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Cucumbers, roses, seed sources…

A hybrid cucumber that’s cool as a breeze; a new rose from the Canadian Artists group, a source where gardeners can buy heirloom and open-pollinated tomato seeds and seed potatoes… plus a shrub fit for a queen. Do you mind if I cram a lot of information in this Grainews issue. How be it if I share an email for starters?

Hi Ted: My town is Thorhild, Alta. “Your articles in Grainews are always so interesting. I saved many of them and I’m just wondering if all those tips are in a book or is a CD available. Over the years, I’ve had many, many kinds of tomatoes. I’m still on the search for a tomato with a thin skin and the flavour I remember from my childhood. A low-acid tomato would be nice for canning. What would be your recommendation?

And a last question: Do you know of a company that sells German Butterball potatoes? I’m sure you already have the windowsills full of little seedlings. I send them my best growing wishes from Alberta.”

— (From) Barbara A. Kaiser

Singing Gardener replies: I have neither a book nor a CD with all my tips from past and current columns, but am working on such a project. To buy old-fashioned heritage tomato seeds to meet every need go to the following websites: www.uppercanadaseeds.ca out of Toronto or www.heritageharvestseed.com at Carman, Man. German Butterball seed potato and numerous other varieties can be purchased from Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes, Bowden, Alta. TOM OKO; visit www.seedpotatoes.ca or phone toll free 1-877-224-3939. As I write this, I have no seedlings on my windowsills. By the time you read this Grainews issue, things may have changed. And thank you to Barbara for her best growing wishes from Alberta which I also pass along to every reader.

THE REAL COOL BREEZE HYBRID CUCUMBER

I was talking with Vicky Berg, seed manager at Early’s Everything for the Gardener in Saskatoon. Vicky tells me she has a real good supply of the true-to-name seeds for Cool Breeze cukes. If you missed out in the past, that shouldn’t happen this year. Cool Breeze is among the earliest of cukes (45 days after germination) that sets bitter-free fruits without cross-pollination. The unique skin is dark green, thin, sweet and juicy. There are numerous nutrients in cucumber skin not found elsewhere in the flesh, so please don’t peel and throw it in the compost bin. Those gardeners seeking to grow low-acid, deep-rosy-pink, heart-shaped Oxheart tomatoes can also get seeds from Early’s. You can phone Early’s at 1-800-667-1159 or shop online at www.earlysgarden.com.

SO YOU WANT TO GROW A SHRUB ROSE

… that’s hardy in Zone 3 with little or no protection. May I recommend a new one for 2012? It’s called Bill Reid rose, the latest in the Canadian Artist Rose series. It’s named to recognize the acclaimed Haida sculptor. If you’ve been wanting a really good yellow shrub rose, then Bill Reid rose is the one. It grows on its own roots and is a generous repeat bloomer on a robust shrub that’s 0.9 m (three feet) tall with similar spread. Pink, red and white shrub roses… look out! This year, you’ve got competition for the spotlight from Bill Reid’s yellow rose. Ask for it at your local garden centre this spring, or try McFayden’s in Brandon, phone 1-800-205-7111 or visit Jeffries Nurseries, Portage la Prairie.

IS THERE A PLANT FIT FOR A QUEEN?

Indeed there is! Amber Jubilee Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius “Jefam”) originated as a seedling resulting from the cross Diabolo x Dart’s Gold. It was hybridized by Rick Durand at Jeffries Nurseries, specifically for and named in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

A UNIQUE BLEND OF DAZZLING FOLIAGE COLOUR

… is waiting to unfold and gardeners who plant Amber Jubilee Ninebark will be more than delighted. What a nice size too with a height/spread of 1.75 m (five to six feet) by 1.5 m (four to five feet) and hardy for Prairie Zone 3.

It makes an attractive stand-alone specimen. Or, plant several in a medium-high shrubbery group that will certainly add value to the landscape.

Culturally, best performance will be achieved in moderate to full sunshine, although it is suited to a wide range of soil types and growing conditions. There appears to be no specific issues with pests and disease.

During early summer, new growth emerges in shades of yellow and orange, maturing to a lime green and later turning crimson and purple for the fall season. An annual pruning of stem tips is recommended to assist Amber Jubilee at always looking its finest. You’ll be more than amazed how Amber Jubilee provides a kaleidoscope of foliage colours throughout the three seasons of spring, summer and autumn. Besides excellent vigour, tidy, delightful white flower clusters in rounded form will appear as a bonus.

What more could a gardener ask? No wonder Amber Jubilee Ninebark is considered a crown jewel among shrubs. Many nurseries and garden centres across the nation have ordered it for sale this spring. Interest among gardeners and landscapers is expected to be high.

MAPLE SYRUP AND MOLASSES DOUGHNUT GLAZE

Molasses can serve a great purpose in the garden, but that’s for another column. Let me ask… Do you ever make homemade doughnuts or anything requiring a glaze? Well in that case, let me tell you about this doughnut glaze.

Mix together, 1 cup (250 ml) of icing sugar, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) pure maple syrup and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cooking molasses. If you desire a more pronounced molasses flavour, use blackstrap instead. Stir in 1 teaspoon of milk, or a few more drops at a time to make a creamy glaze that pours, but isn’t runny.

Dip doughnuts, or gently brush a touch of glaze on tops and let sit until firm. To add a bit of crunch, the doughnuts can then be sprinkled with either gingersnap cookie crumbs, finely chopped walnuts or a smidgen of powdered cinnamon. Anyone with a milk allergy can try substituting almond milk instead.

Here’s another option. If you want a bit of a peppery spark when biting into a doughnut, try dusting them by hand or shaking them inside a large plastic bag with the following mixture. Combine 1 cup (250 ml) icing sugar, 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cinnamon and a skimpy 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Make sure these dry ingredients are well mixed for even distribution. The cayenne pepper can be adjusted more or less to suit individual taste. †

About the author

Columnist

Ted Meseyton

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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