Proven Winners® WaterWise™ Watering Kit

The thing that I love most about gardening is getting my hands in the soil, well almost. Actually I do love abundant beauty that flowers produce, but you know it’s that in between stuff that often gets in the way for a lot of us. Watering for instance. Keeping the soil consistently moist in containers is the key to success, which is why a use a drip irrigation kit. The one I like to use is from Proven Winners and it is so easy to assemble. It takes the work out of watering. With a single kit I can water up to ten potted plants.

Here is how easy it is to set up the Proven Winners WaterWise Container Irrigation Kit.

Attach the backflow prevent valve to your outdoor water faucet. Screw the faucet adapter onto the end of the valve.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Fauce Adpater and Nozzle

Push the end of the ¼-inch tubing onto the nozzle of the faucet adapter. This will go on easier if you wet the nozzle first.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Tubing Attached to the Backflow Valve and Nozzle

Run the tubing from the spigot to the base of your first container.

Cut the tubing and insert a barbed-tee, which is a little t-shaped piece. Insert the tubing onto the branch of the barbed-tee the points upward. Run the tubing up into the middle of the container and cut to size. Cap off the end of the tubing with a dripper.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Dripper Plugs into the End of Tubing

Next insert the tubing onto the horizontal branch of the barbed-tee and extend it over to your next container. Repeat the process until you have all of your containers outfitted with drippers.

Proven Winners WaterWise Watering Kit Barded-Tee Splits the Line So You Can Water Multiple Pots

10 – 12-inch container = 1 dripper
14 – 20-inch container = 2 drippers
24-inch containers and larger = 3 drippers

The tubing is a neutral tan color that disappears among the plants, but you can further camouflage it by inserting it through the drain hole of an empty container before adding soil.

You Can Insert the Tubing Through the Drainage Hole

Depending on the weather and the size of the container you will probably water for one hour each day. Is it is really hot and dry or the container is extra larger you will need to increase the amount of time you water.

You can take all the work out of watering by purchasing a battery-operated water timer to add to the faucet. Now you won’t even have to think about watering.

Purchase a water timer to take all the work out of watering.

Click here to Purchase a Proven Winners WaterWise Container Watering Kit

Each Proven Winners WaterWise kit contains:

  • A 30-foot coil of high-quality tan-colored vinyl tubing
  • Ten 1/2 GPH pressure compensating drippers
  • Ten Barbed Tees (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Three Barbed Crosses (for use in attaching and extending vinyl tubing)
  • Ten Nail Clamps (for positioning and holding vinyl tubing in place on wood decks or other wooden applications)
  • One Faucet Adapter
  • One Back Flow Prevention Valve
  • Ten Support Stakes (to attach and hold drippers or to train the tubing in place in landscape beds)

Pet Chickens? You bet.

About this time last year I sent my friend Mary Beth home with 2 dozen hatching eggs and one of the roosters from the group made into Cooking Light’s Fun issue and not as an entrée! And if you are considering a backyard flock, but haven’t taken the plunge yet pick up a copy of this Cooking Light and read Mary Beth’s article. You can get a sneak peek here.

The top dog at Moss Mountain Farm is not a dog at all but a rooster named Amos. Amos is a Buff Orpington you’ll find strutting around the front lawn with his entourage. I like to think of them as the welcoming committee.

Amos is one of my favorite characters at the farm. I would even go so far as to say he’s a pet, which will not come as a surprise to those who have raised chickens. Their plucky personalities can be very endearing. In fact, some folks treat their poultry with as much love and devotion as the family dog.

Thanks to products like chicken diapers birds can live indoors and special leashes allow Foghorn Leghorn to join his person on a stroll around the neighborhood. I even hear tell of chickens wearing sweaters and scarves to protect them from the cold.

Now, I adore the poultry at the farm, but I think we are all better off not being roommates. And Amos probably prefers life in the buff to wearing anything that would cover his beautiful feathers.

What about you? How do you pamper your chickens?

A Treat Toy for Chickens

The girls love this treat ball from Manna Pro.

How do you pamper your pet chickens? The Chicken Chat community weighs in.

I asked members of the Chicken Chat community to share pictures of their beloved roos and hens. Click on an image to enlarge and read about the chickens.

Faux Mercury Glass Challenge

I love DIY projects especially when you can upcycle something that’s an ordinary household object like a jelly jar. Just recently my friend and modern pioneer, Georgia Pellegrini, challenged me to add my own twist to a DIY project from her latest book Modern Pioneering.

When I saw her painted mason jars I thought, “What can I do to give these a little Moss Mountain Farm style?” And I came up with just the pioneer ordered, a stylish mercury glass look. You see in the mid-1800s in America mercury glass was used as an affordable alternative to silver. My version of Georgia’s project is an inexpensive and easy way to recreate this 19th century life hack.

Materials for Making Faux Mercury Glass
Clean mason jars
Water
White Vinegar
Spray bottle
Paper towels
Looking Glass® spray paint

Directions for Making Faux Mercury Glass:
To begin fill the spray bottle with 1 part water and 1 water vinegar and shake.

Set the nozzle of the spray bottle to a fine mist setting.

Gently spray a fine mist of the water vinegar mixture on the outside of the mason jar. The objective is to create small droplets of water that bead up and do not run.

Immediately follow up with an even coat of the Looking Glass® spray. Allow the paint to dry for just a minute and then apply a second round of the water vinegar solution. Wait about two minutes then gently blot the beads of water vinegar solution with a paper towel. Don’t rub the surface very hard or the paint will streak. A gentle pressure is good enough to achieve a realistic mercury glass look. Repeat the process three to four times rotating the jar from resting on its base to the top so you can get full coverage.

The paint needs about three hours to dry completely before you use the jars.

So now that I’ve completed my challenge I’m kicking the ball back over to Georgia and asking her to recreate a project from one of my books. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to see what she does and post pictures of your own DIY projects for a chance to win Georgia’s book Modern Pioneering and my cookbook, Seasonal Recipes from the Garden. When you post your picture tag @pallensmith and @georgiapellegrini and use the hashtag #modernpioneering.

Garden2Blog 2014

Garden 2 Blog is an annual event that I host at my farm where top garden bloggers from all over the country converge with industry leaders and discuss new trends. It’s really a highlight of the season and I am so looking forward to learning from it. I’m proud to call the Natural State my home and I’m excited to share it with a group of people who love being outside as much as I do. To show off some of the gardencentric characeristics of the capital city we’re going to take a tour of a few public gardens in Little Rock and the rooftop garden at the Clinton Library.

With 23 garden bloggers and 9 sponsors, we’ve got our hands full! I’m so grateful for our partners for making this event possible, because without them there would be no Garden2Blog. They are an exceptional group of industry leaders who are making great strides with their products, and I’m thrilled that they’re coming to share their knowledge.

It’s my pleasure to welcome bloggers because I’ve seen the work they do and am continually impressed with the way they merge the physical with the digital, the garden with the blog. Gardening goes back a long way in my family, and I’ve often felt that it was an art that was dying out through the generations. But these days, the virtual garden has helped revive gardening and green living. It’s now trendy to have a plot to garden in an urban setting, and this is partially due to the efforts of people sharing all the benefits of getting out in the garden online. The best part about it, though, is the wealth of knowledge becoming accessible for everyday people and new gardeners.

My mission is for us to grow in our passion for gardening by learning, and I hope that Garden2Blog 14 will advance that mission. Be sure to follow along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I’ll post pictures and giveaway a few goodies.

#G2B14 Bloggers
Susan Fox www.GagasGarden.com
C.L. Fornari www.GardenLady.com
Rebecca Sweet HarmonyintheGarden.com
Lisa Steele www.Fresh-Eggs-Daily.com
Kathy Purdy www.ColdClimateGardening.com
Jan Bills TwoWomenandaHoe.com
Mary Beth Shaddix www.MaryBethShaddix.com
Christina Salwitz PersonalGardenCoach.wordpress.com
Robin Horton www.UrbanGardensWeb.com
Kylee Baumle OurLittleAcre.blogspot.com
Jenny Petterson www.JPetersonGardenDesign.com
Lamanda Joy TheYarden.com
Michael Nolan www.MyEarthGarden.com
Chris Van Cleave RedneckRosarian.wordpress.com
Teresa Byington TheGardenDiary.com
Robin Wedewer BumbleBeeBlog.com
Kenny Point www.VeggieGardeningTips.com
Steve Asbell www.TheRainForestGarden.com
Kelly Smith Trimble Blog.DIYNetwork.com/MadeRemade/
Jerusalem Greer www.JollyGoodeGal.com
Janet Carson UofACEsmg.wordpress.com
Linda Ly www.GardenBetty.com
Stephanie Buckley www.TheParkWife.com
Julie Thompson Adolf JuliesGardenDelights.com
Tina Wilcox www.OzarkFolkCenter.com/herbs/yarb_tales.aspx

Books Published by G2B14ers
A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together by Jerusalem Greer
Pick Fresh by Mary Beth Shaddix
Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants by Jenny Peterson and Kylee Baumle
Four Seasons of Roses by Susan Fox
Color by Numbers by Steve Asbell
Fine Foliage by Christian Salwitz, co-authored with Karen Chapman
Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens….Naturally by Lisa Steele
Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture & Form by Rebecca Sweet
I Garden: Urban Style by Michael Nolan
The Creative Herbal Home by Tina Wilcox, co-authored with Susan Belsinger
Coffee for Roses by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Wedding by C.L. Fornari
The Cape Cod Garden by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Lover’s Cape Cod by C.L. Fornari
Gardening in Sandy Soil by C.L. Fornari
A Garden Lover’s Martha’s Vineyard by C.L. Fornari

Sponsors
Proven Winners
Jobe’s Orgranics
Laguna
Flexzilla
Bonnie Plants
Troy-Bilt
Le Creuset
Hubbard Life
United Solutions
U.S. Foods

Arkansas Eats

As an Arkansas native I’ve always known that we have some stellar places to eat. Everywhere I go in the state there is a fantastic feast waiting at a restaurant, diner or roadside stand. Which is good because I love food.

The state is famous for southern staples such as fried catfish, barbeque and pie but our food is also influenced by our proximity to the southwestern flair of Texas. As we are an agricultural community a traditional Arkansas meal always includes a generous helping of something that was grown nearby. Purple hull peas slow cooked with a ham hock, cornbread, sliced tomatoes and fried okra are all sides you’ll find on the dinner table in Arkansas.

We’ve never strayed far from our culinary roots, but the national trend for locally sourced ingredients has produced a number of sensational restaurants that specialize in home-style cooking with a contemporary twist. How about catfish served over a bed of hoppin’ John and fried okra? Or perhaps a grilled pork chop with creamed corn, peppers and almonds. Are you hungry yet?

Arkansans aren’t the only folks who recognize what our state has to offer. Recently Forbes Travel Guides included our capital city Little Rock as one of five secret foodie spots with shot outs to Ashley’s, Ciao Baci, ZaZa’s Fine Salad + Wood-Oven Pizza Co. and Whole Hog Cafe.

Arkansas Farm to Table Restaurants

In addition to these recommendations I have a few others that I suggest you try for a plate full of local flavor featuring seasonal ingredients.

Brave New Restaurant – Get the mixed grill that includes a variety of grilled meats served with an herbed demi glace.

South on Main – This is where you will find the fried catfish and hoppin’ John. Yum!

Trio’s – In the summer they have a farmers’ market plate with seasonal vegetables that’s wonderful.

Table 28 – The restaurant offers unusual interpretations of southern favorites. Make reservations for a seat at the chef’s table (table 28) for an exclusive 6-course meal prepared and served by Chef Rains.

The Root Café – Great burgers and sweet potato fries. A definite must if you have a hankering for breakfast on a Saturday morning.

Capital Hotel Bar and Grill – The Friday lunch special is red sauce braised brisket with rice bread and chow chow. That’s what I’m talking about!

The Hive – If you love a good pork chop this is the place to go. Chef Matthew McClure sources the pork from a local farmer raising heritage pigs known for their exceptionally tender and flavorful meat. Oh, and be sure to stop in at the nearby Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The current exhibit is a collection of French modern masters including Matisse, Cezanne and Degas. It will be on view until July 7, 2014.

28 Springs – You can’t come south and not eat chicken and dumplings. Savory herb gravy and a flaky biscuit crust make these some of the best chicken and dumplings to be had.

The Farmer’s Table Café – One look at the breakfast menu and you’ll know why this place is the talk of the town. The Hash Skillet is to die for.

HEIRLOOM food + wine – A glass of wine and a platter filled with artisanal cheeses, seasonal fruit, walnuts, honeycomb and fig-rosemary crackers plus an amiable companion? Is there a better way to end the day?

Special thanks to Lyndi over at NWAFoodie.com for recommending some great restaurants in northwest Arkansas!

Fried Dill Pickles


It’s astounding to me but it wasn’t until 1963 that someone thought to fry a dill pickle. I know, right? Bernell “Fatman” Austin was the first to serve these treats at the Duchess Drive In in Atkins, Arkansas and they’ve been a southern staple ever since. If you don’t believe me try them and get back to me. Here’s a recipe that is similar to those served at a local catfish joint.

Ingredients
1 quart jar dill pickle slices
2 teaspoon red pepper
2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon black pepper
1 eggs
8 ounces milk
5 – 6 drops hot sauce
2 cups flour
vegetable oil

Instructions
Mix egg, milk, hot sauce, and 1 tablespoon of flour in bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl combine the red pepper, paprika, black pepper and 2 cups of flour.

In a large, deep skillet or fry cooker heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees.

Dip the pickle slices in the egg and milk mixture, then dredge them through the flour and spices, then the egg and milk again and then the flour once more.

Next drop the battered pickles into the hot oil and fry until they float to the surface and turn a nice golden brown.

Serve immediately.

Four Fab Shrubs for Containers

Some of the most exciting developments in gardening are happening in the world of shrubs. Compact sizes, interesting foliage and gorgeous blooms are just a few of the innovations I’ve seen while out scouting garden shows and spring trials for plants to grow in my garden.

These new features have transformed shrubs from one-season-wonders and supporting players to flashy focal points in both flower beds and, thanks to small sizes, containers. These new colorful, easy-care shrubs are ideal for high maintenance and lazy gardeners alike. Take a look at four that I’ve chosen for my Proven Winners® Platinum Collection.

Sunny Anniversary™ Abelia (Abelia x grandiflora)

photo credit: Proven Winners

Fragrant pink flowers touched with pink and orange bloom from mid-summer through September.
Full sun to partial shade; zones 6a – 9b; 3 – 4 feet tall and wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Sunny Anniversary™ Abelia (Filler), Angelface® Blue Angelonia (Thriller), Superbena® Royale Peachy Keen Verbena (Spiller)

Tiny Wine® Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolious)

photo credit: Proven WinnersThe smallest ninebark available to gardeners with an extra full form and refined foliage. Colorful bronze-maroon foliage all season and dainty flowers that appear up and down the stem in late spring.
Full sun; zones 3a – 7b; 3 – 4 feet tall and wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Tiny Wine® Ninebark (Thriller), Colorblaze® Dipt in Wine Coleus (Filler), Supertunia® Vista Bubblegum Petunia (Spiller)

My Monet® ‘Sunset’ Weigela (Weigela florida)

photo credit: Proven Winners

A petite weigela with golden variegated foliage that turns to a gorgeous red in fall.

Full sun; zones 5a – 8b; 12 – 18 inches tall and wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Superbells® Yellow Chiffon Calibrachoa (Spiller), Graceful Grasses® Red Riding Hood, My Monet® ‘Sunset’ Weigela (Filler), Dwarf Purple Fountain Grass (Thriller)

Lo & Behold® ‘Lilac Chip’ Butterfly Bush (Buddleia)

photo credit: Proven Winners

Soft lavender-pink flowers borne on a compact shrub from mid-summer until frost. This buddleia will repeat bloom without deadheading and does not produce seeds so it won’t spread.
Full sun; zones 5a – 9b; 18 – 24 inches tall and 24 – 30 inches wide; deciduous.

CONTAINER COMBO

Lo & Behold® ‘Lilac Chip’ Butterfly Bush (Thriller), Snowstorm® Giant Snowflake® Bacopa (Spiller), Superbells® Lemon Slice Calibrachoa (Filler)

Hot House Flowers

The grocery store makes for an unexpected ally in beating winter’s blues. Spruce up your home with a few potted plants that you can find at the grocery store. To personalize these blooms to suit my style I slip the plants (pot and all) into decorative containers.

Hot House Flowers are a Breath of Spring

Forced Daffodils, Tulips and Hyacinths – The daffodils and hyacinths you buy at the grocery store can be planted in the garden after the flowers fade. Wait until the foliage dies back. I’ve not had much luck with replanting tulips because they aren’t perennial in southern gardens where springs are short. However, daffodils and hyacinths will bloom again for me the next year.

Daffodils

Cape Primroses– Maintain temperature around 60 degrees. Place pot on a tray of wet pebbles to provide humidity without overwatering.

photo credit: Eva Gruendemann

Hydrangeas – These big, colorful flowers are everyone’s favorite. While the plant is indoors keep the soil consistently moist and out of direct sunlight. After the last frost date in your area plant it outside in a partially shaded spot.

Hydrangeas

Orchids – Watering orchids can be tricky and varies depending on the type or orchid and time of year. (Water more in the summer and less in the winter.) Generally a good rule is to water every five to 12 days. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Dab excess water off leaves.

Orchids

Five Edibles You Can Grow Indoors

Here we are smack dab in the middle of winter and I’m starting to miss walking to the vegetable garden, snips in hand, to gather ingredients for dinner. To tide me over until it’s time to plant spring crops I’m actually growing a few things indoors. I won’t be harvesting any tomatoes, but at least I can get my hands dirty and enjoy the satisfaction of adding a few fresh ingredients to my recipes.

Here are five edibles you can grow indoors this winter.

Edibles to Grow Indoors

  • Lemons and Limes
    Citrus won’t give you instant gratification, but you can enjoy the sweet scent of the blooms while you wait for the fruits. Look for a variety that is known to thrive indoors and produces year-round such as Meyer lemon or Bearss lime. Place the tree near a bright, southern or western facing window and away from sources of heat. Deep soak the soil every 5 to 7 days. Citrus prefer slightly acidic soil and high nitrogen fertilizer. Feed with a slow release fertilizer designed for citrus plants and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Sprouts
    Soak seeds in water overnight. Drain, rinse and drain again. Place the seeds in a quart sized Mason jar. Cover the top with cheese cloth secured with a rubber band. Set the jar in a dark place propped at a slight angle. Rinse and drain the seeds with cold water twice a day for about 4 to 5 days, at which point you will have mature sprouts. Place the jar of sprouts in indirect light and they will green up. Rinse in cold water and store in the refrigerator.
  • Micro Greens
    Micro greens are the baby leaves of fast sprouting seeds such as lettuce, radish and basil. The leaves are harvested while still small. To grow micro greens sow the seeds in sterile potting soil, cover with about ¼ inch of soil and mist the soil daily to keep moist. Keep the seeds warm until they begin to sprout then move the container to a sunny window. Ideally the plants need 12 hours of light for healthy growth so a grow light might be required. Depending on the type of plant you grow you should have harvestable leaves in 14 to 30 days.
  • Garlic Greens
    Garlic greens are a great substitute for fresh chives or scallions. Pot up about 10 organic cloves (ne need to peel) in a 4-inch container. Place in a sunny window and water consistently. Harvest the leaves when they are about 8 inches tall. When the cloves stop sprouting toss them into the compost bin and pot up another 10 cloves.
  • Mushrooms
    Growing mushrooms is pretty easy when you start with a kit. Everything you need comes in the package and all you need to do is keep the growing medium moist. Heck, you don’t even have to take these mushroom growing kits from Peaceful Valley out of the box.

We Eat A Lot of Pie in Arkansas

I’ve heard that food and music hold the personality of a region most strongly. After a recent road trip  I feel safe in taking it one step further and specify that a local favorite dessert really shows off a place’s personality.

Whether they’re fruit, nut, cream, meringue or cheese, baked, fried or frozen — pies come in a dazzling range of combinations. We like our pie in the south. The baker who masters the perfect flour to butter ratio in a crust is spoken about with the utmost reverence, given a place of honor in the community and undoubtedly, asked to bring a pie to every gathering until the end of time. While pies can be graham cracker or cookie crusted, hot or cold, latticed or exposed on top, they must all be delicious to survive in these parts.

Now you’ve probably heard the phrase easy as pie, but I’m not a fan. It strikes me as flippant. The creation of pies shouldn’t be reduced to anything less than an art. Bakers mix a tremendous amount care, thought and tradition into their pies, and most of them have worked on their technique for years. Respect for my favorite dessert led me to travel from Little Rock to Northwest Arkansas along Highway 65 in a quest to experience Arkansas’ pies.

Banana Split Pie

We first stopped at the Wagon Wheel in Greenbrier. Restaurants like these work as anchors and a hub of community life in small towns— a place to connect at lunch or celebrate with the team after a game. Don’t be fooled by this restaurant’s nondescript exterior. It boasts a spectacular spread and is known for its meringue pies. The bakers in this kitchen know how to whip egg whites and sugar into heavenly bliss. I had a banana split pie that had about three inches of meringue on top. So decadent!

Strawberry Pie

Every one of the restaurants we visited has a top pie, a pie that’s flavor is discussed like a legend, and at the Skylark Café in Leslie, that pie is strawberry pie. Cool and refreshing with impeccable balance between sweet and tangy, this dessert is a summer staple not easily forgotten. The filling is just the right consistency, not too thick and packed with juicy strawberry pieces. I dined on the porch and took in the café’s equally charming exterior. Originally a home, they remodeled the building into a restaurant, painted the outside turquoise with red trim and surrounded it with garden art and potted plants. Save me a seat on the porch. I’ll be back.

In addition to the sugary ecstasy, I also experienced a treat for the eyes. Highway 65 winds elaborately, offering dramatic views of the mountains and valleys, and the October leaf display has earned the region the nickname the New England of the Ozarks.

We detoured to Gilbert, an old railroad town with one sign that reads ‘population 33’ and another that reads ‘coolest in the state.’ They’re referring to temperature, but it works on multiple levels. The little town sits right on the edge of the pristine Buffalo National River. We had to pull over, not for pie, but for a view of the water.

The production crew and I stopped for lunch at Big Springs Barbecue in St. Joe after that, and I ate a bacon-filled “sammwhich.” It was nice to taste something fat-laden and savory to break up all the sweet. Plus they roast the meat themselves. I sampled an apple pie, and tried to wheedle the crust recipe out of the baker to no avail.

Apple Pie

In Jasper, we stopped at the Arkansas House, a restaurant that uses organic, locally produced ingredients, to learn the subtleties of the nut pie. Janet Morgan, the owner, showed me how to make her signature black walnut pie. Time, she said, makes all the difference between a mediocre dessert and a perfect dessert.

Black Walnut Pie