An easy and delicious holiday side dish.
Makes 12 servings.
1. In 12 inch skillet, cook frozen onions on medium-high
heat 18 to 20 minutes or until liquid releases and then
evaporates and onions brown, stirring occasionally.
2. Add butter and reduce heat to medium low. Cook four
minutes or untill onions are tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring. Add milk in slow steady
stream, stirring constantly. Add butter; reduce heat to
medium-low. Cook about 10 minutes or untill onions are
tender, stirrring and scraping pan occasionally.
4. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring. Add milk inslow, steady
stream, stirring constantly. Add thyme and bay leaf; heat
to boiling on medium, stirring occasionally.
5. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring, until mixture is creamy and
6. Season with nutmeg, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 teaspoon
freshly ground black pepper. Remove bay leaf and
thyme. Serve hot.
Christmas Cactus: How to Grow and Care for Christmas Cactus:
A Christmas Cactus is a tropical plant that does not naturally exist in nature. It was bred from two unique parent plants that both grow in the South American rainforests, specifically in Brazil.
The plant is recognizable by its segmented stem and the brightly colored blooms that appear at the ends of them. Blooms are typically red, pink, purple, yellow, or white, and the blooms can occur at different times throughout the year. Most notably, they can appear near Christmas, which is where the name is derived.
Since this plant is one of the rare plants that bloom at this time of year, it takes a bit of care to ensure that blooms do occur. This guide will give you all of the basics that you need to tend to a Christmas Cactus and help you make your home more colorful during the holiday season.
How to Care for Christmas Cactus:
Christmas Cactuses are not actually cactuses at all; in fact, they require care that is very similar to a succulent. They do not require a lot of special care, but they do need to be properly maintained in order for blooms to appear. Let’s take a look at some of the tips that will help your Christmas Cactus flourish.
1. Watering Christmas Cactus: Like most succulent plants, it requires moist soil to grow; however, these plants do not like to be sitting in a pool of water. The best way to know when your Christmas Cactus needs to be watered is to check the soil. Once the top of the soil feels dry to the touch, water it again. Too much water can cause brown spots or root rot, while too little can cause issues with the blooms.
2. Soil and Fertilizer for Christmas Cactus: Christmas Cactuses require soil that is well-draining, which means that a mixture of normal potting soil and fine bark works perfectly. You can also use sand or small stones in the base of the pot to help with drainage. Insofar as fertilizer, this plant should be fed every two weeks with a diluted liquid fertilizer. Make sure to stop feeding it about a month before the winter bloom, which typically means the end of the month of October.
3. Christmas Cactus Lighting Tips: This plant likes a lot of sunlight, but it prefers indirect light. Direct sunlight can easily burn the leaves of the plant, so windows that are facing east or north are best. A Christmas Cactus is able to adapt to low light conditions, but it thrives in bright, indirect light.
Repotting and Pruning Needs: Christmas Cactus plants prefer to be confined to a snug pot where the roots are nearly too large for the pot. This lack of space for the root system actually produces the best blooms. This means that the plant will not need to be repotted more than once every two to three years. When the transfer does need to occur, never repot a Christmas Cactus while it is in bloom. I have found that repotting the plant in spring or early summer works the best, and it allows the plant time to settle before blooming for the holiday season.
Pruning the plant should occur about a month after the blooming period is complete. This will encourage the plant to branch out and start growing again after a short period of rest. To prune a Christmas Cactus, simply twist the stem between the segments on the stem and remove the section. If your plant is becoming unruly, then you can remove up to 1/3 of the Christmas Cactus each year without causing damage to the plant.
Propagation:Propagating a Christmas Cactus is easy, all you need to do is take the trimmed sections of the plant that you cut off during the pruning process and place them in a new pot of soil to grow. For the best results, propagation should be done in the spring of the year, and at last one segment of the plant should be buried underneath the soil.
How to get a Christmas Cactus to Bloom: To encourage blooms to form you must create certain conditions for the plant. The temperature must be between 50 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit each night from the end of October, which is about six to eight weeks before Christmas. The room must be completely dark for 12 to 14 hours each night as well.
Christmas Cactuses can be difficult plants to care for, but with a little bit of effort, you will have a delightful blooming plant right around the holiday season that your family and friends can envy.
Excerpt from: Garden Lovers Club
Not only is there a surprise in the center of each
cookie, the recipe for Surprises is suprisingly
1. Preheat oven to 35oF. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla.
3. Stir in flour and salt.
4. Form dough into 1 inch balls then press a cherry into the center
of each. Reshape each into a ball, completely covering the cherry.
5. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and place two inches apart on
prepared baking sheets.
6. Bake 20 minutes then cool on wire racks. Makes about two dozen
Things gardeners need to be considering for November.
Mark Keaton - County Extension Agent
Trees are a natural resource in this, the Natural State. But because we have so many trees, we have become accustomed to them, we often take these valuable assets for granted. They become overlooked until a problem arises, and then we worry. Take a look around you and imagine the landscape without the trees.
Shade trees that are properly located on your property can cut summer utility bills by 20 percent or more. For energy efficiency it is best to plant deciduous trees on the west side of your house. Trees planted in these locations provide shade during the intense heat of the day. If you use deciduous trees, they'll lose their leaves in the winter, allowing the sunlight in to help warm things up during the coldest times of the year. It will also help if you shade your air conditioner. This can increase the cooling efficiency by as much as 10%.
Best tree species for shade:
There are numerous species of trees that make great shade trees, from many of the oaks, (including willow oak, shumard oak, cherrybark oak and pin oak), to tulip poplars, bald cypress, and even sweetgum.
Not only are these large trees giving us shade but they are also helping to clean the air. Leaves on trees absorb carbon dioxide, and filter pollutants from the air. They also catch airborne dust and dirt, and give off oxygen. Not only do they work on air pollution, but also noise pollution. They absorb sound, and can create a buffer between you and a busy street.
How trees prevent erosion:
Tree roots are often blamed for many problems, but rarely thanked for controlling erosion. The canopy of the tree shelters soil moisture and helps in erosion, but so do the trees roots. Trees planted along a riverbank can slow the water and reduce flooding. If you live in an area with high winds, a diverse planting of trees can act as a windbreak if properly planted.
Think of the beauty of trees, from the massive trees fall foliage to smaller trees flowers. Dogwoods have been the most popular blooming tree in Arkansas for years, but others are coming to the forefront now. For more sunlight look at the Kousa dogwood. There are sweetbay magnolias, golden raintree, chinese fringe tree and redbud. Japanese maples are popular under story trees and flowering cherries and crabapples are a nice addition to springtime color.
Tree Planting Tips:
Now that you realize how valuable a resource trees are, consider planting one. The third Monday in March is the day we celebrate Arbor day in Arkansas.
Select a tree for your landscape based on what you need. Do you need and have room for a large shade tree? Do you want a small under story tree for color? Before you plant a tree, look up. Make sure power lines are not going to interfere with growth. Try to locate trees no close than 15 feet from the foundation of your house. Check the drainage.
Trees come in three ways: balled in burlap, bare root or containerized. They also come in many sizes. Choose one that you can easily manage. For larger and more instant shade, there are now professionals with giant tree spades that can move large trees. Container grown plants can be planted any time you want to. Balled in burlap trees should be planted before the heat of summer sets in or again in the fall. Bare root trees need to be planted when they are totally dormant since there is nothing inside the plastic sleeve to sustain plant growth. Fall foliage is an added bonus to some tree varieties that offer visual interest to home landscape
When you plant your tree, be sure to plant it at the level it is currently growing or slightly more shallow. Work up the planting hole wider than necessary to encourage the roots to spread out. Avoid amending the soil in just the planting hole, or you encourage the roots to stay in the planting hole. Avoid fertilization at planting, but do water well. Mulch around the tree to keep grass and weeds away which can compete with the young root system. And continue to water once a week all season to help the tree get established.
As Americans, squashes in their many and varied forms have been a part of our diet since the earliest times. The butternut squash is one of the bewildering assortment of squashes listed in the seed catalogs.
Butternut squash is a selection of Cucurbita moschata, one of four New World species in the pumpkin – squash – gourd complex that have been cultivated by Native Americans for at least 6,000 years.
These species interbreed promiscuously, and the origins of individual forms is murky. This species possibly originated in Argentina but was being grown in North America by the time European exploration commenced in the 16th century.
Butternut is a winter variety, one of the squashes with hard exterior shell and large, hard-shelled seeds. Because of their thick rind they can be stored for several months unlike their relatives, the thin skinned summer squash. Butternut is the tan colored, elongated, smooth skinned squash with a swollen base. It and the familiar acorn squash are the two most common winter squashes seen in groceries.
In the garden, it grows as a sprawling vine similar to its cousin the pumpkin, but without so much exuberance. Unlike the summer squash, which are harvested every few days to assure their succulence, winter squash are allowed to remain on the vine until the fruit develop the thick skin late in the season.it grows as a sprawling vine similar to its cousin the pumpkin, but without so much exuberance. Unlike the summer squash, which are harvested every few days to assure their succulence, winter squash are allowed to remain on the vine until the fruit develop the thick skin late in the season.
As the holiday season arrives and the pumpkin pies are wafting their fragrance from the oven, a discussion of this all-American food seems appropriate.
Pumpkins and the odd assemblage of squashes represent one of the three food crops cultivated by Native Americans at the time of European arrival. The others were corn (maize) and beans. The whole world quickly embraced corn and beans as staples, but pumpkins and squash never caught on in the rest of the world like they did here.
Pumpkin pies can be made from either winter squashes or from the more traditional pumpkin. In fact, the first pumpkin pies were made using hard shelled pumpkins that had a squash-like look. The earliest mention of a desert made from pumpkins was by Massachusetts Pilgrims soon after their landing in 1620.
Their method of preparation was to remove the top of a pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and then fill the cavity with sliced apples, sugar, spices and milk. The thick-skinned fruit was then baked in wood ashes until it was done. By 1673, the "Pumpion-Pye" had progressed to a kind of griddle cake with eggs added. In a 1796 cookbook, the pumpkin pie in its current form with a proper pie crust was described.
Orange-fleshed butternut squash are not usually used to make pumpkin pies, but they could be. Mostly, they are split and baked with spices and butter added for seasoning. This method is little changed from how the Pilgrims would have prepared the dish, except they didn’t have a microwave.
Butternut squash are warm season vegetables planted in hills spaced two feet apart in wide rows. Being intended for harvest at the end of the season, planting can be delay until June. Squash bugs are a serious problem with all squash. Scouting for the clusters of shiny brown eggs on the leaves is an early warning system important in control. Removing the eggs will help, but it’s hard to get them all. When young insects are first spotted, they should be dispatched with an appropriate spray while still young.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - December 9, 2005
Celosia are noted for their brilliant "rooster comb" plumes. Celosia makes a very showy, unusual display in borders and as edging. While the brilliant reds are by far the most popular color, Celosia, or Cockscomb, also come in yellow, orange, crimson, rose, and purple flowers. Celosia are wonderful for bouquets, fresh or dried. To dry these flowers, hang them upside down in a cool dark, and dry place, for about two months.
Other Names: Celosia are also called Cockscomb and Woolflowers.
Plant Height: up to 30"
Celosia are grown from very fine seeds. They can be directly seeded into your flower garden or seeded indoors for transplanting later. If planting outdoors, sow Celosia seeds after the soil has begun to warm in the spring. We recommend starting them indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Seeds need to stay moist, and require warm soil to germinate.
Sow seeds early in the season and cover lightly with 1/8" of fine soil. Water thoroughly and keep soil moist.
Days to Germination: 10-15
Plants come and go in the nursery trade with a dizzying rapidity. Here today, gone tomorrow. The causes for this seeming fickleness are many, but ultimately it boils down to growing what people will buy. Sedums, in their many and varied forms, are popular plants across the land but two species, the lowly stonecrop (Sedum acre) and stringy stonecrop (S. sarmentosum) have fallen from favor and are seldom seen in commercial offerings. Both plants are often called goldmoss sedum.
Sedum acre is a mat forming succulent perennial that grows about 3 inches tall with tangled stems that spread horizontally by means of a shallow rhizome. The rounded quarter-inch long leaf is tightly held against the stem. The small but showy yellow flowers appear in mid-spring on flat-topped cymes. Individual flowers form five-pointed stars with protruding stamens. Sedums are members of the succulent crassula family.
Sedum acre is native to a wide swath of Eurasia and was introduced early into North America. It has escaped cultivation in most of our northern states and most Canadian provinces. It grows as far north as zone 2, at least when protected by snow cover. It does not appear to have escaped in the South. As an escapee, it is primarily found on open, barren and rocky ground where little else will grow. In certain fragile ecosystems, such as “balds” and broad limestone ledges where there is almost no soil, it can displace native species.
Sedum sarmentosum, stringy stonecrop, is a Chinese native, with arching above ground stems that produce succulent, triangular leaves about a half-inch long that decrease in size towards the ends of the branches. Plants have a chartreuse look about them, especially in the spring. It is a sprawling plant that grows to about 4 inches tall, with most of the action above ground, whereas Sedum acre spreads primarily by underground rhizomes. Stringy stonecrop is the most aggressive spreader in the South and has escaped cultivation in the eastern states, where it is sometimes called graveyard stonecrop.
Gardeners seem to love or hate goldmoss sedums in about equal numbers. Their aggressive ways make them sure survivors in almost any site, and if your site is sunny and open it can spread and become invasive. But, because they stay on the ground and only sprawl sideways, they will not spread far under the shade of tall growing perennials or shrubs. Some gardeners use them as “living mulch” by allowing their thick mat of foliage to cover the ground and suppress weeds. The gardeners at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia have planted Sedum acre between the granite slabs marking President Kennedy’s grave, where it has persisted for almost 50 years.
Sedums of all kinds, including both species of goldmoss sedum, have found new life in recent years as a major component of living roofs. The green roof movement, while not common in Arkansas, is being used extensively in many large cities. The green roof concept relies on a very permeable soil that is usually composed of a lightweight coarse aggregate that comprises 85 percent of the soil volume. This allows for rapid water penetration during rains, but means the plants must be both heat- and drought-tolerant. Sedums have served well in this capacity.
Both goldmoss sedums are hardy from zones 3 through 8 (9) and will grow in almost any soil, but must have at least 6 hours of sun to survive. If the soil conditions are fertile, it might be a mistake to plant such aggressive growers, but it the site is harsh, then they may be a good choice. They can be easily restrained by pulling the shallowly rooted plants from areas where it is not wanted. New plantings can be established by plopping a handful of plants on top of the soil and then occasionally watering it until new roots establish.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Retired Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - June 17, 2011
This is an easy and delicious dessert.
Good way to use some of the left over
sweet potatoes from your garden.
Combine all ingredients and pour into pie shell.
Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes or until
inserted toothpick comes out clean and pie
is golden brown.
This is a tasty and healthy recipe to make use of some of that leftover turkey after
Thanksgiving. Makes 3 meal size servings.
County Extension Agent
University of Arkansas - Division of Agriculture
Disease is a general term that can include fungal, bacterial and viral pathogens. All three of these pathogens can lay dormant until favorable conditions present themselves. This can be related to temperature, moisture or plant health. Many of the diseases we encounter in the South favor hot and humid conditions. It is important to identify whether you are dealing with fungal, bacterial or viral pathogens. The control for each of these is completely different. This a list of potential disease problems you may encounter in your garden.
This disease can attack everything from trees and shrubs to vegetables. It appears as a gray-like powder on the tops of leaves. It is one of the only fungal disease problems that favors dry weather. It is most common in late spring and early fall. Powdery mildew can be controlled by spraying approved fungicides at 10 to 14 day intervals.
This another fungal pathogen that attacks a broad range of plants, including ornamentals and vegetables. This fungus occurs in the soil and penetrates the roots of the plant, working its way into the vascular system. It begins to clog up the plants "plumbing" causing leaves to turn yellow and stems to wilt. Treatment is very difficult once the plant is infected. Vegetable plants normally will die and need to be removed.
SEPTORIA LEAF SPOT AND SPOT ANTHRACNOSE
These are two very common diseases that can be caused by either bacterial or fungal pathogens. Correct identification will be needed when selecting a control. Many times affected leaves can simply be plucked off and discarded. On larger shrubs and trees, the disease tends to be more of a cosmetic issue and the plant can normally survive.
Bacterial wilts are caused by several different strands of bacteria and can affect vegetables, flowers, and other herbaceous plants. This disease can be transmitted through infected soil or through insects feeding on infected plants and transmitting to healthy plants. Bacteria cause a disruption in the vascular system of plants causing them to discolor, wilt, and eventually die. Once bacteria enter into the plant, it is almost impossible to control. Discard infected plants and keep damaging insects under control to help with the spread of disease. Fumigation or solarization of the soil my be an effective way to control the disease for future crops.
This disease is actually a bacterium that is very host specific and affects members of the rose family. This includes pears, apples, crabapples, hawthorn, and Pyracantha. The disease is fed by insects feeding on the plants and is most active in late spring during warm, humid weather. Infected branches wilt and turn brown and then black as if scorched by fire. Spraying for this disease can be tricky depending upon the height of the plant or tree. Once infected, prune the damaged branches down several inches into the good wood. Remove the cut branches from the site.
There are many viruses that can affect anything from ornamentals to fruit trees and vegetables. Viruses normally cause discoloration or mottling of leaves. Leaves and branches are often deformed and twisted and leaves may appear elongated or tiny. Insects, soil or moisture can carry or spread viruses. There are no effective controls so cutting damaged areas out and plant removal are the only remedies.
This disease is caused by several species of fungi and is common in our Southern soils. It is one of the main causes of poor germination of vegetables and annual flowers. Seedlings are very susceptible when they first emerge. This disease is most prevalent in high-nitrogen soils that stay consistently wet. Plant seeds in well-amended and well-drained sites to minimize the chance of infection. Do not add high-nitrogen fertilizers until seedlings have grown several sets of leaves. Fungicide-coated seed can also discourage damping -off.
PHYTOPHTHORA AND PYTHIUM ROOT ROT
Both of these fungi thrive in wet, poorly drained soils. They can attack the roots and stems of plants causing them to rot and eventually die. Gardeners frequently mistake the wilting for drought stress.
Often individual plant branches die first and then the overall plant turns yellow and eventually dies. Prevent this disease by planting only in well drained areas. Water plants only when necessary and allow soil to dry out between irrigations.
This short list of disease problems are only a handful of what is actually out there, but these are definitely some of the most common ones you may encounter. Careful plant selection and good cultural practices will go along way toward keeping your plants healthy and avoiding these potential killers.
"THE BEATEN PATHOGEN"
By Bob Westerfield
This is a tasty and easy to make side dish.
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar and
cornstarch; mix until cornstarch is dissolved.
2. Add the brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil
over medium heat, stirring until thickened.
3. Add the carrots and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or
until heated through. Serve immediately.
Fall has arrived and it is time to think about spring. Much of the beauty of the spring garden derives from the bulbs gardeners plant in the fall. The word "bulb" is used as a general term by gardeners for any of the flowers planted at this season even though some might be corms (crocus), tubers (anemones) or tuberous roots (ranunculus). But, come spring, the most spectacular flowers are produced by the true bulbs.
To the botanist a bulb is an underground storage organ with a vertical stem axis surrounded by swollen leaf bases. The botanical term geophyte is used to describe all the storage types - bulbs, corms, tubers, rhizomes, etc - that gardeners collectively call "bulbs."
True bulbs are found only among the monocotyledonous species; those plants with one seed leaf at germination. Most of the true bulbs are found in two plant families - the lily family or the amaryllis family - although many botanists are now breaking these old classification categories into many subsets at the family level.
The bulbous habit of growth occurs almost exclusively in temperate parts of the world beyond 30 degrees north and south latitude. The geophytic lifestyle developed as a protection mechanism to allow plants to get through hard times, especially drought and cold. Most bulbous species are native to either grassland habitats or mountainous regions.
In grasslands, bulbs are usually spring-blooming, with foliage dying down by early summer when the grasses suck all of the available water from the soil. In mountainous areas the bulbs flower quickly during spring, mature their foliage during the short summer and then disappear below ground during the long, cold winter.
Bulbs have all the parts and pieces of an oak tree but they have gotten rid of all the superfluous stuff, leaving behind just a dormant bud. The stem of a bulb grows vertically, just like our oak tree, but it is only a few millimeters long. Called the "basal plate," it has nodes where leaves and new branches are produced and, at the end of the stem, a flower is formed. At the base of the stem, roots form just like a normal oak tree.
The accompanying photo shows a cross-sectional view of a tulip, a hyacinth and a daffodil bulb. These species are what we call "tunicate" species, with the leaf bases enclosed in a papery covering. Lilies have "non-tunicate" bulbs, with the individual scales not encased in this protective sheath. Generally the tunicate species show more drought tolerance than the non-tunicate species.
The three bulb species shown in the illustration above have three distinct means of maintaining the bulbous lifestyle. The tulip, native to the cold and dry steep regions of Central Asia, replaces its bulb each year after flowering. The food reserves of the original bulb are depleted to produce the stout stem, leaves, and flowers we so admire in April. If the climate is perfect - with cool conditions and just the right amount of moisture - the foliage will persist long enough to regenerate a big healthy bulb for the next season. But when, as in most gardens, conditions are not so good, the big bulb that was planted is replaced with a small bulb, and after two years it is too small to flower. A bulb too small to flower produces just a single leaf that splays out across the ground.
Hyacinths, and in fact most other bulbs, retain their bulb from year to year and build on what they started with. If conditions are good the bulb will grow a bit larger; if not so good it will be a bit smaller. But it doesn't start over anew each year, so this lifestyle choice makes these kinds of bulbous plants more dependable repeat bloomers in the garden. Obviously, allowing the foliage to remain as long as possible helps ensure a bigger bulb for the coming season.
The daffodil (Narcissus) shown is doing what oak trees do, branching. Some bulbs, like daffodils, branch freely while others, such as hyacinth, are slow to branch. In bulbs this characteristic is referred to as "producing offsets." Because daffodils branch freely it is not uncommon for a clump formed from a single bulb to become so crowded it stops flowering after 5 years or so. Digging, dividing and resetting the bulbs will allow the bulbs to grow large enough to flower.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - October 23, 2009
This is the easiest way to make pumpkin butter.
Just let your slow cooker do all the work.
Set crockpot on low setting.
Thoroughly combine the ingredients in the crock pot. Cover and cook for
about five hours, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin butter is thick enough
to stick to a spoon turned upside down.
Spoon pumpkin butter into a jar and cool completely in the refrigerator
Pumpkin butter will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the
freezer for up to six months.
When I was walking my dog at Cooper Park recently, I saw this plant in front of the Shot Gun Cabin that I had never seen before. Of course I had to take a closer look. I thought it was lovely so I looked it up when I got home. It is native to Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.
by Dorothy Thetford
COMMON NAME: Snow-on-the-Prairie
BOTANICAL NAME: Euphorbia bicolor
Snow in September? On a prairie? In Texas? Sure....
Our native wildflower, commonly called snow-on-the-prairie Euphorbia bicolor, attracts attention to the hot, dry prairie with its cool, green and white bracts. These three to four-inch bracts are longer than the leaves of the plant, and completely dominate the tiny white flower structures.
Actually, the white structure is not a flower, but a cyathium (the specialized inflorescence of Euphorbia, consisting of a flower-like, cup-shaped involucre which carries the several true flowers within) as defined by M. Enquist in his book WILDFLOWERS OF THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY.
Each 5-petaled structure, only 1/4 inch diameter, looks like it's been tucked into the base of the bracts as an afterthought, almost hidden by the long, wispy bracts.
Snow-on-the prairie is a single, stout, hairy, 3 to 5-foot stem which splits, midway up the stem, into a perfect triangular set of (three) branches. With ample moisture, these three branches may grow 6 to 10 inches taller and split into additional sets of three branches.
One to two-inch, hairy, lanceolate, alternate leaves line the stem up to the first branch split, and at that point, three opposite leaves encircle the base of the split. This interesting leaf arrangement is repeated with each new symmetrical branching.
A milky latex weeps from any broken stem, leaf or bract. All Euphorbias contain this milky sap, which can cause dermatitis to sensitive-skinned persons, and, is toxic. Since livestock does not eat this plant, snow-on-the-prairie is normally found in very large colonies throughout the Grand Prairie, Blackland Prairie, east to east Texas, and from Montague County southwest to Johnson County. A single plant is intriguing, but a colony is breathtaking.
As flowers mature, green, hairy, 3-seeded capsules develop and stay on the plant until they dry, harden, pop open and disperse seeds. This ballistic dispersal of seeds explains the scattered arrangement of plants on the prairie. If you plan to collect seeds from this annual, you must monitor the maturity and collect after the pod dries, but before it pops open.
Texas Woman's University, under the direction of our Trinity Forks member, Camelia Maier, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Biology Department, is currently researching E. bicolor to identify the chemical composition of estrogens within the plant for future medicinal purposes.
Our sunny prairies and roadsides are extremely enticing with this grande native wildflower. While E. bicolor is in full bloom, take time to touch the leaves, and, use a magnifying lens to closely inspect the downy-soft, hairy details of this uniquely beautiful wildflower. I think you'll appreciate having snow-on-the-prairie, especially in Texas during the heat of August and September!
Latin: Cucurbita pep0
The pumpkin is as American as apple pie, yet its current status is a result of our diverse cultural heritage.
The word pumpkin is derived from the middle English word "pumpion" which described a type of Old World melon. The pumpkins and squashes are thought to have originated in Central America and Mexico. They spread as Native Americans adopted them as a staple food over 9,000 years ago.
Among the New England tribes these plants were described as "askutasquash." The Puritans of New England adopted "pumpion" for the large, orange-fruited vines and "squash" for all of the smaller-fruited edible sorts.
Botanically speaking, pumpkins and squashes are kissing cousins belonging to the cucumber family. They are so closely related that pumpkins and some squashes will readily cross pollinate one another. If a non-pumpkin type pollinates a pumpkin flower, the resultant fruit will look like a normal pumpkin, but if seeds are saved and planted the next season, the fruit of the hybrid plant will be mongrelized.
The acceptance of pumpkins by early colonists was not immediate. In fact, it took a good long New England winter to convince them that they were indeed tasty and nutritious. One of the earliest methods of preparing pumpkins was to cut a hole in the top, scoop out the seeds, and then fill the cavity with apples, molasses, spices and milk. The top was put back on and then the pumpkin was baked in a bed of coals.
By the late 1700's, the standard method of preparing pumpkin, other than pumpkin bread, had become our standard pumpkin pie, which included eggs, molasses, allspice and ginger baked in a tart shell.
The tradition of the jack o' lantern is interwoven with the traditions of the ancient Celts who celebrated a ceremony that apparently was part harvest ceremony and partly a ceremony to appease the spirits of the dead. This ritual included carrying lighted embers from ceremonial bonfires in carved out turnips -- a readily available ember-holder. Faces were carved on these turnips to scare off the spirits of the dead that came back to visit earth -- often in the form of black cats. In the 1750s, the old Irish folktale was written down, but changed to include a night watchman named Jack.
The Irish potato famine a century later resulted in the immigration of over 600,000 Irish men and women to the United States. Finding few big turnips to carve, the pumpkin was adopted for Jack's lantern for the Christian All Hallows Eve festival. That holiday evolved into our nonsecular Halloween.
Gardeners wishing to grow pumpkins need to first assess their goal. If the goal is to grow pumpkins for pies, one of the small fruited pie types such as Small Sugar or Jack-Be-Little are best. But if the goal is to grow a good carving pumpkin, say something in the 20 to 30 pound range, selections such as the old Connecticut Field or Jack o' Lantern are hard to beat.
If the goal is to grow giant pumpkins for county bragging rights, Dill's Atlantic Giant, which occasionally will top 600 pounds, is for you. Pumpkins require 100 to 115 days to mature fruit and are usually planted after the soil warms in the spring from mid May until late June for jack-o-lanterns.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - October 30, 1998
Special Encore - October 24, 2008
Master Gardener's are a fun group of folks and enjoy sharing our love of gardening with any visitor. At our meeting we have speakers, refreshments, & fun. Come join us at one of our meetings.
November 9th. from 1:00 p.m. - 3 p.m.
The First Presbyterian Church
1106 Spring Street
Mountain Home, AR
Wreath Making From Your Gardens with Ruth Clark
Master Gardeners Monthly Radio Program:
Mountain Talk Radio 97.1 Nov. 16th at 7:15 a.m.
Master Gardener Hosts are Ceil Gasiecki and Tommy Hagan
From Mountain Home
Take US Hwy. 62B East through Mountain Home until you come to Cardinal Street. Cardinal Street is the intersection just past Harp's Grocery. Turn right onto Cardinal Street and travel South until you come to the first stop sign which should be Spring Street. Turn left onto Spring Street and go down the hill past the bridge and the First Presbyterian Church will be on your right hand side.
Take Hwy. 62/412 towards Mountain Home. Once you get to Mountain Home continue on into Mountain Home on US 62B. This will take you through town till you get to Harp's Grocery and you come to Cardinal Street. Cardinal Street is the intersection just past Harp's Grocery. Turn right onto Cardinal Street and travel South until you come to the first stop sign which should be Spring Street. Turn left onto Spring Street and go down the hill past the bridge and the First Presbyterian Church will be on your right hand side.
Some things gardeners need to be considering for September. The following is a garden checklist:
Fresh herbs add pizzazz to any meal. You can use your garden-fresh herbs all year with one of these easy techniques.
Freezing preserves essential oils that give herbs their flavor. Freezing herbs is easy.
There's no need to blanch them; just rinse, remove the leaves from the stems and
let them dry on a flat tray. You can put a bunch of these leaves together in a bag to
freeze them. You'll end up with a clump of herbs that you can cut up and add to sauces, soups, ect.
You can also freeze the leaves individually first on a flat tray (like a cookie sheet) and
then place them in a plastic bag; when you open the bag later you can pick out as
many individual leaves as you like.
Another great method is to blend the herbs with oil to make a paste, which you then
freeze in a plastic container, bag or in ice cube trays. You can freeze just one type of
herb, such a basil, or make your own blend, such as oregano, thyme, parsley and sage.
Some herbs, such as oregano, sage and thyme, can be air dried. Just hang small bunches
in a well ventilated room, away from light. When leaves are dry, remove them from their stems and store in an airtight jar.
Unless you live in a very arid climate, herbs such as basil or parsley, which have thick
succulent leaves, are better dried in a dehydrator. Once dry store them in an airtight
Whatever method you choose, be sure to harvest herbs after the flower buds appear
but before they open. That way, you'll be sure to get the highest concentration of
essential oils. Early morning is the best time to pick your herbs, after the morning
dew has evaporated but before the sun gets too hot.
By: Kathy LaLiberte
An easy to bake snack with a sweet and slightly tart taste.
Goes well with coffee or tea.
1. Combine first 4 ingredients until reasonably
smooth and pack into a 9x13 inch greased pan.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350 degrees but do
2. While crust is baking, prepare topping by
combining the last 6 ingredients. Pour over
bottom crust and bake 20 to 25 minutes at
3. Sift powdered sugar over top while still warm.
Cut into squares. Let cool before removing from
I’ve always suspected that possums have that smirky grin because they are fantasizing about the coming persimmon feast. Country folk enjoyed the persimmon too. The mushy native fruit was a diversion from their humdrum diet. Our old friend, the persimmon, is a botanical trickster and folk who have fallen victim to its puckering ways hold grudges.
The alternately arranged, ovate leaves are four to six inches long and gray-green in color. They may turn a yellow-brown in the fall but color production is unreliable. The bark of old trees is blackish with square, reptilian plates that give trees a handsome winter appearance.
Persimmon flowers are white to yellow-green with four petals and sepals. Usually plants are dioecious with either male or female trees, but sometimes flowers of both sexes are found on the same tree. The flowers are not especially showy being small and mostly obscured by the leaves that emerge first.
Considerable variability exists in persimmon fruit as to size, color, time of ripening and sensory characteristics such as texture, taste and sweetness. Four large sepals reflex from the top of the fruit, which is yellow, golden or orange in color and covered with a waxy bloom. The usual fruit is about the size of a golf ball-and according to non-believers -- about as tasty. Fruit ripening occurs from September through November with fruit hanging on the tree until early winter.
Since the time of the rapid western expansion following the Civil War, agriculturists have been predicting that the persimmon is just on the verge of becoming an important fruit crop. But, alas, it didn’t happen then and it still hasn’t happened. It probably never will. While the Japanese and Chinese have developed over 1000 cultivars of a closely related species they call "kaki," only a few improved selections have been made of our native species.
The first European to come into contact with the persimmon was Hernando DeSoto when he crossed the Mississippi River near Memphis in 1541. He found dried fruit and loaves of bread made from persimmon at the ancient Indian village of Casqui which is now the Parkin Archeological Park.
Captain John Smith, the founder of the Jamestown colony in Virginia in 1607, wrote of the persimmon: "If it not be ripe, it will drawe a man’s mouth awrie with much torment. When it is ripe, it is deliscious as an Apricock."
A uniquely Ozarkian legend has it that one can prophesy the severity of the coming winter by inspecting the seeds of the persimmon. Seeds are cut lengthwise to reveal the embryo suspended in a field of white endosperm. If the embryo is shaped like a knife, it will be a bitterly cold winter. If the embryo is spoon shaped, expect lots of snow. If it is fork shaped, a normal winter is in store.
While most consider such prophecies as unfounded superstition, there may be some basis for the observation. If one assumes that summer weather patterns are a predictor of winter weather conditions, it is not illogical to reason that morphological changes could be reflected in the embryos of seeds formed during those summer months.
About a dozen cultivars of persimmon are described and a few specialist nurseries offer them over the Internet or through their mail order catalogs. In the garden the persimmon is easily accommodated in about any sunny site. The fall webworm that produces the dirty gray webs in persimmons every fall are more ugly than harmful, a fact you should remember when they invade your tree.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - October 11, 2002
The health of your soil -- including its composition, its nutrients and its ability to hold water -- is all essential to the lives it supports. If your garden or lawn isn't looking so great, maybe it's time to see how your soil is doing.
Soil testing can be done in the fall or in the spring before the lawn greens up. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers homeowners free soil testing. Soil testing isn't complicated and the soil samples you dig up can be taken to your local county extension office for testing.
How to Gather Your Soil Sample
Sample areas around shrubs separately from turf. If you have a large lawn or garden, sample areas separately that have been managed differently or will be managed differently.
Use the following procedure in collecting your soil sample:
1. Rake aside mulch or surface litter like leaves.
2. Take soil with a soil probe or shovel from at least 12 spots in each area to obtain a representative sample. A zigzag sampling pattern is preferred. Fertilizer and lime recommendations are no better than the sample taken.
3. Take samples in gardens, lawns, and around shrubs to a depth of about 4 inches and for mature fruit trees at a depth of 12 inches.
4. Mix soil thoroughly from a sample area. Keep different areas separate. Discard rocks, gravels and roots.
5. Allow the soil sample to air dry. Spread the sample on newspapers or large paper bags for a couple of days. Do not heat the sample in an oven to speed drying.
6. Remove one pint for the laboratory sample and place in a clean container or zip top bag. Label each sample with a name that you would recognize.
7. Bring sample(s) to your local County Extension office. Office hours are 8:00am to 4:30pm Monday through Friday.
For Arkansas Taxpayers, there is no fee for us to process and run your samples. Out of State samples will be charged $10.00 per sample.
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