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Ted Shares Timely Tips

So much to tell myGrainews readers. So many letters with tips to share and uses for duct tape aren’t among them. If you sent in an entry for the Singing Gardener draws but didn’t win anything, your name may still appear on this page, so don’t be surprised. You are awesome people, generous at sharing your gardening experiences and great supporters of Grainews,so keep those subscriptions coming in.


Got an email in February from Eleanor Parker who writes: “I really enjoy your page inGrainews.I have a picture of a 1-1/2-lb. Siamese twin parsnip grown in the Three Hills Colony garden this past year. The Hutterites built a new colony here in 2003 and are very good neighbours. It has a population of about 100 and is six miles south of Three Hills, Alta. We live two miles north as the crow flies from the colony. Dave Wurz, the gardener, brought this parsnip to us last fall and left it for us to use and it provided at least three meals for the two of us. It had two stems or hearts, one root and one skin, like Siamese twins! Parsnips are a root vegetable. They are late maturing (110 days). If left in the ground over winter they will grow and produce seed the following year. If stored at the proper temperature they will keep all winter. They have a short cooking time, having a soft texture.”

Thanks to Eleanor from Ted for all that good, friendly neighbour information. She came to Three Hills area to teach school in 1952, married a local farmer and they’ve lived there ever since and extend a good gardening year to all.


Now that I’m on a parsnip roll, let me mention you can make a wonderfully mild and pleasant-tasting, generous-size loaf of bread, or two smaller loaves using grated parsnip. It’s excellent to use in sandwich making or toasted. Many bread bakers tell me they simply love making dough during heavy, wet, snowy or any kind of untoward weather. Can you relate to that? Here’s the recipe next, but do remember that high air humidity affects the flour-to-water ratio. As a result, you may want to do some adjusting. Bakers can usually tell by the feel or consistency of the dough.

INGREDIENTS: 1-1/4 cup warm water

1 egg

1-1/2 tsp. sugar

1 cup grated parsnips 1-1/2 cups unbleached flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup barley flour

1/4 cup oat bran flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

2 tsp. dry yeast granules activated in some sugar and warm water

1/4 cup chopped chives or green onion tops

You can use a bread machine, by placing all ingredients in the order given or via your traditional way. If you opt to use all white or all unbleached flour, reduce yeast to 1-1/2 tsp.


These come from Louise DesRoches at Kelvington, Sask., and I, Ted, want to pass them along to gardeners before planting time in the outdoor garden. Besides tomatoes, the following can also be applied to broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower or any plant you’ll be setting out. Here’s what Louise wrote: “My gardening tip is to wrap newspaper around the stem, up to the leaves which will be sticking out above the ground. Make sure your newspaper is higher than ground level and about one to two inches below ground level. (The levels where cutworms would travel.) This will prevent your plants from being cut down. My mother, Marie Plante, taught me this technique many years ago. It worked for her and works for me. Good luck with your plants.”

As for growing peas, Louise shares the following: “Use page wire for staking. It’s so much easier to pick peas when staked. It also prevents peas from getting mould if there’s lots of rain at pea-picking time. I seed two rows of peas, about three to four inches apart. As soon as the peas are starting to come through the ground, we put up the fence between the two rows of peas. It sure works for us. The page wire is stapled to fence posts. In spring, we just pound the posts in between the rows of peas. In fall after peas are harvested, we roll up the fence and store it for next season. This is much easier on the back.”

Thanks to Louise DesRoches for both of those timely suggestions.


This tip comes from Sandra P. Sterling at Tilston, Man. I can relate to what Sandra writes about planting too many tomatoes when she says: “I have my own little greenhouse, so get carried away with the number of tomato plants I transplant into the ground. I’d done about half of the 60 or so, working around wind, frost, time crunch, etc., and noticed in a few weeks how sick they looked with yellowing and curling leaves, stunted, no blossoms nor new growth. (After samples were sent to the lab, it was thought due to spray drift.) Our garden is on the edge of one of our cornfields. My elderly Uncle Glen, who prides himself on the best tomatoes, gave me an ice-cream pail of calcium carbonate (a livestock feed additive for nutritional balance) and I liberally sprinkled it around my ailing plants and worked it into the soil with a hoe. Before long, my plants perked right up; became a lush and healthy green and never looked back. They were late but produced a large crop as a result from lots of calcium.”


… I get the good fortune to talk with some of myGrainewsreaders on the telephone. Ralph Clark from Lauder, Man., rang me up and we chatted for a good half-hour or more. Ralph gave me an interesting perspective as it applies to cutworm control and I share it with you. According to Ralph, miller moths lay their eggs mostly during August. That’s when Ralph pulls out weeds by hand rather than stirring up the soil. This allows a crust to form on most of the garden surface. The crust leaves an unfriendly environment and deters millers from laying their eggs, and so they go looking elsewhere. In other words — don’t work up the soil any more than necessary, especially in August. Once the garden is cleared of plant debris, fall tilling can be done after the first or second frost — preferably during the fourth quarter of the moon. (See Singing Gardener March 21, 2011 column, page 40, for more cutworm control info.)


This one comes from Dianne Ginter at Kelwood, Man. She writes: “Once the garden is planted, PARK THE TILLER and use only the HOE. Works much better to control the weeds. Work at weeding early a.m., and have a coffee on the garden patio and watch it grow!”

Thanks Dianne.


Take the last two numbers of the year in which you were born. Add to that the age you will be this year and it equals 111. Example: Let’s say you were born in 1934 and will be 77 this year; 34 and 77 equal 111. Another example: Your birth year is 1969 and you are 42 this year; 69 and 42 equal 111.

ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardener andGrow-ItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie, Man.AnoldDutchproverbsayssickness comesonhorsebackbutdepartsonfoot. Wanttoslowdownthehorseandspeedup wellness?Growmoreveggiesandfruitthis year!Walkwithmeonthepaththatleadsto thingsgreenandgrowingandthenleaveyour footprintsinthegarden.Myemailaddressis [email protected]

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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