by Patti Ryan
Boy it's HOT & it's not even August! This and my nice cool house, inspired me to do some research on the best perennial landscape plants for our ever-heating Missouri summers. Here is what I came up with.
1. Blanket Flower - Also called Gaillardia, these are daisy-like red and orange flowers that love full sun & will bloom summer right up until frost. They are drought tolerant (vacation proof) and attract butterflies but the deer don't really like them. Birds love the seed heads in the fall! win-win-win! Zone 3-11
2. Daylilly - Everyone knows these hardy plants for their prolific growth. You can't hardly kill them! These sun-lovers also tolerate some shade & are quite drought tolerant, too. As by their name, each bloom is only open for one day, the blooms continue for weeks. Smaller varieties are really nice in containers (Stella d'Oro - shown here) & some are rebloomers and will give you a lesser show in the fall. Ah, so many varieties and colors, so little space. :)
3. Poppy - These crepe-like flowering plants come in so many varieties, you are sure to fall in love with one. They bloom from spring into summer in heavenly shades of red, pink, orange and cream. Look for Oriental, Alpine, Atlantic and Iceland varieties. Once they are established there is little care. While growing water during the driest of spells to keep them going.
4. Hosta - These are this author's personal favorite shade loving plant. Lots of BANG for the buck too! They will grow under the worst conditions, dry and deep shade. Prolific and rugged there are many varieties to tempt you. From solid green, to blue green, to variegated with cream, white or chartreuse, some of them with huge leaves you could almost live under. Flowers stalks bloom briefly in whites and blues but the bees love them! Watch for some of these at our annual perennial exchange.
5. Peony - A favorite among my mother's generation & I can see why. Plants that last for decades! I have some transplanted from my mother-in-law that were there 40 years & now 20 in my yard! Beautiful glossy mounding habit with showy and fragrant late spring blooms in traditional colors in pink, white and red, but newer hybrids now come in purples, corals, peppermint striped & even a deep burgundy. Full sun and well drained soil is ALL these drought tolerant plants ask for. They are also deer resistant.
I can think of several others to add to this list, Cone-flower, Iris, Lily of the Valley, Yarrow, Sedum & Switchgrass.
We thought you might like to read some personal and LOCAL accounts of how things went last year. So here & continuing on the website are our garden successes from your HARES founders.
Stephanie - My success story from last year (and the year prior) was using straw to suppress weeds. I have discovered that if I cover my planting areas with straw in the fall they remain relatively weed free until spring when I can pull away just enough straw to either insert my plants or cast my seeds. By surrounding any planting areas or plants with straw my weeding has been virtually eliminated or requires very minor time.
Additionally the breakdown of the straw on these areas further improves the fertility and composition of the planting beds soils. Worms will come into the areas under the straw which only further enhances the oxygen enrichment and tunneling action in your soil, thus helping to prevent soil compaction.
If you didn’t cover your planting areas during the fall, no worries! Just get that straw onto these areas as soon as possible. I think everyone will be very surprised at how much effort is saved by not having to pull weeds constantly. You will still have some weeds from the leftover seed in the straw and of course the seeds the blow in the wind. But this is very minor compared to leaving the soil bare.
Joey - Each year brings some fantastic new wonder to the garden. Some special new variety that exceeds all. My garden is particularly. Opulent situated as it is in the fertile delta of the Loutre river where it meets the Missouri with extremely rich soil and no rocks. Many things grow with ease to enormous size. I am a big advocate of Ruth Stouts no work garden technique of letting my debris lie and mulching heavily everywhere at all times I let most varieties re seed themselves and move perennials around often. Each year I am rewarded with new surprises. This year it was sunflowers. I started feeding birds two years ago. Last year I had planted a few sunflowers This year the birds planted a few. These new ones were multi branching and extremely tall one measured over 20 ft tall and beautiful. Some seemed descendants of the lemon yellow with pale petals and some were variegated with reddish orange centers. On this cold March first birds are still feasting on the remaining seed heads.
Patti - Last year my personal favorite success was Spinach, I know, kinda boring but I love spinach and had good success with it last year (2016)! AT our house my Mom cooked spinach with vinegar I really didn't like it. But after tasting some raw, I was hooked. I got some Spinach Gigante d'Inverno from Bakers Seeds & just planted it from seed in a planter box I got a couple of years ago, along with some lettuce. It seemed to like the cheap potting soil & very light donkey manure mix (thanks to my friend Gloria) served me well. I over seeded it because I like to cut it when it's small. Boy did I have a crop! The leaves were a very dark green and fairly flat, which I like for my salads & almost sweet tasting. I kept cutting it all the way into JUNE! Then without even trying, I had a decent fall crop, along with some Tom Thumb lettuce which must have reseeded itself. The spinach was very tender & most of it we just ate raw in salads and on sandwiches but some of it was used for quiche, one of few ways I like spinach cooked. If you were at Food Circle last year, you probably tasted it.
by Joey Los;
Making herbal salves is an easy and useful way to utilize beneficial herbs from your garden throughout the year. Salves can be made from any variety of herbs, carrier oils, and essential oils to suite your taste, or to treat your own ailments. Salves can be used as lip balms, massage oils, and for any skin ailments. There is lots of information online and in books about making salves, and the specific therapeutic functions of various herbs. I am not a doctor or an expert at any of this and will not profess any special knowledge except from my own experimentation. Here is my technique.
I have been an enthusiastic gardener, forager, and believer in the powers of beneficial herbs since childhood. I grow many varieties in my densely planted perma-culture garden including comfrey, plantain, mints, oregano, and more. To discuss the benefits of these plants could take several more hours but any and all of them are fantastic additions to bees wax salves. To incorporate the benefits of herbs into your salve start by making an oil extract of the herb. Coarsely chop the herb of your choice and loosely pack a wide mouth mason jar with it, a quart or pint will be fine to start with. Fill the jar with a carrier oil of your choice, olive oil is great, also almond oil, or avocado oil. I have found coconut oil difficult to mix into my salves but it has great therapeutic properties of its own, it must be heated to use for oil extracts. Let the oil and herbs blend for at least 48 hours than strain or place in the refrigerator. Oils can go rancid fast and should be stored in the refrigerator after mixing with herbs. To make your salve you will need 1 part melted bees wax to two parts strained oil. Melt the wax in a double boiler or microwave, add the strained oil, or plain oil, a few drops of your favorite essential oil (much more potent than the oil extract and made by distillation) stir vigorously, pour into tiny jars, let set up uncovered over night, and voila, you have a salve! a great gift item from your garden or to sell at the farmers market. Try adding two tablespoons of honey and essential oil of peppermint for a minty lip balm. Make your own tired muscle rub with a little cayenne oil extract, mint and comfrey. Ease sprains and help breaks heal with comfrey, plantain and oregano. There are lots of possibilities. To purchase jars look up UTNE packaging on line, they have a large selection. Essential oils are expensive but very concentrated, don’t buy scented oils, they are not the same. Home -made salves, have a very long shelf life and are stable without refrigeration because of the beeswax. Have fun, read, experiment, and share salve with your friends for informational feedback on your product.
by Patti Ryan
In what seems like a lifetime ago, (but just yesterday) I had a young daughter I was homeschooling. Homeschooling is a joy and also very challenging if done correctly. Finding activities outside the home is essential. We were fortunate to be in on the "ground floor" about 15 years ago now, of an experiential learning center in Rosebud named Earth's Classroom, founded by highly educated naturalists, Bill & Jody Miles. The first classes we attended usually first met in a mostly natural amphitheater back into the property, then we went on an adventure. Where would we go? Sometimes it was to a Native American Tipi for lessons in Missouri's Native peoples & culture, sometimes into other parts of the property where we might encounter animal tracks, interesting plants, or maybe even go back in time to the Civil War or Southern Fur traders era, complete with the garb of the era & lessons easily remembered because you LIVED them, you saw live animals that live in Missouri, you touched the things discussed, you learned first hand how hard it is to make a fire in the woods, or to wear Civil War gear.
There were other programs too, floating for beginners all the way up to white water adventures for the experienced, caving trips, bird watches, reptile identification, orientation, I could go on. The BEST part of all these programs are the enthusiastic, knowledgeable & FUN teachers! You can't help but have fun at an Earth's Classroom program. Some of our local schools are using Earth's Classroom to add an experiential element to their curriculum.
(IF you're not, WHY not???)
I consider Earth's Classroom one of the best kept LOCAL secrets, I am always taken back when people say they have not heard about their great work. I hope your family enjoys the programs as much as we have, even their fundraisers are fun. Check them out!
by Stephanie Hibdon
River rat, student of life, nature-centric, anarchist.
Entrepreneurial artist, gardener, fermentation enthusiast. B&B hostess and aspiring freegan locavore
Mom, Grandma & Media Expert. Relatively new gardener & striving to be more sustainable.