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Take This Cabbage For A Walk

I have seen some fancy and sturdy handcrafted diamond willow canes and walking sticks. Perhaps you have one or even make them yourself. Today, I shall tell about a different kind of walking stick that you can grow in your garden.

Jersey cabbage is the common name for a famous heirloom Channel Islands kale (Brassica oleracea longata.) Another common name is tree cabbage, but the most famous is walking stick cabbage. I have grown it myself, but a longer season is required so it’s best to start seedlings indoors. You’ll find walking stick cabbage in Thompson & Morgan seed display racks at select garden centres and nurseries across our land. Otherwise, call their toll-free number 1-877-545-4386.

Jersey kale walking stick tree cabbage seed is also available from Chiltern Seeds at Ulverston, Cumbria, England. See their online website www.chilternseeds.co.ukor email [email protected]Yes, Canadian orders are welcome.

Walking stick cabbage makes a tall, mostly straight, but sometimes slightly curved stem. The average height is six feet. At the very top is a large rosette of edible leaves. Young sprouts in spring make a very acceptable vegetable. Once the mature stems are harvested in autumn, they are dried, carved, groomed and waxed or clear-coated to attain walking stick status.

NOWHERE LIKE JERSEY

… when it comes to enormous-size walking stick cabbage. Jersey’s more temperate climate permits plants to be left in the ground to grow a second season and produce seeds. By then, stalks often attain an enormous stature. The record height is a remarkable 18 feet. Some plants are so vigorous as to give the appearance of small trees when fully grown. Jersey cabbages have been compared with coconut palms in appearance.

Massive heads are topped with a great number of well-proportioned leaves up to three feet or more in length. Mature leaves are harvested and used for cattle fodder.

The stems are described with four “S” words: straight, stiff, strong and slender. Gardeners, artisans and craftspeople convert these dried stems into walking sticks, which are much in demand by tourists visiting Jersey, as well as the locals. A sort of cottage industry, you might say. Are there any Canadian-grown and -crafted cabbage walking sticks?

MOONLORE WEATHER

Whether it’s cold or whether it’s hot, we’re gonna have weather, whether or not, so keep smiling! Those words are part of my “Weather Song.” What do the moon cycles have to say about 2010 weather, especially from an agricultural perspective? Lots of sayings about the moon are surprisingly true and many have survived for centuries. Here’s my two bits’ worth as I go out on a limb (as I’ve said before, out on the limb is where the apples are):

The following is based on longtime folklore wisdom. Christmas day 2009 came during a waxing moon (increasing in light) shortly after it entered the second quarter, just past midway between new moon and full moon. Moonlore enthusiasts, using observations handed down or documented over many centuries, say such a moon is in a favourable position. Weather-wise, it means we will have a satisfactory planting and growing year. If I were a farmer, I’d be anticipating a good crop in 2010. As a gardener, I’m looking toward a very happy and bountiful gardening season with a nice balance of heat, moisture and sunshine.

On the other side of the coin and closer at hand, the near-term forecast sounds a bit ominous. When the new moon falls on Saturday, the following three weeks will be wet and windy, nine times out of 10. Sort of reminds me of some polls that tell us they’re accurate within two percentage points nine times out of 10. If that weren’t enough, guess what? The next new moon on a Saturday is February 13 at 8:51 p. m. CST. That’s about the very time this issue of Grainews is distributed. Are we in for 21 days of snow, wet snow and/or rain, plus windy weather?

There’s so much attached to moonlore. Perhaps I’ll set aside an entire column to said subject one day and another article devoted to water witching or divining for my Grainews readers.

I WAS A RADIO GUEST

… on CFRY. In November past, Kevin Mills, an on-air personality at a local radio station, invited me on his program. Between songs and commercials, we bantered back and forth about gardening. But in my opinion, the highlight came when I told Kevin’s listeners how to make homemade sauerkraut and why it’s important to eat at least a quarter-cupful four or five times a week and/or drink a bit of sauerkraut

This cartoon drawing of a walking stick cabbage comes from Chiltern Seeds in the U. K. Instructions are included with each packet of Walking Stick Jersey cabbage seeds.

juice as a digestive aid to promote wellness. Of course, making sauerkraut is old-hat news to my readers. (See my Grainews columns January 12, 2009 and October 19, 2009.)

CROCK-POT STYLE

Here’s a recipe for Crock-Pot applesauce and sauerkraut. Some people claim they don’t like sauerkraut, but it can become an acquired taste. This is a good way to gradually introduce a newcomer to sauerkraut. I’d like to share one of my favourite ways to serve this aid to good digestion:

4 cups sauerkraut, rinsed and drained

2 cups applesauce (preferably from homegrown apples)

1/2 tsp. caraway seeds 1 tablespoonful of butter

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and then place in a buttered crockpot.

Cover and cook on high for two or three hours. This can also be simmered on a stove-top burner if you don’t have a Crock-Pot. For me, this is enough for six servings.

WHOOPS!

Can’t forget to tell you about my upcoming draws in March. I believe that gardeners play an important role in helping keep our environment clean and viable and our families healthy. We do it via a tract of land, some seeds, plants and homegrown food. Take pride in knowing you have been and continue to be part of the greening movement. Having said that, this is your invitation to take a chance at winning one of the following:

$25 credit certificates and a catalogue from the following: Early’s Garden Centre at Saskatoon (www.earlysgarden.com);McFayden’s of Brandon (www.mcfayden.com);T & T Seeds, Winnipeg (www.ttseeds.com).Plus seed potato lists and certificates redeemable for seed potatoes from Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes, Bowden, Alta. (www.seedpotatoes.ca)and nursery catalogues and certificates redeemable for Bluebell grape plants from Corn Hill Nursery at Corn Hill, N. B. (www.cornhillnursery.com)

Send your name and mailing address to:

SINGING GARDENER Draws, c/o Grainews,

1666 Dublin Ave.,

Winnipeg, Man. R3H 0H1.

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. May all your troubles be small ones. Few folks are totally free of trouble over the long haul, but some people bear three kinds of trouble, all at once. They are: all they have had, all they have now and all the troubles they expect to have. The lesson to be learned is never carry more than a single trouble at any one time and pray about it. More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. My e-mail address is [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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