A week of seriously cold temperatures has given way to unbelievably warm temperatures ((we’ve gone from dipping as low as -30.9ºC (-23.6ºF) last Tuesday to +6ºC (42.8ºF) today)) and the poplar trees are responding like the rest of us are…giddy with the sunshine and ready to fling off the parkas and toques.
But we had better not throw them too far away. Spring is not just around the corner. Not yet. Despite appearances….
Harvest time is now virtually over for this early season crop, but a few weeks ago, my hubby and I headed out to Edgar Farms (near the town of Innisfail in central Alberta) for their annual Asparagus Festival. The celebration is held over three weekends in May and June, and features a farm tour, lots of yummy food, and artisans selling their locally-made wares. The star of the show is, of course, asparagus, which isn’t cultivated very much as a commercial crop here in the province – the family-run Edgar Farms is one of the only producers that I am aware of. Interpretive signs near the asparagus fields offer fun facts about this fascinating perennial veggie, tips to successfully grow it, and a history of the farm and its owners. (You can also take a guided wagon tour if you’d rather not walk the property; we chose to walk because I always find you see more if you’re on foot). One of the highlights of the festival is the opportunity to go out into the asparagus fields to break a spear fresh out of the soil and pop it in your mouth. And, of course, all the freshly-harvested asparagus you can bring home from the marketplace…YUM! It’s going to be difficult to wait another whole year for such a delicacy!
Purple cultivars of asparagus taste a bit sweeter than green ones, and wow! that colour! Spectacular! (Just like many purple bean cultivars, purple asparagus spears turn green when you cook them, and actually, if you slice open a raw spear, the interior is green).
A man with more literary awards than you can shake a stick at (as well as a little bauble called the Order of Canada!), renowned Canadian science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer was recently in Calgary acting as the visiting writer-in-residence at the Calgary Public Library. My hubby and I managed to squish in Mr. Sawyer’s highly entertaining lecture “Why Everyone Should Read Science Fiction” on June 2. In addition to defending his position on Star Trek’s superiority over Star Wars (I’d say the room was divided on that one!), we were treated to an educational and fascinating discussion of the history of science fiction writing and its focus on social issues.
Speaking of science fiction, I’ve published writer Geoff Hart’s flash fiction work “Fly Fishing” over at Paper Butterfly. It’s a story you’ll fall for hook, line, and sinker…guaranteed. Head over there and enjoy!♥
Delectable, sugary jelly beans or ‘Blue Lake’ pole beans ready for sowing? 😉
The bean experiment continues. I was disappointed with ‘Kentucky Wonder’ last year, but I think I can blame our extremely hot, dry weather (as well as that vicious hailstorm in July) for their poor performance. I am trying them again this year, alongside these pink beauties.
Do you grow beans (of any kind)? Which ones are your favourites?
These huge, furry, pollen-laden willow catkins stopped me in my tracks (pun intended) while walking near a crowded train station here in Calgary last week. I sort of wanted to hug them, but made do with a photograph instead.
What signs of spring (or autumn!) are you celebrating in your part of the world?
I’m super late with Flowery Friday (actually, I’m even late for Saturday; in some places it’s close to Sunday by now), but we’ll roll with it because it’s really all about the flowers, anyway. Or, at least that’s what I’ll claim so that no one notices just how disorganized I am….
This darling little heap of Hepaticas* isn’t late. These plants are right on time, as one of the earliest spring blooms you’re going to see in my neck of the woods. (See what I did there?). Sadly, these beauties are not from my garden – I visited them at the William Reader Rock Garden here in Calgary early last week. (Three days later, we received 15 centimetres of snow. Ah, Spring! Your vagaries delight!).
*Hmmmm…what would be the collective noun for Hepaticas? “Herd of Hepaticas“? Nah, that makes me think of a marauding band of them blanketing the countryside (which, on second thought, might not be such a bad thing). What about “hillock of Hepaticas“? You know…because I found them in a tumulose, rangy rock garden. Ba dum tsss! Okay, I’ll go now.
I’m a bit gaga over this book – as far as I’m concerned, for new gardeners, it is the best book on the subject of seed starting and saving that I have seen so far. Beautifully written in accessible language that you don’t need a botany degree to understand, Thompson-Adolf’s Starting and Saving Seeds covers all the important stuff: germination, grow lights, heat mats, seed tape (DIY!), propagation and growing media, containers, winter sowing, and wet/dry processing of harvested seeds. Most of the book is taken up with plant profiles and specific seed starting/saving tips for each one, delving into veggies, herbs, and flowers. I was pleased to see crops such as asparagus included – not one that we here in zone 4 often grow from seed (we usually use crowns), so the tips are especially valuable. The expanded section on tomato seeds – apparently a subject near and dear to the author’s heart – will be bookmarked by many readers, I’m certain. This fantastic reference guide is a must-have!
*Quarto Publishing Group generously provided me with a copy of Starting and Saving Seeds; as always, my opinions about the book are my own.