And the winner is….

As promised, this morning I am announcing the winner of Charles Dowding’s book Veg Journal!  Congratulations to Sheila Creighton!  Sheila, please email me at the address listed on my contact page and send along your mailing address so I can get the book out to you this week.  Thank you so very much to everyone who entered the contest!


Tuesday tidbits.

If you’re looking to ID native wildflowers on the Canadian Prairies (specifically in Saskatchewan), this website has the most amazing photography I’ve ever seen on the subject.  We have most of these plants here in Alberta and I know this is a resource I will use over and over again. Even if you don’t live in this part of Canada, you will hugely enjoy the beautiful images. I am floored that these are not yet compiled into book form; I would buy it in a heartbeat.

I somehow missed the name change for African violets and I can’t seem to find out when it was made official (for all I know, it was quite a while ago)…but here it is: Saintpaulia spp. are now more accurately termed StreptocarpusThis article offers a bit of explanation.

My favourite recipe so far this week: this one for Cranberry Muffins.  But I didn’t have any oranges, so I didn’t use orange zest or orange juice; I substituted 1 teaspoon of pure lemon extract instead.  And omitted the glaze entirely.  They were wonderful.  I will get some oranges and try them the way they were intended as well.

From the “Toot My Own Horn Department”:  I am delighted that my article “Vibrant Viburnums” is included in the new volume of The Prairie Garden!  The 2018 book is all about shade plants and was officially launched last week.


Tuesday tidbits.

Does anyone out there grow paprika peppers?  I’ve used sweet paprika in a few recipes but just recently discovered smoked paprika when I made a spice mix for use as a dry rub in grilling. Now I’ve been putting smoked paprika on everything: scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, slow cooked beans…and as everyone but me seems to have already known, it elevates deviled eggs to a seriously crazy pinnacle of excellence.  I’m curious, what are your favourite ways to use this fantastic little spice in cooking? (Tell me how you use other types of paprika as well!). And if you’ve grown the peppers, please tell me about your successes (or failures) with them.  I don’t think I can easily grow them here without the benefit of a greenhouse, but I am nevertheless very interested….

I came across a fascinating article about the history of embroidery – although it references 900 years of the craft, it’s a very brief overview so it won’t take you long to read.  The photos are fantastic, too.  Check it out here.

Whether you’re a reader or a writer, you may enjoy this little piece posted up at – it’s a thought-provoking take on writing botany into fantasy fiction.  How do you name and describe plants that exist in worlds that aren’t real?  Stuff like this is why writing is so fun….

Oh yes, and let’s cycle back to food: I posted a recipe for zucchini and salmon loaf up at last week. Use fresh salmon if you have it. If you’re vegetarian, I think you could make a variation with scrambled tofu.  And throwing in a few diced mushrooms and red or yellow peppers would be pretty yummy, too.  Don’t forget the smoked paprika!  ♥


Disease to watch (out for): Black knot fungus.

I know I posted this only six months ago, but I’m seeing a ton of this in Calgary right now…sadly, the Schuberts and the gorgeous mayday on the property where we live are now showing signs of affliction. Get those pruners ready, everyone!

What on earth is THAT?!?

My first instinct was to recoil and shrink to the middle of the path so I wouldn’t risk contamination.

No, not really, but way back in September I had my first sighting of black knot fungus (Apiosporina morbosa) in a park in northwest Calgary.   You can see why I was a bit alarmed!  Black knot is a rather nasty affliction of plum, cherry, peach, and apricot trees, including the stand of maydays and chokecherries I was gawking at.

Black knot fungus definitely isn’t pretty.  It takes a little while to get to the stage I was examining – over a year, in fact.   Spread by wind and rain, fungal spores infect the bark of Prunus species in early summer and linger there until the following spring, when they cause the bark to swell into a green knot.  The fungus releases more spores as the tree leafs out and blossoms, and the knots slowly blacken as summer moves into autumn.  Afflicted trees can die if left untreated, as the knots slowly strangle the branches, restricting the movement of nutrients and water to the tree.

Apparently, the best treatment for black knot fungus isn’t chemically-based.  Pruning is the most effective option, and should be undertaken over a period of several years to ensure that the fungus is completely eradicated.   For some tips on how to cut away black knot fungus, check out this fact sheet offered by Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development.  The trees I saw were heavily infested, but hopefully pruning will save them!

Have you ever had a problem with black knot fungus?  Did you successfully combat it?