Ted nominates this melon from the garden as his favourite of 2020

Plus, info on some insect pests and a recipe for bannock

Lots to talk about so I shall keep my intro to the point. Subject matter includes my successful venture with planting and growing Melon de Montreal. There’s a gardener near Rapid City that found little white worms in her raspberries and I, Ted, suspect that other gardeners may have also been challenged with the same issue.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So goes that expression. Some of my playtime this summer was taken up making sourdough, bannock and fry bread. A recipe for the latter follows further along. Indeed, gardening and farming do perk up an appetite, don’t they? I don’t recall a full-blown meal being delivered to me in the garden this summer, but there must be a story or two to tell about meals being delivered to farmers harvesting their fields. Time will tell whether someone has a story to tell me in that connection.

We are experiencing a time of uncertainty that humanity could never have imagined and people are frightened. The health of our inner terrain (our bodies) is directly related to the health of our outer terrain — that is to say the natural world around us. Homegrown garden produce, farm field grains and wild forest plants continue to provide a unique opportunity here and now to live life with greater health and well-being, while caring about one another in the process. I like that TV commercial that says, “We’re egg farmers. We love what we do.” Among our readership there are many of us who can say, “We are gardeners and farmers. We love what we do.”

Welcome everybody to the show. It’s tip o’ the hat time! Grainews is open for reading and eyes are ready to absorb the wealth of information throughout its pages.

Melon de Montreal a.k.a. Montreal market melon

This heirloom was cultivated up until 1905 in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, on the foothills of Mount Royal. Its green flesh melts in your mouth, is very juicy, tender and extremely sweet when fully ripe. Delicious melons they are for sure, round or mostly round (see picture on this page) with reticulated beige skin as though equally divided in sections. When ripe the seams become a golden yellow and orange. This melon is known to reach five kg at maturity so I was not surprised when my largest one weighed in at four kg 82 g (nine pounds 12 ozs.) and in less than 100 days after setting out transplants. I slipped it from the vine two days early to avoid a possible invasion from sap beetles. True to the description I agree Melon de Montreal does not keep longer than a few days and so should be eaten when at its peak of perfection. Was I surprised when I cut it open? What I expected to be a cantaloupe turned out to be lime-green honeydew-tasting flesh. Both flavour and juiciness are beyond all telling and overall I have nominated it as my dessert and sweetheart from the garden for 2020.

Sap beetles – a few quick facts

They’re also referred to as picnic beetles, as they can become an uninvited nuisance in gardens during mid- to late summer (usually July-September). They appear during harvest and feed on damaged, overripe, or decomposing fruits and vegetables having been found feeding on corn, tomatoes, raspberries, strawberries and especially cantaloupe and muskmelons, particularly when they are wounded, cracked or show signs of splitting. There are over 180 species of sap beetles. The most common are strawberry sap beetle, picnic beetle and dusky sap beetle. The adults are small, between one-eighth and one-quarter inch long, and oval in shape. Sap beetles mostly appear as though shiny black or generally dark coloured and sometimes with orange or yellow spots. Don’t be too startled if you discover some in a split melon. Hose them off in a stream of clear water and cut away any spoiled section.

Subject: bugs

Hello Mr. Ted: I live around Rapid City, Man., and have the same problem as last year; those little white worms in my raspberries. I have used white diatomaceous earth sprinkled on the plants and again after a rain, but still worms. I have to throw out lots of berries while picking. The ones I bring in the house, I soak them in salt water for a while and that seems to kill them. They go to the bottom of the pail and I can use the berries. Do you have any other suggestions? Anything is welcome. Thank you. — Joanne Bos, 204-826-2130.

Ted’s reply: OK raspberry growers, here’s your chance to help out Joanne. Share your method that works for preventing and/or controlling worms in raspberries. If you use a homemade spray that helps, send the recipe along and share with our family of Grainews readers. Thank you Joanne for writing. Those white worms you mentioned are found within the berry itself and may be due to spotted wing drosophila (SWD) larvae. Adult SWD fruit flies cut a slit in the developing berry and lay eggs within. Once hatched the larvae eat the fruit from the inside. Also keep in mind the section provided earlier re: sap beetles. They too are attracted to overripe and decaying raspberries and other fruit. Here are some cultural steps to minimize spotted wing drosophila fruit flies and sap beetle problems with raspberries, or any other berry for that matter. Pick raspberries as soon as possible, or when they are slightly underripe, even if you have to tug on them a bit to let go. If you discover any really ripe raspberry fruit with juice inside the caps, check first and discard these berries, as the interior is likely to contain live larvae. Leave no unpicked fruit on the canes. Extreme cleanliness throughout the entire raspberry patch is critical. Do not allow any dropped fruit to remain on the soil nor let any be tilled under. When possible, spread a canvas between rows to catch dropped fruit to be disposed of later in the firepit. An Ontario gardener writes: “I had problems with worms in my raspberries. In early spring I applied garlic spray on the canes and on the soil around them. I put on two applications, four weeks apart. It seemed to have worked wonders.”

Scare those pests away

This potent combo of garlic and onion keeps bad bugs and egg-laying pests at bay. It’s all purpose and makes a good amount.

  • 20 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. plain or lemon-scented dishwashing liquid
  • 1 tsp. liquid glycerin
  • 4 c. water
  • 4-litre empty milk jug

Whiz the garlic and onion in a blender for 1 minute with 4 cups water to liquefy. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth, old pantyhose or coffee filter. Pour into an empty 4-litre milk jug and fill with water. Leave enough head space to add the liquid soap or detergent and glycerin, then blend in. Spray as needed to send crawling and flying plant pests and plant diseases flying higher than a kite. Note that tiny flecks from blended ingredients may plug small holes in some misters or a sprayer.

Bannock on a stick

This dough recipe can be made at home in advance and then taken to the cottage or when camping. The end product is also known as fry bread or flat dough bread and can be eaten plain as is when cooked, or served with any favourite food item. It all depends on your taste, and flavour choice. In the high north, bannock on a stick as it’s called has celebrity status. It’s the local way to serve food on a stick with literally anything alongside. Whether it is summer, spring, winter or fall, baking bannock on a stick over an open fire is such a northerners’ thing. The recipe is simplistic, yet has shown its versatility time and again. The dough can also be pan-fried or deep-fried in canola oil, shortening, or lard. Now let’s get on with the recipe.

  • 4 c. flour
  • 3 c. warm water
  • 2 tsp. salt (less if on a salt-restricted diet)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder

Mix all ingredients together to make a soft, loose dough, then let it rest for about a half-hour. Divide the dough into portions the size of small balls and let them rest for 15 minutes. Next, roll out the balls of dough with a rolling pin, or if preferred use your hands to stretch out the dough until quite thin to the point of almost being able to see through it. Poke a hole in each piece of dough and fry indoors in hot fat or canola oil. The authentic traditional outdoor campfire-friendly method is to roll some plain raw dough around one end of a long stick of wood. Twirl it around while holding over a hot metal grate or over a wood-burning campfire until baked. Whether served plain, or all dressed up, bannock on a stick is habit forming, and so is the pan-fry indoor method.

About the author

Columnist

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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