Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Garden Report #60

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

• Writers write: The tomatoes are beginning to ripen in their pots, the daylilies are in full bloom and the shade from the American elm allows for a quiet breeze. It is that time of year to sit back with a glass of cold sun tea and to enjoy the tranquility of my efforts. I am content.

• Readers write:

     • Wanda Bellamy writes “I am enjoying reading your newest report while we have our first cup of coffee on our balcony in Lumsden. A beautiful and peaceful day in the country. We were expecting a lot of noise and commotion while Big Valley was on, but haven't really noticed anything other than a lot of RCMP in town. Have a great day in the sunshine!”

A University of Saskatchewan Lily
     • Gwen Barschel has this to say. “Rod, just read today’s installment, and enjoyed as usual. I have had the first of hopefully many raspberries from my garden, and have netted them to keep the birds off. Thought you would enjoy a photo of my U of S lilies, purchased as bulbs at Gardenscape in Saskatoon, a few years ago. I have been trying to find more for friends, but have not been successful, so I may be digging them up this year and sharing a few. You’re right, that sharing is one of the best things a gardener can do. Enjoy your week. Also added a shot of my ‘Knowlians Black’, really deep purple, morning glories. One of my most favorite plants.”

Knowlian's Black Morning Glory
     • From London, Ontario, Wendy Richardson wrote: “Just finished the Garden Report for today and really enjoyed as per usual. It’s almost like you are writing me a letter every week. Found the tips helpful about the peat moss because we have heavy clay here.”

     • Jennifer Cohen responds to the demise of the independent hardware store. She was brief: “Bernie really likes CMS for odd stuff. And it's close to a favorite of yours, Nicky's.” Rod’s note: CMS is Canadian Metal Services, a salvage shop and hardware store at Winnipeg and 8th Avenue. They are a ‘soup to nuts’ place. Maybe no soup, but lots of nuts.

     • Fringe friend and reader Courtney Siebring’ is now living in Halifax. She sent this along: “I've been following The Garden Report... I'm actually turning into a bit of a gardener myself. Domestic Artistry has become a fascination... I love it. Just tomatoes in pots this year and my regular flower gardens. But I'm building a compost bin from old wooden pallets and preparing some space to do square foot gardening next year. My neighbor Miss Ellen, has promised to teach me to can, once the tomatoes are ready and I have a freezer FULL of rhubarb.”

     • This short and sweet from Murray Wallace. “Good morning, Rod. Sunday am. I have enjoyed your Garden Report this past month. Keep them coming.”

     • Neil Slater has a suggestion for other great food places. “I'm often surprised when I read The Garden Report, for I seem to know so many of the people who email you. Today, it's Marsha Kennedy, but I've read of John Huston and many others. One of the best small stores is Tony's India Food Centre on Victoria Ave. If you need any eastern spices or Jamaican foods, Tony is your man! And don't forget the Ukrainian Coop; they have excellent food, too.”

     • Susan Rollins, who gardens near Craven, sent this message. “The daylilies you gave me last year are blooming and looking lovely, and the strawberries are busy producing strawberries. Thanks again for all your gardening suggestions. Even those of us who have been gardening for awhile can always use tips.”

• A great morning: My definition of a great morning is up early, tend to the garden, breakfast on the patio with a dark roast coffee and then a wonderful bicycle ride through Wascana Park. If the sun is shining and there is very little wind, then it moves from a great morning to a fantastic one. Guess who had a fantastic morning just before he wrote this?

• Garden Tip: Always pot up a few of your extra bedding plants into four and six inch pots. If you do this, you will always have decent sized replacements available for your flower boxes and beds. Trust me on this one, you will always need a replacement here and there, no matter how good a of a gardener you claim to be.

• Garden Tip: When replacing your garden hose, do not buy a cheap vinyl one. Do not be mislead by the slick ads attached to many hoses that proclaim themselves to be ‘kink free’ and so on. One hundred per cent rubber is the best way to go. It will cost you more money up front but it will last longer and cause you less grief. And less grief is a very attractive consideration these days, for most of us.

• Hot is the new cool: For the last eight weeks, I have been involved in a training program, Monday to Friday. I can’t get away for a café lunch. I have to make my lunch every morning and eat it in my training room. Sandwiches could get quite easily boring, so I try to reinvent the wheel with different breads and buns, and fillings. One of my favorite toppings is hot, pickled peppers. At least to me, though some will disagree, there is not a sandwich that does not taste better loaded up with hot, pickled peppers. Just to be certain, I do not own any shares in the hot, pickled pepper company. Please don’t ask if I own any shares in the Tums’s company. That is confidential.

• Low maintenance daylilies: These plants are members of the hemerorcallis family. My experience says that they must be planted with a good amount of sunshine. I have tried to grow them under dappled light (overhanging tree branches) as some sources have suggested. They lived, but never thrived. Once moved to a sunny exposure, they bloomed prolifically. I have also found that once established, they require very little maintenance and can exist on a degree of neglect, including forgetting to water them on a regular basis.

Martagon Lily
 • A lily for the shade: There is one lily that performs well in the shade. It is called the Martagon Lily. I have one planted in my back yard and while I am not an enthusiastic member of the cheer squad, it does have its features. I included two photos this week from when it was in bloom.

• Free kisses: Nothing to report here. I just throw stuff like this in every now and again to see if you are paying attention. Okay. So it is misleading advertising. Here’s your damned free kiss. Was it worth the complaining?

• Please don’t touch my food: I went for a walk this week. There is a national chain restaurant that faces Albert Street with its back door on McIntyre Street, which is where I was walking. There were four kitchen staff outside the back door, having a smoke. I could use many adjectives to describe them, but suffice to write, you really, really, don’t want these people touching your food.

• A paler shade of white: This is my first year growing the White Wave Petunia. I have been growing the original pink variety for many years and I have been pleased with its performance. The White Wave is an excellent performer and it appears to hold its flowers longer. The flowers are a ‘clean’ white and they do not ‘dirty up’ as they wane. As with Pink Wave, shearing the White Wave is mandatory to achieve a full plant.

• Other news from the garden: My dianthus has been much improved over other years. I have been getting out there regularly, with my scissors, removing the spent flowers. That appears to be the secret. I have not grown the lime colored Sweet Potato Vine for several years. I just fell out of love with it. I planted three of them this year as an edge plant in a large clay pot. They have performed just fine and are looking great. The heat has sent the pansies on a holiday until September. The roses are not in bloom but they are loaded with buds so the second show will be a good one. The shade plants including the ferns and the Snow on the Mountain are extra tall this year, due to the wet and dark spring. Usually, this means they will have an earlier collapse due to the heat. When extra tall, a plant usually lacks strength.

• Good job: While attending university, I would often hitchhike to school, rather than ride the bus. I would simply hold up my thumb at the corner of Elphinstone and Dewdney, and someone would pick me up. Over time, there were four different drivers who would regularly give me a lift to school. One of those regulars was Alan Blakeney, the Premier of the Province. The first time Mr. Blakeney picked me up, he apologized for having to drop me off at the corner of Albert and College. He explained to me “I work in the park.” I was so tempted to ask him: “Work in the park? What do you do? Cut the grass?”

• Today’s thought: As long as you have a garden, even a small one, you will always have something to do.

• Today’s second thought: Never ask a gardener how things are growing this year, if you have to be somewhere important in the next two hours. Note: There are many adaptations to this one.

• Sadly: The Reverend Bob Gay passed away this week. Bob was the Downtown Chaplain for many years, working with any and all. He was also a strong supporter of the community and its various arts programs. You could always count on seeing Bob and his wife at the various theater performances. My mother worked with Bob back in the 1970’s and she thought the world of him. She was impressed with his willingness to serve the poorest of the poor. When she passed away this winter, our first thought was to ask Bob to conduct her funeral, which he did.

• Attention single guys: I got dragged into Winners/Homesense and JYSK on Saturday by a certain someone who I share a house with. Let me tell all of you single guys looking to meet women, both of these stores are filled with females. Great looking ones, in all age brackets. Something for everyone. So why head to the singles bar when you can go to stores likes these? All you have to do is flag one down and ask her for her opinion of the throw pillow you are holding. Shameless scam. Needless to write, I was not allowed to do anything other than to record the experience.

• Farmers’ Market: More and more veggies are showing up including one of my favorites, Walla Walla onions. Lots of Saskatoon berries and Sharon Wallace is now selling her incredible pies.

• God bless the dragon flies: Earlier this week, we had a swarm of dragon flies arrive in our yard. They buzzed around for several hours, feasting on the mosquitoes, and then they were off to the next buffet. After they left, very few mosquitoes. Sitting outside was a real treat. I would like to personally thank the head of the dragon fly committee, for their fine efforts.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in Regina

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