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Some info on growing artichokes

Singing Gardener: Plus, Ted shares more feedback from readers

As always, lots to write about in Grainews Singing Gardener page. Am sharing more feedback from readers, so thanks to folks who take time to write. Got some thoughts on the best days to go fishing once the rod and reel season opens in your area. Here where I am we’ve got the Portage Diversion spillway that can channel water northward from the Assiniboine River. A lot of fishers gather there in season to test their ability to catch something.

With each column my hope is to catch new readers and hold those who enjoy my kind of jargon. That word “jargon” has extensive interpretation, according to my unabridged 20th-century dictionary and can mean anything from a variety of quick gabble talk that’s loud and rapid or even slang, to dialect resulting from a mixture of discordant languages. Hey! That’s not me. That dictionary must be describing someone else.

Well there’s no doubt what the tip o’ my hat means. You’re all as welcome as May flowers so bloom, bloom where you’re planted. I’m getting right down to business while yodelling a trill or two. Oh if you could only hear me now.

From the email In-box

Mary L. Reimer writes from Mc Kague, Sask. The following story, according to Mary, is not totally accurate and was later revised by her with an updated version of events. It is however, quite humorous so is shared with the revised version to follow afterward.

“Hi Ted, I enjoy your column & read it first. Cecil is my husband & Kelly our son. I know Cecil & Kelly were fixing on a cultivator one August & after making some adjustments they would make a trip out to the field. After a few trips the cultivator was fixed. Later in the fall, they went to work the field & discovered there were next to zero weeds growing in the cultivator passes they had made in August. Just as a joke, I said, ‘Maybe you worked it the right time of the moon.’ We don’t even remember the date they were in the field. Mary L. Reimer, McKague, Sask.”

Next, the revised version to above story follows and content has been edited due to length.

“Hi Ted, Thanks for your reply. You may use our names in the column. Cecil corrected my cultivator story. They were trying to find the pinhole leak in the tractor radiator. The cultivator had four-inch spikes, so not something you would use to kill weeds. In the end it didn’t seem to matter if they had the cultivator in the ground or just scuffed the surface so the dirt flew up & covered the weeds. All this was done north of the house & shelterbelt so never noticed what had happened. The weeds weren’t even the size you would normally work. How wonderful that you were able to learn the moon information from a fellow gardening senior. In Lois Hole’s 2001 Spring Gardening magazine her son wrote an article titled Urine Trouble Now. I will mail a copy to you. We wish you a long, healthy life in all respects so you can share your knowledge with others. Our gardening friends from years gone by were on to something to make a great garden & crop. The modern farmers are spraying on products to increase the yield. Those farmers & gardeners before us already knew what to do. Mary asks: My brother-in-law in Alberta has difficulty getting artichoke seeds to germinate. Do you have any suggestions? Sincerely, Mary L. Reimer.”

What’s to know about artichokes

To facilitate germination try the paper towel method. Take a sheet of paper towel and fold it in half. Spread eight or 10 artichoke seeds near the crease at the top of folded dry paper towel but not touching each other. Carefully roll the paper towel in the form of a jelly roll and place bottom open end in a clear glass half-filled with water. Rolled seeds are placed at the top end and should face upward into the air. Moisture will quickly be absorbed from the bottom end in water working all the way to the top end. Make sure the glass is always kept at least half-full of water. Place glass in a warm, sunny window and check seeds starting about the fifth day to see whether any have germinated. If not, roll back to original form and return to the glass half-filled with water and continue to monitor every couple of days. Artichoke seeds need a temperature around 20 C (70-75 F) and will take five to 10 days or more to germinate. Once seedlings have sprouted, handle carefully with tweezers and plant them in soilless potting mix. Feed with a weak fertilizer solution at least once a week.

The following information is from Ontario Seed Co., at Waterloo, Ont. N2J 3Z6, phone 1-519-886-0557, (not a toll-free number) email [email protected], website www.oscseeds.com.

“First-year artichokes are small and few in number but suitable for harvest. Higher-quality artichokes come in the second and third year. Therein lays the gardener’s greatest challenge. Artichokes will not survive or will have difficulty surviving Canadian winters.”

Dormant roots can be overwintered indoors in a cool area above freezing, similar to how you would store dahlias. You might also wish to experiment with heavy mulching over a few plants left outdoors. West Coast Seeds at Richmond, B.C. says, “Before frost, cut back artichokes to 15 cm (six inches) tall and mulch with soil, straw or leaves to keep the roots from winterkill freezing. Uncover in April.”

Some seed varieties available

OSC has a variety called Improved Green Globe. Plants produce deep-green buds with a slight purple tinge. The artichoke flowers are best harvested at five to nine cm (2.5 to four inches) in diameter. The fleshy base of the flower scales and the firm centre are the edible portions. Plants can reach 1.5 m (4.5 feet) in one year.

Here’s a source for two other varieties. Contact W.H. Perron, Laval, Que., H7P 5R9, phone toll free 1-800-723-9071, www.whperron.com, for seeds of either or both of the following:

Imperial Star artichoke is described as the home gardener’s choice. A high-quality, very uniform selection producing six to eight artichokes of seven to 10 cm in diameter. Hybrid Améthyste is a purple artichoke with uniform heavy tight heads. Upright plants are spineless, and produce multiple secondary buds.

The Fishers’ poem

Don’t know whether you’d call these fishing secrets or not. If it’s a cool day, wait until air and water have been warmed by the sun. When fishing on such a day, the best time is from about noon to 3 p.m. If you raise cattle or live in a rural area, take note of the following: If cattle are grazing, then fish will likely be biting as well. When one is feeding, the other will be also.

Warm, cloudy, overcast days suggest good fishing weather. How so? Fish have no eyelids and are bothered by strong, bright sunlight. A dull day draws fish to feed near the surface. When wind is in the right direction (see the poem below) and your bait is to their liking, you’re almost certain to end up with a good catch. Discarded parts of fish and their inners can be soaked in water for an hour or two to make a nutrient-rich slurry to feed plants. Afterward, bury the fish parts to enrich garden soil.

N. E. W. S. poem

Here it is! A north — east — west and south wind poem for fishers to learn.

When the wind comes in from the north,
Neither man nor woman should go forth.
Alas when wind is from the east,
’Tis said that fish bite the very least.
When wind blows in from the west,
Most any fish bites the very best.
When wind is free coming from the south,
It blows the bait into the fishes’ mouth.

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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