Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Garden Report #102

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

Anne's garden
• Writers write: Maureen headed up to Edmonton, Saturday evening, to visit our kids there. I am a bachelor of sorts, for an entire week. After dropping her off at the airport, I headed over to Tandoori Kebab Touch for my supper. Amazing, how quickly I degenerate in her absence. The place is not usually too full of customers, but Saturday night there were around forty people having supper. There were three tables filled with young, Pakistani families. I assume that they are here, in Canada, to build a new and a better life for themselves. I get that. My grandparents did the same thing. After all, Canada is a land of opportunity.

     My beloved mentor immigrated to Canada from Germany, after the war. He came here seeking a better life. He married, they raised four children and built a beautiful greenhouse and nursery. Of note, he was the man responsible for many of the beautiful plantings at The University in Saskatoon. In his later years, he tells me how wonderful Canada is compared with other parts of the world and he offers up examples. He told me that it often takes an immigrant to appreciate how special Canada is, compared with someone born here. I get that, too.

     Not being in a hurry Saturday night, I sat back at the restaurant and I watched the interactions of the different families. There were about ten children. Half were boys and half were girls. To no reader’s surprise, the girls were well behaved, models of decorum and etiquette. The boys, well they were boys. They ran up and down the aisles and when they got tired of running, they wrestled. We raised three boys and I have a soft spot for their rowdy behavior. As they wrestled, things got a little wild and one of the mothers stepped in. She grabbed her kid and let a barrage of words fire. Now, I am willing to admit that I do not speak any of the Pakistani languages, but I still feel that I can translate what was being said. After all, being a free spirited little boy many years ago and having a mother who did not tolerate too many ‘shenanigans’(as she described my exuberance), I feel sincerely qualified. Here goes.

     “So help me Allah, if you and your little buddies don’t’ settle down and quit embarrassing the family, I will swat you until you wished you could sit down.” I am pretty certain I did not lose too much in the translation. The mother released her son and he behaved himself, for all of ten seconds and then the shenanigans started. Another wrestling match erupted. I think they will fit into the Canadian mosaic just fine.

• Readers write:

     • Dianne Palmer is concerned with the mega processors of Canadian beef. She writes: “I am in total agreement with you on your views regarding XL packers. My late husband was a rancher, so my family had the good fortune to have home grown beef on our table. I did not have any concerns regarding the product because I knew where it came from. Upon our move to Regina, my sister and I would share a side of beef from a local farmer/rancher. With the emptying of the nest I have not been buying as much beef, but when I do, I wonder where the meat comes from. I think large food processors are a major weakness in the quality and security of our food, and I prefer to buy locally. On another note, belated congratulations on your 100th Garden Report. It is always a good read.”

     • Marsha Kennedy is worried about the treatment of cattle when the mega processors are involved. “Yes, the meat industry is appalling. I am further troubled that the animals endure terribly long, uncomfortable and terrifying trips on the highways. Feed lots are no more pleasant. I am not a vegetarian, but I struggle as the industry is not right from any perspective. I have a cousin who has their own cattle that have a good life in the pastures surrounding their farm. They package and sell it to those who want to buy. My cousin loves her cattle as do many farmers.”

     • Cheryl Geiger-Paul is also doing her small part regarding the beef crisis in Canada. “Hi Rod...congratulations on your milestone. I have been thinking a lot since your Report about the beef crisis. Our family has decided to go with the less complicated food chain and shop at some of our local butchers. There, we can ask simple questions about where the meat comes from and how the meat is handled and support local. It is so easy to fall into the habit of buying all your groceries from the big stores .We are ready for the change!”

Bacopa survives a few frosts, but not the winter
     • Cynthia Fiori is a new reader. “Thank you so much for including me in your email for The Garden Report. As someone who is just getting into gardening around my home, I have found so many great tips to make my garden a place to truly enjoy with my family.”

     • Judith Langen writes this week: “I love The Garden Report. It's very good for gardening and I am always going back to past issues for reference. I am storing my dahlias right now. On another note try The Creek Bistro for fish and chips.”

     • Wendy Richardson from London, Ontario has some questions. “Thanks for the dahlia information in The Garden Report. I planted dahlias and really love them, but not too sure on their care for winter . Do you think that for this area of the country, I could leave the bulbs in the ground and just cover them well, with leaves etc.? Also there was some kind of a pest that was eating the leaves and the flower petals this summer. It was either slugs or earwigs, both of which I despise and I did put some poison out for them, but it did not do the trick. Could there be another bug that I am not aware?”

     • Stew Wass from Indian Head, answers Wendy’s questions. “No ifs, buts or maybes, you can't leave dahlia tubers in ground, over winter in this part of the world and expect them to survive. I also have experienced holes chewed into the leaves and suspect slugs. I know of people sneaking up on them after dark when slugs are active with a sprayer loaded with household ammonia and soaking the area around the plants. The slugs practically dissolve before your eyes. Thrips are a problem to be reckoned with as they attack the buds just as they open and completely ruin the blossom. I choose to load a bottle sprayer with malathion and spray them before they start to open, but that requires diligence to be effective. Alas, the joys of gardening!”

     • Jean Freeman sends out kudos. “#101 is absolutely delightful and spot on, as usual.”

• A different burger: When I have purchased souvlaki burgers in the store, I have been disappointed with the high levels of salt. I now make my own version. Here is one recipe. I purchase two pounds of ground pork. In a bowl, I squeeze the juice of a lemon, one tablespoon of Franks’ Red Hot Sauce, two table spoons of liquid smoke, one teaspoon of lemon pepper, one teaspoon of garlic powder, two teaspoons of dried oregano and one teaspoon of basil. I mix it all together with one egg as a binder. I let it blend together in the fridge for four hours, form into patties and barbecue. If you need salt on the burger, you can add a small bit when serving and still be way under the amount on many store bought. As with anything, the cook can adapt a recipe to fit their likes and dislikes.

Are you getting ready for the snow?
• Just so you know: When people write into The Garden Report, I do edit most of the letters and as a policy, I remove most exclamation points and continuous capitalization. The reason is simple: Exclamation points and continuous capitalization have been over used to the point that they have lost their impact. There are people who write letters with strong feeling who actually capitalize everything, which in reality, weakens their argument. Readers do not need any structural encouragement to focus on a point. A point either stands on its own two feet, or it doesn’t. It requires no enhancements.

• Garden Tip: Now would be a good time to lift out your begonia bulbs, if not already done. Cut the plant part off from the bulb part. Allow the bulbs to dry for two days. Dust with bulb dust and pack in dry peat moss. Store in a cool, dry place in the basement, preferably around forty degrees Fahrenheit. You can start your begonia bulbs as early as the end of February or March, in pots, next spring. As an aside, very few people have been starting their own begonias the last few years. Most gardeners purchase them already growing in pots from greenhouses.

• Out to lunch: Noelle Chorney, The Editor of that wonderful garden magazine called ‘The Gardener’, was in town this week, on another assignment. We went for lunch, to ‘Nicky’s’ and did the diner thing. Noelle is trying to run a first class magazine out of Saskatoon, hardly the epicenter for publishing or for an advertising stream. She deserves all of the support she can muster from ad purchasers to readers. There was a time when anything to do with the prairies was published on an old Gestetner machine and the thought of a black and white photo was just that, a thought. Color photos in a magazine came from either The U.S. or Toronto, not a local publication.

• Garden Tip: You can still aerate your lawn this fall. There are no time restriction on that task. Some gardeners, including me, prefer the fall for aeration as it allows the winter to dissolve the plugs left behind. You must mark your sprinkler heads prior to aeration or be prepared to replace a few.

In Saskatchewan, we take snowblowing to the next level!
• Parliament Avenue-a long story: Parliament Avenue is now open from Albert Street to Pasqua and The Lewvan. It’s true. Why would I lie about that? I took a trip down the newly finished connector street on Wednesday. What is long about this story is that this road has been in the planning stages since the 1970’s, seriously. I went to a City Hall meeting about this road in 1990 and the bureaucrats suggested that the road would be open shortly. Why are you laughing?

• Out of the mouths of babes: In the 1980’s, the garden center was not year round so I was able to do a lot of the cooking during the winter. I was boiling a pot of cabbage rolls for supper. Patrick had just returned from kindergarten. He was five years old and he and I were going through what came to be called ‘the salad wars’. He refused on pain of death to eat salad. He climbed onto his stool to examine the supper that smelled so good. He lifted the lid off the pot and exclaimed “Oh no! Cooked salad!” There was just no fooling that kid.

Only six, short months until this Thunderchild blooms again
• Out of the mouths of babes #2: After Christmas, Maureen and I always take the turkey carcass and boil it for several hours to make a stock for soup. That’s how it is done. Patrick was around four or five and he got out his stool. He was checking what was going on, stove top. His comment: “Oh no! Bone soup?” I imagine him explaining to his brothers, “I knew things were slow at the garden center and that money is a bit tight right now, but ‘bone soup’? What’s next? One ply toilet paper.”

• Thanks for reading…Rod McDonald in ‘still a bit warm’, Regina.

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