Video: Gardening in British Columbia and Arizona

Dr. Weil discusses the contrast between northern and southern gardening – specifically, the difference between the plant selections and growing practices at his summer garden in British Columbia and the garden in Tucson he maintains during the rest of the year.


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Video Transcript: Gardening in British Columbia and Arizona

I can’t grow berries very well in Arizona and this is berry heaven up here. I can’t grow lettuce and tomatoes at the same time of year in Arizona. Here I can grow lettuce and tomatoes at the same time of year. In the way of flowers, I love dahlias and lilies and they’re just magnificent up here. Very hard to grow those in Arizona. They’re terrific, they’re native to Mexico, grow from tubers, live from year to year, and they’re just spectacular. And they produce great numbers of bloom, some huge sizes. I have a lot of day lilies planted in the landscape environment. I have a wonderful lily field, Asiatic lilies and hybrid lilies and oriental lilies. The oriental lilies are just about to open, they’re the latest, and they’re very tall and very fragrant. I’ve never seen lilies grow so tall as they do here. Some of them are ten feet tall.
Well, I think nothing beats sweet corn out of the garden and it is possible to grow that in Arizona, though it’s tricky. You really have to pay attention to varieties and timing and there are a lot of pests there. Up here, in the north, the problem is finding a variety that works; because, you know, corn likes heat and a long season. So we have to squeeze it in. My gardening partner starts the corn indoors in a greenhouse and then we transmit seedlings out when it’s warm enough, so we get a little head start. But the corn is doing really well, and the variety that we’ve grown is called Serendipity, is very sweet, works well here, and usually we get great abundance of corn in August.
Often, heirloom varieties have better flavor, better nutrient content. They have unique characteristics that are often not present in hybrid tomatoes; however, I could not grow that in Arizona because it was attacked by root-knot nematodes and I find that hybrid varieties that are resistant work better in the desert. But, having had a chance to grow Brandywines here, they’re definitely a superior flavor tomato. They don’t look beautiful, they’re kind of odd shapes, but the flavor’s really really good.
I grow chives, garlic, scallions, onions, leeks. So I pretty much cover the bases. There are also some ornamental alliums, which have spectacular flowers and seed pods. All the alliums have strong tastes and odors due to sulfur-containing compounds, which I think are generally good for you. Some have antibiotic effects, protective effects on heart health, anti-cancer effects.
I grow a lot of different kinds of lettuce; I like romaine lettuces. I think that’s my general favorite. I like butter head lettuce; I grow various kinds of red lettuce, but I also grow crisp head lettuce and that includes iceberg, which has a terrible reputation. But if you’ve if you have crisp head lettuce directly out of the garden, very different from iceberg lettuce in supermarkets. It’s very flavorful, it’s sweet and there’s no other variety of lettuce that’s as crunchy.

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