Flowery Prose

Growing words….


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Book review: Apples of North America.

books

Apples of North America – Tom Burford (2013, Timber Press, Portland)

Here is THE book for anyone who loves apples – whether that means eating and cooking with them or growing them. Orchardist Tom Burford has assembled a thoroughly-researched guide to 192 apple varieties found in North America, offering tips on how to successfully grow apples in both orchard and home garden settings, from seed to harvest and storage.  There are even detailed instructions for cooking apple butter, drying apples, and pressing and making apple cider (my favourite!).  The individual apple portraits are the best part of this book:  each page is complete with photographs (so you can see the variations of colour and striping), and a short blurb about the apple’s history, outstanding tree characteristics, interior and exterior descriptions, notes about disease resistance, and ratings for use (dessert, baking, frying, drying, cider, applesauce, vinegar, landscape design, etc.) and storage.  Not only informational, this book is a delight to pore through – I wasn’t familiar with most of the varieties in the book as few of them make it to our grocery or markets, so it was a treat to see how they all varied in size and colouration.  The breeding history of each one is fascinating as well – Burford goes beyond the science to tell the stories behind each apple.

Mmmm…now all I can think of is apple crisp warm from the oven (can you tell I haven’t eaten breakfast yet?).

What are your favourite apple varieties – and your favourite ways to eat them?


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Alberta Snapshot: Forgetmenot Pond.

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A late-day shot of the beautiful pond in the shadow of Forgetmenot Mountain, near Bragg Creek, Alberta.

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This cheeky gray jay (whiskey jack) was out with his buddies, buzzing daringly near my hubby and I, looking for handouts.  The pond is a popular picnic site and fishing hole during the summer, so the birds are used to getting “people” food.   I know they don’t migrate south for the winter, but I had to look up their cold-weather diet:  like their Corvidae relatives magpies and crows, they’ll eat pretty much anything from fruit to carrion, and they’ll even cache food in trees (actually, “on” trees is more accurate, as they apparently glue their food to tree branches using their saliva).  Interesting little guys.  I find them so entertaining to watch.


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Planting Garlic: Pre-treatments and crop rotation.

Garlic B&W

Do you grow garlic?  A co-worker and I were discussing our plans to plant it this year and we got on the subject of soaking the cloves before putting them in the ground:  yay or nay, and in what media?  Soaking garlic is supposed to deter fungal infections and insect infestations, and presumably because the cloves are healthier, the subsequent plants will be as well (which translates as better yield and quality).  Soaking garlic is standard procedure for many growers – is it something you do?

It seems there isn’t a consensus about what to soak it in, however – or even how many steps you should take to accomplish the task.  My co-worker just puts the cloves in rubbing alcohol for three or four minutes and then sows as usual, but I’ve read that some gardeners use a pre-treatment of either an overnight soak in plain H²O or a combination of liquid seaweed, baking soda and water, followed by the alcohol rinse.   Alternatively, you can leave out the rubbing alcohol (or vodka or hydrogen peroxide or ?) and just go with the seaweed mix.  Commercial growers appear to have their own brews, including guidelines for the optimum temperature of the soaking media.  What is your go-to concoction?

Or…you can do what I did last year and not soak your garlic at all.  I didn’t have any problems, but would that have been a risk you would have taken?  How seriously do you consider the source of your seed stock in determining if you soak the cloves or not?

And then we started talking about rotating allium crops…she doesn’t, I do.

Garlic growers, what are your thoughts?


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Alberta snapshot: Larch and blue sky.

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Amazing colour practically* in my backyard.

(*It’s in a public park just over the fence.  But if I actually had a backyard, there would absolutely be a larch or two in it).

 

Whether they’re the wrong hardiness zone or you don’t have the space or the right conditions for them, which plants do you dream about growing if you could? 


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Gold in the hills.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

-Anne, Anne of Green Gables (Lucy Maud Montgomery)

 

I may be as delighted as Anne about the vibrant colours of fall, but I woke up this morning and realized it was October 3 and I still have a million things to do yet in the garden.  I was a little…um…ENTHUSIASTIC during recent trips to the garden centre and while perusing the mail order catalogues and so there are quite a few packages of snowdrops and muscari and a pound of garlic (am I crazy?) yet to plant.  I also bought some tarda tulips, which I’ve never grown before.  I have really high expectations for these little beauties, and I’m already eager for spring to see how they do!  Unfortunately, time doesn’t seem to be on my side…we’ve had some pretty serious frosts here and the soil is already hardening.  I have to get moving!

While I dally, autumn speedily rolls along….

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Photos taken at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Cochrane, Alberta – 24 September 2014

Tomorrow is our fall clean up day for members of the community garden – it feels like we collectively blinked and summer was over, but apparently, we had enough time to have a fairly productive season (early snowstorms notwithstanding).  If you’re interested in seeing what we’ve been up to over the summer, you can check out the garden’s blog here; I’ve posted a bunch of photos I took over the growing season.  The diversity of crops is amazing to see: gardeners grew everything from asparagus peas to zucchini!

What garden successes have you recently celebrated?

Do you plant spring-flowering bulbs?  What are your favourites?


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Margaret Brown Memorial Garden – Calgary.

A walk on a very cool, foggy morning in late August brought me to the Margaret Brown Memorial Garden in the community of Varsity (Calgary).  Really happy I brought the camera along!   :)

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Have a wonderful week!  Do you have any gardening (or other) projects planned?

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