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One Potato, Two Potato, Three…

Want to try All Red or German Butterball this season? Seed is available along with numerous other potato varieties such as Pacific Russet, Irish Cobbler and Dakota Pearl from Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes, Box 70, Bowden, Alberta, T0M 0K0. Phone 1-877-224-3939 for a 2011 print catalogue, or visit their website www.seedpotatoes.ca where you can view other seed potato varieties at your leisure. But don’t delay. Some varieties sell out quickly. Just let me mention that Irish Cobbler is an oldie; said to have been grown since the 1800s; thus giving it heritage status.

HOW TIMES CHANGE

It’s hard to believe a way back in the mid-1800s, potatoes were considered animal feed. Not so today! There are several vast potato-growing regions in this country and I live in one of them. Matter of fact, in my community there are two huge french fry potato-processing plants. Spuds have come a long way and are definitely a favourite staple vegetable among Canadians and even worldwide.

CHICKEN FEED

Back when I was a kid, those two words meant “small change, a pittance, bare minimum or inexpensive.” After potatoes were dug, we’d set the tiny ones aside. I do recall we boiled those small potatoes and fed them to hens in the winter so they’d lay more eggs and it worked. Today, similar potato nuggets sell in stores and at farmers’ markets not as chicken feed, but for a buck a pound or more.

SEED POTATO

For planting purposes, one should always purchase quality-grown seed that’s been graded, packed and inspected according to national rules and regulations. Small, whole potatoes can be planted as is, but larger ones may be cut into pieces with at least two or three eyes each.

Seed can be chitted first. (i. e. green sprouted). Chitting provides a head start for earlier emergence and maturity. I’m sure many home potato growers have their own system for pre-sprouting.

Here’s one method to help prevent rot. The whole potato or cut side can be dipped into garden-grade powdered sulphur. Another option is to buy a few penny book matches, remove them individually and mix the unburned match tips into some wood ash that’s been placed in a strong brown paper bag. Poke out a few holes for ventilation and sprinkle the outside with a splash or two of water. Place the paper bag holding the potato seed in a warm, dark location for about a week to 10 days or longer. Eyes will sprout and potato pieces can be planted as early as weather permits.

A COMFORT FOOD

Surviving on spuds… is completely possible. This sentiment is said to have inspired the scientific name for potato; i.e.Solanum tuberosum.The Latin wordsolanum means “soothing.” The name also reflects that the potato belongs to theSolanaceaefamily whose other members include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and tomatillos.

Too much attention is paid to starch content and somewhat high glycemic index of potatoes which is manageable, unless your sugar consumption is over the roof, or you are diabetic. Be aware that potatoes contain all 22 amino acids to form complete proteins after easy digesting. Potatoes have more potassium than bananas, plus vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C and K. Along with those are antioxidants and phytonutrients in both the flesh and skin of potatoes that rival nutrients found in broccoli and spinach.

Potatoes are known to be anti-inflammatory, can aid in the reduction of stomach acid, help lower blood pressure and possess diuretic properties. A mashed potato poultice often eases headaches, joint and back pain. Grated or chopped raw potato can be anti-inflammatory and comforting to skin disorders. Specifically, I think of raw potato poultices for treating severe sunburn and skin infections that I once wrote about.(See Grainews June 8, 2009, page 38).

A REMINDER… SINGING GARDENER DRAWS

… take place in March. See January 10, 2011Grainews,page 40 for a listing. In addition, Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes located near Bowden, Alberta is providing vouchers/certificates, redeemable for your choice of a seed potato variety. This family farm has been growing seed potatoes for the past 23 years. Owned by Stan and John Mills; their goal is to provide high-quality potato seed to home gardeners, market gardeners and nurseries across Canada. Their catalogue lists about three dozen fingerling, early, midseason and late varieties.(Full contact information is provided at the start of this column.)

To enter, drop me a line (with any gardening tips) and include your complete name and mailing address to:

Singing Gardener Draws, c/oGrainews,

1666 Dublin Ave.,

Winnipeg, Man., R3H 0H1.

CLICKS AND POPS IN JOINTS

Sometimes… when I’m doing reflexology, I may hear an occasional snap or crackle; especially among toes and fingers. Even when I’m exercising, stretching or bending in the garden, once in a while there may be an occasional painless crack or popping sound. Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience and wondered what those sounds are. Have you ever seen anyone make his knuckles crack or pop at will, many times over? I certainly have.

Here’s how the phenomenon was explained to me. These pops or bubbles are known as cavitations and represent gas (oxygen and carbon dioxide) escaping from the fluid that lines your joints, as they are mobilized through stretching or pulling. Cavitations are not a cause for concern. In fact, they’re said to confirm or show that the joints from which they come are working properly. It’s a different story when joints are injured and surrounded by inflammation. They can’t move enough to produce cavitations until healing and mobility are restored. Your chiropractor, massage therapist or health-care provider might also offer additional insight. Food for thought!

SCRAWLED ON A SHINGLE

I share words that were inked on a shingle from back in the days when I was a babe. Perhaps some mothers and grandmas can relate to the following:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait ’til tomorrow,

For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow,

So quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep,

I’m rockin’ my babies and babies don’t keep.

As I grew up, I got a great education; both formal and at home. When I got the chance, I’d pick up the guitar and sing: “Rock All Our Babies To Sleep.” I became quite a good baker too and was always tempting my brothers with one of my cakes and other homemade goodies. Since I had no sisters; washing dishes, waxing and polishing floors and the like were also on my indoor bill of fare. Dare I mention outside chores such as milking the cow, churning butter, hand pumping to keep the water trough full and splitting kindling?

ALL OF US

… could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to our criticism. It is good to know what old folklore says about the relationship between the moon and weather.

Lots of old sayings are surprisingly true and have survived for centuries according to wisdom of folklorists. Last year, Christmas Day, December 25, 2010 arrived in the third quarter, during a waning moon(receding light).Moonlore says that if Christmas comes during a waning moon,(as it did last December)we will have a hard year and the nearer to the end of the waning moon, so much worse the upcoming year will be. Total darkness during the fourth quarter(the end of the waning moon) didn’t arrive until nine days later in the wee morning hours of January 3, 2011. The long and the short of it is: not the worst, but not the best weather year either.

WILL IT BE A BOY OR GIRL?

Anybody in your family expecting a baby? Here’s what folklore says. When a boy baby is born during the wane of the moon,(decreasing in light)the next child will be a girl and vice versa. When a birth takes place during a waxing moon (increasing in light)the next child will be of the same sex.

ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardener andGrowItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie, Man.Thegardentomeisnotonlyfamiliar territory,butasafe,quietspotwheremany hopesanddreamscancometrue.WhenI touchnature,I’mrelatedtotheentireworld andthankGodforthelandanditsbeauty. Respecttheelders,co-operatewithother gardenersandteachtheyoungtogarden.My emailaddressis [email protected]

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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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