Singing The Praises Of Tomatoes — And Grapes

Speaking of singing and talking! Without any forewarning, I was asked and obliged the live audience with a seven-minute impromptu rendition of “O It Must Be the Tomatoes” at the Holland, Manitoba Community Centre back in January. Don’t the boy scouts say: Be Prepared?


… to win a Bluebell… a Bluebell grape plant that is… from Corn Hill Nursery in Corn Hill, N.B., E4Z 1M2. Meantime, you can view their catalogue or place an order online at or reach them by phone at (506) 756-3635. I’ve also got credit certificates and seed potato vouchers with catalogues. Top that off with draws for a subscription toThe Garlic Newsand Gardens Westmagazine. Hurry along now and enter, because draws soon take place in March. Winners’ names will appear in a future issue ofGrainews.Send your name and complete address by mail to:

Singing Gardener Draws, c/oGrainews,

1666 Dublin Ave.,

Winnipeg, Man. R3H 0H1.


Protect yourself by careful monitoring of what you eat. Have you ever tried pancakes made with barley flour? Add a splash of pure Canadian maple syrup and top with fresh organic homegrown grapes and strawberries in season. Barley helps keep your digestive and elimination systems in top-notch working condition and squeaky clean as newly washed windows. Grapes are pain relievers and can improve ability to ward off arthritic joint symptoms and gout flare-ups.


When I’m not singing about tomatoes, I’m just as apt to be thinking about varieties to grow and when to seed them. As a result, I’m beginning to pay more attention to the man in the moon again. (and yes — there is a woman in the moon also, according to Samoan legend)

Here are some of the best upcoming March and April days for seeding the likes of tomatoes, celery, peppers, melons and vining crops; asters, seed geraniums, impatiens, marigolds, petunias, herbs and other leafy veggies and annual flowers indoors, or in the greenhouse. The dates are: March 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 20, 21, 22 and April 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18 and 19.

What we know about the moon is insignificant, yet tantalizing. It teases and even frustrates us compared to what we do not know about it. So many unanswered questions remain.

How does the moon exert its power on our daily lives? For centuries, folklore hasn’t waited or relied upon official scientific answers. Now science has come to the support of those farmers and gardeners who for hundreds of years have insisted it was best to plant crops that produce their yield above the ground during the increase of the moon.

Prominent psychiatrists and physicians have recognized and written about the relationship between lunar cycle moon phases and human maladies, particularly mental and emotional disturbances. It has been demonstrated that at the new and full moon, our moods will change. If we are tense — our pulse quickens. If we are cut — we bleed more freely. Such effects have been widely observed in everyday individuals. Richard Mead, a prominent 18th century English physician recorded numerous case observations connecting the influence of the moon to the health of various patients.

Folk tradition says that castration of farm animals during the full moon is dangerous due to excessive bleeding. You’ve all heard of ancient bloodletting practices to treat illnesses. Physicians from the past always avoided bloodletting during specific days of the Hebrew lunar calendar that matched times of the new and full moon for that very reason.

Folklore also says that chances for a heavy snowfall or rainfall were up to three times more likely to happen in the week after new moon and at full moon than for the week preceding the new moon. (dark of the moon)

Much moonlore is scientifically supported. However, some beliefs and practices are difficult to explain. Scoffers and others may consider anything according to the moon shilly-shally (as utter denial) or at best as being interesting to know about for conversation material and perhaps to amuse and even startle; but not to be believed. Do you have a folklore experience or practice that you’d like to share?


In my last column, (Grainews, Feb. 14, 2011) I mentioned planting young tomatoes deeply (i. e. place about half the stem in the hole). Another technique that’s somewhat similar is known as Trench Tomato Planting. Let me explain.

Tomatoes with massive root systems require less water and withstand the elements of weather and other issues far better. Notice all the fine hairs lining the tomato stem. These can develop into roots when they come into contact with soil.

Here are the simple steps to follow. Dig a trench 10 to 15 cm (four to six inches) deep — that is, as long as each tomato seedling is tall. Snip off leaves that are on the lower section of the stem and leave about four sets of leaves at the top to ensure photosynthesis. Lay down the tomato transplant horizontally (on its side) in the trench. Fill in with soil and gently bend the tomato stem upward so the leaves remain above ground. Your leaning Tomato Tower will begin to straighten as it grows. Place a tomato cage around it, or stake each plant right after it’s planted. You may disturb the root ball if you wait to provide support later. Eventually, the size of the tomato root system doubles and leads to better production and healthier plants with fewer challenges.

Many of you I’m sure have your own system for planting tomatoes. If some haven’t worked all that well in the past, I suggest you consider both deep hole and trench planting for some of your tomatoes.

I think back to once upon a time when I travelled as MC (master of ceremonies) with country music bands and did live on-air programs with them. I’d sometimes end the show by saying: It’s all for country music and country music for all. Since I’m not on stage but on thisGrainews page, I’ll write instead: It’s all for grapes and tomatoes and grapes and tomatoes for all.


Only you shall know the results, if you decide to try one or both of the following. A neighbour suggests the following if anyone is inundated by mice and/or rats. Set out containers filled with carbonated sugar-sweetened cola soft drink (not diet cola). These rodent pests love the sugary liquid so much that they gulp it down greedily and within a few days are dead. Apparently, mice and rats can’t burp and the bubbles in carbonated colas bloat their bodies, leading to their termination. Carbonated cola goes flat in time so fresh changes are required.

Do you live in an area where wood ticks are prominent? A local old-timer suggests that I drink a litre of buttermilk every day. He claims buttermilk will change the composition of perspiration and that sweat in turn repels wood ticks. By the way, buttermilk is a beverage I really enjoy, so I shall drink a litre of it daily during upcoming wood tick season. Might even keep mosquitoes at bay. Since we’re not all of equal size and stature, some buttermilk adjustments more or less might apply.

ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardener andGrow-ItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie, Man.Thanksforwalkingwithmeonthe Grainewsgardenpath.Pleasecontinueto joinmeagainandagainthroughoutspring andsummerwherethingsaregreenand growing;wheregentlenessisspokenand wheretransformationinthegardenandgrain fieldsisaspersonalanduniqueaseach individualreader.Befaithfultothegoodness thatexistswithinyou.Myemailaddressis [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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