Frequently Asked Questions
|Do you have any tips on the best ways to use the website?|
Sure. Ozarks Gardens has three simple goals:
1) to help folks find plants that really thrive in the Ozarks, along with tips on how to grow them. Every plant that appears on Ozarks Gardens does beautifully in the Ozarks and all similar climates.
2) to give a richer, broader, more useful picture of gardening in our region;
3) to have some fun
You can browse the site at your leisure or search for what you want--e.g., a search for "hosta" turns up many, many varieties--or you can search for plant characteristics such as colors or plant types. The search engine isn't perfect; like gardening, it can return some odd results, but most will be useful.
The best way to approach the website is to relax, take your time, and enjoy whatever you find here. And you don't have to see everything in one visit; you can always come back when you have more time. We'll be here.
|When you say that your website is about gardening in the Ozarks, exactly what are the Ozarks?|
The Ozarks region has no fixed, precise, universally accepted borders. Some define it as 40,000 square miles of southern MIssouri and northern Arkansas, others say it's 50,000-60,000 square miles that include parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma. Virtually all sources, however, agree that the region is generally bordered by the Mississippi River on the east, the Missouri River on the north, the Arkansas River on the south, and the Great Plains on the west. That's good enough for us. Thanks for the question.
|I know there are low-maintenance gardens, but I'm wondering if there's such a thing as a "no-maintenance" garden.|
Sorry, but no. All plants require some care, however little it may be.
|Do you have any tips on how to start seeds indoors?|
We've had great luck with the soil pellet kits sold in nurseries and garden centers. The pellets are about a quarter-inch tall and come packed in a tray of as many as 72. Add water to the tray and the pellets expand. Then use a pencil, pen tip or similar item to scrape a shallow depression in each pellet's soil mix and drop in two or three seeds and cover them with the mix. Put the tray where it won't be in the way--indirect light is fine. Add water now and then to keep the pellets from drying out and before long you'll have beautiful, healthy seedlings. It's absurdly easy, and here's good news: You don't have to rush to plant the seedlings; they'll live in the pellets for quite a long time.
|When is it safe to plant in spring in the Ozarks?|
The best guideline is to plant after the average date of the last frost in your region. In the Springfield, Missouri, area, that date is May 2nd (according to the National Weather Service). The wisest gardeners we know advise always waiting until May 10th, to avoid any risk of losing plants to a freeze.
|You have so many beautiful plants on your website, but you don't tell where to get them. Can I order seeds or plants through you?|
We're sorry, we don't sell plants or, for that matter, anything. Our Plantsellers section has some good plant sources. You can find them here. Others can be found on the Internet or in the phone book.
|I like hostas and would like to grow some, but I don't know where to start. Do you have any tips?|
Boy, do we. For choosing plants, you can evaluate a great many in the Hosta Garden section of this website. The best info ever on how to choose and grow hostas, however, is the Establishing Hosta page on the American Hosta Society website. You'll find it here.
|We're new to this area. Can you tell us the best tomato to grow in this climate?|
Wow, this question may be unanswerable. "Best" how? In taste, size, color, quantity of yield, disease resistance, or in all characteristics combined? We've put the question to some Ozarks gardeners who know much more than we and none could name a "best" tomato for the region. They all say this is great tomato-growing country and can name varieties they especially like and recommend. 'Big Boy', 'Better Boy', 'Early Girl', and 'Brandywine' are the highest on the list. (We'll add more as we talk with more gardeners.) Note: You can find superb info on growing tomatos in general in Missouri here.
|If you're new to gardening and want to make your first small flower garden, what plants would make it colorful but easy to take care of?|
A great question. If your garden site has reasonably good soil and about a half-day's sun, planting Salvia, or Sage, is a terrific solution. Salvia species and hybrids come in so many beautiful colors, sizes, and textures that they can make a highly diverse and colorful garden by themselves. (Search this site for "sage" to find some good varieties.) The only care sage need is watering when dry and removing spent flowers to prolong bloom. Bonus: Most sages are perennial in the Ozarks, so don't need replanting. We know of no easier plant path to a lovely, low-maintenance garden. You can add other plants to the mix, too!
|We have more herbs in the garden than we need. We'd like to dry some for future use but are not sure how. Do you have any tips?|
Lynda and Jim Franco grow many herbs at Earth Mother Gardens in Buffalo, Missouri. (See them in Plantsellers on this website.) Lynda says the best way to dry herbs is to "Put 'em in a paper bag, label 'em, and put 'em in the refrigerator. In two weeks they'll be ready with good color and their original taste." She adds, "If you wash the herbs first, be sure to put them in a dry towel for at least 24 hours before bagging them up."
|We read recently that Knock Out roses bloom better if they're not deadheaded. Is that true? It doesn't make sense to us.|
We've read that ourselves and didn't understand it, either. So with all of the Knock Out roses in our home garden we've tried deadheading and not deadheading and found that all bloom much, much more abundantly when deadheaded. Apparently, the advice to not deadhead is a misinterpretation of the fact that Knock Outs don't require deadheading to look neat.
|Are ornamental peppers edible?|
Some are, but some are too hot to eat and a few others actually poisonous. Also, peppers sold as ornamentals are treated with toxic pesticides to be blemish-free. For eating, it's best to stick to peppers grown expressly for the table.
|Sometimes I buy plants that look great in the garden center but in my garden hardly grow at all, even though other plants in the same soil are doing fine. What gives?|
We've encountered this problem ourselves, so we know your frustration all too well. Your plants most likely have been sprayed with a "plant regulator" to inhibit growth and extend their "shelf life." Large-scale plant growers are increasingly using these growth-inhibiting substances and, unfortunately, sometimes in quantities that render the plants incapable of good garden growth. (Note: In our own garden we've had 'State Fair' Zinnias that grew only an inch and a half in two months.) Plants so treated most often show up in the "big box" outlets. Sometimes they can be recognized by their having smaller, darker leaves than normal and a much more compact habit. We think it's a good idea when you run into such plants to tell the seller about them and ask for a refund.
|We're wondering if you'd like to add our home garden to your Real Gardens section. We're pretty proud of it.|
You bet we would. Just email us at frank @ozarksgardens.com with a phone number where we can reach you. (Be sure to eliminate the space between "frank" and the @ symbol--we only put it that way here to foil spammers.)
|Your website is really good, but I'm wondering if you ever thought of adding a forum section on Ozarks gardening?|
Yes, we've thought of it, but decided to pass because several such forums already exist online and ours, in addition to duplicating others, would take us away from giving straight gardening news and info.
|The photos on Ozarks Gardens are very nice. Did you take them, and if so, what kind of camera or cameras did you use?|
Almost all of the photos on Ozarks Gardens were taken with an older Olympus C-4040Z digital camera that we chose for faithfulness to natural colors, lens clarity, and color balance. When this camera recently went on the fritz, we started using an Olympus SP-600UZ. Although the new camera sells for less than $300, it does a great many things our first one couldn't do, such as taking very good super-closeup pics. We're learning the new camera now, which isn't a breeze because it has some real idiosyncracies, but so far we quite like it.
Note: Many companies produce digital cameras now that are inexpensive yet take superb photos. You can compare the picture quality of a number of them here.
|What's the best way to deal with slugs and snails? They're eating my hostas!|
Commercial baits and home remedies (saucers of beer, etc.) run a poor second to going out with a flashlight at night and handpicking pests, with perhaps one exception. Hosta grower Lee Coates of Highlandville, Missouri, says that in the fall when slugs are most active and laying eggs, baits are useless. "They're up in the leaves feeding and they're not coming down to eat bait and then going back up for the food they prefer." Coates advises putting baits down in the spring before plants develop any foliage--"That's when the eggs are hatching and you can wipe out 90 percent of them right off the bat." He recommends Sluggo and other phosphate-based baits, which, by the way, are not toxic to pets. Where pets are not present, Hosta grower Laura White of Springfield, Missouri, recommends the liquid bait Deadline as being highly effective.
|Where are the best places to buy plants in the Ozarks?|
Rest easy, because our region has way too many excellent plantsellers to name here. We know more than 100 sources for healthy, beautiful plants at fair prices. Some can be found in the Plantsellers section on this website. Places that sell overfertilized, poorly maintained, or overpriced plants are rare. We can count them on one hand. (No, we won't name them, because they might improve.)
|Your Plantsellers section lists only a few outlets for plants. Why did you pick those and leave out so many others in the Ozarks?|
The nurseries, growers, garden centers and other plantsellers you see on the website are those who we've met and talked with. This is why you see so many Farmers' Market sellers--they're all in one place and easily accessible. We hope eventually to list every plantseller in the Ozarks who's doing anything of special interest to gardeners. We don't purposely exclude anyone. We just haven't gotten around to everybody. If you know of a nursery, grower, or other plantseller you think would be worth listing on the website, please go to Contact Us and tell us about them, and we'll follow up.
|Your website is so clean and well organized. Who designed it?|
We can't take the credit. The design and organization of Ozarks Gardens are due to MachineWare, the software created by Jim Teters that "drives" the website. The program is so logical and easy to use that creating a messy or disorganized site with it is, in our opinion, impossible. We feel very lucky to have its use.
|I like buying some of my garden supplies online with the ads on your website, but I don't see any now. Will you have new ones?|
For a long time we've wanted to make the website ad-free to focus exclusively on encouraging people to, as much as possible, buy their seeds, plants, and other garden supplies from their local growers, nurseries, and garden centers. This not only helps hardworking independent local suppliers, but keeps dollars in one's own community. We intend to keep the site ad-free. Of course, we apologize to anyone who feels inconvenienced by the absence of our previous online ads.