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Loving that Tema green bean

Plus, Ted shares some letters and hears from some seniors

Occasionally my song “Green Beans and Ripe Tomatoes” gets aired over some radio station. Apart from that I sometimes sing it at personal appearances. Here on this Grainews page my audience and I get together via the printed word. For starters, I’ve something to say about beans.

In my April 7, 2015 closing tag I asked: What’s the age of our eldest Grainews gardener who still gardens? Don’t be shy now if you think you qualify! Send your name, age and location with a bit of gardening insight to [email protected]. Well good people, I’ve heard from readers and I’ll share their letters.

Let’s get the show on the road with a Tip o’ my Welcome Hat and head out for a stroll along the path that leads to things green and growing.

What’s to love about Tema green bean?

It’s May 8, 2015 as I begin this. For several days since then, overnight temps. fell to between 0 C and -2 C; here where I am in southern Manitoba and cooler farther north. The tradeoff is much needed and appreciated rainfall that sprinkled and came down slow and steady; even misty at times.

Out in the garden I inspected the Tema green beans that had been planted earlier and germinated by now in cool and moist soil. Much to my delight, I discovered that Tema beans do live up to their reputation. The two-inch-high Tema bean plants are still looking good and none the worse from exposure to the big overnight chills and low daytime highs in the 10 C range.

This brown-seeded variety is noted for outstanding cold soil emergence and can be planted earlier in the spring than most other varieties. Mark Macdonald, communications officer at West Coast Seeds describes Tema “as a truly great bean and it has a very long harvest window for a bush bean.”

Tema bean seeds for planting plus many other green, yellow, tricolour, purple and burgundy bush beans, plus broad beans, soya beans, runner beans, pole beans and drying beans can all be purchased from West Coast Seeds, www.westcoastseeds.com at Delta, B.C., V4K 3N2, or phone 1-888-804-8820.

Bean pod water

Pick as many fresh bush beans or runner beans as desired. Cut them into pieces; cover with pure room temperature distilled or spring-fed water and let soak overnight. Next morning, simmer prepared beans in this same water for 30 to 40 minutes, then strain off the liquid. The usual dosage is one-half teaspoonful of bean water three or four times daily between meals.

I, Ted, am sure you’ve noticed how most beans are shaped like kidneys. During days gone by bean pod juice was considered a valuable remedy for an assortment of ailments ranging from diabetes, kidney troubles and rheumatism to dropsy (retention of fluid), gout and weak heart circulation. Unshelled bean pods were allowed to shrivel and dry then stored to make the tonic during the off-season.

This old folk remedy gives consumers a chance to rely less on modern-day prescriptions when appropriate in combination with dietary changes, exercise and lifestyle alternatives. Nature’s way takes time to alleviate unwanted symptoms and is not an instant panacea. Decide for yourself whether or not to try bean pod water. I personally love keeping in tune with Mother Earth and what she has to offer but do not diagnose, prescribe nor treat for any specific condition. That’s the job of your health-care provider.

An email from Ralph and Lois Shute

Subject: Re: Tomato planting dates — “We are near Leduc Alberta, just south of Edmonton. I’ve been growing about 15 varieties of tomatoes for years. Dates you recommended (moon sign) have done really well the last few years.

I germinate the seeds on an old waterbed heater, and then I put the little plants out in the sun for a few hours if the temperature is 10 C or more and bring them in at night, so they are well hardened off by June when I plant them out in the garden. I have a very convenient deck right outside the room with the big window where they sit in the sun on cool days.

What causes small black raised spots on the skin of some of my tomatoes? It doesn’t damage the flesh and comes off with the skin when blanched but it is unsightly on the fresh tomatoes. Is it something in my garden plot? The plants I give away or plant at the lake are fine — produce beautiful tomatoes. I rotate my crops on a four-year cycle. My garden books don’t mention this under tomato diseases. No luck on the Internet either.

After 40 years in the same spot, I wonder if we should cultivate a new garden plot. Where we garden was the best part of the hayfield when we bought the farm and it is still very productive. Thanks for your interesting column and for all your help with gardening. Lois Shute.”

Ted’s reply: Having not seen the tomatoes Lois describes makes it a challenge to accurately diagnose and even then opposing views may not arrive at unanimity. My personal view is ‘it sounds like bacterial speck.’ This disease spreads from infected soil and splashes onto foliage and fruit during rainfall. Many gardeners save their own tomato seeds for future sowing. These seeds can also become infected. In such case they should first be disinfected via a hot water treatment as follows. Cover tomato seeds with hot water [50 C (122 F) using a thermometer]. Leave seeds to soak for 25 to 30 minutes then strain off the water. Spread out seeds to dry on a sheet of glass, or on a wooden cutting board covered with waxed paper. (Do not use paper towel.) Once completely dried, store tomato seeds inside a baby food jar with a piece of dry paper towel or dry powdered milk.

Simple home spraying using ASA tabs and water

Aspirin is the trade name but there are also many ASA (acetylsalicylic acid) house brands of uncoated 325-milligram tablets that can be used as a remedy for fungal plant problems such as black spot, powdery mildew, and rust. Any of this trio of fungi can attack and debilitate plants such as tomatoes, raspberry canes, saskatoon bushes, hollyhocks, Monarda/bee balm, squash vines and roses. Scientists have found that two plain uncoated ASA tablets (325 milligrams each) dissolved in one litre of water and used as a foliar spray can kick back these diseases. Note that ASA doesn’t completely dissolve so shake the mister or spray container frequently during application.

Thankful me… for thoughtful you!

The above words are in a card from Louise Bliss at Emo, Ontario who writes: “Thanks for the tomato seeds — Latah. I’ve planted them so hope they are successful. Was very happy to be in the second drawing.”

Thank you seniors

Here’s what Helen Bially from Tolstoi, Manitoba writes: “The April 7, 2015 issue of Grainews is here, first thing first. What has Ted to tell us? I was simply amazed that you’ve gone through 381 entries for the tomato seeds and I was one of the winners. The seeds are planted. Thank U. I’m celebrating my 82 B/D in a week’s time. I’m also sure I’m not the youngest or the eldest who will go on with planting a garden. Just can’t wait to get my hands in the soil. I had my plan to get to the raspberry patch. It’s April 20 and it’s snowing today. With work in the garden, one is ‘never alone.’ Thanks for the introduction to the Never Alone rose and the cause. (That helps ensure cancer patients and their families are never alone in their journey.) Your column is so well balanced. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas and songs. Keep singing. Sincerely, Helen Bially.”

Today’s final letter begins as follows: “To the Singing Gardener: A reply to your question, ‘Who is the oldest gardener?’ My name is Leah Ziegler, age 97 years and I live on an acreage in Calgary. I’m hoping I will qualify as an elder gardener. I first became interested in gardening when I was about 10 years old. Some of our relatives came for a visit and they were taken around to all the points of interest in Calgary. That evening a question arose, ‘What was the most interesting thing you saw?’ One lady said ‘the flowers,’ so that got me to thinking! Over the years I started reading garden books, joined garden clubs and took a gardening course. Presently I have an orchard area in which are yellow raspberries and white Nanking cherries, apples, crabapples, plums, two pear trees, saskatoons, apricots, a bur oak tree grown from seed and a chestnut tree. Each year I have a small vegetable garden. Homegrown produce tastes the best. When Grainews arrives, your page gets read first. I enjoy it very much. Keep up the good work. From Leah Ziegler.”

Ted adds this closing note: What beautiful, easy-to-read handwriting from all three ladies. Thank you so much Louise, Helen and Leah.

Weed killer spray

  • 2 litres apple cider vinegar (recommended) OR white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dawn liquid dish soap

Mix together and pour into a spray bottle. Mist on weeds thoroughly; especially the middle part including flower centre and on leaves of trailing weeds. Roger Armstrong of Vancouver tells me the spray killed dandelions during a warm, sunny day after his first application. Dawn liquid dish soap is said to strip weeds of their protective oils, allowing the vinegar and salt to work with relentless force. You might also experiment with any ordinary liquid hand soap and compare results. Avoid hitting any ornamental and turf grasses, flowers, vegetables, perennials, shrubs and trees as they will suffer damage.

About the author

Columnist

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I salute all gardeners and farmers who help make our world a little safer and more ecologically balanced, and who toil to provide health-giving produce to others who cannot produce their own. It takes all sorts to make a world. One half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives. The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.

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