Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Garden Report #47

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Morden Sunrise Rose
 • Writers write: The sun is shining and the temperature has risen, just a tad. It is a late spring. The leaves have been raked and the mulch removed. The emerging bulbs and perennials have shown their tips. There is a reason why bulbs are referred to as ‘sleeping beauties.’ Murphy has been out much more this week, walking his garden path, inspecting insects that he finds along the way. Once the ferns have grown, he will resume his ‘king of the jungle’ pose, patrolling his fiefdom. The robins have been all over the garden sorting out the exposed worms. The cycle of life is so evident and just beyond my kitchen windows.

• Readers write: Joanne Terry understands my need to channel surf. She floats through all the cable channels only to discover nothing is on that she really wants to watch. I assume she has not yet found “Say Yes to the Dress”. Cary Rubenfeld out of Winnipeg writes in regards to #46 “ some of the best writing I have seen…” Lyn Goldman writes that she knows it is spring because Trout and Jilly (her two cats) are coming in covered in mud. We understand at this house. Murphy has been getting paw baths and scrubs for two weeks now. He actually does not resist as he knows what to expect. Georgia Hearn writes that The Garden Tips component of this blog is “better than attending a class or reading a book.” Reader Jean McNeil who lives near Ottawa writes that in another life time she might learn how to enjoy Brussels Sprouts. That should get some reader mail going. Kirk and Wanda Bellamy want people to sign their donor cards and are proud to have done so many years ago. Cheryl Ann Smith who now resides in the country side of England reads The Garden Report early in the morning due to the time difference. Cheryl Ann was at one time the director of The Marian Center on Halifax Street in Regina. Joan Ziffle sends along complimentary hugs to all those who need one this week. Jack Tunnicliffe wants spring to appear soon as he is anxious to get his convertible out of the garage for a spin. If he is going to The Dairy Queen, he can pick me up. Roberta Nichol responded to last week’s restaurant opinions. Roberta said she has found The Fireside Bistro to be mediocre, that Angor is a hit and miss with its meals and that she had another outstanding meal at The Creek Bistro on 13th. I have yet to eat at The Creek but it is definitely on my radar site. Joan Kortje is excited about spring but she is not sure whether she should shovel the remaining snow or start to dig. A tough choice this year. Carlo from The Italian Star Deli writes “I really enjoy your Garden Reports.” Susan Rollins who lives out in the Lumsden/Craven valley writes “Your gardening advice is so helpful for a returning prairie gardener and your restaurant reviews are appreciated…” Susan and her husband Jim have been barricaded by water this season and it has been a struggle to even leave the property. Jennifer Cohen wants us to know that The Jazz Society is having a gig at The Casino on May 16th featuring PJ Perry. PJ is an incredible saxophone player and he is worth the price of admission. Joana Cook wants us to know that it is plus twenty-five in London this week.

• Garden Tip: If you have not already done so, it is definitely time to band your elm and apple trees to protect them from the dreaded canker worms that appear every spring. Ensure that there is a band of insulation as the first layer followed by a plastic layer followed by the application of a sticky substance such as Tanglefoot. Be careful working around any of the sticky substances as they are very difficult to remove from your clothing. I have firsthand knowledge of this occurring.

• Say what?: As a small child, I suffered a touch of auditory dyslexia. Radio announcers such as the late, great Jonny Sandison would proclaim that all contest draws had been made at random. Except I heard the word Brandon which I knew to be a town in Manitoba. I thought Brandon must be a very trustworthy community because they were always holding draws “at Brandon”.

• Ancient civilization: We didn’t get a gas furnace until 1960. Until then, our house ran off of coal and wood. It was my job in Grades One, Two and Three to fill the kindling box (starter firewood) each day after school. If the box was not filled with freshly chopped wood, I was in big trouble with my mother.

• Garden Tip: If you are growing in containers this season and I very much recommend container gardening to expand your yard, then it is time to stock up on Pro Mix. This is a brand of potting soil that I recommend and use myself. I purchase my Pro Mix in the larger bales of 3.8 c.f. from Sherwood Greenhouses behind CTV.

No baseball contract!
• A baseball star is born: When I was in Grade One, I decided I should be a starting pitcher for The New York Yankees. I practiced my pitching skills until one day I was so confident at keeping the ball in the strike zone, I decided to use our kitchen window for practice. I announced to myself and the rest of the world that the strike zone was the sill around the window. I knew I wouldn’t break the window as I had such control over my sinker, slider and curve that it was …well, impossible for the pitch to veer off course. This story kind of writes itself, doesn’t it? My pitch was right on the money except at the last moment, my curve cut into the right, but only by an inch. It went through the glass pane, the flowered curtains and landed in my dad’s bowl of chicken noodle soup. For years, I always assumed the look on my father’s face that day was one of anger, utter anger. Many years later, my mother informed me that I was wrong. The look was one of fear. My poor father, enjoying his bowl of soup, had World War Three erupt before his eyes. I put the fear of God back into his life. Oh…the Yankees never drafted me after that one mistake.

• Garden Tip: This week, most gardeners should be lightly raking their lawn with a fan rake, being careful to gather up the snow mould and dispose of it. Trees and shrubs can be pruned except for elms. An aeration company can be booked but should not be employed until the lawn is a bit more dry. No fertilizer should be applied, just yet. Layers of mulch can be slowly removed, about an inch at a time, so that the plants can acclimate to the new season.

• Garden Tip: I cannot stress the importance of the use of peat moss and lots of it while gardening. Good gardeners know that you can never use too much peat moss. It can be used as a mulch and it can be dug into the soil to improve the friability of the soil. If you live in a sandy area such as White City or Pilot Butte, peat moss can improve the quality of your soil by giving it more structure and holding power. If you live in a clay soil area such as Regina, peat moss can break up the stickiness and reduce the compaction of your garden soil.

• Sigh Thai: Readers Brad and Sandy Crassweller wanted to take us for supper and if someone else is buying, I am your guest. A good Scotsman never turns down a free meal. They asked what our favorite place was and Siam on Hamilton was quickly mentioned. We had two appetizers and five main dishes for the four of us which meant there were leftovers. The food is filled with flavors and textures. There is spicy, sweet, sour, crunchy, creamy, garlicky and a few O.M.G.’s available for your taste buds.

• Garden Tip: For people in the Indian Head area, I will be holding a seminar on gardening with arthritis at the local hospital. The seminar is at seven p.m. on Tuesday, May 3rd and to register, contact The Saskatchewan Arthritis Society. Seating is limited.

Little Princess Spirea
• Noah’s Ark: Compared to other communities, Regina has had very little damage due to flooding. The creek has overflowed its bank in places but not the disaster it has been in other parts of our province and in Manitoba.

• Stupid and sad: On my way in to The Pasqua Hospital on Thursday, there was a young man in his twenties wearing a hospital gown with two bags attached to an I.V. pole. He was smoking right in front of the sign announcing that he was in The Cancer Survivors’ Garden. Maybe, just maybe, it is time for him to quit.

• Garden Tip: Cruised through Home Depot on Friday. They have a bunch of cedars, imported from B.C. and yes, there was a fellow buying them. There are two problems with this: First, the cedars have broken dormancy so any frost we have will damage the new growth. They look so lovely today but in a month’s time, they will be brown. The second problem is that the variety is Emerald Green which is marginally hardy at the best of times. Brandon and Holmstruppii are much hardier varieties for our region. My advice, do not buy them no matter how tempting the price.

• Tasty: Several of you wrote in to say that the hot cross buns at Orange Boot were very good. I had to go there three times before I got some but you were right. Their Easter buns were very, very good.

• Garden Tip: Lilies including Easter lilies will last much longer if kept in a cooler place. Temperature totally controls how long they will last.

• Magic words: One of our boys was just learning to talk and his grandmother gave him a present. Maureen, ever the epitome of etiquette asks him “what do we say when someone gives us a gift?” He didn’t respond and sat there, sucking his thumb. Maureen tried again “What are the magic words?” He brightened up, understanding the social contract in front of him and he said “Happy Birthday!”

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina
Champlain Hardy Rose

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