Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Garden Report #89

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

'Morden Sunrise'-later colors, my garden
 • Writers write: The Fringe Festival wraps up today for another year. We saw some really good pieces of theater, which is the norm for any Fringe Festival. We also got to see some work that is not really ready for prime time, but then again, all of us have to start somewhere. I saw many of our readers out enjoying The Fringe and hopefully, I was a good influence on you. My parents always wanted me to be a good influence. They also wanted me to behave myself. Liz and Dave Callam, Jean Freeman and Roberta Nichol were billeting hosts and that is so important to the success of the festival. Thank you billets.

     This year was our first drag queen show at The Fringe. Drag queen shows are a regular feature at other festivals but never at ours. Is it because we are so prudish or is it sheer happenstance? Regardless, the drag queen singer had the finest pair of legs anyone has seen. She was absolutely gorgeous. Do you kind of see where I am going with this?

     A big shout out to our regular reader, Jodi Sadowsky, for all of her hard work as the producer of the show. She logs long hours to get everything running smoothly.

• Readers write:

Chris' 90 year old tree after the storm
• Chris Pasterfield sent along the photo of the tree in his backyard, after the windstorm. Here is his report. “Vicious winds indeed. We have lost half a ninety year old ash in the winds and it appears the other half will have to come down. However, it has been a wonderful year for Karen's roses with her George Vancouver, Winnipeg Parks, Morden Blush, John Davis and the 'rookie' 'Hope for Humanity' doing extremely well.”

 Reader Frank Flegel was recently inducted into The Television Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. He responds to the Medicare crisis of 1962. “Re: Medicare. Some people did leave. My doctor, who I had almost since birth, among them. Medicare is great but since 1962 it's been a merry-go-round of doctors. They don't seem to want to stay put.”

• Roberta Nichol weighs in on Medicare, as well. “In regard to Medicare, we Canadians are truly a very lucky people. Can you even imagine having to pay every time you saw the doctor, let alone go for surgery? My gosh, the mind boggles. Truly, Rod, as you said, our Health Card is our birthright as a Canadian. It's human nature to want to gripe and complain about issues, but when all is said and done, I absolutely believe that without question, we live in the best country in the world, by far. I am feeling very patriotic today, and plan on wearing my embarrassingly red Capri’s and red and white T-shirt with the abstract maple leaf on it!”

• CJ Katz and I share a fat soul. Here is something she has written and to no surprise, it involves food. “Hi Rod – sorry about you missing out on the fish and chips at La Bodega. I never thought you’d call my bluff! I’d forgotten that it was a lunchtime dish. After trying many different F&C over the years, I’m standing by La Bodega on this one! I’d love to hear your thoughts. Just wanted to mention to your readers who are sowing multiple crops of radishes, that the tops are totally edible. I throw them into salads all the time. Also, for a change of pace, halve radishes and sauté them in a skillet with a little butter and salt.”

• Jodi Sadowsky writes: “Hey Rod thanks for mentioning the Regina Fringe. I appreciate it greatly. Hoping we get a big crowd out this year. I hear you on the port-a-potty!”

• Jean Freeman shares a compliment. “Kudos, thanks and many blessings on your head for being the spark that started The Fringe in Regina more than a decade ago, and have helped to nurture and foster it since then. It is truly one of our little known but fortunately, growing in popularity, annual entertainment events, and you were definitely its ‘Daddy’!”

• Georgia Hearn is also full of compliments today. “What a delightful start to the Canada Day festivities! I love your advice and trust you to the max to give the best. The pictures are exquisite. Keep it coming.”

• Cheryl Hutton had her question answered before she even asked it. “Trim your hanging baskets and containers is what I was wondering about tonight. I even said out loud to Aaron that my plants were looking a bit scraggly with some overgrowing each other in the mixed containers and wondered what Rod would say about trimming them? Then I read your Garden Report from Sunday. Hilarious. Now you can add mind reader to your list of achievements.”

• Marg Hryniuk wants to know if anyone else has spotted large numbers of butterflies this year? She writes: “No observations from anyone about the butterflies this year? So many and so diverse. In fact, I saw my first Monarch outside the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Maybe it's just happening outside Regina, at Wolseley for example, I was told that this wonderful phenomenon was due to our mild winter, so I'm curious if there have been other sightings among your southern Saskatchewan readership.”

• Heather Lowe is touring Scotland, the land of her Maclean ancestors. She writes: “Of all your worldwide readers, I'm not sure if there are any Scottish ones. The past two Garden Reports have been enjoyed here in Scotland, thanks! We've been here since June 17th and have travelled a good portion of the country. It's absolutely beautiful and full of amazing history.”

• Petunia sale: I have some very nice petunias, leftover from a friend’s garden. They are in four inch pots, well grown and fertilized, and they are available in white, pink or purple. They are in trays of 25 and are $25 for the tray which is a buck a pot. You can mix the colors in the tray. Let me know.

• Garden Tip: The photos of the roses, peonies and begonias are from my garden, this week. They were taken by the woman who doubles as the mother of my children.

• Canada Day boomers: For those who did not celebrate our national holiday in southern Saskatchewan, let me tell you that there was a thunder and lightning storm of magnitude. It went on for four hours and the heavens poured down upon us. I half expected to see Noah’s ark float by.

Part of my window boxes - yellow begonia and blue pansy
• Garden Tip: Us gardeners tend to be impatient and highly self critical. My four window boxes, out front, were not my best effort this year. Other years, I have been so proud of them, right out of the gate, but not this year. Yet, with a bit of care and time, they have grown into lovely window boxes and I am very pleased. Time and care, the two things on the gardeners side.

• Gampa’s report: Patrick and Lisa were home for The Canada Day weekend. Lisa definitely has the baby bump going on. I introduced myself to the child, safely ensconced in his/her mother’s tummy. I told the baby to call me ‘Grampa Rod’ to distinguish me from ‘Grampa Ray’ who lives on the other side of town. I did not tell the unborn grandchild any of my best jokes yet. I am saving those for when he/she is two or three years old. Two and three year olds really get my humor.

• Fathers shouldn’t lie: My friend and sometimes reader, Lynn De Jong who lives in the Vancouver area, grew up in a traditional Dutch family. Her dad told her that only the Dutch could fart and that she should not tell anyone outside of the Dutch community about their ‘talent’, lest they become envious. Lynn was in her teen years before she found out the universal truth about tooting one’s own horn.

• Dads do exaggerate: Growing up, my dad made ‘Nova Scotia’ baked beans and ‘Nova Scotia’ fudge. When I finally made it to Glace Bay, where he had been raised, my aunt asked me why I called those two dishes ‘Nova Scotia’? She told me they call them baked beans and fudge. No need to place ‘Nova Scotia’ in front of them. I assume it was my dad’s equivalency of ‘Canadian’ bacon. Along that same note, when I was in Texas, they called my toque a ‘Canadian hat’, which really made me laugh. They also asked why Canadians spoke so quickly. I told them it had to do with our low temperatures. If we didn’t speak quickly in passing, we might freeze to death, eh? I just had to put that ‘eh’ in there. Sorry.

Karen's 'Hope for Humanity' Rose- growing across the street
 • Garden Tip: Blooming strong this week are the spirea, potentilla, roses and the mockorange. One of my favorite spriea is called ‘Little Princess’. You can’t go wrong with a few of these in your yard. Peonies are finished here. Best to remove the spent flower and the stem, just to clean up the appearance of the peony. Also, if you were letting your tulip leaves ripen, they should be brown by now. Once brown, you can cut the leaves to the ground.

• Recipe time: For Canada Day, I oven roasted some chicken breasts, bone in. I mixed together half a cup of olive oil, half a cup of lemon juice, two tablespoons of honey, two teaspoons each of oregano, rosemary and basil, half a teaspoon of salt, five crushed garlic cloves, one cup of sliced mushrooms and a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. I poured this concoction over the chicken and they kind of poached inside this broth. I placed bacon strips across the chicken as well. I baked it at 350 for an hour and a half covered, then a half hour uncovered to brown it up. It was very tasty, moist and easy to make. I served the marinade over top of the chicken when it was plated. To really finish this dish off in a Greek style, add in a cup of crumbled feta cheese. The best feta cheese in town can be purchased at The Italian Star on Victoria. Ask for the sheep’s feta.

• Farmers’ Market: The veggies are starting to come in, a few at a time. Our favorite pie maker, Sharon Wallace, is not there yet, but soon. I tried an Armenian mushroom pastry. It is a puff pastry with mushrooms and it was quite tasty except the bottom was burnt. You don’t see the bottom when you buy them in a package of two for six bucks. I scraped off the burnt and it was edible. With the burnt left on, it was bitter.

• Rice cooker: I was cruising through London Drugs and they had a rice cooker on sale. It was a smaller one but it was only twenty bucks. I had always resisted purchasing one prior to this. I thought I could cook rice just fine on the stove top. I have had the rice cooker for close to a year and I must admit, it does a better job than the stove top method. The rice is not mushy or overcooked. The brown rice is quite chewy and that is a good thing. I don’t want my rice to be melt in your mouth tender. I want the rice to be of substance or a la dente.

The opening colors of 'Morden Sunrise'
Garden Tip: Your weed growth should not be as aggressive as it had been during May and June. This does not mean you should not be cultivating between your plants. What it does mean is that you don’t have to do it as often. I reduce my frequency from weekly to every ten days. By the end of July, every two weeks is usually sufficient. This year, there were more elm seeds and thus seedlings, than I have ever seen before. Keep in mind, I have lived on this corner for thirty-nine years so I have seen quite a few crops of elm seedlings.

• Tied in knots: Do you remember a time when there was a shoe repair shop in every neighborhood? And when you needed laces for your runners or hiking boots, you could find the right size at that shop? Finding shoe or boot laces has become increasingly difficult. I have looked. I did find a good selection at Mark’s Work Warehouse in the east end, south of Rona. Who would have thought to look there?

• Slow Food Pub: We were at The Fringe on Thursday night and it was past our supper time. Neither one of us had been to Slow so we decided to check it out. First, it is definitely a pub by feel. Quite loud, a party type of atmosphere. We were not feeling adventurous and ordered two basics, a burger and chips and a veggie burger with salad. My burger had a dry bun with an overcooked beef patty. I should have sent it back but the vortex of hunger and time worked against my instincts. It was served with cheddar cheese, bacon and jalapeño peppers. The flavor was nothing special at all. The chips were excellent, served with two types of vinegar without having to ask. Maureen’s veggie burger also came with the same dry bun but her patty was decent. Her side salad was fresh and tasty. Fourteen bucks for each of the burgers and one dollar extra for the side salad instead of chips.

• Garden Tip: Ants are a major problem this year. There is an organic control called rotenone. There are also a number of home remedies that involve borax and icing sugar. If you are a Buddhists, of course you cannot touch the little critters but for the rest of us, read on. Boiling water poured into a hole works and to keep any insect out of your home, place diatomaceous earth around the outside. This product is very safe for pets and children. It is not a chemical.

• Speaking of Buddhists: We were at a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant in China Town, Vancouver. Lovely place, great food. A dude in his fifties walks in. He is Canadian, rough looking, loud and opinionated. He starts raising a stink. Why? Because they do not have sweet and sour beef on their menu. The Chinese people, who owned the place, were trying to calm him down by offering him sweet and sour tofu. It was as if we were watching someone wave a red flag in front of a bull. “What’s wrong with you people?” he was shouting. Such class and dignity. The name of the restaurant, posted in large letters out front? ‘The Buddhist Vegetarian Restaurant.’ Definitely a case of false advertising.

• Karma: I have a wall around my back garden, about seven feet tall, of cinderblocks. It was built sometime in the sixties. To soften it, I put pots of Wave petunias and bacopa on top of the pillars. They look nice. I have been doing it for years. Someone swiped one of those pots this week. They think they took something of value but when they stole that flower pot, they took only bad vibes. I know, I know. I sound like a true flower child.

Pink peony in my garden/white impatiens underneath
• Too funny: I am working on a private garden in the east end of town. I pulled out some old, black poly lawn edging. It was in rough shape. You can’t reuse it, it’s that rough. It was going into the garbage at my place. It was in the back of my truck. I stopped at Safeway on 13th to get some coffee filters, on my way home. When I came out, someone had taken it from my truck. I laughed. I could see them running down the street. If they had only left me their address, I would be more than willing to drop off other useless junk.

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in the sunbelt of Regina

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