Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Garden Report #7

July 18th, 2010
• The saying is that lightning never strikes twice but that does not apply to hail. My garden was almost recovered from the hail storm from eighteen days ago when what showed up this past Tuesday around three? If you said more hail, you win a flattened petunia pot. This bout was not as severe as the first one and hopefully everything will be lovely again in a week’s time.

• I love the old saw “Lies, damned lies and then there are statistics!” The most popular theme to the correspondence I receive in this blog is weeds. Easily ten to one over any other subject, thus my statistics reference. Two weeks ago, I reported that scentless chamomile should not be confused with oxeye daisy only to find out from Ingrid Thiessen that oxeye daisy is considered a noxious weed in Alberta. I have included photos of both of them. I also included the creeping bellflower as reader Marg Hryniuk reports that it is dominating many yards in the neighborhood. I have actually had a few of the pesky weeds attempt a takeover in the back corner of my garden. It was Paris of 1793 all over again as I ordered “off with their heads!”

• Garden Tip: Lots and I mean lots of powdery mildew is showing up. There is a fungicide/ insecticide on the market called Flortiect and it assists in controlling mildew. You can also try garden sulphur in a liquid or spray form. I found some of this product labeled as ‘Defender’ at Sherwood Greenhouses.

• As readers know, I love big and intense flavors. We tried Wah Sun on Rose Street last Sunday and I am saddened to report that they fell short. Nothing we ate made me go ‘wow’ or put me on the bus to flavor town ( expression kindly borrowed from Triple D). What did excite my taste buds was another incredible meal at Siam, on Hamilton Street. We devoured a chicken satay, a warm beef salad (it was to die for) and a super hot chili, pork and green beans dish. Order extra water with this entree.

• Since starting The Garden Report, I have received over a hundred emails expressing their support for the blog and participating in it with comments and questions. I knew that eventually I would get some that were not as supportive. Well, the first “take me off your mailing list” arrived and of course, I have to respect that person’s right to say no, so it is done. I also know that one day in the future, I will receive an email from a reader that will be less than kind. When I wrote my column for The Free Press, I received one piece of hate mail, unsigned of course as they usually are, because I wrote a column about how wonderful it is to have the multiculturalism of Canada. The writer was violently upset because he alleged that most of the world’s problems were a direct result of “the Catholics” and he thought I should expose their master plan to take over the world. I have no idea what the writer was talking about. Every sane person knows that it is the Lithuanians who have the master plan (that should get some responses from the Lithuanians.)

• Writing of multiculturalism, I love being Canadian for all that it entails. We were visiting my aunt in Nova Scotia and she invited us to stay at her home. My aunt married an Orthodox Jew in 1940, she converted and raised their six children as Jews. I explained to my beloved aunt that Maureen, in spite of her Irish name, is a grandchild from the first Moslem Arab family in Regina. Would this be a problem? My aunt didn’t hesitate for one second before responding: “It’s Canada, welcome to our home.” That’s Canada and that’s the way it should be.

• My lovely niece, Michelle Jackson has her first house and her first garden. She wrote in to say that her radishes, similar to the gardener in #6, were leafy with no bulb. That is a result of the cool and wet weather. Root crops need lots of heat. Michelle reports that she had her first fresh garden salad and it was everything she expected it to be. Many of you remember the three commercials that Michelle and Uncle Rod shot in 1989. The ‘ask me, ask me’ series. Michelle was just about five at the time and people always want to know how we got her to respond on cue. Well, here is the trade secret revealed. Layton Burton and I worked on those spots and Michelle did not respond on cue, so we shot a master tape and then inserted Michelle’s parts inside the master. The entire thing was shot out of sequence. And that is how you work with an actor who is only four and can’t remember her lines. Oh, and people always ask how much money she was paid for those ads? We are a Scottish family and we do not believe in spoiling our children with large sums of money. Anyways, she couldn’t count very high at the time so I think she got some fish and chips at Butler’s for her efforts.

• Garden Tip Number Two: Reader Sherrie Tutty sent this one in. She returned from a holiday to find seven ant hills in her lawn. She sprinkled ‘Equal’ onto the hills and only an odd straggler survived. According to Sherrie, artificial sweeteners with Aspartame work just fine as an ant killer, which makes me think twice about putting the stuff in my coffee.

• Thinking of other poisonous products: I was leaving DJ Paving Stones retail lot the other day and what did I spy a block away? A three or four year old boy in his front yard with a Double Big Gulp in his hands. The drink was almost as big as he was. This flabbergasts me! Why would any parent allow a child to consume sixty-four ounces of a sugar saturated soda pop? Do they not understand how addictive sugar can be? Those parents are setting their child up for a future that will in all likelihood entail obesity, dental issues, diabetes, attention deficit syndrome and hyper activity. Now, I might be on the soap box with this one, but it really rips me apart. I absolutely believe, allowing a child that much sugar is child abuse. I stuck my nose into this muck one time, and I asked one mother who was putting Coke into her baby’s bottle why she was doing that? Her answer: “He likes it.”

• Readers who took the time to write in this week: Lyn Goldman, Paula Grolle, Ingrid Thiessen, Marg Hryniuk, Roberta Nichol, Gail Aubin (Carman), Cary Rubenfeld (Winnipeg), Cheryl Hutton (Calgary) who wrote “you have a wonderful way of letting your readers in on the here and now”, Cheryl Ann Smith (England) who is on a religious pilgrimage and is offering up prayers for me, Colette Nichol (Ecuador), Jodi Sadowsky, Dave Calam’, Sherry Tutty, Murray Wallace, Michelle Jackson (my lovely niece), my cousin Judy Kerr, Dani Mario, Denise Cook, Denise Mirva, someone named Jackie, and John Huston (Toronto). John wanted to know what ‘deadheading’ means. It is the removal of the spent flower. ‘Pinching’ is the removal of the stem and the flower that while not dead, is past its’ prime.

• Blooming this week are lilies and delphiniums. There is a wonderful Lily Society in Regina if you are interested in learning about this easy to grow, summer blooming bulb. The linden trees are getting oh, so very close to blooming, but not just yet. Saskatoons are ready in some areas but not all. Strawberries are more or less done for a month then we should be getting another, smaller crop. Beets, smaller carrots, smaller onions, a few peas and fresh lettuce are showing up at The Farmer’s Market. The beets were just fine but the baby carrots lacked their usual, sweet flavor. I don’t know if it was the variety or the year. I will of course be trying them next week. Has anyone else noticed how addictive fresh, young carrots from the garden can be? Okay, not Dairy Queen Blizzard addictive, but at least compelling.

• This one can be filed under too much time on my hands. When I see on my call display that it is a 1-800 number, I have been answering “RCMP Drug Squad.” When the telemarketer continues, I ask him point blank if he wants to report a crime in progress. They usually mumble “wrong number, sorry” and hang up. If they ask for Maureen, I tell them she passed away this morning and that I am the minister arranging the funeral service. Then I ask the marketer if he or she would like to express condolences to the family. There is usually a strained silence before they apologize and hang up. For the record, she is alive and well.

• My, oh my, how disconnected we are from our food supply. Rick, the organic veggie farmer at the market told me that people have been asking for a few weeks if the corn is ready? For those who don’t get it, the question compares to asking if Santa Claus is expected soon. It is just way too early for both Santa and the local corn.

• We are growing peppermint in our raised herb garden and adding a sprig to our sun tea. Very, very tasty. Some of you have been interested in my mention last week of lemon thyme. Beautiful herb for pork, chicken, fish and vegetables. It does not really work on beef. I take lemon thyme, oregano, basil, garlic and I mash them up with a bit of lemon juice or fresh limes and olive oil. I make it fairly thick. I brush that on the pork or the chicken about ten minutes before the meat is finished when I am barbecuing. Fresh basil is a must with garden tomatoes. Fresh rosemary and chicken were made for each other by the way.

• Speaking of oregano, my friend Nicky Makris of Nicky’s Café fame is closed down for the month of July. He is renovating his diner and hopes to be reopened in early August. Nicky is one of those ‘proud to be a Canadian’ immigrants who would give the proverbial shirt off of his back, if you needed it. He told me when he flew back from his holiday in Greece, he landed at Toronto’s airport. He walked out of the terminal and he kissed the parking meter. I asked him “why?” And his answer: “Because I was back in Canada.” Another time I asked Nicky how many English words he knew in 1964 when he first arrived. He said: “Six, but five I couldn’t say in public.”

• Enjoy the summer gardens…Rod McDonald

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