Category Archives: Weeding

Only Child on green thumbs

Front view from the veranda late spring

Front view from the veranda late spring

I come from a long line of gardeners – my late mother, her mother and father, my godmother, my godfather. Many cousins of my generation seem to have inherited this green thumb.

Are green thumbs hereditary? And where the heck does the term “green thumb” originate?

Two stories on the latter one. The most common is that back in the days of King Edward 1 of England, green peas grew in profusion in the King’s Garden. He loved the taste of green peas and had a number of serfs constantly picking them as they produced. That much pea-picking temporarily turned the serfs’ hands green. And legend has it that the King awarded a prize to the serf whose thumb was the greenest.

Now I wonder, if this is the origin of prizes for garden shows – not just flowers, but vegetables.

The other possibility is something that also happens – if algae has formed on the outside of earthenware pots, handling the pots a lot can make your hands turn green.

So, today, a gardener who creates a garden that grows flowers, herbs, vegetables, seemingly with little effort, is referred to as having a green thumb. Whether the thumb actually turns green or not depends – on what the gardener is doing or if he or she is wearing gloves.

And yes, I have a green thumb. With me it is part hereditary and part environment. As a child I used to pick raspberries, currants, strawberries and plant vegetables such as beans, carrots, and yes, peas. I don’t recall if mother ever had green-coloured hands. She did pick horrible green tomato worms off the tomato plants, put the worms in a can, come to the side door and show the worms to me.

Yeck! No wonder I wasn’t too fond back then of collecting the tomatoes. Now, it is a different story. I watch tomato plants more than the racoons in the area, looking for blossoms, then green tomatoes forming, turning yellow and finally red. Right now the Tiny Tim tomato in a pot on my patio (and the pepper plants in pots too) has blossoms. I’m hoping the ones planted right in the garden will soon do so as well. However, they were planted a few weeks later thanks to too much rain the first part of June.

When I look at my garden I see that my late mom and I share what we plant and planted. No currants here but there are raspberries (although mine are wild black and hers were the ever bearing red ones), peas, beans (still just plants), carrots, onions, and rhubarb. I even have a few strawberries forming on a few of the plants my next door neighbour Phil gave me when he was removing them from their garden. I’m hoping the birds, squirrels, racoons, and insects leave me the strawberries. So I watch the strawberries a lot, too. And then there are the rosebushes, which grow prolifically, mainly in the front yard, but one white rose bush grows tall in the backyard.

You gotta believe that heredity has something to do with this.

Take a look for yourself. Today I am posting my Gardening Page live on this blog. I will add/change photos and text from time to time. Just click on “Only Child’s Garden” at the top left of this blog.

Enjoy.

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Hereditary, Only child, Rhubarb, Weeding

Only Child gardens environmentally

Only Child' front garden - later in summer.

Only Child’ front garden – later in summer.

My environmental day of reckoning occurred in the mid-1970s when I opened a packet of corn seeds and saw pink. At that time I was living in a townhouse with my then husband and we had rented a garden plot just north of Toronto. As I write in part two of my memoir You Can Go Home – Reconstruct

Pink powder wafts out into the air and covers my fingers. What is this? Corn is yellow. I don’t remember any of Mom’s vegetable seeds containing this pink dust. Some research in reading gardening books and asking questions at the nearest garden centre confirm the seeds have been treated with a fungicide to protect them from damp-off and root rot. I’m afraid of getting poisoned from touching the seeds and have decided I will wear gloves to plant the corn. That same year when we visit my godmother on her farm, her youngest son comes in from planting the corn with his blond hair and fair skin pink, not from the sun, but from the fungicide.

I am forever turned organic and will wage war on pesticides.(Copyright 2010 Sharon A. Crawford)

Since then my vegetable, herb and flower gardens, and even the lawns (with one exception when cinch bugs attacked the backyard lawn in Aurora, Ontario), I have stayed away from fungicides, pesticides and the like. Before the last few years when everyone got on the no pesticide bandwagon, I had several confrontations with next-door neighbours over…dandelions growing in my lawn in Aurora.

The first neighbour over to my left banged on my front door and offered to pay for Mr. Weed Remover to sprayer my lawn. As this was soon after my husband and I separated, perhaps Mr. Neighbour felt I couldn’t afford this service. I soon set him straight. Afterwards I was worried and angry so I needed to talk about it to someone who had some authority over “Gerry” –  his Anglican priest. All he did was try to soothe with platitudes like “Gerry was just trying to be helpful.”

Neighbour No. 2  on the other side banged on my front door and offered to cut my lawn. I was insulted but at that time was a very busy mother of a grade 23 teenage boy and between running around to his school extra activities and my freelance writing career, cutting the lawn had low priority. I told Mr. Neighbour No. 2 that I would get to it later in the week when I had time.

But when Neighbour No. 1 moved, Nemesis moved in. A couple, originally from South Carolina and their two boys (both born in Toronto) and their environmental-friendly ways moved in. Soon two front lawns sprouted dandelions. I suspect the previous owner (still in Aurora) had conniptions whenever he drove by and saw his old lawn. The neighbour on the other side now minded his own business.

Fast forward to when I moved back to Toronto in 1998. I continued (and still to do this day) removing dandelions by hand using a weeder and don’t get much, if any, flack except for complaints about goldenrod growing in a few places and now for my rosebushes sticking out. I trim the latter and tell the goldenrod haters that it is considered a native plant. And you don’t kill native plants these days.

Sometimes “yellow” can be good.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Gardening, Only child memoir, Sharon A. Crawford, Weeding

Only Child pines and whines for her garden

Only Child is waiting for this - and so is the Muskoka chair

Only Child is waiting for this – and so is the Muskoka chair

Tomorrow is the first day of spring – by the calendar. Most of Canada is still stuck in winter. Parts of British Columbia, particularly on Vancouver Island aren’t. Gardeners there have seen plants growing, been cutting the lawn and visiting garden centres for a month now. Here, in southern Ontario, Toronto specifically, a few plants were seen poking their heads out of the ground on Sunday. Last night (and overnight) more of that nasty winter stuff – snow-ice pellest- rain sloppy mix – what depending on where you live came down. So I was out at 11.30 p.m. last evening shovelling heavy snow it as it started to rain to try to avoid another session of water leaking in the basement.

I’m fed up beyond my eye teeth (and yes, I still have my own – so far) about all this winter crap. I want to get out in my garden and well, garden. When I was growing up, Mom, Dad and I were out there in April turning the soil and planting seeds. Not going to happen here this year at this rate.

Sunday, my friend Carol and I headed down to Canada’s largest garden show – Canada Blooms – for the annual early sniff and see of green, colour and GARDENS. Even with all that walking indoors, it still raised the spirits. And outside, at least it was sunny and dry, with most of the previous snowfalls’ aftermath melted. I bought two more houseplants – a spring cactus and another African violet.

Now we are back to square one. It’s supposed to be cold all this week. Next week more of this nasty mix of rain and snow – which as I previously posted we never used to get until the late 1990s.

At least we have daylight savings time with daytime lasting an hour longer and increasing in the evenings. When we hit late May sunset will be around 9.30 p.m. That’s my kind of season. You can guess what I’ll be doing outside most evenings then – maybe even after sunrise. My friend Tanya next door and I have been known to be out there pulling weeds in our gardens at dusk.

My Muskoka chair stares at me every time I go down the stairs to the basement. Soon, I’ll be able to get it back outside on the front veranda.

Meantime I’m pouring through the seed catalogue, getting my order, in well order. Now that I have received payment from an editing client (he wasn’t slow paying– it was two countries’ postal services – the US and Canada), I can actually buy the seeds. And growing extra coleus to bring outside (along with some other potted plants like the Rex begonias, rosemary, ornamental pepper and citronella) in late spring – if it ever arrives.

Anybody else anxious for the real spring to arrive? Or if you are in the southern hemisphere, do you dread the coming winter?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Canada Blooms, Extreme Weather, Gardening, Home and Garden, Indoor Gardening, Mom and Dad, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford, Spring, Weeding, Winter Weather