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Feedback And Opinions

My column on witching for water brought feedback and opinions as I suspected it would, so I’ll share some excerpts from an email sent by an Ontario reader. Also, an Alberta gardener isn’t happy with her raspberry canes. Along with the above is a fresh picture of myself minus the beard, taken at a Polynesian Fiesta Lu’au, plus a few other “goodies” to fill thisGrainewspage.


I live in Dundas, Ontario and I grew up on a farm now located in Scarborough, in metropolitan Toronto. I have been a patent and trademark agent all my life and have readGrainewsfor about 10 to 15 years. I have never heard you sing — and I must admit that I sing in two all-male choirs. Canadian Orpheus Male Choir and The Burlington Welsh Male Choir.

I thoroughly enjoyed your article on witching for water wells. It took me back many years to 1936 in fact, before I remember too much. My dad had sent the cattle to the nearest stream (about one mile from our farm) all winter long while the well was dry at home. He really didn’t believe in witching, but he had heard of a fellow in Longbranch, who was supposed to be a cracker when it came to witching. Longbranch is extinct now, but was located as a community on the west side of Toronto. So my father had quite a journey ahead of him to get the witcher. Anyway he got the guy to come to our place (my dad went and got him) and he drove a stake into the ground where he said that he found water. My sister in Ringwood, Ontario maintains the dowsing device came from a willow tree brought with the operator from Longbranch. He said to dig and that he would find water at about 35 feet. My dad dug and dug; when he had hit about 35 feet, he hit quicksand and he would go no farther. He hired another fellow who finished the well off and he connected a pump to the well and never did the well go dry. He still adhered to the story at his end… but he was a non-believer in witching. As you can see, I do not subscribe to witching… but I would not dig a well in the absence of witching.

From: Ed Oldham

Thanks Ed, for such a detailed and even humorous email. So good to hear from you. (Ted)


… appear to be a challenge faced by many home fruit growers. Here’s what a reader writes from Three Hills, Alta.

Hi Ted, I have two problems bothering me. First, we have raspberries that have been planted for about three years, having produced a few berries last year. This year they have small yellow leaves and look unthrifty. They have been fertilized with 20-10-10 and some got chelated iron. So far, they are not looking great. What can be wrong with them?

Second, I was given some hollow cedar logs right out of the forest and cut into two-and three-foot lengths. I made planters out of them filling them with wave petunias. The petunias have stalled and are doing nothing. I suspect that the cedar is likely soaking up much of the water given them so I have used extra water on them and have fertilized them once (double dose) with Schultz’s 10-15-10. Is cedar the cause of their reluctance to grow or is it the cold weather we are having or — ?

I sure would appreciate knowing what to do. Thanks.

Eleanor Parker

Ted’s reply: Personally, I recommend a foliar spray on raspberry leaves in early spring using an organic seaweed. It’s available at garden centres as dry seaweed or liquid concentrate and both can be reconstituted or diluted in water. Follow label directions. I agree with a commercial raspberry grower who says don’t fertilize raspberry canes, but they do like a slightly acidic soil. Also, do pour the water to them once forming fruit begins to turn pinky red. A soaker hose is ideal. Let it run 24 hours daily (unless it’s raining steady) until all raspberries are picked. Cut out the old mature canes in fall after fruit bearing is complete, rather than waiting until following spring. Raspberry troubles may include issues such as fruit and root rot in excessive wet soil, wilts, spur and cane blights, anthracnose and botrytis blights, plus pests such as aphids, spider mites, cane and crown borers, and beetles. Hose down the canes well with a strong flush of water. Add mulch or compost at the foot of the canes. Fungicide products such as Serenade, Bordo, Defender and garden sulphur dispersed in warm water for spray application help prevent and control leaf spots, blights, mildew, rust, scab, etc., on fruits, flowers and ornamentals. For pests, consider bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), diatomaceous earth or rotenone.

Here’s an eco-friendly anti-fungicide prevention alternative that I use. Stir in one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of household vegetable oil and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar into four litres of water. Add a few drops of household soap or insecticidal soap. Do not use detergent — it is not soap. Shake well prior to and during application. Do it every five to seven days if humid or threat of disease is high. Spray both sides of leaves including canes at first sign of disease. This same formula also helps prevent and control powdery mildew on squash, melons, peas, as well as early blight on tomatoes and diseases on rose bushes. It won’t reverse a severe infestation that’s already taken hold. Do a small test site first and wait 48 hours in event of any adverse reaction.

Some yellowing of older leaves on raspberries, roses and ornamental shrubs is normal. Yellowing on new growth can be a sign of nutrient deficiency, or waterlogged soil. The latter can leave a clay hardpan layer one or two feet below the surface, holding water around roots and starving out oxygen. This can be remedied by driving a piece of rebar about two feet deep into the soil throughout the patch to provide some drainage.

Regarding homemade planters made from hollow forest cedar logs. My opinion is that cedar leaches or releases something into the soil that may be detrimental to some plants. Harvested cedar should be allowed to completely dry out and sit for a minimum of three to five years or longer. Eventually, when making planters, be sure to line the bottom and sides with heavy construction plastic and punch out drainage holes in the bottom. That’s my two cents’ worth. I don’t pretend to know it all, nor have I met anyone who does.


… have become a significant pest. The trick is to stop the larvae from getting inside the apple where they are somewhat protected, while inflicting severe interior damage, browning and tunnelling.

Adult maggot flies are about six mm long, black with yellow legs and have a prominent zigzag band across the wings. Their eggs are invisible and laid on apple skin surface, hatching about 10 days later. The maggots are white or cream coloured and six mm long. They enter soil from dropped fruit where they pass the winter as pupae, then emerge as maggot flies the next spring.


… is hung in four to six baited containers, about 1.5 metres high on the sunny side of each mature tree, starting right after flower petals begin to fall. I have two recipes.

#1 — One part molasses, (regular or blackstrap) stirred into six parts warm water to facilitate distribution. Stir in six parts vinegar.

#2 — One part molasses diluted with nine parts of water. Sprinkle in some dry yeast granules and let it work until fermentation stops. An option is to also stir in 10 ml of household ammonia and a bit of liquid or powdered soap for every litre of water used.

Cut a two-inch hole on one side, about midway or higher up on an empty two-litre plastic bottle or milk jug. Add apple maggot brew to just below the opening. Many adult apple maggot flies will be attracted and drown. Strain out the contents every second or third day and reuse the liquid to trap more flies.

Make a fresh batch every 10 days or so, for best results. Note that cooking apples appear to be less attractive to apple maggots than are the sweeter sorts.


The teacher asked Johnny: If I give you two apples, then two more apples and another two, how many apples will you have?

Johnny: Seven Miss Jones.

Teacher: Now listen carefully again Johnny: If I give you two apples, then two more and again another two, how many apples will you have?

Johnny: Seven Miss Jones. Teacher: Let me ask you differently this time Johnny. Now if I give you two rabbits, then another two rabbits and again two more rabbits, how many rabbits will you have?

Johnny: Six Miss Jones.

Teacher: Well where do you get seven apples from?

Johnny: I’ve already got one apple in my pocket, Miss Jones!

ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardener andGrow-ItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie, Man.Lifeisoftenlikeayo-yowithitsups anddowns.Wecanattributethefollowing sentencetoAlexanderGrahamBell.No matterwherewe’refrom,whenonedoor closes,anotheropens;butweoftenlookso longandsoregretfullyuponthecloseddoor thatwedonotseetheoneaheadthathas openedforus.”Let’sspendsometimelooking fortheopeningdoorsinourlives,oratleasta windowortwoofopportunity,insteadofthe onesthatmayhaveclosed.Myemailaddress is [email protected]


Sue Armstrong

Love HearingFrom You

Do you have a story about a farm or home-based business? How about some household management tips? Does someone in the family have a special-diet need? Share some of your recipes and some meal ideas.

Send them to FarmLife, 1666 Dublin Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0H1. Phone 1-800- 665-0502 or email [email protected] Please remember we can no longer return photos or material. — Sue

About the author


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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