Gifts for Gardeners, Cooks and Homesteaders

Do you hear that? It’s the sound of the countdown to Christmas. How is your gift shopping going? I’ve got my list pretty well worked out; now I just have to get out there and shop.

There are, of course, a few people who are impossible to shop for. You know the ones that either want nothing or already have everything. For them I have to get creative. What do you give these folks? Tell me in the comments section below.

Here is a roundup of some of the gifts I’m giving this year. Maybe one of these ideas will work for someone on your list too.

Gardener

Motus D-Grip and T-Grip $13.00 and $12.00

T-Grip

D-Grip

These genius grips will make garden work much kinder to your body. They attach to your shovel or hoe to give better leverage and lifting control
Available at www.GreenHeronTools.com.
Photo credit: Green Heron Tools

The Birds of BirdNote® 2014 Calendar $14.99

Support the public radio show BirdNote® and give a great looking calendar with photos shot by Gerrit Vyn conservation photographer and natural history media producer at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Available at www.Birdnote.org.
Photo credit: BirdNote®

Gift Certificate to Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Prices Vary

With options like ‘Blue Berries’ tomato, ‘Jimmy Nardello’ Italian pepper and ‘Delaware Indian Sacred’ nicotiana the recipient of a gift certificate from Baker Creek will also receive hours of daydreaming as they peruse the seed choices.
Available at www.RareSeeds.com.
Photo credit: Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Subscription to Gardens Illustrated Magazine $27.84 for 6 Issues

Inspiration is one of the best gifts you can give a gardener. This British magazine is full of gorgeous photos, practical information and a lot of fodder for the imagination. Also available in a digital format for tablets.
Subscribe at www.GardensIllustrated.com.
Photo credit: Gardens Illustrated

Cook

Handcrafted Cutting Boards $44.99 – $299.99

These cutting boards are made in my home state of Arkansas by the great upcycler Paul Michael. The woods used are locally harvested or reclaimed.
Available at www.PaulMichaelCompany.com.
Photo credit: Paul Michael Company

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart Prices Vary

This New York Times bestseller is suitable for the cook or gardener on your list. Because, really, who doesn’t love a good cocktail? Especially one made with plants harvested from the garden.
Available at www.AmyStewart.com.
Photo credit: Amy Stewart

Berard Olive-Wood Salt Keeper $49.00

This is a gift I wish someone would give me! I have an olive-wood pepper mill that just gets more beautiful with age. This salt keeper would be a gorgeous addition to any kitchen.
Available at www.Casa.com.
Photo credit: Casa

Pie Bird $8.00

This clever baking tool is cute and helpful. The pie bird vents stem from pies as they bake preventing fillings from boiling over and ensuring a crisp bottom crust.
Available at www.LeCreuset.com.
Photo credit: Le Creuset

Homesteader

Weck Mold Jars Set of 6 $15.25 – $19.50

Even if I never put up a single batch of anything I’d have Weck jars around just because they are so attractive. Filled with homemade preserves they are a sight to behold!
Available at www.WeckJars.com.
Photo credit: Weck Jars

Interchangeable Knitting Needle Set $59.99

It’s funny how things go in and out of style. Right now knitting is once again all the rage. Treat your favorite knitter to a set of interchangeable needles from Knit Picks. The kit also comes with two cables for the Magic Loop method of knitting, end caps, a clear vinyl needle case and cable keys.
Available at www.KnitPicks.com.
Photo Credit: Knit Picks

Wire Egg Basket $24.75

It is my opinion that one can never have too many egg baskets. This basket has a center handle that makes gathering eggs a snap.
Available at www.MeyerHatchery.com.
Photo credit: Meyer Hatchery

“Pioneer” Clothes Drying Rack $109.00

This might not be the sexiest gift you give this year, but it will be the most used because nothing beats the smell of sun dried laundry. This handcrafted version offers 30 lineal feet of drying space.
Available at www.HomesteadDryingRacks.com.
Photo credit: Homestead Drying Racks

P. Allen Smith Gifts

I wouldn’t be a true entrepreneur without a little self-promotion. Here are three options for the P. Allen Smith fan on your list.

Tour and Lunch at the Moss Mountain Farm Garden Home $90.00

Treat someone to a tour the gardens and cottage and lunch.
Spring 2014 tour dates are now available. Purchase tickets here.

P. Allen Smith Holiday Collection $39.98 – $69.98

Hand-tied, sustainably harvested Noble Fir greenery available in five different styles.
Available at HomeDepot.com.

P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden $24.74 – $17.32

My cookbook is a collection of recipes inspired by seasonal foods and my Southern heritage. There are a total of 120 dishes: 30 for each season.
Available at www.Amazon.com.

Plans for the Garden Home Cottage $500.00 – $1,500.00

Enable someone on your gift list to build their own garden home with a set of plans for the 1,870 square foot, eco-friendly cottage built at Moss Mountain Farm.
Available at Houseplans.SouthernLiving.com.

Ohio National Poultry Show

I first fell in love with poultry when I was a kid and my mom was my biggest supporter. Mom would load the station wagon down with birds and off we’d go to the poultry show with my little brother in tow. She was kind of like a pageant mom without the sequins and she facilitated a passion that has never faded. That’s why it’s important to me to do the same for other youngsters who have been bitten by the poultry bug.

Poultry shows are a fun way to encourage a child’s interest in poultry. It’s a great venue for learning solid breeding practices, discovering heritage breeds and finding a community of peers. Over 100 years, let’s them compare their birds and breeding practices with others. It’s like an art critique allowing breeders to get insights from more experienced breeders and learn how to improve their birds.

I recently returned from The Ohio National in Columbus, Ohio. It’s an event that is considered the Westminster of poultry shows where breeders show the best of the best. This year there were close to 6,000 entries including chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks and even pigeons.

Frizzle Cochin

White Crested Black Polish

White Leghorn

White Crested Black Polish

Tobunt Polish

Blue Ameraucana

Dark Brown Leghorn

Dark Brahma

I was at the Ohio National representing the Heritage Poultry Conservancy. The Conservancy gives prize money for winners in youth competitions.

Good to Know

The American Standard of Perfection is the poultry bible for poultry judges and entrants alike. It explains how each breed and variety should look from the angle of their tail feathers to the color of their beaks. It’s a great gift for young poultry enthusiasts. You can purchase the latest edition of the American Standard of Perfection from the American Poultry Association.

 

November Giveaway – Indoor Plant Décor

When you hear the word “houseplant” what image comes to mind? A macramé hanging basket or maybe a dusty fern stuffed into a corner? Houseplants have gotten a bad rap for being old-fashioned and hard to care for, but I know two people who are on a mission to change that perception. In their book Indoor Plant Décor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants my friends Kylee Baumle and Jenny Peterson take a fresh look at how to use plants in your home. I like this book because Kylee and Jenny show how container choice and plant selection help your indoor garden appear as a design detail rather than an afterthought.

You can purchase Indoor Plant Décor on Amazon.com or if you are feeling lucky leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy. I’ll select a winner on Wednesday November 20, 2013. Congrats Guinelle for winning the November giveaway!

Here’s an excerpt from the book and a few photos illustrating unconventional containers.

It used to be that indoor gardening meant a ficus tree in the corner of the living room, a pothos plant trailing from the top of the entertainment center and a row of African violets in the kitchen window. While we wouldn’t knock any plant that thrives in indoor conditions, contemporary gardening has moved far beyond the expected and traditional houseplant. Add to that the myriad of interior decor styles, and it becomes difficult to know just how to use houseplants as a part of your home’s overall design scheme. That’s where we come in. In our book we show you how to define your personal decor style, and then guide you into making stylish plant, container and accessory choices to pull it all together.

As we confessed right from the start, we kill houseplants. If you’re a gardener of any type, it’s going to happen, so check your feelings of guilt and inadequacy at the door and forge ahead. Decorating with houseplants isn’t like buying a lamp or a chair. Plants are living things, and just like human beings, they will behave in unpredictable ways and sometimes not follow the rules. But this is what keeps boredom at bay; you’ll learn more about their personalities as time goes on.

The mission of Indoor Plant Décor is to improve your confidence in choosing plants that fit your design style as well as your lifestyle. We hope you will benefit from our own adventures into the wonderful world of houseplant design. We know the amazing power plants have to transform an interior environment — even our state of mind.

If you want to get to know Kylee and Jenny visit their blogs – OurLittleAcre.Blogspot.com and JPetersonGardenDesign.com. I think you’ll find their writing is funny, introspective and educational. Plus you can see how gardens grow in two different regions. Kylee gardens in Ohio and Jenny is down in Austin, Texas.

Take a look at a few of the innovative ideas from the book.

Mythological Amaryllis

In Greek mythology Amaryllis was a lovesick shepherdess who stood at the door of her intended every night piercing her heart with a golden arrow. From her wounds sprung an exquisite flower.

Now that’s what I call the hard way to grow these gorgeous blooms. Unlike the Amaryllis in Greek mythology you can grow dramatic blooms this winter without a single puncture to the heart. Simply pot up a few bulbs this fall. With a little water and sunshine you’ll have breathtaking blooms in just over a month.

Here are a few varieties I’m trying this year. I feel certain that if Amaryllis had these to offer her flower-loving beau her fate would have been much rosier.

Amaryllis Dancing Queen

Clockwise from left: ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘Double Dragon’, ‘Blossom Peacock’.

Amaryllis Clown

Amaryllis ‘Clown’

Amaryllis Varieties

Clockwise from left: ‘Aphrodite’, ‘Red Pearl’, ‘Vera’, ‘Elvas’.

 

Setting the Scene for an Autumn Celebration

How is the weather in your Garden Home? It’s glorious here with warm days and crisp nights – the perfect time for throwing a garden party.

October Garden Party

Details

When it comes to entertaining I like to create a welcoming environment for my guests. I want them to feel completely at ease and enjoy themselves.

Tablevogue table covers will make any type of table party-ready.  Tablevogue table covers have a tailored seam and box pleats that give the table an upscale look.

A round table makes it easy for guests to go around and choose what they like to eat and visit with one another.

Bring autumn’s colors to your table with bright tableware, pumpkins, gourds and glazed vases filled with flowers.

The alstroemeria and lilies I used are long lasting so I can make the arrangements a day or two in advance.

The décor is rustic using garden elements such as pumpkins, grape vine, gourds and wheat stalks. Easy and relaxed, which sets the tone for the gathering.

Accents

Tablevogue 72” Round Table Cover in Natural

Le Creuset Dinnerware in Cassis

Glassybaby Votive Candles

Menu Ideas

Pumpkin Pie Martini
Citrus Tea
Assorted Cheeses and Pickled Vegetables
Grilled Mushrooms Stuffed with Artichoke Hearts
Cinnamon Apple Chips
Honey Glazed Pecans
Shrimp Over Rice
Rustic Pear Cranberry Tart
Caramel Apples

Ten Edibles to Grow this Fall

Getting the kids back to school and heading to the lake for the long Labor Day weekend aren’t the only ways we kick off autumn. Planting cool weather crops such as lettuce, broccoli and spinach is also an activity that signals the advent of the season.

Many gardeners don’t realize that the end of summer doesn’t signal the end of home grown vegetables and herbs. There are quite a few things we can grow during the cool, short days of fall. Here are eleven of my top favorites.

Lettuce


Spinach


Broccoli


Arugula


Cabbage


Dill


Radish


Chives


Chard


Kale

Fall Vegetable Garden Tips

You can harvest leafy greens just a few weeks after planting.

Find out the first frost date in your area and compare it to the maturity dates of plants. This will help you determine what and when to plant.

Use cold frames and frost blankets to extend the growing season.

Top Six Must-See List for Arkansas This Fall

I’ve always known that Arkansas is the place to be and now the secret is getting out. Just this year Little Rock was named a top ten midsized city by Kiplingers and Editor’s Choice by Outside magazineIn this guest post Arkansas Tourism Director Joe David Rice shares six great places to visit in Arkansas during one of the best times to come – fall.

All four of Arkansas’s seasons have their charms, but fall’s my favorite. That first crisp morning after the dog days of summer recharges my flagging batteries and reminds me that cooler days are coming. Shown below, in no particular order, are half a dozen options for entertaining autumn getaways in The Natural State:

1) Driving the length of Crowley’s Ridge Parkway in eastern Arkansas should be on everyone’s bucket list. For nearly 200 miles, this national scenic byway traverses the winding terrain of Crowley’s Ridge, a fascinating geological anomaly extending from Helena-West Helena north to the Arkansas-Missouri state line. Civil War battlefields, historic districts, cemeteries, state parks, antique shops, golf courses and some fine barbecue joints line the route – and the fall foliage can be stunning.

2) Checking out the harvest in southeastern Arkansas is worth a trip, especially when you work in visits to Lakeport Plantation, historic Arkansas City and the Japanese internments sites at McGehee and Rohwer. Bargain shoppers will enjoy a stop at Paul Michael Company in Lake Village.

3) Walking the grounds at Crystal Bridges is a true delight. We’ve all heard about the outstanding collection of masterworks in the Moshe Safdie-designed complex of buildings, but don’t forget the 120-acre site includes 3.5 miles of splendid trails – complete with outdoor sculptures, picturesque bridges and a gurgling stream. Park your car on the square in downtown Bentonville and walk to nearby Compton Gardens where you’ll catch trails winding through the lush landscapes to the museum.

4) Floating the lower end of the Buffalo National River (from Buffalo Point down to Rush – or on to the White River if you have time) can be a wonderful fall experience. With the summer crowds pretty much gone, your chances of seeing wildlife are that much better. The gravel bars and bluffs provide great scenery, particularly if you can time your trip with the peak of fall colors. Bring your camera and poke around a bit in Rush, one of the state’s only surviving ghost towns.

5) Touring Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs is always a special treat, but it’s even better with the enchanting Splash of Glass exhibit featuring 225 pieces of James Hayes’ handcrafted art (through September). This 210-acre peninsula, located on the shores of Lake Hamilton south of Hot Springs, includes 3.8 miles of easy-to-negotiate trails. For those not up for a good walk, tours by golf carts are available.

6) Last but not least on the list is hiking the Cossatot River Corridor Trail. Maybe a bit lengthy for most at 12 miles, this southwestern Arkansas treasure can be broken down into more manageable segments. There’s no better place to grasp an appreciation of the Ouachitas than along this relatively unknown footpath which parallels a beautiful mountain stream.

Between football games, county fairs and festivals, fall in Arkansas can slip away before you know it. So grab your calendar and set aside a couple of days for yourself. If none of the above ideas appeal to you, check out www.Arkansas.com for plenty of others.

Game Day Gatherings

Football season is getting underway this month so lots of folks are discussing their favorite teams and planning game day gatherings.  And while I don’t claim to know a lot about football, I do know something about parties and a tailgate party is fun way to celebrate with friends and family.

A backyard or patio is the perfect place to set up a tailgate, especially on a beautiful autumn day. All you need is good food, a few lawn games, drinks and plenty of team spirit. Include a few of these game day essentials and your guests will feel like they are at the stadium minus the traffic jams or bathroom lines.

1. Winning Table
Give your buffet and folding card tables team spirit with a table cover from Team Tablevogue.
They feature the logos of numerous collegiate teams and fit neatly over standard-size folding tables.
Available from Team Tablevogue.


2. The Wheel Deal
Forget lugging your food, drinks and tableware to friend’s tent. Drinks, appetizers, plates and more all fit neatly inside this rolling cooler.
Available from Brookstone.
[photo courtesy of Brookstone.com]

3. Give Me an “A”
Face it—cheers just sound better with a few pom-poms in the background. Plus, they’ll add color to your tent or tailgate.
Available from GameDayPoms.com.
[photo courtesy of GameDayPoms.com]

4. Stadium Crystal
Toast a victory with a shatter-proof version of a well-loved drinking glass.
Available from Target.
[photo courtesy of Target.com]

5. Fun and Games
Don’t forget the entertainment! Challenge your friends to a game of bag toss or ladder golf before you head into the stadium.
Available from Frontgate.
[photo courtesy of Frontgate.com]

6. Meal at Hand
The Drink-and-Plate keeps refreshments together in one place, giving you a free hand to cheer.
Available from Shop.InstantTailgate.com.
[photo courtesy of Shop.InstantTailgate.com]

7. Field of Teams
Fun meets functional in this pack-and-go table that mimics the playing field.
Available from Sports Authority.
[photo courtesy of SportsAuthority.com]

8. Tech Support
Spend less time setting up the satellite and more time enjoying the other game’s around the country before heading into your own stadium.
Available from Dish Network via Amazon.com.
[photo courtesy of Amazon.com]

Win a Team Tablevogue table cover!

Tell me which college football team you cheer for in the comments section below. I’ll select a winner at random on Wednesday August 28, 2013.
Up for grabs is a 34-inch square Team Tablevogue table cover in any of the available team logos. Click here to view the team logos.

If your team isn’t available or, perish the thought, you don’t have a team you can choose an unembellished Tablevogue 34-inch square table cover. Click here to view.

Congratulations to Debbie Dillon! She was selected using Random.org to receive a Team Tablevogue table cover with her team’s logo! Go Texas A&M Aggies!

August Bloom – Salvia

Silent all summer the late-season salvias in my garden are starting to sing this month. Drought-tolerant, long-blooming and vibrant I rely on salvias, or sages as they are sometimes called, to turn up the color volume from August through the first freeze in late autumn.

Salvia 'Sparkler Red'

Saliva 'Sparkler Red', Marigold 'Tiger Eye' and Pineapple Sage 'Golden Delicious'

I love the scent of pineapple sage. This image was shot in October and as you can see the salvias are still showing off.

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish', ColorBlaze Limelife Coleus, and Salvia 'Blue Bedder'

Autumn sage (Saliva greggi)

Mexican Sage 'Santa Barbara' (Salvia leucantha)

Hummingbird sage (Salvia guaranitica)

 

July Giveaway – Laguna Ponds Urban Water Bowl

I know a certain someone named Linda in New Jersey who is enjoying the soothing sounds of a brand new water feature. Linda was the winner of the Laguna Ponds Giveaway, a contest hosted by myself and the folks over at Laguna last spring. The prize was a new water feature provided by Laguna Ponds and gardens designed by yours truly.

In June we invaded Linda’s home to disrupt her life and landscape for two days to put in the water feature and new plantings. As it turns out Linda and I had a lot to talk about. She’s a poultry fanatic and a floral designer, lives on a farm and spearheads the local farmer’s market. I was tickled to be able to add to the charm of her already fabulous home.

 

When it came to the design of the beds around the water feature I used a combination of Linda’s favorite plants along with a few of my picks and some edibles.

I have to say thanks to Gary and the staff of Twin Pond Garden Center and Country Market. They were amazingly helpful and the garden center is something to experience. They’ve got a deli and country market there so you can get a fresh-baked apple pie, locally grown produce and some good looking plants for your garden all in one place. Now that’s what I call a one-stop-shop!

Linda is a winner for getting a brand new water feature and flower beds, I’m a winner for getting to spend a few days with my friends at Laguna, and we want you to be a winner too. In the comments section below tell me how you would use a Laguna Ponds Urban Water Bowl for a chance to win one. I’ll select a winner at random on Wednesday July 31, 2013.

Congratulations to Suzanne Mullen! You are the winner of the Laguna Ponds Urban Water Bowl! Your comment was selected using Random.org. Check your email for next steps. Thank you to everyone who entered. More giveaways are coming so check back.