sets.

I also decided to add some capnip to the garden this year. It will make quite a treat for the cats. Especially for my little black cat, who loves to drink a little whiskey with me! Here's to happier days, Corporal!

This week I will be getting my tomatoes in planting compartments, so they can begin to grow. I try to get them in around 8 weeks before the last frost date, which for me is April 15th of each year.

In the next article, I am going to share a full run down on the Spring Garden, including some other dates that I will start seed.

Live from Baker Creek Seeds,

Raymond C. Province
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Monday, February 15, 2010

As The Garden Grows

I found a new website blog today, called "As the Garden Grows" It is quite something. It covers a variety of garden related topics.

I liked the section they had on organic gardening I will have to see if they have much on heirloom gardening on another visit. There was certainly a lot on growing vegetables.

If you like growing flowers, this blog will be a heaven. On Sundays, they have a meme about gardening called "Green Thumb Sunday," that features a lot of good pics on flowers.

You can find them at Take a look today, and I hope you enjoy this site.

We'll talk again soon.
Ray Province, M.A.
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
Celtic Ozark Solutions

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Grow Some Carrots This Spring

If you want to add some real zip to your Celtic Ozark Garden, you might want to try to grow some carrots this Spring. They are easy to grow, and can be a real family pleaser. Here is what you will want to consider, then growing your carrots.

Carrots are one of the most frequently grown vegetables in the world. Root crops like carrots are hardy and grow best under cooler conditions. That makes them a great Springtime crop. Carrots will do well in snow, and light frosts, because the bulk of the plants grows under ground. They also do well in the Fall.

Most people only think of the carrot as long and orange. This is simply not true. You can find heirloom varieties in red, purple, and even yellow. The shapes of the carrots can also vary. Some of my favorites come from my friends at Baker Creek Seeds. You might try catalog numbers CR114, CR112, and CR113. Most of the ones I like to grow take around 75 days.

The secret for my carrots is having loose soil. I even like to add a bit of sand to my mix, so the carrots can grow deep. If the ground is hard, the carrots will be very stubby.

Start your carrots by seeding well, and thinning the small plants when they reach around 3″ in height. In a square foot of ground, I don’t like to grow more than 9-12 carrots. That should give you a good idea of how thin to get them, once they start growing. So, you get a bag of carrots per square foot you plant.

Also, carrots are root plants. Be careful not to give them too much nitrogen, as this can make them too leafy. There has been plenty of nitrogen added to gardens in the Ozarks this year from the snow. You can, though, give them a little beer! Mix a 12oz. beer of your choice in 5 gallons of water, and use that to help water your plants. It really helps the root grow.

Your Celtic Ozark Garden is going to look great this year if you grow some carrots this Spring. You’ll be glad you did.

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
The Celtic Ozark Garden

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Mighty Lettuce Plant

The mighty lettuce plant is the king of the spring garden. Going out and picking fresh lettuce will add to any dinner salad. The best part is it is easy to grow.

Lettuce came to us from Asia Minor, and was no doubt a weed. (L Scariola) The leaf style lettuce grew easily, and was hardy in all but the hottest places. Plenty of vitamins were available. There was also good roughage in lettuce.

Now, we enjoy mostly commercially grown varieties of lettuce. That is a shame, because there are so many good heirloom varieties available today. My personal favorites are the mixed lettuce varieties that are sold by the Baker Creek Seed Company in Mansfield, Missouri. You can check out the varieties of lettuce they have at

Lettuce is planted by just scattering the seed across the top of soil. I generally like to take my fingers and lightly spread the seed into the soil. The seed likes to be planted in fertile well drained soil. You will also need to keep the lettuce
well watered. Lettuce also does well in partly sunny
to sunny locations.

So, get your seed catalog out today, and pick out a variety of heirloom lettuce to plant in your springtime garden. You'll be very glad you did.

Raymond C. Province, M.A.
Celtic Ozark Solutions

Monday, January 18, 2010

Get Your Seeds Ready

In the middle of the cold of January, the heart of the Celtic Ozark Garden begins to beat once more. Now is the time to begin to get your seeds ready to go. Life returns to the garden very soon.

Most of the Springtime vegetables will be planted by seed. My onions and potatoes will be the exception. Those I will grow from a starter. My Celtic Ozark Garden starts every year around St. Patrick's Day, with the root crops. As a rule, it is around April 9th of each year, though, before the Ozarks gets past any chance of frost. So, lettuce and peas planted early have to be watched.

Having said that, it is still a good time to start the seed for tomatoes, green peppers, squash, etc. They won't get planted much before the first couple of weeks of May, but they will get started. If you own a greenhouse, or have a place that is warm, where you can start seed, you can get going by February. You will give you plants around a 6-8 week headstart this way. You must, though, keep them warm.

I use a sunny part of a spare bedroom to start mine, near the window. It has a clear cover to keep the cats out! As Spring comes, and my garage warms up a bit, I will transfer them there, with a grow light. I have not built my dream greenhouse yet, but this is how I make use of what I have, to give the Celtic Ozark Garden of Summer a bit of a head start.

Get the seed catalog out! Go heirloom!


Ray Province
Celtic Ozark Garden

Ray Province is a retired minister and owner of Celtic Ozark and the Celtic He likes to write about heirloom, square foot gardening techniques and products. You can reach him at or @celticozarkian on Twitter

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Time to Add Some Fertilizer

Over the past couple of weeks, the Celtic Ozark Garden has been filled with wonderful snow. We have had a very cold stretch of weather, so all our precipatation has been in the form of snow. That's OK with me. It is a gift from Nature, and a reminder to add some fertilizer to the garden.

Fresh snow in the garden adds wonderful nitrogen to your garden like none other. Spring peas, lettuce, and onions will be very happy. You can't beat it.

In addition to the nitrogen from the snow, I like to make up a natural fertilizer to add to the garden. Take a 5 gallon bucket, and add: 1 beer of your choice, and 1 cup of Epsom Salts, and 1/2 cup of ammonia (no scented ammonia). Pour this conentration throughout the garden, so that it has time to set in well, while the garden is still sleeping for the winter. By the time you start planting in the Spring, those new nutrients will be there, and the soil will have had time to help break them down.

Happy January to all, hope you are staying warm in your little neck of the woods,

Ray Province
Celtic Ozark Garden

Ray Province is a retired minister, and now IT programmer in the healthcare industry. He is the owner of Celtic Ozark Solutions, a company specializing in website content, articles, and blogs. He frequently writes about natural, square foot style gardening. You can reach him at, or @celticozarkian on Twitter