Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Garden Report #37

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Michiel's Greenhouse - plug production
• Writers write: The Valentine’s issue is here. Along with the Sports Illustrated swim suit edition, this is what men have been waiting for all year. Not really. My friend Don Keith who is now deceased, used to come into the greenhouse every Valentine’s Day and buy his wife an azalea. A lovely azalea. How thoughtful. But he would never take one of the florist cards and sign his name to it, even though there was no extra charge. I even offered to write out the card for him but he refused, always explaining “she’ll know who it’s from.” As much as I dearly love my male buddies, they are idiots. All of them. Complete idiots! They never understand that for women, the card is the most important part of the gift. The flowers will be finished in short order, and the chocolates will be eaten, but the card remains forever, in a drawer somewhere, proof that love exists. Best card ever written by a seventeen year old boy to his girlfriend… “I love you so much that I would give you my last beer.” Here’s to love in all of its forms.

Pink Spire Flowering Crab
• Readers write: Michiel Verheul of Alberta sent along a photo of his greenhouse this week. Michiel grows plugs which he sells to other greenhouses. They, in turn, grow the plugs into a finished product. Spring must be getting close because I can smell the peat moss. ‘Pink Spire’ Flowering Crab is displayed as well. This is a variety that was developed by Les Kerr out of Saskatoon and the photo is courtesy of Jeffries Nursery. Number Three Son and his new bride are in Hawaii for a vacation. They sent dad some photos and three are included in this blog. Lyn Goldman, Kate Berringer and Jodi Sadowsky all wrote the same thing: “Beautiful photos” in reference to last week’s attachments. The photos were courtesy of Jeffries’ Nursery. Audrey Drummond liked the one liner about middle age. Audrey suggests that we have a contest to coin a new phrase to replace ‘middle age’, which mathematically is not a correct description of people in their fifties and sixties. New reader Susan Patryluk writes that she is pleased to be included on the list as she has enjoyed her first Report. Joanne Terry writes “you get more hilarious each week”. I assume the thought of me cooking bacon in the buff set Joanne off. Reader Daniel Redenbach informs us that he has applied to a number of festivals to host the premiere of his short film ‘Close to Here’. I have seen the final cut and he did a wonderful job. New reader Bob Leeson wrote that Marg Hryniuk’ ability as a reporter is first rate. June Blau wrote “keep writing so we can keep reading.” Richard Gustin wrote he was reading #36 in New Zealand where it is plus twenty-five. Orange Boot Bakery is pleased that good bread is being promoted within The Garden Report. We do like to eat. Gwen Scott out of Ft. Langley, B.C. writes “I continue to enjoy your banter on all things ‘gardeny’ and ‘kitcheny’. Well, that is just ‘peacheny’.

• The King’s Speech: This movie has been nominated for several Oscar’s and it will probably win Best Picture. It is one of the best movies I have ever seen. Writing of historical movies, TBS had on late at night, ‘Anne of a Thousand Days’. Richard Burton plays the role of Henry and his acting skills are phenomenal.

• Oh well: Greg Morley and Susan Hardy joined us at The Globe last Sunday. Within the play, the husband is caught not listening to his wife’s instructions. For whatever reason, Greg and I were laughing at this situation, in a loud and vigorous manner. Now, some might suspect that we were laughing because we could identify with not listening, but that is not true. Greg and I are very good listeners. We just have short memories.

A hibiscus in Hawaii growing outside
• Garden Tip: Reader Marcus Fernando has a small plot of land available to develop as his first garden and he sought advice on where to begin. I always advise new gardeners to start off with a small ‘salad garden’ which will be easy to manage. One can always increase the size the following year. A ‘salad garden’ should contain everything you would want in a salad including lettuce, green tail onions, carrots, tomatoes, basil, thyme and a few marigolds to reduce insects. It is always a good idea to stagger your seed times with lettuce so that you have continuous ripening times. Tomatoes can be jarred, carrots can be stored, herbs can be dried, but lettuce has to be eaten when it is ready. Even in a small area, I might be tempted to plant a few garlic toes and a rhubarb plant. For those who are not gardeners, rhubarb plants are perennial and they can live for fifty years or longer.

• Garden Tip: A perennial is a plant that had it lived, would have bloomed the following year.

• Garden Tip: Rhubarb leaves are quite attractive and they lend themselves to being planted for ornamental purposes in perennial beds. Similarly, ‘Northern Lights’ Swiss Chard is being used as an ornamental and not as an edible. There was some planted in front of The Legislature last year.

Patrick in Hawaii
• Community: We received and invitation to a supper hosted by Christ Lutheran Church on Dewdney Avenue, Saturday night. The meal was excellent but more importantly, I always enjoy these events for their sense of community. It was a chance to visit with people that we have not seen for a while and to meet new friends. I met a woman whose father I had worked with forty years ago. Her dad is still going strong at 105! Patrons of community events invariable turn out to be some of the nicest people one can meet.

• Sir?: Les Anderson who was my greenhouse manager said it best. “Maturity begins when the kid at Safeway turns to you and asks ‘would you like help out with that, sir?’” The first time that occurs, Les says you have to realize you are no longer hip. You have become your father.

I swore it would not happen: One night when the kids were small, they were supposed to be getting ready for bed but of course, they were fooling around. I gave them a warning. They did not heed it. Without thinking, I was standing at the bottom of the stairs shouting upwards, “So help me God…if you two don’t have your pajamas on and get into bed in five seconds, I am coming up there. Don’t make me come up there!” I had no idea where that voice had come from. It was as if my dad had been transposed into my body. And I had sworn that it would never happen.

• Something is not right: I have this doctor in Saskatoon who is quite distinguished looking. He has grey hair and his face tells you that he has been practicing medicine for many, many years. I always assumed he was ever so much my elder, by at least ten years. This week, he was being interviewed on the news and they reported his age as being two years less than mine! That must be a mistake, right?

• Language Reform: In Saskatoon a few years ago there were two theater reviews. One was for a performance with Robbie Benz who is thirty pounds heavier than me. The reviewer wrote “the powerfully built Robbie Benz”. Fair enough. Then the same reviewer described me in a different play as “the stocky Rod McDonald”. If any reviewer is reading this, in the future, I would prefer to be described as “the powerfully built.” And to that other reviewer who wrote “the aging Rod McDonald”, does he not realize that he is bald? Glass houses man, glass houses. For the record, I would prefer the word ‘aging’ be substituted with the adjective ‘timeless’. Ah, that feels better.

• Cyber Space: A hot topic in the news continues to be cyber bullying which apparently, is not confined to teen aged girls. It has now leapt into the adult demographics. Along a similar vein, when I read my favorite blog sites, often historical ones, I am amazed by the insane comments posted by anonymous readers. Not just opinions that I disagree with, but plain old fashioned, crude comments. I am often left wondering if they are posted by twelve year old boys. Most of us remember when the bulk of stupid, anonymous phone calls were made by adolescent boys who had nothing better to do with their time. Now with all of the technology available, cranks calls have decreased but cyber crap has increased. One of the major problems as I see it is that posters are not required to reveal their names, and they hide behind their anonymity. A part of democracy has always been the freedom to write and to speak what you believe to be true, which has to go hand in hand with assuming responsibility for what you write. Many of you write in to express your opinions on various subjects and I post your views, but I would never allow someone to post without identifying themselves. Anonymous posters are nothing more than new age cowards.

• Old age cowards: When I wrote for The Free Press, every now and again I would receive a letter that was absolutely off the wall, and unsigned. The writer would be waging a vendetta against some enemy, real or imagined. In contrast, the signed letters were always much more coherent and thought out, even if I disagreed with their conclusions.

• Garden Tip: Your amaryllis is through blooming and you don’t know what to do. Here is the scoop. Continue to water the plant. It should have three, four or five long, strappy leaves on it. After the danger of frost has passed, plant it outside in the garden in dappled light. I plant mine underneath my flowering crabapple tree. It could bloom again in September. Allow the plant to get a couple of frosts on it, just enough to turn the leaves. Lift the bulb out of the soil, allow it to dry out in the sun for a day or so and then store it in a cool, dark place (such as the attic) for six weeks. Repot the bulb and start growing it again. It will usually bloom five years out of eight. Not bad chances, eh?

• Funny: A woman at the grocery store asked Maureen how she stays so skinny. I told the questioner it was because I chase her around the house every night. The woman asked me how come I am not skinny. Maureen replied “he doesn’t chase me very fast.”

• Restaurant time at Ngoc Anh: Maureen and her book club have been to this place for dim sum and they have been quite pleased with their experience. The restaurant occupies the premises once home to Mieka’s and later on, Ming’s at 1810 Smith St. We decided to check it out for an early Valentine’s supper on Friday. First, the owner does the serving and she is extremely friendly and nurturing. A definite plus. Her husband is the cook. Another plus. The place is clean. Plus, yet again. We started out with a basic hot and sour soup. It was filled with a great assortment of vegetables however it was not sour, it was sweet. Correctly labeled, it was hot and sweet soup. Our next dish was cashew chicken which again was filled with an array of fresh veggies, but a little shy on the chicken and the cashews. Dish number three was the Singapore noodles which were cooked with curry. This dish was very tasty and I really enjoyed it. Our last dish was a hot plate, something we have not ordered for years. We chose one with scallops and black bean sauce. It also had some nice flavors going on and it was filled with fresh veggies, including green beans and fresh pea pods, but not a lot of scallops, especially for sixteen bucks. Total price for the meal including tip (no alcohol) was fifty-eight dollars. I don’t dole out stars. What it comes down to is this: Would I go back? I would give them another chance based upon their friendly service, their cleanliness and their wonderful selection of veggies. I would definitely ask them for dishes with more flavor and oomph. I have been told by others that they offer up a decent lunch time buffet for around nine bucks, but I have not checked that out.

A lovely photo of Hawaii
• Back to school: I have a little friend who is four years old. She loves to be scared and I accommodate her when we play ‘lion in the jungle’. I wanted to change things up a bit so I introduced a new character, a mean spirited pirate who chases little girls around the house. After we were through playing, she pointed out that my ‘lion’ and my ‘pirate’ sound quite similar to each other. Damn! Now I have to sign up for another acting class. Everyone is a theater critic these days.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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