Author: Sam May

Winter Solstice

If you’ve been suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD), take heart because the winter solstice is this week. In the Northern Hemisphere it is the shortest day of the year and marks the start of winter. It also signals the beginning of more daylight hours, which is certainly reason to celebrate!

To mark the day I like to get my hands in the soil. Weather permitting, I’ll putter around the garden or I’ll plant something indoors like paperwhite bulbs or some sweetpea seed for placing in a cold frame. At dusk I’ll watch the sunset, turn on the Christmas tree lights and make a mental note that spring is just 90 days away.

It’s A Good Day To Have A Good Day!

From the splendors of spring through the holiday season, I love welcoming guests into my home and gardens. As I have said many times, I love to share the farm with all of you because keeping Moss Mountain Farm to myself wouldn’t be near as fun!

Some of the kindest and most genuine folks visit the farm, and it makes me so happy to receive messages with kind words from them regarding their experience! It is not only encouraging to myself and the staff, but I hope you find a little encouragement in the following words as well!

Thanks again to everyone who has visited or plans to in the future! You can find tickets here!

-Just a short note to let you know how much we enjoyed our tour at the farm last Friday.  My niece seemed to have a wonderful time and appreciated the special attention with the gluten free crackers. Please tell Ellen how much fun we had. Maybe another trip in the future.

Best regards,
Sherry Dale & Lynne


– A group of ladies (and our male driver) from the Murphysboro United Methodist Church visited Moss Mountain Farm on Friday, Nov. 9th. I just wanted to let you and your staff know that we had a splendid day and how much we appreciated your hospitality. You have such a beautiful home, barn, gardens, structures, animals, etc., and you are kind enough to share that beauty with the world!

Since I’m a 4-H Leader in Illinois, I very much appreciated how much time you took in answering my question about your involvement in the 4-H Program in Arkansas (and how you caught your first chicken). Teaching our youth important life skills has been a priority in my life for the past 20 years. Several years ago, I started an Apple Pie Workshop for youth, and now they have created a new youth division with a cash prize in the Apple Pie Contest at the annual Murphysboro Apple Festival. We hope to continue this tradition for years to come. I’d love to bring our 4-H club members to visit Moss Mountain Farm!!!

The lunch was divine, and the Buttermilk Pecan Pie was scrumptious – coming from one pie snob to another. Several on our church bus purchased your cookbook and enjoyed reading the recipes and stories about the recipes on our trip back home. Well, you might think our trip would end with good conversation and laughs about our trip. However, on the way home, one of the ladies suggested that we have a P. Allen Smith Dinner Party (after we have had time to try some of the delicious recipes, of course). We will all make and bring a couple of our favorite dishes from your cookbook to share with each other.

Thank you again for your genuine hospitality for a fabulous day at Moss Mountain Farm!

Rosie


– I just want to say how impressed we were with the whole experience of the tour, grounds and especially the staff! We got lost on our way there. We got a call asking if we were lost and did we need help!! 5 min. later we arrived! Even the rain did not dampen how much we enjoyed the gardens, lunch, chickens and houses.   The lunch was delicious and well done. Ellen was our guide. She charming, knowledgeable and personable.  I bought a book in the gift shop then hurried back to the tent for Allen’s signature. We enjoyed having a personal visit with him! Then left with better directions this time. A short time later we received a call from Diane saying I had left my credit card in the gift shop. She asked where we were and told me it was on her way!! She brought the card to us!!! We are very grateful for her extra effort and felt it was way beyond normal !!! We are totally impressed with our wonderful day!
Thank you!

Jerri

Ralston Family Farms Rice Contest

I don’t know about you, but I like to know exactly where my food comes from. I could go on and on about all the reasons I love Ralston Family Farms rice, but you wouldn’t understand until you try one of their delicious farm-to-fork rice varieties for yourself!

Head over to my Instagram to enter to win a Ralston Family Farms prize package including 3 of my favorite rice varieties and a rice cooker to make meal prep a breeze!
Enter HERE! 

Decking The Halls With Holly Chapple

Every year I pick a Christmas decorating theme, drawing inspiration from everyday items or materials from the garden. This year’s theme is completely nature inspired, and I am thrilled that Holly Chapple is bringing the ‘Holly’ to Moss Mountain Farm! If you have never been to Moss Mountain Farm during the holiday season, this is the year to make the trip! I can’t wait to collaborate with Holly and I know the decor will be more spectacular than ever!

 

“Decorating for the holidays is one of my absolute favorite times to design. Perhaps being born on Christmas Eve has something to do with my love of seasonal decor. It’s also why my parents named me Holly. So it looks like we have a date with a horse named Trudy, a chicken temple, a gingerbread house and a fabulous designer, landscape architect, author and tv personality named P. Allen Smith!” – Holly Chapple

A longtime resident of Loudoun County Virginia, Holly is a highly recognized and sought after floral designer whose work has been published in countless prestigious publications and top industry blogs. With over 25 years of successful business experience behind her, Holly now serves as a teacher, speaker and mentor for other professionals in the wedding industry. She currently sits on a trend report board with industry leaders, owns and operates Hope Flower Farm.

 

 

**Holly will NOT be present at 2018 holiday tours, but her designs will be on display for guests to enjoy.

 

 

 

2018 Arkansas Cornbread Festival Preview

Executive Pastry Chef at Cathead’s Diner, Kelli Marks, and I had the pleasure of spending a little time with Ansley Watson to talk about The Arkansas Cornbread Festival on Good Afternoon Arkansas yesterday! I am sure you can guess without watching what the video below is about… it’s cornbread!

The Arkansas Cornbread Festival is this Saturday, October 27, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. in Little Rock on S. Main Street in SoMa. It’s a free event for all ages, however a Cornbread Tasting Ticket is $8 before the festival and $10 at the festival. This allows you to taste all the cornbread within the competition.

For more information on the event you can visit the KATV website or the official Arkansas Cornbread Festival website!


Video courtesy of KATV Little Rock.

Top Five Must See List for Arkansas This Fall

It’s impossible not to love fall in Arkansas. After the summer heat dissipates, we’re rewarded with pleasant weather and a changing of the leaves that’s not to be missed. Fall is one of my favorite times of year to get out and explore the great destinations Arkansas has to offer. Here are 5 of my favorite things to do around The Natural State this fall.

1. Arkansas Cornbread Festival – Who wouldn’t travel to sample the best cornbread in the state? I know I would! Luckily for me, SoMa Little Rock is just a hop, skip, and a jump from the farm! I look forward to this event every year and bonding with the community over cornbread… it’s a southern tradition! This year, the festival happens on Saturday, October 27 from 11a-4p.

Photos courtesy of https://www.arkansascornbreadfestival.com/

2. Crystal Bridges Museum – Crystal Bridges will make my list any time of year! It’s such an inspiring place, celebrating American art and culture. This fall, experience works of art by important Native American artists from the 1950s to today, enriching our understanding of American art.

3. Mount Magazine Scenic Byway – There’s nothing like hitting the open road just to enjoy the scenery. This 28-mile drive stretches between Havana, Arkansas and Paris, Arkansas. On this beautiful trek, you will experience Mount Magazine, which is the highest peak in Arkansas at 2,753 feet. When the trees are showing off their gorgeous fall foliage, the views of the mountains, valleys, and waterways just can’t be beat!

4. Johnny Cash Heritage Festival – Dyess, the boyhood home of Johnny Cash, will host their annual 3-day festival honoring the Arkansas legend and the programs that shaped his childhood. The event includes regional music, public presentations, food and craft vendors, demonstrations, and tours. This year’s closing concert, from noon to 5p.m. on Saturday October 20, will include a tribute to the 1968 Johnny Cash Homecoming Show. Hosted by producer/performer John Carter Cash, the performance will feature award-winning singer/songwriter Jamey Johnson and Grammy record-holder Alison Krauss, along with Ana Cristina Cash, Suzanne Cox, Heather Berry Mabe, Ira Dean, and others.

5. Battle of Prairie Grove Reenactment – This December, Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park will commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove, fought on December 7, 1862. This battle saw about 22,000 soldiers fighting most of the day, with about 2,700 killed, wounded, or missing. During the weekend there will be many activities to take part in, including tours through the Union, Confederate, and civilian camps, along with living history programs.

If none of these events sparks your interest, there is much more to experience this fall in The Natural State. To explore other travel destinations in Arkansas, visit www.arkansas.com.

 

Hiring a Landscape Designer

We’ve been in our new house for about a year and I’m ready to start on the garden. We’ve got a blank slate so it is going to be a pretty big job. I received a design from the architecture firm that drew up the house, but am looking for a company to install it. Do you have any tips that will help me make a good choice?

Whether you are establishing a new flowerbed, transplanting a shrub or installing a detailed garden plan the person you choose to handle the job can make or break the results. A mistake may not be noticeable until weeks or months later so it is important to be confident in the help you receive from the start.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you look for someone to help you in the garden.

  • Write out exactly what you want the landscape professional to do.
  • Check with local utility companies to make sure there are no electric, gas or telephone lines running underground in the area.
  • Clearly mark the area you want prepared.
  • If sod, rocks or debris are to be removed, give instructions if you want those items hauled away.
  • Independently investigate what soil amendments your garden requires.

The landscape professional/designer you hire should be:

  • Insured and properly bonded.
  • Properly licensed for landscape maintenance work.
  • Willing to furnish you several current and past references with similar projects.
  • Knowledgeable about soil preparation and horticulture.

Before you finalize the deal:

  • Negotiate a clear, detailed agreement in writing. Do not accept verbal agreements.
  • If a contract is involved read it over carefully. Understand its terms and conditions including payment schedule and guarantees on plants. Ensure all documents are correctly signed and dated by involved parties.
  • Verify licenses and check with your state’s Contractors Board and the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the contractors.
  • Secure payment and performance bonds from the landscape professional.

After the project is complete:

  • Inspect the work to make sure it was done to specifications.
  • Schedule a walk through/review with the landscape professional to go over any care instructions or discuss potential problems.
    I encourage you to check out the P. Allen Smith & Associates website!

Solar Fence Light

Light up the night in your garden with these simple DIY solar fence lights!

You will need:
1 Solar landscape light
Snips
Gloves (for protection)
1/2″ Flange
1/2″ Elbow
Clear rubber glue
1″ Screws

Directions: 
Step 1: Remove solar light from post
Step 2: Carefully cut 2″ off of the post
Step 3: Coat inside of elbow with glue
Step 4: Coat end of post with glue and insert into elbow
Step 5: Seal opening with rubber glue and allow to dry for 24 hours
Step 6: Spray the post, elbow, and flange with rust preventative paint
Step 7: Secure elbow to flange
Step 8: Use a pen to mark screw holes
Step 9: Remove elbow and secure to fence post
Step 10: Secure elbow and insert light

 

 

Experience Moss Mountain Farm

When guests visit Moss Mountain Farm, it is more than just looking at flowers and gardens, it is an experience where you become completely immersed. Moss Mountain Farm is an epicenter for promoting the local food movement, organic gardening and the preservation of heritage poultry breeds, while serving as a place of inspiration, education, and conservation.

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Of course, what I love more than sharing my home with folks from all over the globe are the stories you all share with me during your visit. One of my favorite stories from this spring was of a family who found their way to Moss Mountain Farm from Mississippi thanks to their adorable 8 month old son. Their son would awaken each morning at 5:00, and the parents would turn on the television to try and wake up as well. Garden Home is shown in the early hours of the morning, and that’s how the parents became inspired by P. Allen Smith. This day, they were among 63 guests who came from 17 states to visit the farm.

I am also appreciative of those who trek through the rain and sludge. This is a group of 84 guests from 18 states enjoying a rainy day at Moss Mountain Farm.

One of my favorite events at Moss Mountain Farm takes place in the fall and spring, when flocks of poultry enthusiasts gather at the farm to learn more about conservation of heritage breed poultry.

Each day at Moss Mountain Farm is different, and I love seeing guests participate in the variety of activities we have planned throughout the spring and fall. One of my favorite tours recently was a “make it and take it” class, where the tour attendees were able to paint their own flower pots to bring home with them.

 

Lets look at a few stats for 2018 so far:

2122 guests visited from
38 states and Canada

634 eggs used in
203 Buttermilk Pecan pies and
200 dozen of Aunt Jamie’s Cookies
and Infinite memories made!

To learn more about our upcoming tour dates and to reserve your spot, click HERE!

 

October Garden To Do List

At the beginning of October my mid-south, zone 8A garden is still full of blooms but by Halloween, it begins its steady decline toward dormancy.  So I start the month in harvest mode and transition into doing a serious fall cleanup by the 15th or so.  The to-do list is getting shorter, but the tasks seem to require a little more elbow grease.  That’s okay because there is nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing a garden tidied up for its winter nap.

Here are a few tips to help you get your own garden ready for bed.

  • Cut back perennial foliage after a killing freeze. For a wildlife-friendly garden, cut back plants that have had disease problems during the growing season but leave stems and seed heads that will provide food and shelter for birds.
  • Mark areas where hardy volunteers have dropped their seeds so that next spring you can be on the lookout for the seedlings.
  • When using dried flowers with fuzzy seed heads, spray them with hairspray to keep them from shattering.
  • Rake up and remove any leaves on your lawn. It is important to remove dead leaves because over time they will form a dense mat that smothers your grass.
  • Clean and oil garden tools before storing for winter.
  • Protect your water features from fall leaves with netting. Stretch the netting over the water surface and secure the edges. Remove the leaves that land on the netting on a regular basis.
  • Before you put away your mower, drain gasoline and take it to the shop for any repairs needed.  It’s also a good time to have the blade sharpened and balanced.
  • Use hardware cloth to wrap around the base of small fruit trees and roses. This will protect them from rodents.
  • Transplant deciduous trees and shrubs after the leaves have fallen.
  • Pot up amaryllis bulbs now for indoor blooms during the holidays.
  • Hill soil to a height of 8 to 10 inches around roses for winter protection. Mulch after the ground freezes.
  • Save packets of half-used seeds in airtight containers in a cool dry place.
  • In my zone 7 garden and other mild winter climates, it is best to sow larkspur in mid-fall because the seeds need cool soil temperatures to germinate (50 to 60 degrees F).
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and globe alliums.

Good to Know

I garden in zone 8A. Spring usually starts in March and fall extends through November.  The summers are long and hot.  I write these tips with the idea that they are applicable to all zones during a general period of time. However, given microclimates and weather extremes timing can vary.  Observe the conditions in your garden and apply them accordingly.