Friday, July 29, 2011

Beets & Other Bouquet Ideas

How would your friends respond if you dropped off a bouquet of beets to celebrate a new baby? I am sure Debra Prinzing, author of the upcoming book A Fresh Bouquet (, would be delighted. Prinzing spoke to a group of garden writers about bouquets of vegetables and fresh regionally grown flowers and there was a collective aha moment among the group.

Chemically doused, artificially coloured, imported flowers suddenly seem old school and scary. There is a reason why florists wear gloves to protect themselves from the chemicals sprayed on imported flowers. The message is simple: seasonal fresh cut farm or back yard flowers are better. Bursting with colour, beets and blooms are in season now. With a little ingenuity fall stems, seedpods and evergreens from your yard or a nearby farm can provide colour well into fall or winter. Prinzing thinks this is the next big thing in local farming. Local farmers agree....


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Better than Water into Wine

Just last week I pulled off the alchemist feat of the year when I turned manure into wine. I had my neighbors laughing and possibly a little jealous, and it only took a few minutes.

But let's back up a bit. Earlier in June I was speaking in Hillcrest, Alberta and just before I arrived to give that talk I noticed a horse had left his calling card on the street during the town's parade. I was jealous, I told the audience. Things like this never happen in my hometown of Calgary. If I need horse manure I have to find a farmer and go get it. It never just falls into my lap that simply.

Back home I found myself quietly weeding in the front yard when a neighbor strolled by and mentioned a problem. He said another newer neighbor had been entertaining and the guests had left a horse trailer on the street overnight. But that's not the worst part, he said. In the morning they had cleaned out the trailer before moving it. "What?" I asked. Where did they clean out this trailer and how long ago was that? Surprised by my response he pointed across the street and I ran to get my bucket and shovel.

I am not sure how I missed this manna from heaven but with the recent rains triggering lush weed growth I had been doing catch up and had little opportunity to check out much beyond my own yard. Free fresh manure for the compost seemed like a miracle. My neighbor saw me scooping poop and called me over to see how much I had "retrieved". While he was checking out my disappointing less than a bucket full - barely enough to make a difference to my compost - two new neighbors joined the fray and quickly spilled the beans.

It was their fault the manure had been dumped, they said. Something about a visiting friend and a bed that needed to be moved. They felt bad that I had cleaned up their mess. They wanted me to have a bottle of wine - BC VQA- no less. No, NO, I insisted. I want this manure. It is no problem. No, they insisted back. We want to give you this wine.

So I strolled home with my two prizes. You just can't invent a story this good I was telling my husband later by phone. He was out of town and had missed the whole event. I had turned manure into perfectly good wine and got a boost for my compost at the same time. Trouble is- I had no one to share it with. Until now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mystery Solved

Last week Doug phoned in to CBC radio and told all listeners he was confused by a plant in his yard. He said it looked like an evergreen but with big leaves. I was stumped but wondered allowed if it might be the touch me not... a rather large annual.

Well the photos arrived from Doug and his plant is (drum roll) : Hollyhock. Yes, I mean the common biennial most of our mother's grew in their garden. I don't know where it came from but it sure looks healthy. It is nothing to worry about and easy to pull if you don't like it. Here are Doug's pictures of his mystery plant:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Weeds- what are you gonna do?

After the Alberta at Noon phone in show on CBC radio Philip Mees followed up with this comment today:
You mentioned ‘touch me not’ on CBC’s Wildrose today. I think that that’s the same as Himalayan balsam or Impatiens glandulifera. According to an article in the summer issue of Gardener for the Prairies this plant is a now listed as a prohibited weed in Alberta.

Of course Philip is correct - sorry I sloppily used the common name. You can google Impatiens glandulifera to see photos.