Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Garden Report #126

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Alium or 'Blue Onion' is a fall bulb that blooms in the spring
• Writers write: I have nothing to say this week and rather than force a stilted conversation, I will remain silent. This is not the first time I have been mute. My friend Larry was dying from liver cancer in 1999. He wanted to get his affairs in order before he passed. He went out one afternoon and purchased his casket. He phoned me that evening and included in our conversation, was the bit about buying the casket. I was floored. I didn’t know what to say. I sat there, mute. Finally, Larry broke the silence by uttering “I never thought I would live long enough to see the day when Rod McDonald had nothing to say.” I finally mustered my voice with my Scottish roots shining through, asking “did you get a good deal?”

• Readers write:

• Ingrid Thiessen is not a fan of telemarketers. “Harassing calls hit a nerve with me. I could go on at length about this one, but no doubt you will have a flood of responses. If you don't, I can send my lengthy epistle.”

• Lauretta Lane lives out in The Qu’Appelle Valley. She is a big fan. “Like all of your readers, I look forward to The Garden Report. I really appreciate your wit and wisdom ( I agree with almost everything you say, so I think you must be wise). Thank you for the articles on plants, restaurants, theatre, etc. and thank you so much for featuring animals from The Regina Humane Society. The best dogs I have ever had were from The RHS. I suspect that your readers would be the kind of people who would, if possible, provide good, forever homes for these lovely animals.”

• Robert Stedwill has this to say about hockey. “I enjoyed this week's Report. Your comments on hockey are right on. I came to Canada at 14, learned to skate on a lake, and my first games were with goals at least three or four hundred meters apart! Boy did I learn to skate! My first NHL game, with me in the stands, was between Detroit and New York. What really turned me off professional hockey was during the Canada/ Russia series, Alan Eagleson gave the Soviet Union fans the finger, for jeering the Canadian fighters. I started watching junior hockey then, here in Regina, and really enjoyed the calibre of play and their energy. The turnoff came when I took my son to his first game at the Agridome, only to see young teenage girls hammering on the glass when fights broke out, cheering on the Pats player. That's when I quit making ice rinks in the backyard each winter and put up a basketball net. Five a.m. hockey practice was not my cup of tea; Victorian or otherwise.”

• Kirk Bellamy also weighs in on the hockey story. “Thanks for your hockey story. It brought back great memories. We played shinny a lot. Always Montreal against Toronto. We were Normy Ullman, Dave Keon or Maurice Richard...and that didn't change year to year. I also played on our school team. No parents, probably because it was outside. No equipment either. I stopped a slap shot with my shin one time. Everyone watched, waiting for me to crumple in pain. I didn't...catalogues as shin pads saved the day. Thank you Eaton’s.”

'Marie Victorin' rose
• May Blois is a grandmother and a former hockey fan. “Your reference to hockey. I used to love watching hockey and now, I can't stand it. It isn't just hockey either Rod, all sports seem to have gone down the drain as far as just getting out there and playing the game is concerned. Parents have gotten ridiculous as well. My grandsons played some sports and a few of the adults acted like two years olds having a tantrum. I felt like smacking some of them. Back to hockey, not sure if the sport itself can be saved but possibly, if adults start behaving, perhaps the children can again have fun.”

• Roberta Nichol is one of our many foodie/readers. She writes “Go, CJ! What interesting information on quinoa. I did not know that! A fruit, related to the humble beet. That is really neat. I love quinoa. I have a great salad recipe that lasts me throughout the week. Very tasty, with lemon juice, olive oil, grainy mustard, chickpeas, dried cranberries, and finely chopped scallions.... mmmmmm!”

• Lisa Koch, over at The Humane Society, is pleased that The Garden Report publishes ads for adoptable animals. She writes “thank you for providing a forum for these (animals) to be shared!”

Rayanna and myself in my writing room
• Talk is cheap: Brad Crassweller, who owns Outdoor Expressions Landscaping, was one of my student employees, almost twenty-five years ago. He called to chat about a landscape plan he is working on. I was looking after my granddaughter at the time of his call. He heard me talking to her. He alleges, that I have softened up, that I am no longer the rough, gruff, hard driving man that I was in the eighties. There is only one way to find out if I still have it: He should make me his foreman, on a job site, and see if I am still a softie or will I crack the whip? I will give him a hint: He should have a masseuse standing by after I get through with him, a stiff shot of whiskey and comfortable bed so he can curl up with his teddy bear. Grrr...grrr...grrr!

• Garden Tip: No more pruning elm trees, it is illegal until September 1st. Where you can access other trees, knock yourself out. The main problem is not timing but amounts of snow. This is a most unusual year. Last year, I was through pruning by this day, even the larger yards.

• Naked Bean: No, not the name of a porn site, rather the name of my new, favourite cappuccino shop on Broad Street, across from The CBC Building. I have been there four times, now, and I love the bite of their coffee. I enjoy coffee with a big, full flavour, and I absolutely adore one with added bite.

• Cherry Lane Greenhouse: This is a local, independent operation, out near Grand Coulee, on the east side of the town site. Maureen and I stopped in on Monday, to see how their crop is coming along and it is doing just fine. They are busy, moving up their plugs (baby plants) to larger pots, all the while, trying to deal with the snow which is everywhere. They are continuing to find some new and interesting plants to grow, which is a good thing. Also growing some great plants are the people over at Sherwood Greenhouse, behind CTV, and Dorn’s Greenhouse, south on Highway #6. As you might have noticed, I am trying to promote some local operations. If you are east of Regina, take a look at the beautiful hanging baskets you can find for sale at U and K Greenhouses, Indian Head. They are about six kilometers north of Highway #1on your way to the lake.
Cherry Lane Greenhouse

• Grampa’s report: How many times must I sing ‘This Old Man’ in order to get a baby to go to sleep? The correct answer turns out to be twenty-two. The good news is that I do not have to be a great singer to lull my granddaughter to sleep. She is not a critic for The New York Times, just a baby. Patrick, Lisa and Baby Rayanna have returned to their home in Edmonton, so I will not be seeing them for a few months. Perhaps they can come down this summer.

• Garden Tip: When thinking of planting trees, shrubs and evergreens at your residence, be cautious about purchasing plants at the box stores. Last year, I looked at the apple trees that The Home Depot were selling. None were hardy for our 2b/3a growing zone. Sadly, most of the box stores have purchasing departments somewhere in Ontario and they do not buy the plants that we need here in Regina. Buyer beware is never as important as it is when dealing with any of the chain stores.

• Old football players: Maureen comments: “I have noticed that whenever we run into one of your old buddies, that you played football with, that all of you now walk with a limp. How bad is football on the knees?” Good question. Lots of studies are looking at concussions in football and hockey players, but I don’t know how many are looking at how we walk, later in life.

Daylilies require very little care when established
• Garden Tip: When planning a vegetable garden, always save a bit of room to plant a clump of marigolds. Most insects do not like the smell of marigolds and they tend to stay away from that area. Now, marigolds are not the be all and end all of insect control, but they are one very useful tool that a veggie gardener can use. I also use diatomaceous earth to ward off creepy/crawly insects. It is an organic product that is not poisonous. Rather, it works through a mechanical methodology. Also, on my shelf for insect control are Trounce and Rotenone, both of which are organic and if used properly, safe. Just because a product is labelled organic, does not imply they can be used in a random or haphazard fashion.

• Garden Tip: When transplanting new plants, I always check the roots. If the roots are spiralling around in a circle, that means they are ‘root bound’. Best to unravel a few of those roots prior to planting. If done so correctly, those roots will begin to grow in a downward fashion, which is what you want them to do. Another thing I usually do is pinch off any blooms when transplanting. I want most of the energy to go into setting strong roots, not a spindly bloom. Once I have strong roots growing, I know that a plethora of flowers will follow. Please congratulate me on the use of such a fancy word.

• Chip off the old block: Patrick is starting to get involved with cooking, just like his old man. I barbecued some back ribs over Easter, low and slow, six hours at 200 F., using a marinade/basting liquid every hour. When they were finished, I asked Patrick to chop the ribs into single serving pieces. He did so and initiated a quality control tasting. He told me “they need a touch more lemon to finish them” and he was right. A sprinkle of lemon put the ribs over the top, which is a good thing. My basting sauce is lemon juice, olive oil, hot sauce, liquid smoke, oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.
Three generations

• Good flavours: Some readers will remember the sitcom ‘Sanford and Son’ that ran back in the 1970s. One of the best lines came from old Fred when he was in the hospital. Fred was complaining to his buddy Grady, about hospital food. He said: “When you burp, you can’t taste nothing.” When you eat at my place and you burp, it is an entirely new meal, or else I didn’t use ‘nough garlic.

• Regina Fringe Festival: This year’s festival will be from July 10th ‘til the 14th. There will be eighteen acts. You can go to the website to see who will be performing. There is the usual mix of old time favourites along with brand new performers. Returning favourites include Rob Gee, John Huston and Eric Dewaal. For ten bucks a show, you can’t go wrong. The best theater, ever, as always.

• Regina Folk Festival: As readers know, I have been a fan of The Folk Festival for over forty years, through the lean times and the good vibes. We were there in the late sixties and early seventies, when the magic happened indoors and the marijuana smoke was so thick, you got stoned, just by breathing the air. We were there in the ‘80s when it rained, watching from our pup tent, wrapped in sleeping bags to keep warm. In the nineties, when times were tough for The Festival, I sent them my cheque, a year in advance, telling them I believed they would succeed. Last year, I was not thrilled about two things. One was lining up for a few hours, just to get in the gate. Even at The Rolling Stones concert, there were 45,000 of us and we were through the gates in under sixty seconds. Secondly, selling so many tickets that we were as tight as sardines in a tin. I love my folk music, with neighbours close enough to share our food, but not close enough to start any rumours. We have been contemplating attending the afternoon workshops and passing on the main stage evening concerts. That would be a departure from what we usually do but times change. Perhaps, when it comes down to the wire, we will cave and be there cheering our little hearts out, all night long. Right now, I am hesitant to purchase tickets.

• So true: There is a proverb and with all things wise, it is attributed as being a Chinese proverb. It is: “A man must be careful not to arouse the ire of his wife, as sooner or later, he must fall asleep, and preferably, with both eyes closed.”

• ‘Mad Men’ premiere: A two hour season premiere on Channel 43 (AMC), Access Cable. This is a well produced period piece. Great writing, great acting and the set design is bang on. They capture the machismo as well as the chauvinism of the period. Two of our readers, Jean Freeman and Lyn Goldman, were copy writers during this time frame, in television, just like the character of ‘Peggy’ on the show.

Soon, we will be planting a flower bed, just like this one!

• Sadly: Two people from our community passed this week. Ed Schropp who sold pickles and jams at The Farmers’ Market for twenty-six years, died on Friday. Ed did the selling and his wife Linda, did the canning. He was a great gentleman to visit with every Saturday. The second passing was of a long time patron of my garden center, Adeline Flengaris. She loved her plants and when I was just starting out, she was one of my regular customers. Both will be missed.

Spring has to arrive, sooner or later
• Free Boxing Tickets: I am one of the sponsors of The Lonsdale Boxing Club’s ‘Battle of the Prairies’ coming up on April 19th. I have free tickets for any reader who wishes to attend. The boxing begins at 8:00 p.m. and it is held at The Connexus’ Arts Center.

• Thanks for reading...Rod McDonald in Regina

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