Category Archives: Oh Grow Up!

A southeast Missouri gardeners journal.

Summer’s Surprise

Surprise lily

When I stopped by the Branson Candy Kitchen to visit Grandmother and Aunt Macy, it was a hot, clear Ozarks summer day threatening to reach 100 degrees again. Summer is the grand-daughter of Macy and the great-grand daughter of my grandmother.



Aunt Macy said “Summer, you remember your cousin, don’t you? This here is Patsy Kay, your cousin.”

“Hello Cousin”, Summer said. And then my cutest little cousin ran out the back door.

Grandmother and Auntie kept making pecan pralines while I sat in the company chair watching and talking. Every now and then, I was the beneficiary of an imperfect handmade praline.

You can’t sell the ugly ones. Everyone wants a beautiful praline. Yes, I ate the ugly pralines, the things you do for family…

surprise liliesSummer ran in the door with a hand full of Nekked Ladies and thrust them at me. “Surprise! Here cousin. Flowers for you!”

Oh! Thank you, Summer.

What are they cousin?

I’m sitting right in front of MY grandmother and I am not about to tell this cute little three year old that those flowers are called Naked Ladies.

You know the answer to that, Summer. You told me when you walked in the door: Surprise! They are Surprise Lilies.


Surprise lilies easily multiply creating more bulbs to share.

You mean Nekked Ladies?, said Grandma. We all burst into little girl giggles.

And so, sweet Summer, every year when these bold lilies pop up, I’ll always think of you. One more thing, Thank you for the Surprise Lilies.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 8/2015

GBBD August 2015


Moonflower Ipomoea alba just before bloom

Moonflower Ipomoea alba just before bloom.

Moon flowers are blooming wildly on these hot August nights.

A harsh winter and long rainy spring took its toll on spring blooms and my roses. But now, in the peak of production and seed making, many flowers are blooming with endless enthusiasm.

zinnia and nicotimia

zinnia and nicotinia




My zinnias have been the show off flowers this summer. Using galvanized watering cans, I’ve fill bucket of the back with zinnia arrangements. All the flowers are from a few packets of seed from Renee’s Garden.


The Neked Ladies or Surprise lilies have multiplied every year, becoming thicker and more beautiful.Surprise Lily

Since I am the only southerner in our home, okra seldom makes it into the garden. My husband, Mr TD&H, helpfully weeded all the okra seedlings out of the garden every year.

I love okra’s big, soft yellow flowers, so, I planted a few seed in the flower beds. The variety is over 8′ tall and steadily producing. Picked small, okra makes the best refrigerator pickles.

Make an extraordinary dish like authentic New Orleans Gumbo and even my California Dreamer will eat okra. Occasionally. Try my version of fried okra.

White Gladioli and purple Zinnias

White Gladioli and purple Zinnias

I was fortunate to meet Elizabeth Lawrence. In her book, she wrote: “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.”
As she signed my much used copy of the book, she said she was pleased that someone was actually putting the book to good use.




Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

It’s fun. GBBD ends up being a journal of your garden’s year round floral display.

Nicotiana alata

Little white trumpet flowers, Nicotiana alata are popping up where they please. They have volunteered from last years plants.

The old faithful geraniums, marigolds and nasturtium just keep on blooming nonstop. Rose of Sharon’s, Hydrangea and hibiscus are all in full bloom.

There is more, but you have other blogs to read and I need to water my flowers.

Thank you for stopping by. My garden is in southeast Missouri, zone 6b. There are porch chairs on every side of the house. The sun tea is brewing on the patio.

Stop by anytime to sit in the shade and have a cool drink. Should you be so inclined, there is also a pruner, a weeder and a watering can o each side of the house.

Todays harvest basket 7/9/15

Todays harvest basket

July 9, 2015

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

zucchini, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green beans

Zucchini is coming on daily. So far, picking squash when it is 6 or 7″ long, is working. I see a chocolate zucchini cake in our future…

Green beans  are in a small patch we must collect a few pickings for a meal. In a couple of days, cucumber production will explode. For now, there are enough cucumbers for fresh eating.

There are plenty of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes for salad every day. The few red slicer tomatoes from My Garden Post were used for the first BLT of the season.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

Read about the garlic and onions curing in the shade on the porch. Its garlic season

Best tomato plants for containers

is all about the first juicy red tomatoes of the season. Those early  full-sized tomatoes were grown on two foot tall plants!

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.

Bush 506. First full size tomato to ripen, 5-oz.



A first look at ‘Perfect Storm’ hibiscus

New introduction: ‘Perfect Storm’ hardy hibiscus

Summerific® 'Perfect Storm' - Rose Mallow – Hibiscus

Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus

I’m excited about a new container perennial on my deck. ‘Perfect Storm’ is a hardy hibiscus with giant white flowers and a bright red center. These big, bright blooms are the star of the show.

Summerific® hibiscus has huge, 7-8” wide, white flowers with a bright red eye that radiates out the veins, with the petals edged with pink.


Summer Storm looks like a bigger version of the new ‘Perfect Storm.’

I’m also growing the dark foliage of ‘Summer Storm’ Hibiscus, but it gets too big for a small garden space (decks, patios). So, ‘Perfect Storm’ keeps the dark foliage and shrinks it down. ‘Perfect Storm’ makes a great container plant or fits in a small garden space.

Only 3 feet tall, ‘Perfect Storm’ has huge, 7-8” wide, white flowers with a bright red eye that radiates out the veins, and petals edged with pink. Expect blooms from late summer into early fall. 

This is a trial plant, sent to me by Proven Winners. It will be available in garden centers next spring. I’ll be talking more about Summerific® ‘Perfect Storm’ – Rose Mallow – Hibiscus after it has had a longer trial in my zone 6, Southeast Missouri, USA garden.

It’s fresh garlic season


Isn’t this pretty? Chesnok Red Garlic spread out to dry, or cure before trimming stalks.

Garlic bulbs just lifted from the garden.

The garlic bulbs are dug up, but there is much more to do to preserve the harvest. Handle freshly dug garlic gently. Bulbs can easily bruise.

Cure Garlic

Spread out bulbs away from direct sun with good air circulation. Allow the roots and entire stalk to dry, turning brown. The bulbs are ready to clean up and store.


After a week, braid bulbs while stalks are still flexible. Braid garlic before the stems are too dry and brittle.

Cut the stalks about an inch above the garlic bulb. Clip off the roots. Carefully wipe off the dirt with a soft brush or cloth.  Try not to remove many layers of skin.

This year I grew two kinds of garlic, Chesnok Red Garlic and California Early Garlic.

With long, warm fall at planting time, I could have waited until November, instead of planting cloves in October.

The long, cold rainy spring is also part of the reason I had a smaller harvest of garlic.

  • Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Herb bouquet with garlic scapes.

    Learn more about growing organic garlic, onions and shallots.





  • Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Summer harvest of onions and garlic.

    Herb Bouquets include garlic scapes.






Try these garlic varieties

Chesnok Red Garlic


The purple-striped hardneck has large and easy-to-peel cloves. I’m growing it because Chesnok Red is a good baking and a good storing garlic. (4 – 6 weeks.)


Garlic scape pesto.

The garlic scapes of the hardneck garlic makes for a secondary harvest. Use scapes for vinegar, stir fry, pesto. Expect about 15 garlic bulbs per pound and approximately 9 or 10 cloves per bulb.

These garlic bulbs grew smaller than the California Early Garlic. Chesnok wins awards as an excellent baker. I’ll be using those smaller bulbs to make creamy roasted garlic.



Cut these artful garlic scapes to grow bigger garlic bulbs.


California Early Garlic


California garlic is one of the earliest to harvest in my region 6, Southeast Missouri garden.

The California Early Garlic was harvested two weeks earlier. The bulbs are big and white. For the past three years, I have success growing this popular American garlic.

These California Early Garlic bulbs are mild enough to be used raw in recipes or fresh pickles. This is not a hot garlic. It’s a good choice for mild garlic flavor, not heat.

Known as a long keeper, California Early Garlic is a softneck garlic, good for braiding. I like the mild flavor and large cloves. There are about 12 garlic bulbs per pound and 10-16 cloves per bulb.


Bake whole garlic bulbs wrapped in foil with a few drop of olive oil.

Grow a salad in a hanging basket

Less weeds and insect damage

Hanging Baskets for 3 seasons

  1.    Spring salad greens
  2.    Wave petunias, giant leafy ferns, tumbling begonias, cascading coleus.
  3.   Dwarf green beans and radishes, baby carrots or turnips.

Merlot lettuce. This rich dark Merlot colored lettuce holds a color all season.

Mix it up.

Brune D'Hiver Lettuce is tender, mild little lettuce that works best with other mixed lettuces. It's tender leaves and mild taste can not carry the salad by it's self.

Brune D’Hiver Lettuce is tender, mild little lettuce that works best with other mixed lettuces. It’s tender leaves and mild taste can not carry the salad by its self.

Mixed lettuces make the most colorful baskets.


Mixed salad greens are simple. As radishes grow and are harvested, giving more room for the lettuces to grow. Slim and tender young green onions can be pulled at any time.


Lettuce and flowers.

Pansies and lettuce

Pansies and lettuce.

Pansy flowers are edible and a colorful addition to your salad bowl.

You might like Wilted Lettuce


It’s Asparagus time!

Freeze It

Buy all you can, here’s how to freeze it for later.


Big fat purple asparagus spears turn green when cooked.





The best way to preserve asparagus is by freezing.

Take advantage of local farmers markets and market gardeners for fresh local asparagus. The best flavor, availability and prices will be in April and May.

How To Freeze

Wash thoroughly and break spears where they easily snap. Compost or reserve the woody stems for vegetable soup stock.

Sort spears into similar sizes. Cut spears into even lengths to fit freezer bags or freezer containers.

Prepare a large pot of boiling water and a container of ice water. Blanch no more than 1 pound of similar sized spears at a time.

  • small spears for 2 minutes,
  • medium spears for 3 minutes and,
  • large spears for 4 minutes.

Lift asparagus from the boiling blanching water and plunge them in ice water for 5 minutes to quickly cool. Drain on cotton towels.

Package, seal, label, date and quickly freeze.

Properly blanched and packaged asparagus will hold the flavor, color and nutritional content in the freezer for up to 10 – 12 months.

Powerful Perennials by Nedra Secrist

Powerful Perennials: Enduring Flower Gardens That Thrive in Any Climate

By Nedra Secrist

Powerful Perennials: Enduring Flower Gardens that Thrive in Any Climate by Nedra Secrist

Powerful Perennials allows you to focus on your gardening goals, whether that’s fragrance, attracting butterflies, or creating a color-splashed river of the earliest blooms. This book takes into account short growing seasons, elevation and snow pack.

Powerful Perennials: Enduring Flower Gardens that Thrive in Any Climate by Nedra Secrist, has all the information you need to master cold climate gardening. Learning how to invest in the right perennial for the right location will save you time, money and backbreaking work. You will not be one of the suckers impulse buying on the first warm spring day.

More than just dealing with cold climates, Powerful Perennials is a plant-life saving reference for gardeners dealing with dry climates, poor soil quality and ill-mannered wildlife. Plant propagation and division is one of the best money-saving reasons to buy perennials.

Each chapter will help you select the best plants for your garden. For example, start with a handful of Bearded Iris and you will eventually end up with a river of colorful iris. Divide them every few years for healthier, more frequent blooms. Learn how to hybridise and create your own iris variety.

Selecting a variety may be the most difficult decisionwhengrowing Iris.

Selecting a variety may be the most difficult decision when growing Iris. Photo: PBH

Each plant recommendation includes simple and clear information about how well it tolerates droughts, cold seasons, wildlife, and native soils. Choosing the perfect plant doesn’t guarantee success. Powerful Perennials guides you through proper planting, care, and a bit of history.

While this book is written with the most challenging environments in mind, it is not limited to the Rocky Mountain states. Remember the Rocky Mountains stretch through Wyoming’s Zones 3 and 4, Idaho and Colorado’s Zones 4 and 5 and Utah’s wildly varying Zones 4 through 8. When choosing perennials in the Rockies, snow pack, elevation and freeze-thaw fluctuations must be considered.

Living in the South or Midwest, perennials much less complicated. Still, this book is very helpful in making the long-term investment in perennial additions to your home landscape wherever you live. Chapters on choosing the right tools, metal garden art accents, and container gardening are helpful and inspiring.


DooDads Iris, photographed in Dave Niswonger’s home garden. Photo: PBH

About the Author: Nedra Secrist teaches gardening seminars and uses hands-on training courses to help gardeners succeed. Nedra and her husband own Secrist Gardens , a perennial nursery with locations in Brigham City, Utah, and St. Charles, Idaho.

You may also like:
Bees Make the Best Pets by Jack Mingo – review

Fresh asparagus recipes and growing tips

  • Fresh is always best

  • Best Asparagus Recipe

  • Purple Passion Asparagus

Visit the local farmers market or grow your own.


Asparagus grows so fast you can almost see it. In good weather, an asparagus spear can grow 10″ in a 24-hour period. Each crown sends up spears for about 6-7 weeks during the spring.

The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking. Early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, you may have to pick every day.

It is a lot of hard work to establish a good asparagus bed. Considering that the plants will produce steadily for about 15 or 20 years, it’s worth it to give asparagus crowns a good start in a permanent home.


I bought asparagus crowns at

The diameter of the spear does not indicate the quality or flavor of the vegetable. As the plants become older, the stems become larger in diameter.

Asparagus is high in Folic Acid and a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamine.

  • Stock up on asparagus while it is fresh and locally grown. Freezing is the best  way to preserve the color and flavor.



Fettuccine with asparagus, nutmeg, fresh lemon, Parmesan cheese.

My favorite asparagus recipe

Fettuccine with Asparagus

8-10 fresh asparagus spears (or one bunch)
3 Cups water (salt to taste)
10-12 ounces fettuccine
2 Tablespoons butter (or 1 tablespoon margarine and 1 Tablespoon olive oil)
Juice of one small lemon
freshly ground pepper to taste
freshly ground nutmeg to taste (1/4 teas)
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Cut each spear on the bias in one  inch lengths. Bring water to boil (add salt to taste). Add asparagus, when water returns to boil, cook one minute.

Drain and reserve three or four Tablespoons cooking liquid. Drop fettuccine in water, cook to Al Dente. Drain.

Heat butter in pot that cooked fettuccine. Add asparagus, pasta, pepper, cooking liquid and lemon. Toss to blend.

Sprinkle on nutmeg. Serve with cheese on the side. For variety, add a couple of Tablespoons of toasted walnuts or chopped parsley.

g06405Enjoy this original recipe for Fettuccine with Asparagus

◊ Must try recipe for Sweet and Spicy Szechuan Asparagus from the California Asparagus Commission.

◊ Growing Asparagus in Missouri guide sheet

which illustrates the parts of an asparagus plant, clear care instructions and the best way to start an asparagus bed.

What I’ve learned

I started my first asparagus bed with older heirloom varieties. The plants were productive and the produce was tasty. Plus, there was a bonus, I thought. Asparagus is a dioecious plant which simply means they are separate female and male plants. Oh yea! Even the birds will be happy enjoying the red berries or seed on the female asparagus plants.

Well, those seed are the reason we think that sometimes we find wild asparagus plants. All those little asparagus plants springing up from seed, come up with the vigor and enthusiasm of a weed These cute but scrawny baby asparagus plants self seed everywhere – in the yard, flower beds, sidewalk cracks and vegetable garden.



This time, as I establish a permanent asparagus bed, I’m starting with

Asparagus officinalis “Purple Passion”

Purple Passion asparagus has burgundy colored spears with 20% more natural sugar than green asparagus. The sweet, tender, almost nutty flavored stalks are both cold and heat tolerant.

Very productive. Male and female plants. Self-pollinating.


You might also like  It’s asparagus time!  – How to select and freeze.



DIY Carrot Boxes for raised beds

Grow straight carrots

(Plus, after you grow these carrots, there’s Mom’s Carrot Cake)

I’ve been making mini raised beds. Little one foot wooden boxes without a top or bottom and 8″ tall. It is a little raised bed for the raised bed.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Metal raised bed corners make for quick, easy assembly.

Here’s how: cut four 2 x 8 x 12 wooden pieces. Cedar lasts longer, pine is cheaper. Scrap lumber makes me happy. I call it a Carrot Box because I made it to grow carrots.

Loosen and add organic matter or compost to the raised bed. Set the box in your raised bed garden. Fill with a light soiless mix.

Thinly sow carrot seed. Cover. Firm. Water. Details are on my hub page Grow carrots weeks ahead of the last frost.

For the best results, thin the carrots to 2″ apart.

Using a double-deep container with extra fine soil will be the key to growing carrots. It is critical that you fertilize and water carrots regularly.


“Sunshine Orange and Yellow” carrots from Renee’s Garden. Wonderful simply oven roasted. photo: Patsy Bell Hobson

Rose Marie Nichols McGee at Nichols Garden Nursery has one of the best gardening blogs, The Gardener’s Pantry and newsletters.

She has good information How to raise carrots without using a spade or hoe

You might like:

How can you make a soup rich?  Add 14 carrots (carats) to it.

Mom’s Carrot Cake

with cream cheese frosting

I don’t know where the original recipe came from, but it is the best.

1 1/2 Cups vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups white sugar
3 eggs
2 Cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 Cups peeled and grated carrots
1 Cups chopped pecans
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple

Beat together oil, sugar and eggs until well combined. In a bowl sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves. Add to the eggs and sugar. Mix well. Drain the pineapple, add carrots, nuts. Mix well. Pour into 9 or 10 inch tube pan or a 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or check with toothpick.

Cream cheese frosting

2 (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 box powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

Cream cheese and butter together. Add sugar gradually until complete box has been added. Add vanilla. Refrigerate for an hour, then frost cake. Use all frosting.


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