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Hanbidge on Horticulture: Thanksgiving for Gardeners – Part I

Embracing the season in nature’s bounty.
It is a time to stop and give thanks for everything that we have reaped from our fertile ground and to enjoy the plentiful harvest with those that are dear to us.

Thanksgiving is once again upon us and I would like to approach this holiday from the perspective of the gardener. Although the roots go back to a festival surrounding harvest for us on the prairies it is indeed an odd year that we are still harvesting when it is time to cook the proverbial turkey. Thanksgiving is the time we take the fish out of the pond for winter and it is indeed a good year if we do not have to break the ice to do so.

Fall on the prairies is always different. More often than not, we get a killing frost and then are graced with some nice weather again for a time. We used to call this Indian Summer – but in this day and age, I am not sure what we call it other than a thankful respite before winter. I for one hope that we have a long and beautiful fall and may it last for the next month or two. Believe it or not, but I am still picking grapes and some of the hardier herbs from the garden.

The harvest of herbs is important for the traditional turkey often served at Thanksgiving dinner. If you have never grown sage, then you have likely also not enjoyed a turkey stuffed with dressing whose major herbal flavour is sage. It is far different from the poultry seasonings you can purchase from the supermarket and in my opinion is far superior. It is an easy herb to grow and to harvest you simply remove the entire plant; wash and hang to dry. It is good to hang a bag upside down over the sage to keep the dust off as well. To use - simply break the dried leaves into your stuffing or other chosen dish. The stems are quite woody, so you may prefer to remove the leaves from the stems first.

Usually, by Thanksgiving the crops are mostly harvested - the fields of grains, potatoes. corn and turnips, the bountiful pumpkins and squash which all can be shared at the table for dinner. Hopefully, they are all tucked away for storage to be enjoyed throughout the winter season. But there are many other great things about the Thanksgiving season. I like the season as the rush of summer and fall is almost behind us. It is a time to stop and give thanks for everything that we have reaped from our fertile ground and to enjoy the plentiful harvest with those that are dear to us.

An excerpt of a poem by Max Coots that is titled A Gardener`s Thanksgiving is worth sharing.

Let us give thanks…For generous friends…with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms; For feisty friends as tart as apples; For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we have them; For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible; For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn—and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you. For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions; For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who—like parsnips—can be counted on to see you through the long winter; For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes; For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts, and withering’s; And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested—but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter; For all these we give thanks.

May you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving......

Hanbidge is the Lead Horticulturist with Orchid Horticulture. Find us at; by email at; on Facebook @orchidhort and Instagram at #orchidhort. Tune into GROW Live on our Facebook page or check out the Youtube channel GROW is Saskatchewan's home page. Bookmark us at this link.

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