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Get those green thumbs geared up

Hi good people! Once again I’m singing a song as I travel along the green and growing garden path. I’m putting down my guitar for a bit and taking time to make a pot of rosehip tea. Why don’t you do the same? While the tea is brewing, how be it if I tell about a new hardy rose from the Canadian Artists series called Campfire? By the way, I received a handwritten letter that I’ll share later on from an 87-year-old retired farmer who wonders whether she has that magic touch when it comes to water witching. Isn’t there a song somewhere that says: “You’ve got that magic touch, I love so much?”

GREEN THUMBERS ARE GEARED UP

… and ready to get growing outdoors along with dreams and hopes yet to be realized. Aren’t we an optimistic bunch? By the time you read this I expect footprints left on the snow in my garden to be pretty well long gone. Most years by early April I’ve already seeded some leaf lettuce and other greens close to the house. But then the man and woman in the moon reminded me to not rush it, so I’m waiting until the arrival of best planting days this month for anything that produces its yield above ground. They are: April 11, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 and 26, 2013.

WHERE DO CUT ROSES COME FROM?

Here in our Canadian provinces and territories of North America, almost all roses are imported, mostly from Colombia and Venezuela. A combination of gentle temperatures, fertile soil, and long equatorial days plus low labour costs allows these South American countries to grow roses during the entire year without expensive greenhouses. Once harvested, foreign-grown cut roses may travel as much as 5,000 kilometres to reach local florists.

Our Canadian rose-growing season is short at best, especially on the Prairies. Let’s relish every day that we can cut a homegrown single rose stem or a bouquet of roses from our own garden. Want to have a good experience with growing roses? I, Ted, am encouraging Grainews rosarians to head for the nearest nursery or garden centre wherever they live across Canada and buy one or more of the newly introduced tricoloured Campfire rose.

Maybe you spend more time actually camping somewhere rather than growing roses, or have never planted a rose bush before. Let me give you the goods on Campfire. This terrific performer is bound to be a bestseller, so don’t let it slip through your fingers. Campfire has great capacity for additional blooming after the first flush. Also keep in mind that quick repeat flowering is enhanced by deadheading spent blooms. Although Campfire’s fragrance is faint, it makes up for it in so many other ways. Extreme hardiness is one example. Rose fanciers will also appreciate knowing that not a speck of black spot was detected on its leaves during test trials.

I’M TIPPING MY CAP

… to Campfire and three other cultivars previously introduced in the Canadian Artists series that also include Emily Carr, Felix Leclerc and Bill Reid roses. All four grow and survive on their own roots in Zone 3 Prairie hardiness. When Canadian-grown roses are in season it’s important to buy from local growers. In August 2012 a select group of nursery people from across the nation was invited to a three-acre rose research plot on the southern outskirts of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba to view and evaluate extensive rose-breeding trials. Besides the introduction of Campfire this spring, watch for another release in the Canadian Artists series possibly next year or by 2015. I was given a hint that it may be a yet-unnamed, outstanding, long-stemmed, deep-pink hybrid tea-type rose having full petal count and a very strong fragrance. Spectators who toured the research plot are very excited about this rose and anxiously await its release. Said rose still requires more field testing, particularly as to hardiness. The artist picked to represent this fifth and last rose in the Canadian Artists series is Lucy Maud Montgomery of Anne of Green Gables fame. Watch for it and other new top performers from the world of roses to follow in future.

ARE YOU A WATER DIVINER?

I asked that question earlier this year. A handwritten letter arrived in the mail from a reader who told about her experience with water witching and I thank her for sharing.

Dear Ted: Re: water witcher January 7, 2013 Grainews. This is my response. In late summer 2005, I noticed my well was starting to cave in so got a fellow from Killarney, Manitoba to find a vein. I don’t know what kind of wire he used, but it held its shape. It was about 27 inches long with about five inches bent as a handle to hold on to. There seemed to be a ball bearing at the long end, held in place with a twist. He left me the wire he was using and said I could keep it. I don’t know if I’ve got the knack or not and can witch water. Went to where he had witched. It (the wire) was just going up and down. I could hardly hold it. My neighbour came down and tried it and it did not work for him. The wire just stood there. It didn’t do a thing for him. I’m just wondering if I have that magic touch. I got the well drilled; driller had to go down 130 feet. Really very good, clear water. At that time I lived southeast of Minto, Man. I hope you can make head or tail from this. I had my 87th birthday in late February. Keep up the garden tips. Best page in the whole paper. Also, do you sell CDs of your music? You seem to be jack of all trades. Jean Vandenberghe, Boissevain, Man.

Ted’s reply: I had the good fortune to later speak with Jean via telephone. As she pointed out, the witcher from Killarney gave his witching tool to her and she still has it. Jean did some experimenting and explained how she held the short end of the single piece of stiff wire quite loosely with her two hands around it. “That thing with the ball bearing twisted on the tip was just going up and down into the air and toward the ground like a house on fire. You wouldn’t believe how it was going. It started to rock or whatever you want to call it. We had the well put in there by the Steve Racine family and had a good supply of water. We plumbed it to the house; a really good stream of clear water.”

According to Jean who is now retired, there’s more to it than meets the eye to get the entire process of drilling a well completed. It took the drillers a good week from start to finish. As for the witching tool itself, Jean described it as a good, heavy piece of wire that holds its shape and doesn’t bend like a coat hanger. She doesn’t think it was a welding rod, but more likely to be something similar to firm page wire. She’s not certain whether she can witch water or what, but her own experience appears to confirm that she certainly can. “Maybe I’m kind of full of electricity,” she told me. The long and the short of it is that every witcher’s tool is as unique as the individual himself/herself who tries a hand at it.

As for Jean’s inquiry about my music. I have CDs at $15 each and audio cassettes for $12 each; shipping included. Among song titles are: Legend of the White Horse (the white horse statue on the western outskirts of Winnipeg), Schmirler the Curler (late of Biggar, Sask.), Gardeners Love to Party, Blue Lobelia Blue, Lily Sweet Lily, Green Beans and Ripe Tomatoes and others. Mail cheque or money order to: Ted Meseyton, The Singing Gardener, 54-14th Street, Portage la Prairie, Man. R1N 2V3.

MY GRANNY’S SCRAPBOOK

… contains everything from gems of wisdom to home remedies. She always grew parsley and not just to decorate the dinner plate. Granny believed her parsley tea was a sure bet for rheumatism and to stimulate and refresh the kidneys and urinary tract to improve the flow. In season, she’d take a handful of washed, freshly harvested parsley or a tablespoonful of parsley she grew, dried and crumpled. She then placed parsley in a heatproof earthenware or glass container, with about 2 cups of boiling water poured over and allowed it to steep. Once the brew was cool or cold, she strained off the liquid and would drink a half-cupful one hour before meals. Granny also recommended parsley tea to restore a clear colour to cloudy urine and always said that herbs, fruit, flowers, vegetables and fields of grain follow the sun, even on cloudy days. †

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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