Map by Paul Parsons
With Brexit on everyone’s mind these days, it’s a good time to give pause and reflect on how fortunate we are in Canada. Our National Day, Canada Day, is this Friday, and, knock on wood, our country appears to be safe, and sound, hale, healthy and united. “A Mari Usque Ad Mare” is our national motto, appearing on our coat of arms and on all our passports; from Sea to Sea. With that in mind, today we turn our attention to the last piece of the puzzle that is Canada, the easternmost province of our country, Newfoundland and Labrador. Continue »
Many plants look flashy in their pots in the garden centre, giving us the overwhelming urge to put them in our shopping carts, but some of the best ones do not, and that’s a shame, as some of the most delightful perennials can be easily overlooked. Native butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) is one of these, and it’s a perennial plant from the milkweed family that deserves a spot in every sunny garden. The one in my garden, pictured above, is two feet high, gently mounded, and is full of buds just starting to open. In the next few days it will pop and be absolutely gorgeous, in the most vibrant orange.
It took a mere three years to go from a few spindly leaves when it was first planted to the beauty that it is today. They are a fine example of the sleep, creep, then leap behaviour of many perennials. This means they spend some time creating a good root system, (a year or two). You might not see too much happening above ground for the first couple seasons, then on the third year they come back with a pow!
A big mistake I made way back as an early gardener was not paying attention to the soil. I didn’t know any better, mistakenly believing that soil was merely a placeholder for plant roots. I thought fertilizer could be added to soil like a vitamin pill. I cringe when I remember that I once poured liquid chemical fertilizer onto my soil thinking I was doing my plants a favour. My excuse it was a looong time ago. But sadly, this view is still widely held. You only have to see ads for certain instant fertilizers for lawns and gardens to see it in action. We think we ‘feed’ our plants like we are giving them food, but it doesn’t work this way. The relationship between plants and soil is more complicated.
Okay it’s the first day of summer and for many of us that means the grill is getting a good workout; most proteins and vegetables and even fruit that are cooked, charred, or grilled are transformed by cooking on the outdoor grill, especially one that uses hardwood charcoal and is augmented by the addition of aromatic smoking provided by applewood, hickory or mesquite woodchips. Grilling and smoking are the tastes of summer, and, as the saying goes, everything tastes better outdoors (if it is cooked outdoors). In this nice personal essay, Denise Sakai explains why that just might be. By the way, just a reminder, if you use a gas grill it is always a good idea to give it a good cleaning at the start of the season; here’s how.
One of our favourite dishes in the summer is baba ganoush, made from eggplants that have been roasted and smoked on the grill. Baba ganoush is the delicious meze, or appetizer that hails from the Middle East, with minor regional variations in Israel, Syria, Palestine and the other countries of the Levant. Typically the eggplant is roasted, the soft insides are scooped out and mixed with olive oil, tahini, lemon and garlic, a little salt and pepper and maybe garnished with some fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro. Served with fresh cut veggies and warmed pita, it is one of those shared appetizers that disappears all too quickly. Continue »