Favourite Fruit Trees: Part 1

We are following up last week’s tips by Guest blogger Shanthi on fruit tree growing with a focus on some of our favourite fruit trees.

We are finding that in many cases what makes them ‘favourites’ is their connection to fond childhood memories. For example, Lucia and Catherine have a shared childhood memory of bike riding together – we lived so far apart and the bus ride to see each other took ages. Many a visit ended by lounging after a ride on the rooftop of Lucia’s shed, languidly reaching up to pluck and eat fresh sun-kissed plums from the overhanging bounty. Yum.

Catherine has fond memories of the shape and bright yellow hue of her childhood peach tree. She is learning from research for today’s post why she has so few memories of bountiful peach harvests from said tree. As the University of Maine web-site explains, while peach and nectarine trees are easy to grow, “In cold climates, peaches have a short life expectancy of about seven years, but severely cold temperatures can kill trees at any age.”

Lucy’s favorite fruit tree is currently the Evan’s Cherry Tree, well suited to Alberta climate, and we featured it in blog 23 in April. Also in Edmonton is a new online map, the Open Data Edible Fruit Trees map. It allows you to access free fruit from more than 22,000 apple, cherry, plum and pear trees as well as Saskatoon berry bushes. “We want to promote a local food movement and support local citizens in that local food movement. People are interested in it, and it contributes to that local food security as well,” said Nicole Fraser, manager-supervisor with the city’s beautification and greener initiative. https://bit.ly/2ZD4aEv

Most, if not all of us attach fond memories to apple trees.  Whether from childhood stories and songs about Johnny Appleseed, or fall trips to orchards to ride the tractor-drawn hay wagon out to pick our own apples, to candy apple treats at the fair, or to the aroma of a home-baked holiday apple pie. Yum.

Crabapple Tree Photo by MaryAnn

Fruit Tree Culture

The more we research about fruit trees, the more we learn there is much to learn about fruit tree growing in general, as well as specific information for each tree type.

For example, Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has a bland-looking but informative website that offers the following helpful tips for fruit tree growing success.

“There are several things that you should know about fruit tree culture that will improve your chances of success and make your hobby more rewarding. Each kind of fruit tree, even each cultivar (variety), has its own climatic adaptations and limitations. Stone fruits such as peach, sweet cherry, and plum will perform best in the warmer regions of the province.”

“Buying Fruit Trees: Well-grown, one-year-old trees are preferable to poorly-grown, two-year-old trees. One-year-old trees should have a well-grown main stem, while two-year-old trees should be well branched. Both should have good fibrous root systems. Peach and cherry trees are normally planted as one-year-old branched trees.”

“Planting in spring rather than in the fall is recommended, especially in the colder districts of the province. You should plant without delay as soon as the ground can be worked, usually in early April to early May.”

“Fertilizing: If the fruit trees are grown in a good garden soil, most trees will not require fertilizer before they come into bearing in the third or fourth year. Once in production, fruit trees benefit from light applications of fertilizer in early spring each year. A good rule of thumb for trees grown in an average lawn is to apply to each tree 300 g of a 10-10-10 mixture, per year of the tree’s age. In most instances, no more than 2.5 kg of complete fertilizer, (e.g., 10-10-10 mixture) will be required per mature tree.”


Fruit trees consist of two parts – a scion (pronounced sigh-on) and a rootstock. The scion or fruiting cultivar is grafted or budded onto a chosen rootstock and forms the above ground part of the tree. The new tree is the same cultivar as the tree from which the buds were taken, and will produce fruit of that cultivar.

Peaches are commonly grown on Bailey seedling rootstocks, which offer some winter hardiness. Certain plum rootstocks are occasionally recommended for peaches and apricots because they tolerate imperfectly drained soils. Myrobalan is the most popular standard rootstock for plum.”


“With tart cherry, apricot and peach, a single tree will crop well when planted in the home garden. These fruits are referred to as “self-fruitful”, and will set fruit with their own pollen. Those which are “self-unfruitful” will not bear fruit unless cross-pollinated with pollen from another cultivar. Apple, pear, plum and sweet cherry are good examples of self-unfruitful fruits which require pollen from another cultivar for fruit set. When any of the above fruits are grown, two or more cross-compatible cultivars must be planted together. Crabapples can also pollinate apples.”

Training and Pruning

The transplanted tree should be pruned immediately after planting and before growth starts. Without this initial pruning to balance the tree, more leaves will develop than there is root system to support and the tree may not grow well or even die during the first summer.”

“In general, apricot, cherry, peach, and plum trees may be pruned after planting to a single whip, and cut off (headed) at about 90 cm above the soil. On peaches, if some well-developed branches exist, four or five of these may be cut back and left as short stubs of about two buds in length.” https://bit.ly/2Zwqujb

Plant Hardiness Zones – Maine Example

The University of Maine’s Co-operative Extension website is more appealing overall than OMAFRA’s, offering colourful visuals along with its fruit tree information and growing advice. Note, however, that not all information may apply fully to our Canadian growing conditions. When in doubt, it is likely best to ask your local nursery for advice in choosing a fruit tree best suited to thriving where you live.

“There are many types or species of fruit trees to choose from, but not all are suitable for a cold climate or short growing season. When choosing a fruit tree for a new orchard, consider its winter hardiness, disease resistance and the ripening date of the fruit. Flavor, suitability for baking, cider or preserves can also be deciding factors in selection.”

“Low winter temperatures limit which species or variety that can be grown.” 

“The US Department of Agriculture’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map divides the United States into zones according to the expected coldest winter temperature. Zone 1 is the coldest and Zone 11 the warmest. Within Zone 6, winter temperatures are expected to get as cold as -10ºF. Most tree fruits can survive in Zone 5, but peaches, sweet cherries, and Asian plums will suffer from winter injury in colder years. More northern and western regions fall within Zone 4, which is expected to get as cold as -30ºF, too cold for peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, Asian plums and European plums. Some varieties of pear and plum will tolerate winter in Zone 4. The most northerly regions are within Zone 3, and only a few varieties will survive the cold in this region.”

Hardiness Zones in MaineExpected Midwinter Low Temperature
Zone 3-40 to -30ºF (-40 to -34.4ºC)
Zone 4-30 to -20ºF (-34.4ºC to -28.9ºC)
Zone 5-20 to -10ºF (-28.9ºC to -23.3ºC)
Zone 6-10 to 0 ºF (-23.3ºC to -17.8ºC)



The Toka plum, also called Bubblegum, is hardy to -30°F (-34.4ºC).

The University of Maine’s website offers the following on various plum species; looks like the Toka plum or Bubblegum species would be a good bet for Canada’s colder climates, being hardy to -30F (-34.4ºC).

“Plums are a stone fruit along with cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot and almond. Several species of plum exist, so they are highly variable in color and flavor, as well as climactic adaptability and disease resistance. In spring, the abundant, white flowers attract native bees.”

“Despite the existence of many different plum species, only two are widely grown, Asian and European, and they differ in many ways. The Asian plum, also called the Japanese plum, ripens earlier, over a two-month period beginning in late July and continuing through September. Asian plums come in many colors ranging from pale yellow to dark purple, but most have a light purple skin and yellow flesh. A few varieties have red flesh. They are more sour than European plums. Because it is a hybridization of several plum species, the Asian type is highly variable in cold hardiness. Some varieties are very tender and cannot be successfully grown in colder regions. Others are extremely hardy and can be grown in Zone 4 and possibly Zone 3. European plums begin to ripen in mid-August with late varieties ripening in late October. They range in shape from oblong to round and are less variable in color than Asian types, usually purple skin with yellow flesh. European plums are hardy enough to be grown in the warmer part of Zone 4.”

“Many varieties of Japanese plum survive temperatures as cold as -20°F, such as Early Golden, Ozark Premier, Methley, Obilinaja, Shiro and Vanier. However, warm temperatures during winter months that are followed by severe cold will damage some of these hardy varieties. For the coldest regions, select the type of plum that was cross bred with the American species to allow gardeners to grow plums in zone 4. Varieties with sufficient hardiness for Zone 4 (-30°F) are Alderman, Black Ice, LaCresent, Pipestone, South Dakota, Superior, Toka, Underwood, and a few others.”

“Because the two most common types do not adequately cross pollinate each other, poor yield is a common problem for plum growers, but can be prevented by planting several varieties that are the same type or species. Plant Japanese plums with other varieties of Japanese plums.” https://bit.ly/2AXtRoV

The OMAFRA website adds this on pollination, “In Japanese plums, Burbank is a satisfactory pollenizer for Early Golden and Shiro. Burbank and Early Golden are pollinated by Shiro. In European plums most cultivars will pollinate each other with a few minor exceptions. Generally three cultivars will ensure good pollination.”

For aspiring plum tree growers in Ontario, the OMAFRA website lists the following types, for reference:

“Japanese: Early Golden, Shiro, Burbank, Pipestone*, Toka*, Empress
Vibrant™ , Valerie™ , Vanette™ , Violette™ , Stanley, Damson, Valor, Italian, Victory” https://bit.ly/2Zwqujb

Peaches and Nectarines

The University of Maine’s website offers the following on peach tree growing.

Peaches can be grown successfully in a cold climate with good site selection and tree care. Where winter temperatures fall below -15°F (-26.1C), peach trees can be short lived.”

“Peaches are an easy-to-grow fruit despite their lack of cold hardiness. Compared to other types of tree fruits, the fruit can be relatively free of insect problems, but the trees can be killed by trunk boring insects. In cold climates, peaches have a short life expectancy of about seven years, but severely cold temperatures can kill trees at any age. On the other hand, hardier varieties planted in a good site can live 20 years or more.   Good tree care and planting in sites with good airflow improves tree survival.”

“Nectarines are identical to peaches with the exception of their smooth peel, and consequently have the same cultural requirements. However, they are not as hardy as peaches and may pose more of a challenge to the home gardener. Peach trees are generally adapted to Zone 6, and some varieties can be grown in Zone 5 (-20°F / -28.9ºC ).”

“There are two types of cultivated peaches which vary in eating quality and how they are used. Freestone peaches have a melting flesh that makes them great for eating fresh. Clingstone peaches have a dense flesh that makes them useful for canning. Among the freestone peaches, some varieties have a flattened shape and are called doughnut or Peento peaches. Peaches also vary in their flesh color with yellow being the most common, but some have white or red flesh. With many different peach varieties available, consider winter hardiness and disease resistance to prevent long-term problems. Fruit quality, ripening date, and showiness of the flowers can also be important considerations in choosing a variety.”

For more information, see Bulletin #2068 Growing Peaches in Maine. https://bit.ly/2AXtRoV

For Ontario, the OMAFRA website lists the following peach tree types:

“Harrow Diamond, Garnet Beauty, Redhaven, Reliance*, Harken, Vivid, Harrow Fair™ , Harrow Beauty, Loring, Vollie™, Cresthaven” . https://bit.ly/2Zwqujb

More Veg Gardening Tips

We wanted to pass along a few more tips we have learned about since our last two posts on vegetable gardening.

Raised Garden Beds

In this weekend’s Toronto Star, we learned from the Cullen brothers’ column that raised garden beds are becoming popular among urban gardeners. Why? “…A raised bed can produce more flowers and a larger harvest than at ground level since it gives you complete control over the quality of soil you use. A raised bed drains well (but needs more regular watering than ground-level beds), and encourages better root growth. It warms more quickly in the spring, allowing you to get a jump on sowing and planting.” https://bit.ly/2WY4hst

Seed Tape

Catherine discovered seed tape by chance among some of the seed packets she purchased and thinks this is a brilliant invention for evenly spacing seeds as you sow, especially for novice vegetable gardeners.  Audrey found this YouTube DIY video on lessons for making your own seed tape. https://bit.ly/2yBhNck

Free On-line Garden Talk – June 2

The Toronto Botanical Garden is offering a free Garden Talk on June 2, 12:30 p.m. EDT, called Top Tips for Top Vegetables (Part 2).

The event is described as, “Top Tips for Top Vegetables, Part 2 helps you expand your home-grown palette with five easy vegetables, such as peas and garlic. Learn the difference between cool-season and warm-season veggies and the many ways to squeeze more vegetables into small spaces. The session will end with a questions and answer period.”

“Presenter: Helen Battersby has volunteered with the Toronto Master Gardeners for 15 years. Her shady garden in Toronto’s east end includes containers of vegetables and cut flowers. With her sister, Sarah, she writes the award-winning blog TorontoGardens.com and publishes the Toronto & Golden Horseshoe Gardener’s Journal.” Register for this free online event at https://bit.ly/3exk0oz.

Optimism in the Future

Some inspiring quotes that we found on OneTreePlanted.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”― Martin Luther

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” ― Warren Buffett

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”  ― Chinese proverb

“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.”― Kahlil Gebran


Vegetable Gardening 101 – Part Two

Thank you to last week’s Guest Bloggers Audrey, Shanthi, Leslie and Ross for all the many helpful tips to inspire and launch us onto a successful first timer’s vegetable gardening adventure.

Let’s start Part Two with more information on soil preparation.

Wendy’s Garden

Planting and Soil Temperature

Living in regions with short growing seasons, it is not always practical to wait for the earth to warm to optimal soil temperatures for seed germination, before planting your vegetable seeds.  As newbie vegetable gardeners, chomping at the bit to get outside and get going, we also may yet to have fully developed our gardening “patience” skills. Resources such as this by the Harvest Table offer guidance on minimum soil temperatures to wait for in order to maximize potential for harvesting success. Of course, if you are able to wait a bit longer, they also offer advice on warmer, optimal soil temperatures for supporting best conditions for seed germination once planted. We are impatient to get started sowing seeds, so we will be following the minimum soil temperatures listed below. [Tip: the electronic thermometer you may have acquired to take your temperature during the pandemic also works for taking soil surface temperature!]

Harvest Table’s Advice on Minimum Soil Temperatures for Seed Sowing and Germination:

  • lettuce, onion, parsnip, spinach.
  • 5°C: beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, collards, Asian greens, Chinese cabbage, fava beans, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, arugula, radish, Swiss chard, turnip, pea, radish, rutabaga.
  • 10°C: asparagus, celery, celeriac, corn, tomato.
  • 15°C: bean, cucumber, eggplant, muskmelon, pepper, pumpkin, squash, watermelon.” https://bit.ly/3bCCi5O
  • The ideal or optimal soil temperature for planting and growing most vegetables is 18° to 24°C.

Nature Planting Signals Calendar – Lilacs

We are also learning from Harvest Table that the “flowering of trees, shrubs, and perennial plants is determined by day length and temperature (this also applies to the lifecycle of insects and animals.) You can use the bloom time of shrubs and trees to tell you when it is safe to plant vegetables in the garden. Look at blooming trees and shrubs in your garden or neighborhood as indicators of when it is safe to plant vegetables directly in the garden.”

Here is one example – the lilac planting calendar for the vegetable garden:

  • Lilac begins to leaf out: direct sow seeds of cool-weather vegetables such as peas, lettuce, and spinach; direct sow cold-tolerant herbs such as parsley and chervil; direct sow hardy annual such as calendula and sweet alyssum.
  • Lilac flower spike is in full bloom: direct sow seed of basil, corn, and tomatoes; direct sow marigolds and geraniums.”  https://bit.ly/3bnjkjz

Buying Seeds and Seedlings

Many grocery stores, hardware stores and gardening centres carry seed packets for sale for most commonly grown vegetables and herbs. With more people taking up home gardening during the lockdown, this year may be more challenging than usual to find all the seeds you want to purchase for the season. You may want to consider spending a bit more to buy seedlings for some to give you a head start or to fill the gap where seeds have been hard to find.

For example, Catherine is taking a blended approach. She germinated tomato seedlings from grocery store-bought tomatoes and sprouted roots from store-bought green onions, while purchasing herb seedlings (mint, sweet and thai basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley), butternut squash seedlings and pea shoots for her vegetable garden from a small local fruit and vegetable store. She also bought seeds from the grocery store for direct planting when the soil warms up for carrots, peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, beets and sunflowers. Lucia met with success buying seeds from Home Depot in Edmonton, and is nurturing basil seedlings herself indoors now, which she will transfer outside soon.

“Foodie” Catherine is passing on this tip about Spice Trader to Toronto Readers – as part of their pandemic pivot, in addition to their usual offerings of spices, oils, and condiments, the company is now offering Matchbox heirloom vegetable seedlings for online purchase and curbside pickup: https://bit.ly/3dVoR2m

Here are a few websites for reference to purchase more exotic seeds in future years, as we discovered they are no longer taking orders for this year due to higher than expected demand.

Ontario Seed Company – Veg Seedshttps://bit.ly/368GGsb

Matchbox Garden and Seeds (Heirloom Seeds) – https://bit.ly/2yd79YW

Community Gardening

Audrey returns this week, to tell us more about her experience with community gardens.

Photo by Janet

“In the three years that I have had one of these plots, I have learned many things about growing vegetables. Full disclosure, I also plant a few rows of flowers that love the sun. I always felt a tinge of guilt for allocating vegetable garden space to something as frivolous as flowers until a fellow gardener reminded me that there would be no vegetables if there aren’t bees to pollinate and bees are attracted to flowers.”

Audrey’s Community Garden

“As you can see in this photo of the start of gardening season, it’s flat and mostly bare, but in a few weeks, it will transform into lush greenery of all shapes and sizes including tall sunflowers and asparagus. No insecticides are allowed and the only fertilizer used is worm castings which are provided, along with compost from our own bins. The richness of the soil is the most important requirement for success and this is totally within the gardener’s control and well worth the effort.”

“My plot has these spindly green shoots in rows, as do most of the other garden plots. That’s garlic starting to grow after I planted it six inches deep last November. It has to be planted before the soil freezes and I had intended to go back to plant more but winter came early here in 2019. I separated cloves from heads of garlic that I had harvested last summer. Each clove generates a new head of garlic in the ground and is ready to dig up in late July when the tops start to whither. It then needs to age in a dry area for a few weeks to develop that characteristic garlic flavour. It’s very bitter if you skip this step. An attractive way to age it is to braid the tops of several cloves together so they hang in a column.”

“Growing garlic brings to mind another trait required for successful gardening- patience. Gardeners have to wait until the produce is ready to pick. I learned the importance of “pick when ready” with my first crop of zucchini. I was away for a week that August and before I left, the zucchini were almost ready. When I returned, they looked like English cucumbers on steroids. Because I had planted about 15 plants, I harvested a couple of bushels of zucchini and even my neighbours were tired of making zucchini bread. The next year, I planted three seeds and still gave some away. However, it is a good idea to plant a bit more than you need to allow for visiting voles, bunnies and “uninvited two-legged pickers”; and to donate extra to the local food bank and give to family and friends.”

Community Gardening in a Pandemic

“I am happy to learn that community gardens are now permitted to open under Ontario’s three-stage plan for re-opening parts of the economy, while continuing to maintain COVID-19 social/physical distancing practices. Our community garden opened this week, under a strict set of protocols that each gardener has agreed to follow.”

“There are now two hand washing stations- a feat in itself considering the gardens are under Hydro towers in an open field. The tool sheds will not be open so everyone must bring their own tools. Gardeners with even numbered plots may work there on even days; gardeners with odd numbered plots may only go on odd numbered days. I also have to complete a form each time I am there with the date and time of my visit so if there is a COVID outbreak, contacts can be traced. Unfortunately due to the current situation, I think a few people will give up their plots this year. These plots will go to people on the waiting list or be used to grow more food for the local food bank.”

“I plant my rows across. This season, I have planted four rows of flowers, two rows of three kinds of lettuce, two rows of beets (two types), single rows each of carrots, green beans, yellow beans, radishes, parsnips, about 30 little onions, two hills (three seeds each) of summer squash, and two hills of zucchinini. The garlic is still growing from planting last fall.”

“In last week’s post, I described how my attempts at growing cauliflower ended up in the compost heap. Too much effort to wrap their leaves around the white heads to protect from dis-colouring, with unsuccessful results. I had scratched cauliflower off my gardening list. However, I may now need to reconsider. During my first visit to the community garden for this year’s season earlier this week, I learned an intriguing tip from one of the more experienced community gardeners (keeping socially distanced, two metres apart). Apparently, there is a new type of cauliflower which automatically wraps its leaves around the white head by itself as it grows! Amazing.”

“I hope you will consider the rewards of growing your own vegetables and take the plunge. There’s lots of help available online and its an excellent activity and well suited to our current reality. Happy growing!”

Harvesting Tips

All our guest bloggers agree on the rich rewards of harvest time.

Shanthi’s Callaloo Harvest

As Shanthi says, “Harvesting – Now comes the fun part.”

“Pick veggies at their prime and not a day late literally. Typically, a daily visit to the garden is needed.”

“The main thing to remember is that home gardening is for fun. It should be a source of relaxation and an opportunity to get the family to engage in joint activities. I actually made posters each season for a “Garden Club” that my three young boys signed up to. As they grew older (and wiser!), I posted positions such as “Assistant to Head Gardner” and they fell for that too. Nowadays, it is hourly pay given they actually do very hard work, but they never have the heart to collect!”

Audrey offers these additional harvesting tips.

“Generally mornings are the better time to pick produce, but wait until any dew has evaporated;
– Handle the produce carefully to reduce the chance of bruising. Picking usually takes two hands: one hand pulls gently on the vegetables and the other hand holds the stem where it is attached to lessen the impact of picking on the plant;

Shanthi’s Potato Harvest

– Once a crop starts to reach maturity, check daily in order to pick at peak ripeness. For most crops the harvesting season will span several weeks, depending on the weather;
– When the first frost is forecast, pick all the remaining tomatoes, even the green ones, as they will continue to ripen indoors and provide fresh tomatoes well into the late fall;
– Some vegetables, like parsnips, turnip and kale, have more flavour if harvested after the first frost;
– Don’t leave any unpicked or spoiled vegetables in the garden at the end of the season as they may grow the next spring. It is a good practice to bury the actual plants at least 12-15 cm deep so they can decompose and enrich the garden’s soil.

Check out Harvesting Vegetables in the The Old Farmer’s Almanac at http://www.almanac.com for harvesting tips for specific vegetables and more information.”

Shanthi’s Bean Harvest

More Harvesting Joy

Reader Wendy responded to last week’s Guest Blog post with enthusiasm. “There are so many things that I can relate to on it. I garden because it is so peaceful and I see progress through my work. I often joke about it as the best therapy going! I have been planting this garden for 30 years already.”

“With the garden ingredients I have made borscht, raspberry scones, strawberry shortcake, rhubarb and honeyberry sauce, sour cherry pies and much more, but last fall was the first time I have ever made pickled carrots from the carrots I have grown. They were delicious and I am planning on making many more jars this year! Definitely the garden keeps me active but I also eat really well due to it!”

More Resources

Catherine received this handy reference book as a Mother’s Day gift to help her on her way to vegetable gardening success. Here is the GoodReads book review of Ruth Lively edits “Tauton’s Complete Guide to Growing Vegetables & Herbs”.

“From planning and planting to harvesting, this is the most comprehensive and authoritative guide to growing your own vegetables and herbs. That’s good news for gardeners everywhere, as the “eat local” movement continues to gain momentum across the country. What to grow? Where to plant it? How to get the most from your garden? It’s all in here. First-rate gardening pros share their expertise on designing a garden of any size, as well as fundamentals about soil, irrigation, pest control, crop rotation, and more. With detailed advice on growing 85 crops, plus sidebars on how to make a garden as attractive as it is productive, readers will delight in finding all the information they’ll ever need on vegetable gardening in one place. “  https://bit.ly/3dIAysX

Lucy’s Garden Duck Tour…….luckily he did not eat anything!

Home Depot – Gardening for Beginners 101

Thanks to Shanthi for putting this free online resource on our radar – Home Depot’s Gardening for Beginners 101, which offers tips on topics such as Preparing Soil; Reading Plant Tags; Planting Tips; Plant Care; Pests and Insects; Pruning, and more https://bit.ly/3g7Bqth.

The website resource also offers tips on Container Gardening 101 https://bit.ly/3cT7wac.

Ontario Seed Company – How to Grow Guideshttps://bit.ly/2ZfmraP.

Ontario Seed Company – Zone Finderhttps://bit.ly/3bFXQyl.

Fruit Tree Gardening

Shanthi also returns this week, to offer tips for planting fruit trees.

“There are many varieties to choose from. However, the best selection is at the beginning of the season. If you plan to plant one or to simply take stock of what is out there, visit the garden centers in May or early June.   Many of the growing conditions for vegetables apply to these as well. 

Shanthi’s Pear Harvest
  • Well draining and fertile soil
  • Lots of sunlight and space around the tree to allow for air flow
  • Other needs:  There are other particular do’s and don’ts for each tree type. Online resources are great before you decide as well as guiding you through planting, pruning, and maintaining them through the years. Each year, it is best to spray them with tree spray per package instructions to ensure you end up with fruits that are bug free. Typically, these consist of a combination of dormant oil and garden Sulphur that are applied either in combination or separately in early spring before green buds set and then through the season until Fall. The package instructions provide step by step instructions.
  • Regarding pruning – Although it can seem heartbreaking, experts recommend that you cut your tree down to your waist height after you initially plant it. This is to ensure that the height is manageable and that you don’t end up with a tree that is too tall for maintaining or picking.  Again, all of this depends on personal preference. For example, if your intent is to attract birds and wildlife in addition to having a few fruits for yourself, or if you are going to use the tree for privacy, you may wish to let nature take its course.”

Next week’s Blog post will feature descriptive information on some of our personal favourite fruit trees.

We wish you much success and pleasure – Happy planting and gardening!

Gardening Therapy, Community and Climate Action

We are both feeling very fortunate in this time of “sheltering-in-place” to be able to stretch our limbs and spirits by working outdoors in our yards, now that the spring (-ish) weather has arrived finally in Edmonton and Toronto.

We both have decided to take this COVID time as an “opportunity” to try our hands at growing our own modest vegetable gardens, for the first time ever. Luckily for us, we have very generous friends who are willing to make the time to share their gardening expertise and tips with we two greenhorns (or should that be greenthumbs?), and which we are delighted to share with our Readers here.

The wonderful thing about becoming a vegetable gardener, motivated in-part by seeking out pandemic “garden therapy,” is that it is also very good for climate action we are happily learning. Thanks to Reader Nora for putting “Food Up Front” on our radar, to explain how.

As its website describes, Food Up Front is “a movement started by Transition Toronto to help you gather your community around local food. Growing local food is one piece of the puzzle in solving our climate crisis. It builds community resiliency by fostering a culture of sharing while reducing dependency on international agribusiness, it reduces the need for fossil fuel intensive farming practices while eliminating food-mile emissions and it helps to sequester carbon through hands-on soil stewardship. Overall though, the most compelling benefit is that connecting with home-grown food improves the quality of our lives….” To learn more about this organization, and even to get free seeds to start you on your gardening way (while supplies last), check here https://bit.ly/2xTbosq.

Vegetable Gardening Tips for Success – Guest Bloggers

We are delighted to welcome our friends Audrey, Shanthi, Leslie and Ross, who are all experienced and avid Ontario gardeners, willing to share their tips and lessons learned as our Guest Bloggers to generously “nurture” our vegetable gardening success.

Starting In-Doors

Shanthi cautions, “Although it is tempting to get a head start on the season, wait until the ground warms and the last frost date is safely past before planting out your seedlings. The first week of June is usually a safe bet (in Ontario and Alberta).

However, there is still much preparation that can be done in-doors in April and May. “Starting seeds can be fun, especially as this can begin during the grim winter months”.

Audrey shares eloquently, “When a gardener plants a seed, they are in a hopeful mindset. There is no other way to describe expecting a tiny seed the size of a grain of pepper to turn into a lush plant and delicious food. Optimism abounds in gardeners. They don’t give up on a plant. They will water it, stake it, prune it, even talk to it (if no one is near). The partner in all gardening endeavours is Mother Nature and I never lose my sense of wonder at her power.”

“Canada’s growing season is not long enough for some fruit and vegetables like cantaloupe and watermelon, even tomatoes, unless you start with young plants rather than seeds. I planted cantaloupe in the first year and ended up with golfball sized fruit before frost ended the growing season. Garden centres have young plants at a price that reflects their time and effort or you can start your own plants indoors.”

“I planted three tomato seeds in the house in early April which is a few weeks too late. I pulled back the shutters so the pots would get as much light as possible and I tented the table over a furnace register so the warm air would help the seeds germinate. [I also started about 100 seeds for six different kinds of flowers for outside flowerbeds as I wasn’t sure nurseries would be open in May due to COVID restrictions.] As usual, 10-15% of the seeds did not germinate so I always sow a few more than I needed. Much TLC is needed – at a minimum, daily watering and turning so the plants grow straight.”

“Check out ‘Starting Seeds Indoors: How and When to Start Seeds,’ in the The Old Farmer’s Almanac at www.almanac.com for more information. It’s easy to get carried away when starting flower and vegetable seeds if you purchase all the ‘gear’ to do this. This is a great hobby but it is not a way to save money. However, the benefit and satisfaction of growing your own food is immeasurable. We always had a huge vegetable garden when I was growing up and I can remember my Grandfather being so proud of his gardening efforts. My perspective has changed and I appreciate gardening so much more now.”

Moving Outdoors – Choosing a Site

Shanthi’s advice is to “choose a sunny site as most if not all types of veggies require at least six (6) hours of direct sunlight.”

“Choose a site that is away from trees and shrubs as veggie seedlings that you expect to grow  to produce a bounty have no chance against existing thirsty roots. If you have no choice, then dig about two feet down, remove any roots (provided you are not going to kill any nearby trees that you actually like or want) and put some barriers against them creeping back in. Or an easier and more popular method is to have a raised bed. There are many videos online about creating such raised gardens. They take much less work, you have more control over the soil, and they also have the advantage of allowing you to construct them as high as you like and therefore can be much easier on your back!”

Audrey offers this about another site option – community gardens.

“When we moved into our house almost four decades ago, we planted a locust tree in the back corner of the yard. As it grew, the yard gradually became more and more shaded. The tree is truly beautiful as well as necessary in the summer heat. Vegetables need full sun all day to grow well so four years ago I applied for one of the 103 plots in my local community garden, and have been growing my vegetables and flowers there happily ever since.”

Moving Outdoors – Preparing the Soil

Shanthi notes that preparing the soil “mostly involves spending a lot of energy, time, and money to ensure you have the right composition as once you plant your veggies, there is little or no going back.”

“Most vegetable plants require a well draining soil with ample organic matter to enhance water retaining capacity as well as to add nutrients. Amend your soil as needed with compost and triple mix.  There are other additives but be careful and Google a trusted source when in doubt. For example, adding fairly fresh manure can burn young plants, adding sawdust that has not been composted will add too much carbon that can kill plants. On the other hand, adding crushed eggshells is a great way of increasing calcium for your plants without harming them.”  [See also our April 30 post on Ideas for Composting – https://bit.ly/3dFOLHd%5D

“Most vegetables also do better in a slightly acidic soil. A soil PH kit comes in handy but is not needed.”

“During the season, you can also add store bought fertilizers following directions on the packages (e.g. Miracle Grow)”.

Moving Seedlings Outdoors – “Hardening”

Early in  June, Audrey gets ready to move the tomato seedlings she germinated indoors beginning in April, to the outside in the following way.

“I will put these plants outside for a few hours each day to ‘harden’ them so they won’t be shocked by being outside when transplanted. This year I’ve used pots that will decompose once in the soil so transplanting won’t disturb the roots.”

“When transplanting ‘hardened’ tomato seedlings, bury the plant up to the first set of leaves. Roots will grow along the buried part of the stem and give the plant a hardier root system. Water the roots before adding soil.”

Direct Seed Planting

Audrey gives us these tips from her experience about what works (and what doesn’t) for direct planting.

“Some vegetable seeds like lettuce, radishes, peas and root vegetables, are hardier and can be planted directly in the soil once the danger of frost has passed. As well as starting early, lettuce and radishes mature quickly, so you can plant a second crop after a few weeks and you have fresh produce over a longer period. Sometimes I leave an extra empty row, for sowing a second crop of lettuce later. Other times, I first harvest my radishes, which grow quickly, and then plant seeds for the second lettuce crop in that row.”

“An exception to this is peas which do not like hot weather so no second planting. I had decided this year to not plant peas because they are a lot of work for what feels like a limited return. They need a net or strings to twine up, they take time to shell, and you need a lot of plants to get a significant amount of produce. I say I’m not going to grow them every year and then change my mind because they taste soooo good. I have a new strain with supposedly delicious pods so will try those this year and skip the shelling step.”

Shanthi adds, “Beans can be sown directly outdoors when the ground is warm and it is recommended that you stagger the sowing so that your harvest is not all at once.”

Audrey shares this very helpful “heads up,” which she learned from a fellow community gardener.

“Not everything is a success. I planted cauliflower last year and then I learned from a neighbouring gardener that once the white part starts to grow, it has to be shielded from the sun or it turns a dark, unappetizing yellow. This is done by tying the large outer leaves into a tent over the centre part which we eat. I couldn’t get these centre parts totally in the dark so the results enriched the compost bin. Scratched that vegetable off my list and committed to doing more research when planning the garden.”

Growing SeasonCaring for Your Garden

Shanthi advises, throughout the season:

  • Water your plants regularly and consistently. Few plants appreciate a flood followed by no water for days at end!  Try not to wet the leaves when watering (to avoid diseases) and so early on in the day is best as that would dry out any water on the plant itself.
  • Feed: Either store bought fertilizers (a little goes a long way and excess can kill the plants) or more natural products such as composted kitchen waste, manure, even specially prepared garden “tea”.
  • Monitor carefully for critters and bugs. There are some great ways to prevent these without using chemicals. Planting bug repelling plants among your veggies (e.g. marigolds), spraying with a mixture of water diluted with dish soap, etc. can help.

“Magical Marigolds”

Guest bloggers Leslie and Ross agree with Shanthi about the benefit of insect repelling plants, especially their “magical marigolds”.

“We have a farm in Mono, Ontario.  After buying our seeds, the first thing we do is purchase marigolds, orange not yellow, to plant around the border of our fenceless vegetable garden.  Why?  The marigold is known for its ability to repel aphids, mosquitoes, insects as well as animals.  The deer, rabbits and other animals on the farm avoid the garden.  Apparently it is the distasteful smell that repels.  Destructive and time-consuming chemical use to rid these pests is not necessary.  Occasional deadheading will keep the plants bushy and spry.  We buy the short stocky marigolds in flats.  If in doubt ask the nursery before purchasing the best species for this use.  Planting around the perimeter of the garden adds colour and definition.  After our first year of battle, for twenty years, we have found these plants to be magical in their effectiveness.  Much information on marigolds can be sourced on the web.”

Audrey prefers orange marigolds too, especially a new strain called Durango ® Flame French Marigolds which you may see here: https://bit.ly/3fHh0ad. [She cautions, however, to ask your nursery first about their insect and animal repelling abilities, as they are a new strain that she has picked strictly based on colour]. She likes to complement their colour with fresh lime green plants,  such as these Zinnia Queen Limes https://bit.ly/2WRKlGi.

Growing Veggies 101 – Part Two

Our generous Guest Bloggers return next week to share more gardening experiences and tips, including about growing Fruit Trees, Harvesting (the Fun Part), and Community Gardening while practicing social / physical distancing. Thank you Audrey, Shanthi, Leslie and Ross for your generosity and expert advice. We are excited to get planting our seedlings and seeds! (….and we are trying hard to heed your advice to wait ’til early June).

Next week we’ll also explore planting and soil temperature, and more!

Trees Get the Last Word – Sakura in High Park

Thanks to Nora, we end by offering this meditative three-minute video-clip of a beloved Toronto spring tradition – cherry blossom viewing (sakura), transformed by the City of Toronto in May 2020 for these unprecedented times, and offered now as a virtual tour  https://bit.ly/2WnnHqu.

COVID-19 Benefits to the Environment and Other Good News Stories

As Lucy thinks about how she was supposed to be touring around the English countryside right now, and instead is touring around her house, she is aware that she has saved herself a lot of money, and has surpassed her New Year’s goal to reduce her carbon footprint by driving less and flying less. The same holds true for many of us. All this is thanks to COVID-19.

“One of the things that we can learn from the pandemic’s effects on the environment is that we CAN actually have an impact if there were a global effort to do so.” -Dr. Luz Claudio, Professor of Environmental Medicine and Public Health, drluzclaudio.com 

The connection between COVID-19 and climate change is being referenced regularly, and conversations about the environment are coming from outlets you would not typically see. Another bright hope.

UN Secretary-General Anthonio Guterres on March 13 says “We will not fight climate change with a virus,” but, we might see increased momentum on some fronts.

Here are a dozen plus good news stories that have come from this pandemic, and let’s hope that we can make as many of them stick as we can, as individuals, businesses and with policy changes at the government level.

Buying Local Movement

“A recent Angus Reid poll done in conjunction with Dalhousie found that as the pandemic wears on, 50 per cent of respondents intend to buy more local products once things are back to normal. The week before, that number was 42 per cent.” (This we read in:  CBC’s “What on Earth,” April 23, 2020 edition)

Thursday’s Urban Market in Timmins File Photo. ORG XMIT: POS1712131057420621

It is suggested that most impacts of COVID19 will be temporary but the rise of shrinking-supply- chains has been accelerated. For Example, Sparrow’s Nest, a CSA-Comunity Supported Agriculture venture in Alberta is thriving in this pandemic. It is a model that sees customers pay farmers upfront to guarantee their supply of vegetables throughout the season. Customers tell this farming venture that they’re worried about disruptions to the supply chain caused by COVID-19. Trending terms are: “local food”, “supply chain” and “food security”. https://bit.ly/2WvRKet

International trade might roll back as countries realize how reliant they are on the global supply chain and decide to produce their own goods, says the Yale Environment 360.

Working Remotely

It is also expected that there has been an acceleration in employees working remotely from home, and this will impact climate change into the future. Meeting remotely with apps like Zoom will also decrease travel, and work conferences may be fewer. This could mean fewer cars on the road and fewer flights. We shall see. https://bit.ly/2WBgVfP

Cities Enabling Continued Reduced Car Use

There are signs amid the pandemic that some cities are trying to keep car use in check. Milan, Italy, for example, recently announced a plan to transform 35 kilometres of streets to expand cycling and walking space. On CBC The National this week I saw Toronto set up pylons on the street to double the walking space for pedestrians. Let’s hope this is not offset by people buying cars to avoid public transit, which is also likely happening. It has to be inspiring to experince blue skies and fresh air in cities with extreme levels of air pollution, from Los Angeles to New Delhi. People are seeing the difference of what the air and life quality would be like if there were a minimal number of cars and emissions from polluting industries. Don’t we all want to live in that world?

Edible Gardening

According to ‘CBC What on Earth” on April 30, 2020, the current pandemic has heightened interest in gardening, especially edibles. Horticulturist Jim Hole has been spreading the gospel about regrowing vegetables indoors from scraps. We, and many of our friends, are now out building a garden, giving us a new activity while under lock down, extra physical exercise and fresh air, new opportunities to experience delight and wonder as we witness Mother Nature at work in our own backyards, plus, the satisfaction of growing organic food and providing for the family.


Coral Repairs of the Great Barrier Reef

We keep hearing recommendations about being productive and learning new skills while we have more time on our hands. That is exactly what some scuba diving tour group companies are doing in Australia. Since they are unable to currently give group tours, they have decided to give back to the beautiful ecosystem they show tourists every day by planting coral in the Great Barrier Reef! The once idle vessels are now working with conservation groups in coral restoration.


Increased Tree Planting


“Yet another example of how people out of work are taking to the streets to help the planet! In order to achieve Pakistan’s initiative called the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami programme, the country has begun to employ day laborers who have been laid off due to COVID-19 to be ‘jungle workers.’ What’s even more incredible is that this out of the box solution to folks being out of work has created 63,600 jobs! Nurturing nature seems like a great way to get through the crisis.” https://bit.ly/2YG0v8A


Speaking of trees and National Parks, ‘One Tree Planted’ recently shared a major announcement that they are planting 1 million trees in Bushfire Recovery Nurseries throughout Australia in partnership with the Foundation for National Parks & Wildlife. The first step is to scale up nursery seedling production. From there, they’ll begin to reforest National Parks and other public and private lands that were affected by the recent forest fires, ultimately aiming to rebuild habitats for koalas, kangaroos, and other native wildlife species. This is a non-COVID19 good news story.

Cleaner Air

Back in January, when China first began to contend with the coronavirus outbreak, it became clear how significant the associated lockdowns would be on reducing carbon emissions as a result of less vehicular traffic, energy-intensive production in manufacturing and overall power use. According to CBC’s What on Earth article, China’s lockdown led to a 25 percent decrease in CO2 emissions when compared with the same period in 2019 according to BBC News World on May 5, 2020.

Since then, much of the world has seen emissions drop dramatically. Satellite imagery shows startling reductions in air pollution over countries where traffic has been limited.

“Following global social-distancing measure, Madrid, Spain, saw nitrous oxide levels fall by 56% in March, while cities including Paris and Milan as well as Brussels, Belgium, and Frankfurt, Germany, have experienced similar drops.”

From April 23, 2020 CBC What on Earth

Saving Lives With Reduction in Pollution

Researcher Marshall Burke from Stanford University calculated that the reduction in emissions in China in January and February could save as many as 77,000 lives. To put that number into context, that’s more than 20 times the number of people who died from coronavirus in that time.

“Although we don’t yet have the data available, it is likely that the reduction in air pollution is responsible for the anecdotal observation of reduced numbers of asthma and heart attack episodes coming into the emergency departments in North America.” https://cnet.co/2xDJErF

Enjoying Wildlife

A recent Canadian Geographic article on how COVID is changing our life writes that, “People are observing what’s around their homes, appreciating nature, taking time to think about our impact and our relationship with nature,” says (James) Page (Canadian Wildlife Federation). “Maybe that will ultimately lead to rethinking how we go about our daily activities as things at some point get back to some sense of normalcy.” https://bit.ly/3ceLOx2

The Globe and Mail had an article recently about how the pandemic might be turning us all into birders. We know friends have been texting us about bird sitings, especially this week as the Sandhill Crane migration entertained Edmonton. https://tgam.ca/3b3giAM

As humans take to the indoors indefinitely, animals have been reported to have encroached on urban spaces. Unfortunately, we read,  many of these wildlife posts were fake news, as these animals were already local visitors or the location was misrepresented. People were just looking for feel good stories. Inspite of this, we want to share a special story that seems believable. After more than a decade of trying to coax pandas Ying Ying and Le Le to mate, the pair, located at a Hong Kong zoo in Ocean Park, have finally consummated their relationship— possibly thanks to a lack of ogling voyeurs during lockdown. https://cnet.co/2zeKDiE

Source: https://bit.ly/2SEQhRK

China Banning Wildlife Trade

Good news for wildlife, reports the New York Post: “Many experts blame the coronavirus outbreak on the notorious exotic animal trade, which includes the sale of bats, dogs, cats and more. This historically under-regulated and unsanitary industry, with a stronghold in some Asian countries, has furthermore been detrimental to populations of rhinoceros, elephants, crocodiles, tigers, turtles and pangolins. Under global pressure to reign in this black market, lawmakers in both China and Vietnam have decided to place a ban on the consumption of wild animals.” https://bit.ly/2SD7Lhu

Decreased Air Travel

It is hard to imagine the airline industry fully recovering, and we are in disbelief that we cannot fly out of the country right now, but most experts feel that when the coronavirus leaves us we will go back to travel as we did before, as this has been the case after other set backs like the 2008 Financial Crisis. It may be a slow recovery. We would be fine if the frequency of air travel declined a little, just saying, rather than the pre-pandemic prediction of a continued huge increase in global flights. In a past Blog post, we also were excited to learn about advances in the air travel sector toward clean energy fuel sources, including news of the first electric planes moving off the drawing board into the testing phase.

Countries Share Research and Work Together to Find a Vaccine

The international scientific community came together swiftly and is working closely on a COVID-19 response, including finding a vaccine. This proves that the global community is capable of working collaboratively to solve a problem bigger than any one of our respective countries. This could be our greatest win. https://bit.ly/3fsLaOi

Lasting Benefits from COVID Drop in Carbon Emissions?

It is still too soon to tell whether the dramatic drop in carbon emissions due to the world-wide economic standstill to fight the COVID-19 pandemic will be temporary or transformative and long-lasting. Analysts range from being optimistic to sceptical.

Some energy experts predict that post-pandemic, consumption of fossil fuels will return to their prior levels while other analysts are more optimistic that overall the world will move to adopt greener fuels. For more on this debate, readers may be interested in this Wired article on the pandemic and climate change (https://bit.ly/3djZgzR) or this BBC article on whether COVID can spur a green recovery https://bbc.in/2SFSWec

Clean Energy Becomes the Cheapest Source of Electricity for Two-Thirds of the World

This Bloomberg article gives us another reason to side with the optimists on their predictions of positive transformational change ahead for the future. There is no doubt that pocketbook economics can be as much of a driving force for change as government policy or entrepreneurial innovation. To that end, the good news is that solar and wind energy now make sense economically and environmentally.

Bloomberg reports that, “Solar and onshore wind power are now the cheapest new sources of electricity in at least two-thirds of the world’s population, further threatening the two fossil-fuel stalwarts — coal and natural gas…”

“…A decade ago, solar was more than $300 a megawatt-hour and onshore wind exceeded $100 per megawatt-hour. Today, onshore wind is $37 in the U.S. and $30 in Brazil, while solar is $38 in China, the cheapest sources of new electricity in those countries.”

“…Battery storage is also getting more competitive. The levelized cost of electricity for batteries has fallen to $150 a megawatt-hour, about half of what it was two years ago. That’s made it the cheapest new peaking-power technology in places that import gas, including Europe, China and Japan…”

“…Best-in-class solar and wind projects will be pushing below $20 per megawatt-hour this side of 2030,” Tifenn Brandily, an analyst at BNEF, said in a statement. “There are plenty of innovations in the pipeline that will drive down costs further.” https://bloom.bg/2A58gdT

“Build Back Better” – New Green Deals

Countries are at varying stages of beginning to map out their paths to economic recovery once the COVID pandemic threat eases.

We find this early news from Europe to be a source for cautious optimism.

Environment ministers from 30 countries met at the end of April for the “Petersburg Climate Dialogue” to focus on “how to organise a “green” economic recovery after the acute phase of the pandemic is over,” reports the BBC.

Hopeful signs of leadership in this direction come from the UK, whose Climate Secretary and president of COP26, Alok Sharma, said: “I am committed to increasing global climate ambition so that we deliver on the Paris Agreement (to stabilise temperature rise well below 2C).

“The world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind” … “Tackling climate change must be woven into the solution to the Covid-19 economic crisis.”

The European Union (EU) offers further cause for cautious optimism about government leadership where economic recovery and climate action are seen as “and, and” rather than “either, or” agendas.

The EU is already set on delivering a green stimulus. The Commission’s Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans, said every euro spent on economic recovery measures after the COVID-19 crisis would be linked to the green and digital transitions.https://bbc.in/3b4pFA8

We like the emerging slogan of “Build Back Better.”

This topical May 6th BBC article explains, “The UK is one of several nations looking to reboot its environmental strategy by calling in favours from private industry. After all, it was government which bailed out employers when the crunch came in March. The catchphrase is “Build Back Better”.

“For those seeking a greener way out of the Covid-19 slump, renewable energy will help, along with electric vehicle charging points and broadband.”

“Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, is on the same track. He is leading work on a Green Deal to make the EU’s economy sustainable and says that not a single Euro should be spent propping up old, dirty industries.” https://bbc.in/2SFSWec

Timmermans and the EU Green Deal will be ones to watch and learn more from as Canada begins to map out its own pandemic economic recovery plan, one that we hope and expect will be intertwined with goals for growing a green economy and sustaninable future.

Book Recommendation

Thank you to our Reader Nora for this book suggestion.

Goodreads describes this informative book as, “…The Overstory Book distills essential information about working with trees into 134 short, easy-to-read, single-subject chapters. Each chapter shares key concepts and useful information, so readers can get back to planting and protecting more trees, gardens, and forests, more effectively. * Discover time-tested agricultural and conservation techniques from indigenous and traditional peoples * Work with beneficial microorganisms, from mycorrhizal fungi to nitrogen-fixing bacteria and more * Create abundance with fruit trees, timber trees, vine crops, vegetables, mushrooms, and more …”

Find the full book review at:https://bit.ly/2WBFokU.

Overstory Fun Facts

We were curious that Readers have recommended two different books about trees that share “overstory” in their titles. (The other is by Pulitzer prize winning author Richard Powers.)

It turns out that one official meaning for the word overstory is “the layer of foliage in a forest canopy.” Makes sense now. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary also tells us that the first recorded use of the word was in 1914, and offers this sentence to show an example of how its meaning has evolved and is now at play within the modern vernacular – “On one occasion a whole roasted sea bream hit the tables with soft skin, maybe dampened by its overstory of an otherwise colorful and enjoyable salad of radishes and cranberry beans.— Mike Sula, Chicago Reader, ” With Marisol inside the MCA, Jason Hammel paints a new canvas,” 13 Dec. 2017 (There you go – “overstory” – a new word for the tree-lover and foodie, alike!) https://bit.ly/2WAZLPl