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A fast-maturing turnip that can be planted end of July into early August

The Singing Gardener: Plus, info on Goosefoot, also known as Tree Spinach

Goosefoot, a.k.a. Tree Spinach is a tall-growing ornamental whose edible mineral-rich green leaves taste similar to Popeye’s favourite veggie.  
Colourful magenta-tipped leaves appear at the top.

Having trouble growing maggot-free turnips? Let me tell you about a fast-maturing variety that’s ideal to plant toward the end of July and into early August for a fall garden crop. They’re as easy to grow as radishes. Details and source for seeds are provided further along.

Also a short presentation about a plant called Goosefoot that few gardeners have heard of and possibly even fewer have grown. How Goosefoot acquired its common name is later revealed. Here at my urban turf area we have what is known as “Island on the Prairies” and is Portage la Prairie’s new tourism brand. The island is surrounded by Crescent Lake with a walking path along the edge. Except for winter when the water is frozen over, the lake and shoreline are a daily home to hundreds upon hundreds of resting, walking, swimming and flying geese late into autumn.

As a youngster I always wanted to ring the hand-held school bell in Grade 3 and never got the chance. Bells have always intrigued me and over the years I’ve collected a few of various sizes. For the love, respect and appreciation of horses I’ll end with a heartfelt story that indeed does have a bell connection. It’s all compiled on this Grainews page into some good reading so stick with me right through to the closing tag.

Tokyo Cross turnip – as easy to grow as radishes

That right! It’s not too late to sow summer turnip at the end of July and into early August if you seed the right varieties. Do it any time starting a day after arrival of the full moon on July 27, 2018 and within a week thereafter until August 3. Fast-maturing Tokyo Cross produces sweet, whole turnips that come quick and easy within 40 days. Dry periods and lack of soil fertility will set growth back and toughen the bulbs. Moisture-holding soil enriched with compost and seeds spaced an inch to 1-1/2 inches apart ensure quick growth and a happy return. This is not a turnip that produces tops and sacrifices bottoms, but instead directs energy into plenty of sweet and delicious whole white medium-size turnip globes about five cm (two inches) across. As long as they mature to size before the first heavy frost, Tokyo Cross turnip bulbs may be left in outdoor soil longer — often as late as Thanksgiving on October 8 or later. However, Tokyo Cross is so tender and delicious there’s a strong chance you’ll wind up not having enough left to go around. As it becomes more familiar Tokyo Cross has the potential of becoming the darling summer turnip grown by Canadian gardeners. Success with intercropping has also come into play. It’s been shown that Tokyo Cross turnip lends itself well to being planted in groups among or between rows of established eggplant, tomatoes, the corn patch and especially in association with peppers. You may also sow this turnip in combo with cool-season cole crops such as cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi and broccoli. There’s less chance of severe attacks from cabbage worm butterfly, cabbage root maggot and flea beetles with late-summer seeding of this turnip. Tokyo Cross turnip roots are more tender and sweeter. They can be cut in half with tops retained when preparing them for quick cooking in various side dishes and Oriental stir-fries. Tokyo Cross turnip seeds are available in four different-size packets from West Coast Seeds, 5300-34B Avenue, Delta, B.C. V4L 2P1, visit their website or telephone toll free 1-888-804-8820.

Attractive white roots of Tokyo Cross turnip can be harvested this fall if seeded after the full moon between July 28 and August 3, 2018. Don’t miss what Ted has to say in this connection. photo: Courtesy West Coast Seeds

Is Goosefoot named after the foot of a goose?

Seems the answer is — yes. There are a number of species of Goosefoot plants. Some are often rank smelling and a number of other species have leaves that are shaped and resemble the foot of a goose — hence their common name. Chenopodium giganteum, also known as “Tree Spinach,” and “Giant Tree Spinach,” is a very rapid-growing architectural attention getter and a curiosity too. But it’s also known for tasty, nutritious spinach-flavoured greens that appear on a tree-like structure capable of growing over two metres (four to six feet) tall. Tree Spinach is native to mountainous regions of India and easily cultivated. It is in the same family as quinoa and lamb’s quarters. Tree Spinach serves a dual purpose. Although it is often grown as an attractive formidable image plant, it is just as likely to be grown as a fresh vegetable. You can simply pull off the large continuously produced leaves. They can be used either as young leaves in salads, or the more mature ones are cooked like spinach. For best results, seeds can be sown directly outside into prepared soil when spring weather allows. Alternatively, start plants during early spring in the greenhouse and afterward transfer established plants into final summer position outdoors.

If you like spinach and enjoy cooking with it, consider growing some Tree Spinach in lieu of the regular garden variety. Tree Spinach is a plant that is beautiful in the garden and excites not only the gardener but also passersby. Not much wonder, what with its soft green leaves and a splash of deep magenta pink at the top of each stem. It is easy to grow too — and much more productive than what we’ve come to recognize as ordinary spinach. Tree Spinach is also a tasty crop with a milder flavour than ordinary spinach. Some might argue it’s almost as good, and others would agree it’s a little better or has a taste of its own. It belongs in the same plant family as ordinary spinach, beets and Swiss chard, and is one of the many that have a long history of being grown in gardens or gathered wild. Tree Spinach is also cultivated in China and many other parts of the world. It is not native to any country in America, either north or south. If you haven’t tried growing other spinach previously, let Tree Spinach surprise you and then be ready for your first cutting in 30 to 45 days.

Giant Goosefoot Magentaspreen a.k.a. Tall Tree Spinach seeds are available from West Coast Seeds in Delta, B.C. For complete contact information refer back to end of the section under Tokyo Cross turnip.

The blind horse

During my youthful years I listened to a lot of radio including dramas, sports and soap operas. As a result, I developed a keen imagination. When you read the following story, the hope is that readers will also appreciate it that much more by relying a bit on their imagination. Let’s begin.

Not far down the road is a field with two horses in it. When glancing at them from a distance both horses appear like most any other horse. But — if you stop to be closer while driving by or are walking by, an attentive person soon notices something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes of one horse immediately discloses that it is blind, but the owner has chosen not to have this horse put down and instead has provided a good home for the rest of its days. That alone is quite remarkable. Now if you are listening when nearby, the sound of a bell will be heard. While looking around for the source of the bell sound, you will observe it comes from the other horse farther out in the field. Attached to her halter is a small bell. It lets her blind horse friend know where she is so he can follow her. As you stand and watch these two friends you’ll see that she is always checking on him and that he listens for her bell and then slowly walks to where she is, instinctively knowing that she will not lead him astray. When she returns to the shelter of the barn each night, she occasionally looks back to make sure her friend isn’t too far back to hear the bell. Like the owner of these two horses, our family and friends with the help of God do not throw us away just because we are not perfect or have tripped up, or because we have problems, challenges; health or work issues. The Creator watches over us and also brings others into our lives to help and assist us when we are in need. Sometimes we are like the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell of those placed in our pathways. Other times we are as the guide horse, helping others see. Family and true friends are like this. They are the ones who come in when the world has gone out. They are like the clock that never runs down once it is wound up. You don’t always see them but you know they are always there. Please listen for the bell and I’ll be listening too.

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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