Monthly Archives: October 2010

“Hot House Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire” by Margot Berwin

In late spring, I volunteered to review “Hot House Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire”, a first novel by Margot Berwin. I can count the books I’ve reviewd on one hand, so I thought this early work of Margot Berwin, would be a great “summer read.”

Hot House Flower

The book was free, as was my review. The paperback, “Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire,” by Margot Berwin, is published by Random House and retails for $14.95. I expected this to be a lightweight summer read and was looking forward to “discovering” a new garden writer.

I, being a slow reader, usually get the benefit of early reviews from my speed reading garden blogging friends. I think many folks took this book too seriously and were disappointed. I was expecting a light and lively summer read and that is what I got.

Corpse plant

I was waiting for Hot House Flower to blossom into a full fledged romance novel, a genre seldom on my reading list. Thankfully, it was not. There was just enough travel and horticulture information to keep me turning pages.

Margot, you had me when you wrote the words Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Our protagonist, Lila, is learning about these nine plants of desire throughout the book. Each chapter starts with a little introduction to one of the nine plants and a hint about whats coming next.

I am glad “Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire” found it’s way to my reading stack. This is a romp through the jungle and there is even a bit of beach time, some totally unbelievable horticultural anticts and even a bit of magic and mystery.

This ain’t no botanical encyclopedia. My garden blogging friends would still be quibbling over the details of this book, if they hadn’t figured out it’s supposed to be fun and fictional light reading.

Heck, Margo took Lila and me to a place I’ve only dreamed. She even started out in a place I too would have wanted to trade in for tropics. She may not be that stong female heroine we are all looking for. She can’t turn all the raining monkey poop in to compost as she drives by, for example.

I received this book as a TLC Book Tour, a virtual book tour site. Virtual book tours are a promotional tool for authors to connect with readers via well-read book blogs and specialty blogs.

Realism? You want realism, well my friends, tune into reality tv. Accuracy? You want accuracy? Join the Royal Horticultural Society or stop by Martha’s on the way home.

You rarely find this kind of fun and imagination in contemporary (adult) literature. You don’t have to learn anything, just read. Relax. What could be more fun?

In garden terms think of an informal cottage garden, a little messy but delightful, never the less. After reading “Hot House Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire”, I wonder whats next for Margot Berwin.

  • Title: Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire
  • Author: Margot Berwin
  • Release date: June 1, 2010
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • Pages: 304
  • Genre: Adult fiction

Black Krim

Black Krim

Black Krim with a slightly salty tomato flavor

So you thought I was done talking about tomatoes for the year.

But no. There are more heirloom tomato surprises from zone 6 in Southeast Missouri.

Called black tomatoes, Black Krim produces a medium size (10 to 12 ozs.), dark browish-red tomatoes. This heirloom is growing in popularity and being discovered by black tomato converts every year. It has just a hint of saltiness, and rich, comomplex flavor.

Black Krim gets darker in hot weather, which may shed some light to neighbor Bill’s very colorful cooler season Black Krim Tomatoes.

Here is a bit of a surprise. (I pulled up all the tomatoes in my garden 3 weeks ago.)


This tomato plant you gave me this spring has just now sprung into action. All summer it produced a few tomatoes that would ripen and rot at the bottom of the fruit
while the top was still green.

When October got here – lots of fruit, ripening evenly and the very best tasting tomato of the year. Should I save some seed from them?

Hope you can see these pictures.

Thank you,
Neighbor Bill

Black Krims are a generous sandwich sized slices.

Black Krim plants were sent to me for trial from Hort Couture®,

Hort Couture® is only available through independent garden centers and retailers- you won’t see these plants in the mass markets. While the plants arrived healthy, I shared one plant with my neighbor, Bill, The head tomato grower in our neighborhood. These tomatoes have a very tasty smoky/rich flavor that was a regular and consistant indeterminate that only sucummed to late blight as did all the tomatoes in my garden.

Grown in the heat of summer, my Black Krim had brownish shoulders and red purplish skin and flesh.  The color was not as distinct this summer. I used the black heirloom tomatoes in fresh salsa the summer. The Black Krim just seems to add another level of flavor to salsa.

two late season Black Krims

Two late season Black Krims

Happy Halloween

Bargain seed for next year.

This is an FYI. I’m just passing this information along.

Renee's Giant Pumpkin, "Wyatt's Wonder"

Happy Holloween! Plan ahead for next year’s garden – order your pumpkin seeds now at a 20% discount at Renee’s Garden at

Time: October 15, 2010 at 6pm to October 31, 2010 at 7pm

Location: Renee’s Garden Seed Event

All Pumpkins 20% off at Renee’s Garden

Great pumpkins come in all sizes

Order pumpkin seed now. It will keep till next planting season. Store in dry dark area. I put seed in a plastic zipper bag and then put the  plastic bag in the desk drawer.

Toasty Pumpkins Seeds

Save some seed for planting and use some for healthy snacks.

Photo by Brook Ashley

Saving seed from pumpkins and squashes

An easy seed to save, and you’ve got time. Most winter squashes will keep for months. When you do get around to eating these hardy winters wariors, save some seed before you cook the squash. Rinse the seed, let then dry, flat and in a single layer between a paper towels.

If you do have bumper crops of pumpkins and squash, save seed from your brightest and firmest of your collection.  Save the rest for of the seeds for toasting. You might just discover an inexpensive, homegrown and homemade treat to use for garnishing winter soups and breads. Stir Pumpkin seed and sunflower seeds into holday party mix,

Small sweet pumpkins selected for punkin soup. The seeds make a great garnish,


One pumpkin
Vegitable oil

Toasty pumpkin seeds

Scoop the pulp and seeds from inside the pumpkin. Seperate the stringy pulp from the seeds. Compost the pulpy core. Rinse the seeds.

To make salted pumkin seeds:

Bring 4 cups of water with a Tablespoon of salt to boil. Add seeds. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Strain seeds and spread out in a single layer to dry on cotton towels or paper towels. Skip this step if you do not want salted seeds.

To make seasoned pumpkin seeds:

Heat oven to 375. Spray pan with any good vegetable oil. Spread seeds onto cookie sheet in a single layer. Spay lightly with oil. If you want spicy seeds, add seasoning now.

(Try a light sprinkle of chili seasoning mix, butter flavored popcorn salt, or onion salt. If you use a seasoned salt, skip the boiling-in-salt-water-step.)

Bake on the top rack until the seeds begin to brown (about 15 to 20 minutes). If you would like seededs darker, put back in oven, checking often until they are as brown as you like. Watch carefully, the time between browned and burned is but an instant.

Remove the tray of pumpkin seed and cool on an a rack. Let the seeds completely cool. Eat the seeds whole. If you have all the time in the world, crack open the pumpkin seeds and eat only the inner seed. I like te eat the whole seed.

Chop and use as garnish in soups and other dishes that could use a little crunch. Store in an air tight zipper bag in the frig.

If you do have any left over, roasted or raw seeds, share them with the birds.

20% off on ALL pumpkin seed ar Renee’s Garden.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day (GBBD) October 2010

The Drive-By Garden is really Veterans Memorial Garden

Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers share what is currently blooming in the garden.

I am not home to share my garden with you. But I am in the Ozarks. In Branson MO USA there is a garden that most of us can only see as we drive by. Parking is hard to find. But yesterday (GBBD), I found a parking spot and walked up to the Veterans Memorial Garden.

Ben Kimel is the garden keeper. He keeps the garden blooming and colorful early spring to late fall.

You can't read this sign as you drive through the intersection.

The garden is a pie slice shape on a steep Ozarks terrain.

There is always something in bloom, like these daylilies.

There is whimsical garden art like this giraffe

a patriotic butterfly

perennials and annuals are mixed with shrubs and a few roses.

I will have more details and information about this bright, bold garden and the garden keeper very soon.

Three for Thursday

Cindy, From My Corner of Katy is the host of 3 for Thursday, and really a delightful garden blogger. See for yourself.

Three for Thursday I’m seeing a pattern here…


  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate
  • 6 fluid ounces tequila
  • 2 fluid ounces triple sec

Keep it simple.

Really, I just order Margaritas for the limes.

I love limes.

The bar tender said it was a margarita.

Margarita Chicken

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Combine chicken, tequila and lime juice in small shallow dish. Cover and marinate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Drain chicken; reserve marinade. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill or broil until just cooked through, occasionally basting chicken with some reserved marinade, about 4 minutes per side.

Cut each chicken breast crosswise into thin slices. Arrange slices on platter. Garnish with lime wedges.

Friends of Fall Foliage Friday

Fall Foliage Friday – Every Friday this month post a photo of something natural and colorful. The perfect red leaf, a sweeping panorama of golden Aspens, the rusty reds of the Ozarks Mountains.

It’s just for fun. Post a photo and tell us where it is. That’s all.  Or, include a little story, a poem, a did you know fact. Or, tell us about other cool fall foliage sites.

Friends, it doesn’t even have to be Friday. Just Fall Foliage.

This tree is beside one of my favorite hotels in Springfield

Missouri Fall Color Guide by the Mo Dept Conservation

Share your favorites.

One of the nicest Fall Color sites

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