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The Daily Graphic/Central Plains Herald-Leader

Lifestyle Columnist

New owners thriving at Linden fruit farm

Posted By Ted Meseyton, From the Garden

Posted 1 month ago
Ted Meseyton Submitted photo...Karen and Philip Ronald show a potted tumbler tomato and castor bean, available at their Riverbend Orchards Greenhouse. If there s an annual that s close to a tree, castor bean has gotta be the one, Philip commented. The Singing Gardener refers to castor bean (Ricinus) as the Canadian tropical palm tree. Some varieties can grow 3 metres (8-10 feet) in a single season.

We've all heard the expression "there's a new kid on the block." Well, there's a new greenhouse on the block at Riverbend Orchards on Old Bridge Road, leading off Highway 240, in the southern fringe of Portage la Prairie.

Say hello

… to Philip and Karen Ronald. They acquired the former Linden saskatoon and raspberry fruit farm a year ago and named it Riverbend Orchards. This past winter, they put up 1,500 square feet of greenhouse growing space that's now chock full of plants.

"I hope we've got some of the tomato varieties gardeners are looking for," Philip said, pointing out that beefsteak was always a personal favourite of his "since I was a kid." Philip spieled off names such as Big Beef and Better Boy, as well as Rutgers, Tiny Tim and Tumblers in patio containers. Some are already flowering.

Along with tomatoes

… are started vining plants such as cucumbers, watermelons, muskmelon and squash. Further, there's eggplant, cauliflower, sweet and hot peppers. On the floral side, Philip directed my attention to a selection of flowering annuals such as marigolds, petunias, Early Splendour amaranthus, geraniums, nicotiana, and snapdragons plus colourful, edible ornamental Swiss chard. Some herbs such as coriander, lemon balm, Rosemary, oregano, and parsley are also on hand.

Potted Oriental lilies

… are on the bill of fare too. But, as Philip explained "mostly what we've done this year is focused on flowering annuals and vegetables. This will be a year to find out what people are looking for."

Two new varieties of Haskap honeyberry named Tundra and Borealis will be going into the field for berry production on the orchard site. Both are introductions from the University of Saskatchewan. Blackberries and other fruits are also being cold hardy tested at Riverbend Orchards.

Spring leafing out … A weather poem

This is a poem I like to share with my readers from time to time.

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If the oak is out before the ash,

We will only get a splash;

If the ash is out before the oak,

We will surely get a soak.

The last two lines of this tree leafing out poem appear to merit a good measure of accuracy this spring; at least in many parts of western Canada, including Portage la Prairie. We won't soon forget the deluge of late April and early May rain and/or snow, depending on where you are.

Final thought

There would be few songbirds in the trees if there were only those that sang best.

Ted Meseyton is the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie. His e-mail address is singinggardener@mts.net

Article ID# 2569467







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