Garden Lifestyle

You Can Grow a Lot of Hot Weather Plants Down Here in the Ozarks

I'm still here in the Ozarks after teaching summer folk school classes last week.

  • Chinese 5-color chile pepper is described as screaming hot. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • We have about 20 varieties of chiles planted in the gardens and for sale under the arbor in the craft village--from mild to incendiary.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Chiles in the gardens are producing fruit--if yours are--pick them to encourage more flowering and fruit production.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Lambs' quarters is an herb that we grow alongside chiles since it is used to flavor beans, chilis and stews and cuts down on flatulence, which often accompanies these foods. This particular variety, 'Magenta Spreen' is one of our favs for color and vigor in the garden.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Another edible leaf grown in Central America and the Caribbean is amaranth--it is used in a popular dish called Callaloo.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Hungarian purple peppers are zippy, though not too hot.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Mexican marigold (Tagetes lucida), sometimes called Mexican mint marigold, is grown in climates where it is too hot to grow tarragon--it has an aniselike flavor and a lovely marigold yellow-orange flower. It's thriving in this hot weather.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Papaloquelite is a plant that has a similar (though stronger) flavor to cilantro. It is used in salsas, soups and stews as well as with beans, meat and fish. It doesn't bolt and go to seed like cilantro.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Some good-looking Sante Fe Grandes--not too hot with lovely taste--they will eventually ripen to red. Pick them now to allow more fruit to come.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger
  • Working on developing the jungla for the HHFF under the shade trees in the Ozarks.
    Photo/Illustration: susan belsinger

I’m still here in the Ozarks after teaching summer folk school classes last week at the Ozark Folk Center. This gardening season, the gardeners planted lots of plants here with the upcoming Herb Harvest Fall Festival in mind. Last year we celebrated South America along with Chile Peppers as Herb of the Year 2016. This year, we are heading just a little bit north to the featured countries: Central America, the Caribbean basin and Mexico. Plants from those regions are growing in the gardens here–those regions of the world are hot and tropical and the plants seem to be doing well here in the Ozarks where the hot temperatures have been extreme.

The chile peppers, of course, don’t mind the hot weather–in fact they seem to thrive. Herbs like amaranth, lamb’s quarters, some of the sages and oreganos, and Mexican mint marigold and papaloquelite are doing fine. Cilantro & Coriander, which is Herb of the Year 2017, was planted in the spring and has been consumed and gone to seed, which has been harvested and saved. Another round will be planted out in August, so that we will have it to harvest for the fall festival the first weekend of October.

In one of the shadier spots, we’ve moved some of the plants in containers to make a sort of jungla (jungle) to give the feel/idea of tropical forest shade plants, since we can’t create a real rainforest in this climate. Yesterday it was 103 degrees F here; today has cooled to 99! Plants are a bit ahead of schedule due to the heat and a wet spring. I’ll tell you I’ve had some of the best, mouthwatering peaches, tomatoes and watermelon since I’ve been here, that I have tasted in a long time! I hope that y’all are keeping cool and enjoying the fruits and vegetables of the season.

Put the Herb Harvest Fall Festival, the first weekend of October 2017 on your calendar. Details will be posted on the Ozark Folk Center website around the first of August, as we are finalizing the feast and luncheon menus, as well as the schedule, right now.

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