Visiting Maranatha Farm

We find ourselves visiting Maranatha Farm near Rover, MO where friends Skip and Mary live and work. This is my first visit – a most peaceful and inspiring garden experience. Thirty years of heart-felt dedication and work by Mary and Skip have made Maranatha the showcase that it is.

Ever the worker, we meet up with Mary who is elbow deep in a wheelbarrow full of potting mixture and a mass of sweet potato starts all under the shade of a tremendous oak. A little direction from Mary and we set off on our self guided tour.

Maranatha has three distinct gardens – each flowing from one to the next – the Japanese Garden, the flower garden and the vegetable garden.

I choose to count four gardens though and call the spectacular garden gongs about the place a garden all their own. The huge gongs resonate gentle musical tones from nowhere and everywhere all at once and forever and add an element of tranquility to this visit.

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I particularly enjoy the Japanese Garden sitting area with its deep gentle wood bench, a clear view of the lantern, and the rich lulling gongs. There is a scent of damp earth, moss and cedar on this clear Ozark day. After a lengthy meditation I pull myself away from the spot in order to visit the rest of the garden.

Impeccably maintained wisteria past its bloom.

 Many quiet places to sit and take it all in.

The abundance of flowers creates lush and vibrant views.

My favorite flowers are the immense four foot tall poppies inside the greenhouse.

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Remember to check out the stand of timber bamboo. Skip and Mary use it for structural elements throughout the gardens.


Contact Information

RR 81 Box 119, Koshkonong, Mo. 65692.
Phone# (417) 764-3698


And from me to you… om…




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How I Became a Snake Handler – and finally a garden update

Baby Rat snake? Anyone?

I carried a snake in my hands today. Yep. First time. And then I screamed and did a little dance! It was startling to have that little thing squiggle out of my hands and the loose damp straw I was carrying to a big pot of marigolds. Me and snakes are not the best of friends. Never have been. But now I have carried one and lived to tell about it. One time snake handling was plenty.


I bet you are here for the garden update!?

Yesterday we up-potted dozens of flowers and herbs.

Last fall these leeks were merely wisps of green. Thank you Pat H for encouraging me to plant these. And for the wisps!

After cleaning these three leeks weighed in at just a pound. They were making baby leeks too. The variety is Giant Musselburgh. I replanted the baby slips.

One of the potato rows – planted on February 5 it was a gamble at best. We covered it with a lot of loose straw and a plastic tarp during freezing and snowy days.

A three foot bed of radish and pak choy. The radish will be out by the time the choy is full size.

The obligatory “pea” photo. Spring peas are my all time favorite. You might already know that.

Onions, choy and a patch of lettuce. Gone are the radish.

No broccoli heads yet but the plants are looking good! I covered them with row cover immediately after planting and have avoided cabbage worms.

Not much height from the Brussels Sprouts. A late start and wildly fluctuating temperatures have caused them to try to bolt. Not ready to give up yet! Small sprouts on the lower branches. If we can keep them alive through the summer they should make sprouts then. And I will start more seeds late summer.

The garlic is feeling somewhat rushed with all the high and low temps. It will probably come out of the ground early this year.

Cilantro has officially taken hold of this bed and reseeded itself quite successfully this year. This makes me happy!

Totally opposite nutritional requirements – many sources suggested planting beets among onions. So I did. Hopefully the beets will be ready long before the onions need another shot of nitrogen.

The Hugelkultur bed is about as ready as it is going to be. Soon we plant watermelons on it. This will be the first planting after a year and a half (?) of resting.

Overview of the Cornfield plot. We added the sides for raised beds and Gene is putting a thick layer of sawdust in the pathways. No mowing and little maintenance there!

Overview of the Kitchen Garden plot.

Notice those sleds if you will. Real handy for moving a lot of small potted plants. We can even drag them into the house if need be. Upcycle.

This visitor doesn’t move nearly as fast as some of the others!

With all the rain mushrooms just keep popping up all over the place. One more thing I do not attempt to identify.

At Gene’s insistence we planted some of these “things”. I got used to them. They do add a splash of color. Ok – they are pretty. There, I’ve said it.

We will have a few strawberries this year and I expect more this fall and next spring. Nothing like home grown!

How grows your garden?

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Eager For Summer

Today I temp you with summer food photos.

Yellow squash fried and ready to eat!

Eighteen big slices. Ready to bread and fry.

These happen to be zucchinni and they are every bit as delicious as yellow squash. Dip in flour, then egg then bread crumbs or your favorite breading.

Sizzling in hot coconut oil till crispy and tender. I like mine with a side of horseradish sauce.

A quick rustic meal – hot buttered noodles with fresh garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil, wilted baby greens and cherry tomatoes.

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We are still enjoying the early salad makings especially the spring peas, radish, lettuce onions, pak choy and all the fresh herbs but summertime is calling! I will be furiously planting next week and hoping for a little less rain than the weather person is calling for.

How are your garden plans?

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Time On My Hands ! ? What…

I never have time to spare. Never. But today there I was sitting at the kitchen table playing solitaire in the middle of the day. For about an hour. Then I wandered off to find some other aimless activity. I edited some photos, realized the garden should have been photographed today but now the light is gone, tasted tonight’s soup again, looked in the laundry bin and finally found myself at the computer. Here. Right here typing away for you.

You can see pictures of the garden that I posted five days ago  here. It seems things have nearly doubled in size since then! Finally we have had some spring rains and moderate weather, sorta.

I am troubled by a recipe. You may know I seldom use a recipe or if I do it gets tweaked radically. You may know that I consider a recipe a mere suggestion. So why would I be troubled by a recipe? Well.

When we were out west in February my sister made what she called California Rolls. They were DELICious! I loved everything about them. Perfection in a tortilla. With fresh crisp veggy things and a bit of protein. I figured they could be duplicated easy enough. I could see what was in them. Simple. Right. ? No.

The ingredients seemed a bit scanty once rolled up. Maybe about 25% more “stuff” altogether.

I made what I thought was a reasonable facsimile. They were awful! Boring! Drab. The most ho-hum food to grace my kitchen in quite a while (oh please don’t mention that week and a half spell I couldn’t cook anything decent a while back… it happens to all of us). These faux California Rolls tasted like ground up cardboard. Really.

So I asked Pam (my sister) to send the exact recipe and I planned on following it. Which I did. What… do they have extra special deliciouso avocados in Arizona? Or better spicy sprouts? Is their something I should be adding to the mayo that no one is telling me about?

These too were very close to average. The underside of average. Less than. Edible and way better than the first time. But not good enough to make them again.

Here is the recipe. I hope you make suggestions.

California Rolls

Dice a tomato and set it aside to drain

Dice 2 green onions, set aside

Mash an avocado with 1 tablespoon of sour cream or mayo and a 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice and a pinch of salt (I added some pepper here)

Spread the mash on 6 tortillas (I used 4) to within 1/2 inch of the edges

Cover with lettuce leaves or other light greens

Cover with sliced deli turkey or ham

Top with sprouts (I used a spicy mix)

Sprinkle with tomato, onion and some shredded cheese

Optional: bacon bits, diced cucumber, shredded radish (that’s my idea:) )

Roll up tightly and cut in half or thirds. Happy dining!

I used crumbled bacon, but not the deli meat (ugh). No other changes. I would have liked the shredded radish – we use that a lot on veggy sandwiches.

They just turned out like crap and I do not know why. Please offer suggestions!!

Thanks. Bonnie appetite ya’all!

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A Basket Collection

I have discovered that of the dozens and dozens of baskets in my home only a few are of any real interest, and that I know very little about basketry. Many of mine are mass produced and from China. Nonetheless they are useful and beautiful. I have also discovered they all need a good dusting and a wash and even a few repairs. Here we have some of my favorites.

Decorative reclaimed wire basket by Kitty Chrysalis. She does beautiful work mostly in copper but also uses many other wires. Kitty is an Ozark basket maker currently living in Europe. Nearly twenty years ago I first saw one of Kitty’s baskets at the Yellow House in West Plains, MO. They were far too expensive for my budget at the time. Size – 8 1/2 X 7 X 3 inches tall.

I have a few white oak baskets collected over the years, the oldest being from 1980.

A full size laundry basket, there are two of these and they have been at hard labor for 47 years. Size – 20 X 16 inches tall.

The lamp shade on the left is also one of a pair. It was acquired the same year as the laundry basket. Size – 12 X 9 1/4 inches tall. Laundry basket and lamp shade were purchased at Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. The flat coiled basket on the right was found at a yard sale some years ago. Size – 22 inches.


Large white oak basket. Size – 23 X 16 X 16 inches tall.

Two white oak berry baskets completed by Gene and myself at the Show-Me Folk School, Basketmaking workshop. Size – 9 X 13 X 9 inches tall.

Coiled basket. Size – 13 X 8 inches tall.

This gourd and pine needle basket was made by a native American woman named Lara and given to me. It is decorated with abalone chips. Size – 8 X 7 inches tall.

I acquired this basket from an aunt when she died some years ago. Size – 15 X 7 1/2 inches tall.

These three baskets are some of my favorites. They have done many jobs including trash receptacle, laundry hamper and misc. storage. I purchased them in 1974 in the produce section of a grocery store  in California for .50cents to $1.50 each. One of them originally had a lid but it became lost. Size – largest one is 12 X 20 inches tall.

Seemingly very old basket with a wooden bottom it is the perfect size and is used as a trash receptacle. Size – 11 X 11 1/2 inches tall.

The remainder of these baskets are mass produced (probably in China as so many are). They each have been used for many years.

Modern square basket. Size – 23 X 17 1/2 X 22 inches tall.

Purchased at Dauphin Island this basket appears to be made from grape or other vines. I like the rough texture. Size – 11 1/2 X 5 inches tall.

Another common mass produced basket. Size – 19 X 13 1/2 X 17 inches tall.

Large round shallow basket, mass produced. Size – 18 1/2 X 8 inches tall.


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April In The Garden

The narcissus started blooming a couple of days ago.

Every spring I get so excited watching things bud out and bloom, poke their little heads up out of the ground and bear leaves to eat that you might think it was the first spring I have ever experienced. Every year it’s the same.

We didn’t start anything from seed this year instead focusing on finalizing the garden beds and walkways in the “Cornfield” plot, bricking some pathways and dividing hundreds of bulbs.

I will soon get baby plants from our local grower at Crossroads Garden and transplant to bigger pots before putting them in the ground. It will be pretty standard fare again this year. Tomatoes, beans, squash, peppers. You know the drill – summer stuff.

My first successful carrots.

In the meantime we have been enjoying some lettuces, green onions, choy, kale, leeks, carrots, radishes and fresh herbs. We also had a great little harvest of parsnips for the first time ever. I found that covering parsnip seeds with a clear plastic tub (aka cloche) to keep in the moisture ensured they germinate faster. It only took about one week for them to sprout last fall and they overwintered well.

The obligatory pea photo. You know peas are my favorite thing to plant and talk about!

Some stray weeds, I mean delicate flowers, growing in a crevice.

These are the potato plants. They have quadrupled in size the last few weeks.

If you look close you can see the flowers about to bloom on the potatoes.

The “Cornfield” plot. Permanent raised beds this year and the dug out walkways are getting filled with sawdust for weed control.

What’s growing right now?, kohlrabi, kale, green and bulbing onions, garlic, leeks, chives, Brussels Sprouts (unless they bolt), beets, broccoli, English and snow peas, potatoes, radish, lettuce, pak choy, cilantro, fennel, parsley.

What’s come and gone?, parsnips, carrots, shallots and half the leeks.

What’s in the plan?, all those luscious traditional summer nightshades, squash, beans, okra, corn and perhaps a few sweet potatoes. Maybe some melons.

What does your summer garden plan include?



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About Those Potatoes…

It’s official, spring has taken the upper hand in this neck of the Ozarks. One minute it was definitively winter, then we had a 90 degree (F) day, then four inches of snow, then it was spring. Rain, tree frogs, gentle breezes, intermittent sunshine, more rain. Have I mentioned rain? We have measured almost thirteen inches of rain here at Moonmooring in March. Even with the garden on a slope and raised beds there was standing water in pathways this morning after an overnight rain measuring 3.1 inches and the night before it was 1.9 inches. Gads.

A stray mushroom. With all the rain we have gotten they are popping up everywhere on sunny days.

I am having a hard time remembering it is only March. Each day my garden brain thinks I am too far behind – I should have more things planted – weed – till – fertilize – compost – plant – why aren’t the beans and tomatoes and squash ready to go in the ground?! Oh yea. It’s still March.

Late last summer turning toward fall I vowed to put the deep summer crops – tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplants and such – in much later and nurture them into the late fall. The eggplants sure are happier when you do that. And my best tomato plant was a broken Black Krim limb that I stuck in the ground in July and covered with a shade box. That single plant produced the absolute best and most beautiful tomatoes I have ever grown. All eighteen pounds of them harvested in November.

I say be creative and flexible and think outside the window box. We overwintered leeks, onions, garlic (of course), shallots, kale, parsnips, carrots, radish, cilantro and lettuce. Not a lot but enough to munch on here and there. Several things I had planned did not make it though. No cabbage nor fall broccoli or peas and the kale was less than thrilled (I think it was just a bad spot for kale).

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With the ground as saturated as it was this morning Gene and I spent our day dealing with some kitchen tasks. Between the two of us we started some sprouts, sauerkraut, fermented horseradish, vinegar, made some garlic chive poppy seed dressing, cut and dehydrated cilantro and garlic chives and are getting ready to eat a pizza.

Here is a look at the garden this day.

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So… about those potatoes.

These potato plants are robust and have outsmarted some pretty cold weather and snow.

We acquired a fifty pound bag of unknown potatoes grown in a north central state late last fall with the intention of eating them through the winter and canning about half of them. By the time I got around to making time for canning they had sprouted like crazy. Big beefy sprouts sticking out all over the place. So I salvaged, blanched and froze what I could and we prepped sixty big pieces to plant. They went in the ground on February 5. That’s mighty early for planting potatoes in zone 7a. It was either plant them or compost them so planting it was.

These potatoes have been snowed on (4 1/2 inches), suffered four nights in the 20’s and received over 16 inches of rain since planting. I thought they froze out with the snow and freeze. They lost all their leaves and I had to just let it go. A week later Gene told me I might want to look in on them and sure enough all but two plants have replaced all their leaves. They are lovely. I hope they have enough juice to make potatoes!

To be fair, we did cover them with about eighteen inches of loose straw and plastic for the few days it was coldest. Snow is a good insulator.

I could talk for days about garden plans but will save it for later.

What is happening in YOUR garden this spring?

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