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1000 Gardens – Make space for berries.

31 Mar

In Missouri The 1,000 Gardens Project gets people to register their vegetable gardens. It’s hoping to sprout 10,000 new gardens in 2011.

Locally it’s relying on the community to get things started. The idea behind the push is sustainability. “I think if you looked at the number that are actually exploring this issue, you’d be very surprised. I think this is a very attainable goal,” said Shelley Vaugine, a volunteer. Organizers say local gardens would make Springfield less dependent on store bought food, and I’m sure it would. People in the Ozarks are known for their resourcefulness and their ability to get things to grow in spite of all the rocks. Back at the turn of the century tomato canneries were commonplace in these hills. Everything seems to be going full circle here as the community as a whole supports not only themselves, but the growers in our area through the multiple farmers markets.

We plant everything from pole beans to tomatoes. In our garden we have set aside an area for blackberries and raspberries. We like to make jelly and sauces and those berries really pay for themselves over the season. If you haven’t tried growing berries here’s a source we use that’s Missouri based and provides the right planets for our area. Stark Bros. out of Louisiana, MO sends us Thornless Boysenberries which are great juicy deep purple berries – just wade in and pick ’em! Berries grow to a whopping 1½ inches long and as big around as one full inch! You’ll want them for dessert every day during the season, but save a few for the greatest jam you ever tasted. Usually ready late July. We also have Natchez Thornless Blackberries as big as your thumb that are disease-resistant and one that the University of Arkansas has helped produce. The berries we have are much like the monsters you sometimes find at your local farmers market…you know the ones that look like a purple baseball. All kidding aside, it’s a pleasure to have the canes included in our garden space, no thorns and the benefit of the berries, how can you lose?

I think we can all agree sustainability should include a few choice berries. They should be in the mix. Our friends at Stark Bros. have graciously given Hootentown readers their own discounted coupon if you want to plant some berries in your garden.

COUPON Code: HOOTENTOWN
Valid: April 1, 2011 – April 30, 2011
$5 Off all orders over $50 (prior to S/H).
Online (www.starkbros.com) use only
1 use per customer

P.S. Don’t forget the fertilizer!

Blackberry & Bramble Fertilizer

Finally…a fertilizer that is formulated especially for blackberries. Easy to use 12-10-10 formula is developed to give your blackberries and other brambles the perfect nutrients needed for strong growth and high yields of large, healthy berries.

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Ozarks Persimmon Wine

24 Mar

Take a walk through most any Ozarks forest and you will find a persimmon tree. Once you find them what do you do? Make persimmon wine of course. Persimmon trees grow from 25 to 50 feet high and are distinctly male or female in gender. Their fruit is typically globular and small, from 1 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Domestic persimmons can reach 4 inches or more. They have 4 woody calyx lobes at the base, are quite astringent until ripening around October, and then are very sweet and juicy. They ripen to an orange to orange-purple (the domestics turn almost red) and persist on the trees until absolutely ripe, which may not occur until early winter or after the first freeze. After ripening, the fruit will drop or can be shaken from the tree.

Persimmons make a fine, slightly fruity wine, but it will be ruined if any unripened fruit are utilized. The large, red domesticated Oriental persimmons make the best wine with a delicate, amber color, but the wild natives also make a good-tasting, although somewhat brown colored wine.

PERSIMMON WINE

     

  • 3 lbs ripe persimmons
  • 2 1/2 lbs finely granulated sugar
  • 1 tblsp acid blend
  • 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
  • 7 pts water
  • 1 crushed Campden tablet
  • 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
  • 1 packet Montrachet, Pasteur Red or Champagne yeast

Wash the persimmons, cut into quarters and mash the seeds out with your hands. Mash the pulp well, put into primary, and add half the sugar, the acid blend, yeast nutrient and crushed Campden tablet. Add water to total one gallon. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover, and set aside. After 12 hours add pectic enzyme and recover. After another 12 hours, add yeast. Ferment 5-7 days, stirring daily. Strain through nylon sieve. Do not be concerned if a lot of fine pulp gets through; it will precipitate out. Add remaining sugar, stir very well, then transfer to secondary while leaving about three inches headroom. Fit air lock and set aside. Rack every 30 days until wine clears and no additional lees are laid down (4-6 months). Stabilize only if you feel the need to sweeten the wine before bottling. This wine should age in the bottle a year.

Persimmon trees are available through Stark Bro’s in Louisiana, MO. if you want to get serious. Mention this article and Stark Bros. will give you a 10% discount for a limited time of course!

Related story:

Dehydrating Persimmons

Persimmon fruit trees are great additions to your backyard garden, and the fruit makes a delicious, healthy snack for the whole family. I love growing fruit trees in my yard, and the persimmon tree is both attractive and easy to maintain in my climate.  In fact, the American Persimmon is native to North America, so it naturally fits right in! [read more]

Basic Backpacking/Gear Class

24 Mar

This class will cover all the aspects of gear and outdoor clothing, to include the selection of boots, tents, backpacks, stoves, jackets and all other outdoor clothing. We show you how to fit your boots and backpack, how to select the correct sleeping bag and even how to pack your backpack correctly. This class is a must have for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Ozarks Adventures

May 1, 2011 12:00 pm

1111 E. Republic, Springfield, MO

More Info

THE BEAUTIFUL AND ENDURING OZARKS

18 Mar

A couple of local folks making good!
What do you get when you give a hillbilly a Hasselblad, a pickup truck, and a big gray dog and turn them loose in the wild Ozarks? In Leland Payton’s case, you ultimately get a beautifully photographed and expressively written book about his homeland: The Beautiful and Enduring OZARKS. One hundred-thirty-nine photographs, eightyseven in full color, spanning more than 30 years of Ozark rambles, illustrate this original photo essay on the mountainous region of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Leland and Crystal Payton created Lens & Pen Press to produce titles that large publishers might consider too specialized for a national audience. Before that, the Paytons had been published by Abbeville Press in New York; Chronicle Books, San Francisco; and St. Martin’s Press, New York. An early entry into ‘niche publishing,’ the Paytons found their niche in the sometimes stereotyped but always intriguing region of the Ozarks. They live in Springfield, Missouri.

The Hillbilly Archaeologist Strikes Again

15 Mar

The Abandoned In Stone County Series

Way back off a now closed paved county highway I stumbled upon this gem sitting in a steep gully on a hillside.

It was overgrown, it was classic. A perfect place for an off the grid lifestyle. The “hollar” was laced with trash from dumpers, not the former owners but what I call traveling trashers. It kills me that people think they can drive up in a remote area and simply unload their trash.

Amazingly the property wasn’t more trashed. I guess the dumpers thought someone still lived there and left the driveway untouched with their garbage. I noticed the stone landscaping had been carefully placed at one time with a fairly long run of it, lining the drive. Cleaned up and polished this would be a nice cottage for a retired couple or some first time buyers.

A little closer look at the stonework above the garage shows it wasn’t just thrown together. I think someone had laid the stone after the house was constructed. This place had to have been rough cedar as shown above the front door. I also imagine the runoff from rains would have been a bit nasty from time to time. To the right of the house is a good sized ravine, maybe 40 foot drop near the house. I also bet it’s a magnet for copperheads.

That corner fireplace is sure a looker. Not much of a yard but here on the hill who cares…weed whack the yard. The front steps and porch had crumbled away so there wasn’t much to see. I keep looking for those copperheads…geez.

This perspective gives you an idea of the elevation on the place. The ravine on the other side was impossible to capture, trust me, it was wicked deep. It added to the charm, at least that’s what my wife would say. Besides the copperheads I kept my eye out for a cave where I might find an old still.

The real feature to this place wasn’t the house or the remote location. It wasn’t all that remote, it was just off the main highway not more than 500 yards. Across the highway was the James River, I could drop the boat in the water in 5 minutes time. This would be a great weekend getaway, a real mancave. Bet it’s cheap.

If this were to be “The Mancave” I’ll have to figure out where to put the giant flatscreen and the satellite dish. The corner fireplace was in pretty good overall shape…needs an insert though and a few of my buddies to watch the Chiefs…whose bringing the beer and wings?

Basics of Catching Ozarks Fish

3 Mar

Spending time on the James River doesn’t make me an expert. It does give me some insight in how to tackle situations in regards to catching fish. Here in The Ozark’s you might not catch a whopper but you will catch a great view of The Ozark’s from the front of the boat. I have taken folks fishing who have just moved to The Ozark’s and have literally no experience outdoors, that doesn’t make them any less “pumped” about going. They remind me of my kids when they were young and full of excitement about the next day’s trip, so much they couldn’t sleep. On the way down to the river in the truck they were sawing logs the entire way.

They asked a millions questions, always thinking I had the answers. Unfortunately, there are no magical, easy answers when it comes to catching fish. I learned through the years that the experts were a dime a dozen. I like to keep it simple especially when teaching kids. I explained to them that they have to learn the basics of fishing… current, depth, shade and casting.

Largemouth Bass Painting by Ralph Martens

The James River and it’s feeder creeks are engineered in two ways eddy’s and shoals. However no two are seemingly ever the same. Year in and year out they change, so you have to learn to read the water. Flooding makes the river structure shift, change or disappear so the log you saw last fall might be completely gone the following spring. Most fish like to hold in the shade of a tree in the summer months. In the winter months those fish will stage in deeper holes. These holes will be the deepest, largest bodies of water and tend to have the least amount or most drastic change during colder weather. As the temperatures rise in the spring those bass will move to feed more freely and start looking for places to spawn. The upper and lower ends of the holes can be depended upon for holding these fish as water conditions allow. Once spring has arrived in The Ozark’s and water temps stabilize fish will be consistently found in these holes.
There are more than a few objectives about reading the water and they concern bass behavior, variables of the river or stream and the weather. I am only touching on the basics.

Reading The Breaks
You need to identify a break in the river’s current as it generally is a holding area for fish. Smallmouth and largemouth are ambushers, they usually sit in the current break to conserve energy. Anything that breaks the current be it a log or a bridge pier is a resting place for these ambushers.

Shade
This is an absolute must for predators, they want to lurk in darkness and then pounce on the prey. Find the deepest, darkest places on the river and you’ll find dinner. Throw in a current break and you have it made in the shade. An oxygenated area where their food source is being washed into them can be excellent and you can, at times, sit there all day.

Casting
Perfect your skills, learn to cast on a dime and remember not to spook the fish. Throw beyond the target area and bring it back to the spot. Let it wash into the hole and hang on.

 

And perhaps the most important thing you can do is to take a kid fishing. Practice catch and release and teach them to respect the Ozarks outdoors.

 

Missouri State Parks of the 1960s

3 Mar

In this video we go back in time to the 1960s with a visit to the state parks of Missouri. This promotional film shows the exceptional recreational and natural opportunities offered by Missouri State Parks and enjoyed by families, fishermen and fun-seekers.

This was before iPods, cell phones, fax machines, texting, and yes, YouTube videos. There wasn’t some woman suing over burning her mouth on a hot cup of coffee and I can’t remember ever hearing about a single recall of a ’57 Chevy. No one ever mentioned terrorist or chatted over an Egg McMuffin. These were the good old days…bring ’em back.