Sunday, May 6th, 2018
When colour giant Pantone declares its annual Color of the Year, everyone from fashion leaders to interior designers take notice, and before long we start to see the colour all around us. We were overjoyed and very much on board when Ultra Violet got top honours for 2018, because purple just happens to be one of our favourite colours in the garden!
It’s no secret that colours have serious power – take a look at how the beautiful blooms you choose can affect things like mood and energy here – but our love for purple goes beyond the aesthetic. Fruits and vegetables of this hue have been linked to many health benefits that prevent disease and enhance our wellness.
Studies indicate that antioxidants produced by purple power foods can:
- reduce the risk of high blood pressure
- lower cholesterol
- help prevent obesity and diabetes
- assist in lowering the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurological diseases
- reduce inflammation and therefore chronic disease
- aid cognitive functions
- help prevent urinary tract infections, fight ulcers, and reduce liver damage and diseases which affect cell development
So with all of that in mind, here are a few of our favourite ways to put some purple on our plates!
Purple Ruffles Basil
Why we love it: The large purple leaves of this basil plant have both a strong fragrance and flavour.
How to serve: We recommend using this basil to create colourful and flavourful herb vinegars.
Cosmic Purple Carrots
Why we love it: Who says you can’t mess with an old favourite? These beautiful carrots will not only make your side dishes more lovely, the flesh is also particularly sweet.
How to serve: Try it cooked in a side dish, or add some colour and variety to snack time and enjoy raw.
Red Ball Brussel Sprouts
Why we love it: These little beauties are sweeter than your average brussel sprout, and pack an even heavier nutritional punch.
How to serve: Pull the leaves apart for a lovely salad, serve whole drizzled with a creamy hollandaise sauce, or go with a classic roasted method to get these on your table.
Pomegranate Crunch Romaine Lettuce
Why we love it: Is the name enough reason? Think of this lettuce as a cross between romaine and butterhead varieties.
How to serve: The salad possibilities are endless!
Honeyberry or Haskap
Why we love it: The first reason to love this berry is its sheer hardiness; this plant was made for the Canadian prairies, just like us. The second reason is that nutritional studies show the haskap to have antioxidant levels similar to or perhaps even greater than blueberries! The plant attracts butterflies to your yard, and the berries are delicious.
How to serve: Eat fresh, or make preserves.
Ruby Mizuna Mustard
Why we love it: It looks pretty and tastes great, but a major reason to love this plant is how easy and versatile it is to grow. Expect great results in cooler soil and winter harvests, in outdoor containers, or right in your kitchen.
How to serve: This plant makes for tasty microgreens or delicious and nutritious salads.
Why we love it: This grape is perfect for making wine… need we say more? Aside from its edible properties, it also makes a great landscaping component for hedges and screening.
How to serve: Try your hand at making juice or wine!
Long Purple Eggplant
Why we love it: The eggplant is such a beautiful purple that “eggplant” has become a colour in its own right. This particular variety is productive and hardy.
How to serve: Try in a stir-fry, or roasted in the oven.
Purple Peacock Pole Beans
Why we love it: These beans are a triple threat! They flower and produce quickly, provide an extremely prolific yield – as long as you pick them, they’ll keep coming in – and they retain flavour extremely well after being picked. Basically there are no reasons NOT to love them.
How to serve: Any way you enjoy green beans will translate – we like these lightly steamed!
Why we love it: Ah, the saskatoon, that uniquely prairie berry. Like its cousin the haskap, this plant is hardy and versatile, and the berries are lovely but also delicious.
How to serve: If you’ve never had saskatoon pie, you’re not really living. Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but it really is a must-try!
Why we love it: This beautiful plant produces clusters of lovely little blueberries that are sweet and juicy. So long as you get the soil and drainage formula right, you can expect a bumper crop from this plant.
How to serve: Really, you can enjoy these in almost any way. Sprinkle them fresh on cereal, salads, or ice cream, mix up blueberry pancakes, bake in pies or crisps, make jellies, jams, and preserves… the list is endless!
Some cultures consider purple to be the colour of royalty, and it’s not hard to see why! Add this shade to your garden and your table, and you’ll feel like you’re eating like a king.
Long live purple!
Monday, July 18th, 2016
If you’re reading this, chances are you love gardening. From carefully planning and planting in the spring, to munching on herbs throughout the summer — and, let’s face it, many of us will admit to the sense of satisfaction that can only come from a good weeding — gardening brings joy to the lives of many. With all that we get to tending to a garden — fresh air, sense of place, a connection with nature — getting our hands dirty can be hard on the body. Many of us suffer from the soreness and stiffness associated with repetitive movements and simply leaning over flower beds or garden rows.
As we tend to the earth, we often forget to tend to ourselves.
Yoga is a great way to strengthen and stretch muscles, while bringing focus to the breath, body and the present moment. Gardening, too, is something of a “moving meditation” — gardening and yoga may just have more in common than you might think. Here are a few poses, to be done together in a short sequence, that can done be done before or after a gardening session to lessen the impact on joints and muscles while increasing awareness.
First, start your practice seated in a comfortable position on a mat or towel. You may practice indoors or outdoors in the garden, whatever suits you. Begin to pay attention to the breath — each inhale and each exhale. In yoga, we work to link the breath with movement, so we will maintain this awareness of breathe throughout the practice, however long or short, vigorous or slow-paced.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
From all fours, widen the knees slightly and sink the hips back into the heels. Reach the hands to the front of the mat, pressing into all five fingers as you sink the hips back even deeper. Stay here for a few breaths, feeling the breath puff up the back as you inhale, and lower down as you exhale. Child’s pose gently opens the hips, thighs, back body and shoulders.
Come to all fours on your mat, knees directly beneath the hips and hands directly beneath the elbows and shoulders. Inhale the chest through the arms, rolling the shoulders back, arching the back and looking up slightly. Exhale to to round the back, pushing the ground away, and tucking the bellybutton to spine as you exhale fully. Repeat for 10 (or so) cycles of breath. This pose is excellent for gardeners as it works to strengthen the back and spine. When we you find you are hunched over the garden bed, come back to this action and roll the shoulders back slightly to realign the spine and take pressure out of the back body.
Forward fold (Uttanasana)
Standing with feet hip-width apart and rooting all five toes into the mat, allow the arms, shoulders and upper body to relax, hanging without effort as the legs support the upper body. Inhale to a flat back, engaging the upper back and abdomen to look forward. Exhale to release back down. Repeat for three cycles of breath. Similar to the actions of the upper body found in cat/cow, this pose will help to strengthen your upper back, in addition to finding a stretch in the backs of the legs.
Bring the feet slightly wider than hip distance apart and begin to bend into the knees, bringing the seat back toward the ground. Feet can rotate outward slightly to point the corners of the mat as you bring your fingertips to the ground in front of you. Sinking further into the hips, awaken in the belly and roll the shoulders back, bringing the torso upright. If comfortable, bring hands to heart centre and hold for a few breathes. Squatting is certainly a familiar ‘pose’ for gardeners! This pose allows for an opening of the hips. When squatting down to pull a weed or harvest veggies, come back to the action of awakening in the belly and rolling the shoulders back — this too will lessen the strain on the upper back.
Corpse pose (savasana)
All of the hard work is done! Laying on our back, let the toes spill out to either side of the mat, flip the palms so they face up, and tuck the shoulder blades into broaden the chest. Release the body of all effort here. Be sure to allow ample time in Savasana — at least five minutes or more.
Words + Photos by Sarah Carson @the.botanical
Friday, May 6th, 2016
In spring, the very mention of frost sends gardeners scurrying for sheets, boxes, or whatever they can scrounge up to keep their plants safe from a possible cold snap. Read on to take the guesswork out of what you can, and what you cannot plant until the threat of frost is over.
The threat of frost exists until the first full moon in June, which this year falls on Sunday, June 5.
There’s truth to this old wives tale! Therefore up until June 6 . . .
It is not safe to plant: annuals, herbs, vegetable plants, or greenhouse-grown perennial plants.
It is safe to plant: shrubs, trees, bulbs, and vegetable seeds sown directly into the ground such as peas, beans, corn, onion sets and potatoes.
And if you just can’t wait until June 6 to start planting your annuals, vegetables, herbs and perennials, get ready to watch the forecast closely. Cool, clear nights with low humidity are signs of an impending frost. In case of a frost warning, you will need to protect these plants, or they could perish. You can protect your plants with these measures:
- IRRIGATE The air temperature above wet soil is 5 degrees F higher than that above dry soil. Thus, plants should be well watered the evening before a frost.
- COVER Covering plants can give you 2 to 5 degrees F protection. The covers can be laid right over the crop, but more warmth is provided by covers that are supported on stakes above the foliage. Any material can be used to cover the plants, however woven fabrics such as bed sheets and burlap are better insulators than plastics or paper. The best time to apply frost covers is in the late afternoon after the wind has died down. Remove covers the next morning before the sun hits them.
For those of you who like to buy your plants early in May, store them in a sunny, warm room and keep them well watered right up until it’s time to plant. Plants kept in garages often suffer from a lack of sunlight.
Happy (early) spring!
Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
How does your garden grow?
With this question in mind, March is the month to plan your gardening season ahead. There may still be snow on the ground, but if you take advantage of March as a planning month then when planting season arrives, you’ll be able to devote your time to where you want to be most – in your garden!
Consider taking in a gardening show to get your wheels in motion. Gardeners of all knowledge levels and skills will enjoy Gardening Saturday, an exciting event held on March 28 at Winnipeg’s Victoria Inn. This show features over 100 booths and 15 educational sessions. It’s an interactive show where you can ask questions and learn from many gardening enthusiasts. While you’re there, be sure to say ‘hi’ and pick up a little treat from our Shelmerdine booth!
While it’s still to cold to be outdoors much, a fantastic book to get lost in is the recently released Shelmerdine Plant and Garden Guide. This book was written by our experts and features 3,000 listings and more than 2500 colour photographs of plants that will thrive in our climate zone. The guide is an invaluable tool for every gardener!
How To Make the Most Out of March:
- Take advantage of free seminars offered by local garden centres
- Book appointments with landscape designers
- Review notes from last year’s garden journal if you kept one
- Read through seed catalogs
- Sketch out your garden plot so you know what will go where
- Buy seeds – you’ll find the best selection of varieties in March
Happy planning and here’s hoping for an early spring!