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Readers ask for more tomato info

Singing Gardener: Plus, farming couple shares photos of their flowers

This striking mass of pink hibiscus-like lavatera flowers, also known as rose mallow are grown from seeds that Joan Ziegler got from her dad, but she doesn’t know the variety name. (Ted thinks they could be “Loveliness” or “Silver Cup.”) Joan also mentioned there are white ones tucked in among the pink lavatera. She tried starting them inside but decided lavatera do not transplant well and says they do much better when seeded outside directly into the soil. She always saves some seeds and also lets them volunteer.

All for the love of tomatoes opens the page in this my first Grainews column for 2018. I share an email from Alberta and a phone conversation with a farmer’s wife out of Unity, Sask.

Am still out and about promoting the connection between five or more weekly servings of no-sugar-added homemade tomato juice, tomato soup, stewed tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato/broccoli salad as major nutritional dietary supports for prostate health and wellness (breast health and lung health too). I highlight the importance of eating plenty of tomatoes when singing my “Prostate Song” during personal appearances. “The Canadian Weather Song” and “A Smile is so Contagious” are also among my repertoire of original material. But then I don’t need to remind readers to smile. You know to do that already.

My hat covers my hairy head for insulation during January so I don’t go to the barber nearly so often during winter. Let me pretend my tip-of-the-Tilley hat is lifted high into the sky. That means the welcome word-mat is rolled out and ready to read.

Hi Ted, Subject: Tomatoes

I always look forward to the next issue of Grainews just to be able to read your articles! They are so interesting and informative. Thank you very much for sharing. In a previous issue, you interviewed Karl Voesenek and showed his picture with tomato plants. But, I do not see that you told us which variety he grew. Do you know what the variety was? They do look so healthy. I would like to try them.

I grew both Latah and Mystery Keeper tomatoes. Yes, the Latah were definitely very early and lasted most of the season. I was pleased with them. Mystery Keeper produced some nice, big tomatoes which ripened on the vine. They were very tasty and I was quite impressed. They had an extensive root system — oh my! But, for the tomatoes that were picked green (because frost was upon us) the taste did not do so well. Gardeners in various other locations may experience different results. I think I still like Better Boy and Early Girl along with Big Beef, as my favourite varieties.

We live near Beiseker, Alberta and have a large garden every year, just for our own use. And, of course, I always enjoy sharing the veggies too. Kenton and I are small full-time farmers with only 935 acres, between Calgary and Drumheller. My garden is right beside his workshop, so often when he is working in the shop he will water the garden at the same time. He also loves to wander through the garden and pull out the weeds as he sees them. Kenton says that he enjoys the produce so he helps out when he is able to do so. Last year while away for half a month from mid-June, I was not here to thin and pull out volunteers. It ended up being a flower garden which we (and the bees and hummingbirds) thoroughly enjoyed. It was a pleasure to be out there with nature, kinda like a mountain meadow. The veggies were hidden among the flowers, stretching to reach the sunlight, but still did very well. To top it off, I got more produce than I ever imagined.

Joan Ziegler would love to know the name of the purple flowers (to the left) and says they also bloom in white, pink and mauve but for some reason only purple ones volunteered last year. She hopes other colours will return again in 2018. They were her husband’s great-grandma’s flower so they always called them “Ma’s Flowers.” Joan later told the Singing Gardener, “You hit the nail on the head by identifying them as larkspur.” Note the row of carrots in the middle with lavatera growing to the right side.  photo: Courtesy Joan Zeigler

Do you know what? It has been fun to actually have someone else who is interested in my garden. I always say that I do it for our own enjoyment and pleasure. This is our relaxation. Have a good day, Ted. It has been good communicating with you, which is something I never thought I would do. The size of my garden is only about 90×25 feet. I would love a larger area so I could rotate my potatoes and tomatoes better. It gets tricky. But my query about the tomato variety spurred this all on. I am going to attach a few pictures of my larkspur and lavatera flowers for your interest. Continue such a fantastic pleasure in life, my gardening friend. Have a good winter with looking forward to spring and summer 2018.

In appreciation,

Kenton and Joan Ziegler
Farmers Feed Families

From the Grainews subscription line:

Hello Ted, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017

A customer called this morning with a question about Karl Voesenek’s green tomatoes featured in your section in the November 7, 2017 issue of Grainews. She doesn’t have email and wants you to call her with the answer please. Her question: What kind of tomatoes are they? — Rose Beaman 306-228-2081, Unity, Sask. (two hours west of Saskatoon)

What a happy conversation I, Ted, had with Rose and learned that as a farmer’s wife she did all the gardening since 1959 without help from her husband. In addition to farm duties such as chores, milking cows, running the household and raising six daughters, Rose also ran a combine for 37 years. Rose and Charlie moved into Unity in 1996. As a result he then began gardening with a passion by himself at the farm and grew all the tomatoes, potatoes, cukes and everything else.

Thanks to all the other readers who inquired about the variety name of Karl Voesenek’s tomatoes. As mentioned in the article, the tomato plants were purchased late in the season at a garden centre and planted out in July. The name tag wasn’t saved and Karl doesn’t recall the name.

Spoken by a true farmer wife

Q: Do farmer husbands help their wives with housework?

A: But the women sure had to help outside!

Hey! Where’d the space go? It’s a bit like being at an auction. Going once, Going twice, Gone. Keep your Grainews subscription up to date at 1-800-665-0502 and we’ll all meet again next time.

During this glorious Alberta summer sunset a hummingbird is seen in flight to an unknown approaching nightfall destination. The windmill once belonged to Kenton Ziegler’s great-grandfather and was restored by Kenton about 12 years ago.  photo: Courtesy Joan Zeigler

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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