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Go On A Potato Adventure

I always enjoy looking at the advertisements throughout Grainews. They provide information and bring to mind the days when I would read or ad lib commercials — live on the air — without any bells, jingles, whistles or other attention grabbers.

Or I’d MC a studio broadcast with Bev Munro and the Pembina Valley Boys, The Music Masters, Rhythm Rockets and other entertainers, often before a real live audience. Back then I was known as Tex the Trail Rider.

Now back to reality as I say: Hello again Grainews readers and “howdy all” from the Singing Gardener. As good as memories are, I live in the present and still discover something new down my garden path most every day… asking, listening, learning, reading, receiving, giving, searching, singing, talking…

Let me ask: Are you growing any spuds this year? You can bet your bottom dollar more people than ever will be doing just that.

There are plenty of potato growing gardeners who still can’t do without a patch of spuds. To boot, the trend definitely continues toward more homegrown vegetables and home canning. I’d say it’s mushrooming! Don’t know about you, but a garden provides me an opportunity to be my own boss. I’ve become a sort-of foreman or executive in work clothes or overalls.

A TIP O’ MY CAP

…to a seed potato provider I discovered a few years back. Meet Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes, Box 70, Bowden, AB TOM OKO. This family-run farm is a great source for numerous specialty, fingerling and standard seed potato varieties. Stan and John Mills have supplied Canadian gardeners, market gardeners, nurseries and potato growers of all sizes across the country for 23 years.

Write to the address above for a copy of their 2009 print seed potato catalogue, or phone Stan or John in the local Alberta area at 403-224-3993 or call toll free 1-877-224-3939 from elsewhere in the nation.

You need wonder no longer where to get high quality specialty-type seed potatoes such as Banana, French Fingerling, Peanut Fingerling, unique Pink Fir Apple and Linzer Delekatess. Or other seed spuds such as Early Warba, purple skin Caribe and newly released Pacific Russet. Then there’s mid season Alaska Sweetheart, coloured pink inside the tuber, as well as Cherry Red, Dakota Pearl, Purple Viking and Roko. Late seasoners include fantasticly flavoured German Butterball, Desiree, Green Mountain, Lady Rosetta and Russian Blue. For these and other varieties; look to Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes.

You can view their web site for a complete listing plus growing tips at www.seedpotatoes.ca.I have a link there, too. You can go direct to that link at www.seedpotatoes.ca/singinggardener.htmfor info about CDs, audiocassettes and my Singing Gardener caps.

I can recall as a kid that my folks always grew Early Warba. I know a gardener here in my area who still grows them and early they are. Most years, unless it’s a backward spring, he’s harvesting moist and mellow Early Warbas by Canada Day.

WEATHER LORE

I am absolutely delighted to share a weather lore poem I put together:Plant tomato seeds in full moonlight, And you will find they’ll do alright, Plant potatoes when the moon gets dark, And to these lines always hark! You may be stubborn like a mule, But why break this folklore rule? When warmth of sun and rain descend, Reap tomatoes and potatoes to no end.

O, IT MUST BE THE TOMATOES

One day last year I went through the checkout at a Canadian Tire Store Garden Centre. Nothing unusual about that. The youthful lady cashier recognized me from my picture and asked whether I really do sing. Upon answering in the affirmative, she made an on-the-spot request. “Would you sing your tomato song?”

There I was, at the head of the line with several customers behind me and other staff persons nearby perking up their ears. I spontaneously answered in the affirmative and belted out: “O It Must Be the Tomatoes” a cappella. (meaning without accompaniment)

The humorous lyrics focus on prostate wellness and health benefits derived from eating lots of tomatoes. I generated giggles and laughs and an appreciative round of applause at the end. As I’m sure my Grainews readers know, only men-folk have a prostate.

Although I never planned it this way, I seem to be injecting some light hearted humour as I write along. But that’s OK. Grainews Editor Jay Whetter has mentioned in his writings that readers do appreciate jokes and a sense of the comical.

B. C. READER RECOMMENDS EARLY CASCADE TOMATOES

Thanks to Maya Wenger for writing from way up in Fort St. John, B. C., north of Dawson Creek in hardiness zone 2B. Here are some excerpts from her letter:

Dear Ted,

Earlier you had a column in Grainews about tomatoes. I ordered two of the varieties you recommended, Polfast and Bonny Best, both very early varieties meant for cool northern seasons. I thought you might be interested in my results.

We had an unusual year: very HOT for our region, with lots of 30 plus weather and severely dry. Lots of watering!!! The Polfast did OK, but was not nearly as early or prolific as the Early Cascade (60 days). Polfast was at least one week later for the first one, and tomatoes were slower to ripen. It also did not keep very well, once we had to take the tomatoes in due to frost.

Bonny Best managed to have the first tomato ripen just before frost, in early September, making the whole process take over 90 days. I found it flowered too slow, grew too slow, and ripened far too slow for our area. However, I liked the flavour and juiciness. The over-all yield of the plant by weight was comparable to the Early Cascade. The first Bonny Best grew to one pound in weight, and it kept very well. No tomatoes rotted while ripening.

I would highly recommend Early Cascade tomato. This is a staking variety that ripens as early as any tomato I have tried, has excellent flavour, yield, and is the best keeper. Lindenberg Seeds in Brandon, Man., carries Early Cascade. It has been our staple tomato for growing outside in our garden for many, many years.

I enjoy your column.

GARDENERS LOVE TO PARTY

…to sing and swing and tap their toes and stay out late ’til cows come home and for dessert eat Smarties. Those are words from another song I wrote.

You’ll be tappin’ your toes too if you win one of the garden prizes I’ll draw for in March.

Included are two-year-old Bluebell grape vines courtesy of Bob Osborne at Corn Hill Nursery Corn Hill, N. B., E4Z 1M2, phone 506-756-3635. I’ve got bundles of 11 started grapes vines, courtesy of Misha Voloaca, of Voloaca Nursery in Aylmer, Que., phone 819-685-0429 or email [email protected]And gift vouchers for garden packs of seed potatoes from Stan and John Mills at Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes. (See the potato discussion above for contact information.) You could also win $25 gift certificates from Kevin Twomey of T & T Seeds in Headingley, Man., 204-895-9962; McFayden Seed Co. in Brandon, Man., 1-800-205-7111; and Early’s in Saskatoon 1-800-667-1159. And finally, I’ve got a one-year subscription to The Garlic News published four times yearly, out of Maberly, Ont., phone 613-273-5683.

To enter the draw, I invite Grainews readers to send your name and mailing address to:

Ted the Singing Gardener, c/o Grainews,

1666 Dublin Ave.,

Winnipeg, MB., R3H 0H1.

Mark the word “DRAW” on the outside of the envelope. Names will be selected in March from entries received. Gift certificates will be mailed out to winners for redemption and names appear in a future Singing Gardener column.

Ted Meseyton is the Singing Gardener & Grow-it Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. He talks and sings gardening at his personal appearances. Ted also teaches yodeling and musical grow-your-own-garden classes to children and adults. His e-mail address is: [email protected]

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