Thursday, 30 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: Z is for Zantedechia

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


I know, I know, another “scientific name”—but come on, “Z” is hard. My research showed a couple of different options, but in celebration of the last day of the 2015 A to Z Bogging Challenge I decided to go with Zantedechia, which are calla lilies.

Calla lilies are known for their trumpet shaped flowers, and after getting through the A to Z of Things That Grow in Alberta, I deserve to “toot” my horn a little. Get it? <grin>

Of course, calla lilies aren’t native to the province, but I see a lot of them (in various colours) in gardens around my house. And my aunt even used them in her wedding bouquet. My mom thought it was a strange choice until she saw them—they actually were kind of pretty.

Well. That’s it. The End. Another successful year of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I had a lot of fun, but I’m glad it’s done so I can get back to writing other things—like my short story. I think I’m going to add another element though…maybe some spooky plants, or some of the trees I’ve mentioned throughout the blog.

What are YOU writing next?

In celebration of the END of the A to Z Challenge, I'm giving away a FULL set of the Chase Superman Duffy books. That’s all 10 books currently in the series. All you have to do is comment below or on one of my many social media links listed above—or, send me an email (chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com) telling me why you would like to receive the books. You never know, YOU could be the winner.

Gotta Jet! That’s it for the A to Z Challenge…but you can check back next week for my regular Friday blog posts. See you then…right?

— Chase “Superman” Duffy

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: Y is for Yarrow

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Before starting this blogging challenge, I had no idea what yarrow was, so if the word doesn’t ring any bells, I don’t blame you. It’s kind of a funny name—but it’s actually a really cool flowering plant. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in my mom or grandma’s garden—though, maybe it should be!

Yarrow has been valued since ancient times for its ability to STOP bleeding, one of the reasons it’s also called “nosebleed”— just hold a piece of the plant up against the wound. These days, yarrow is more used to fight off colds and flus, and also as an ingredient in many herbal cosmetics. It’s also pretty popular in flower bouquets and even dried for potpourri (you know, that smelly stuff!)

Yarrow grows in many different colours—white, yellow, gold, pink and red. It doesn’t need a lot of attention (even I should be able to grow it), but, like most of us, it prefers the sun.

When steeped in tea, yarrow promotes digestion, lowers blood pressure, improves circulation, and can even fend off a cold or the flu. Never mind the super foods I’ve been talking about all month—Yarrow should be a “power flower!” (Okay, maybe that was a bit cheesy…what can I say? I have a good imagination!)

Speaking of imagination…The author of the Chase Superman Duffy books had her imagination super charged when she wrote TRANSPIRATION, the ninth book in the comic series about me. It has dinosaurs, mermaids, and sea monsters! Same rules as before—comment below or on my social media links for a chance to WIN a copy.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for the letter Z—and the END of the A to Z Challenge. Whew! What a month!

—Chase Superman Duffy

A to Z Challenge: X is for Xanthisma

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Whoops! Looks like my X post didn't upload yesterday! Sorry! Here it is now...

Okay, I admit, I’m going back to science (and Google) for my “X” word, but you have to admit, these last few letters for the A to Z Blogging Challenge are HARD. I’m kind of excited that this one works, though—the Xanthisma, or otherwise known as the sleepy daisy.

My mom LOVES daisies—she calls them the “happy flower” because every time she sees them, she smiles. And we even have a few of these Xanthisma plants growing in the rocky part of her flower garden, despite Dad’s insistence that they’re weeds.

I can see why he thinks that. The thicker “bushes” have thick, almost thorny stems, and sometimes, fewer flowers. They grow annually, and, like weeds, tend to spread quickly. But there’s no way Dad would ever get rid of those sleepy daisies, because when Mom sees their pretty yellow petals, she’ll let us get away with anything—well, almost.

What are your favourite flowers? My Grandma loves royal blue roses—which you can read about in 5-7-5 Errand Boy, the seventh book in the Chase Superman Duffy comic series. You can order you copy from the Alberta Canola Producers Commission at www.learncanola.com, or, you can WIN a copy by simply commenting below or on one of my social media links above.

Gotta jet! There are only two days left of the A to Z Challenge and they’re both TRICKY letters! See you tomorrow for Y.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 27 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: W is for Wild Rose

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Did you know that the wild rose is Alberta’s provincial flower? It’s a flowering shrub with pink petals and it grows pretty much everywhere throughout the province, including on my grandparent’s farm.

Wild roses bloom in early summer, and like lilacs, they don’t last very long. Still, Grandma says they’re some of her favourite flowers because not only do they smell great, they also don’t require a lot of work—just a light trim in the fall. They are certainly not like some of the other rose bushes she has in garden.

I looked up more information about the wild rose for this blog post and learned this:

“Alberta adopted the wild rose (Rosa acicularis) as its official flower in 1930. The editor of an Edmonton newspaper suggested that a provincial floral emblem be selected. The Women’s Institutes took up the suggestion and passed it on to the Department of Education, and the province’s schoolchildren made the final choice.” — Alberta Government Website

Cool, right?

We’re down to the last four days of the A to Z Blogging Challenge, and it’s been fun, but I am looking forward to getting back to writing my short story. I haven’t had much time with all this blogging!

Speaking of writing, if you want to learn more about writing haikus—since it IS International Poetry Month, at least for the next couple of days—check out 5-7-5 Errand Boy, one of the Chase “Superman” Duffy books. You can WIN a signed copy just by commenting below or on any of my social media links listed above.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for a tricky letter X.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: V is for Vegetables

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


The weather has been kind of deceiving lately—hot, then cold, then warm, cold again. And now, some parts of the province even have a snow warning for this weekend. Talk about conflicted!

I’m used to the weather ups and downs, but my mom is having a hard time adjusting this year. The warm spell earlier this month gave her the “gardening itch.” Which means this weekend, I’m helping her plant some of her seeds—indoors, and mostly, her vegetables. (My sister is better at helping with the flowers.)

You can grow a lot of vegetable varieties in Alberta, but because of our short growing season, some vegetables do better than others, and a few, like corn, for example, are often better when they are started inside so that they’ll reach their full potential. (Even though corn grows better in southern Alberta, mom tries it every year. It’s my dad’s favourite vegetable!)

We might start some tomatoes and peppers, as well.  Mom doesn’t actually start planting in the soil outdoors until mid May—that’s when we can be almost certain the frost is gone for the year—but I love watching the seeds sprout. And of course, I love harvesting all of the vegetables in the fall.

Sometimes I wish we lived in a climate where we could grow vegetables ALL YEAR ROUND. Except…I’d probably miss snow at Christmas. Speaking of climate change, that’s the topic of the 10th Chase Superman Duffy comic book, CLOUD 9, coming soon from the Alberta Canola Producers Commission. Comment below or on any of my social media links for a chance to WIN your copy.

Gotta jet! The A to Z Challenge breaks tomorrow, and then it’s back Monday with the letter W. Just four letters left!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 24 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: U is for Ulmus

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Okay, I admit, I’m stretching a bit for my A to Z Challenge “U” post—but it fits! Ulmus is the scientific name for the elm tree—which makes up a good portion of Alberta’s forests! In fact, look at the picture above—I bet you see them all the time!

The Ulmus is a deciduous tree, which means it loses its leaves in winter, but it’s hardy, so it lives year round. It’s also the nesting place for moth and butterfly larvae (caterpillars!) And woodpeckers love them.

Sadly, Ulmus trees are in danger from Dutch Elm Disease, a fungus that grows on the trees, spreads quickly, and is deadly to the tree. Scientists are now looking at cultivating (develop) Ulmus trees that are resistant to the disease—kind of like how scientists through selective breeding have found canola seeds that are resistant to drought or certain pests. Isn’t it cool how science works? I hope they can save the Ulmus, because it’s one of the prettiest trees to grow in this province.

You can learn more about science and biotechnology (and how to write a haiku poem!) in 5-7-5 Errand Boy, the seventh book in the Chase Superman Duffy series. Order it from www.learncanola.com, or you can WIN a copy by commenting on my post below or on any of my social media links for the rest of the month.

Gotta jet! The A to Z Challenge continues tomorrow—with the letter V!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: T is for Tomato

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


There isn’t much I can tell you about growing tomatoes than what you might already know—they’re the most common garden plant in the world. My grandma and mom have dozens of plants—in planters, in the soil, in hanging baskets—and even I’ve grown a plant or two, if only to ensure I have enough fresh tomatoes for my favourite sandwich, the BLT.

So I thought I’d share some fun facts I learned by doing research for my “T” word in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

There are more than 7,500 tomato varieties in the world, and while most are red, some of the fruit is orange, green, pink, black, brown or purple. That’s right, I said fruit. Even though the tomato was once thought to be a vegetable, botanically speaking, it can’t be because it has seeds and grows from a flowering plant. Cool, right?

Of course, tomatoes are an important ingredient for pasta and pizza sauce, but did you know that a long time ago, when people first started growing tomatoes, they were afraid to eat them—their tomato plants looked the same as those from the deadly nightshade family. Remember how I said they were related? Tomato plant leaves are actually toxic to humans.

During the 19th century, it was common practice to throw rotten tomatoes at bad actors during stage performances. Ew! And, the world’s largest tomato tree was grown in an experimental greenhouse at Walt Disney World resort. It produced 32,000 tomatoes in the first 16 months it was planted. That’s a lot of tomatoes!

Tomatoes are one of the most common—and easiest—plants to grow if you have the right growing conditions. I guess that is why astronauts are experimenting with taking tomato seeds into space. If we ever put a greenhouse on the moon, the astronauts would be able to grow some of their own food!

Tomato seeds aren’t the only seeds to go up into space, though. Years ago, Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk took 250,000 canola seeds into space to see the effects of anti-gravity on growing efficiency. 

You can learn more about it in It’s a Blast!, the third book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy comic series. Comment below or on my social media links for a chance to WIN a signed copy.
Gotta jet! The A to Z Challenge is almost over—but the toughest letters are coming up! See “U” tomorrow! <grin>

— Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: S is for Saskatoon Berries

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


I had a hard time choosing which “S” plant to choose today, because there are SO MANY that grow in Alberta. Like sugar beets, which of course, produce sugar. The Rogers Sugar plant is even located in southern Alberta.

I could have also chosen strawberries—which is apparently the largest commercial fruit crop in the Canadian prairies. Yum. Strawberries. They’re delicious! (Even though, I can’t seem to keep more than a few plants growing in my planter…the bugs seem to find them tasty as well!)

So…I decided to go with Saskatoon berries, which, despite their name, don’t ONLY grow in Saskatchewan. They’re actually the second largest fruit crop across the prairies…including Alberta. 

Saskatoon berries look like blueberries in size and colour, but actually contain more protein, fibre, and vitamin C—they’re even considered one of those super foods I’ve been talking about throughout the A to Z Challenge

The berries grow in clusters, and are generally harvested all at once, usually in mid to late July. Last year, Grandma and I went to one of those U -Pick places where we filled buckets of Saskatoon berries so she could make jam, various baked goods, and—one of my favourites—pancakes topped with fresh Saskatoons

If you’ve never tasted a Saskatoon berry, you’re in for a treat. They’re so delicious that at the U -Pick, I had to RESIST eating them. Talk about temptation! It took all of my willpower to put them in my bucket instead of in my mouth.

I’m relieved Saskatoon berries are so nutritious though, because my very favourite way to eat them is straight out of the bucket—after they’ve been washed, of course. (Occasionally, I add ice cream…shhh…)

Speaking of nutrition, have you read CUT! TO THE CHASE…? It’s a re-telling of the famous Aesop Fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, and the sixth book in the Chase Superman Duffy series. You know the drill—comment below, or on any of my social media links to WIN a copy.

Gotta jet! Back tomorrow with the letter T.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: R is for Rhubarb

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Rhubarb grows like a weed in my grandma’s garden. Seriously. No matter how much my grandpa “cuts it back” every year, grandma is always harvesting it. Which, I suppose, isn’t so bad because she makes muffins, and pies, and cookies, and even this delicious rhubarb cake that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Rhubarb is a perennial (link to post) vegetable—though, like a tomato, it is also thought of as a fruit. And while the stalks are perfect for baking, the leaves, if ingested, are POISONOUS.

Grandma says rhubarb grows so well in Alberta because it thrives in cooler temperatures. Throughout the summer, it needs a lot of water (that’s one of my many chores when I’m at my grandparents’ place…) but really, it’s one of the most low maintenance crops on their farm. That cluster of plants has been around for so long, I doubt anything could kill it…even me forgetting to water it, once or twice.

Any rhubarb growing in your garden? What does your family use it for? Baking? Juice? Barbecue sauce?

Speaking of cooking, comment below or on any of my social media links for a chance to WIN a copy of TASTING MY STORY—part cookbook, part mystery, the fourth book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy books is one of my favourites!

Gotta Jet! See you tomorrow for the letter S.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 20 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quinoa

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Have you ever noticed that certain foods find their way into the “health” spotlight for a period of time? Like kale, for instance, which seems to be in everything from steamers to smoothies. It’s everywhere!

I’m starting to feel that way about quinoa. My mom adds it to her Greek salads, and sometimes we use it in place of rice. Even though I don’t mind it (it’s better cold than hot, in my opinion), I’m always a bit hesitant when a new food emerges as a “super” food.

I asked my grandpa whether he could grow quinoa and he said that while there are some farms in Alberta that have had some success growing it, our growing conditions aren’t quite right for it to become a main crop, like wheat or barley, or something.

Which is too bad, really, because an alternative cash crop for farmers would allow for more growing options. That’s the focus of the soon-to-be released Chase Superman Duffy book, Cloud 9—alternative crops to help adapt to our ever-changing climate.

Quinoa may not grow in Alberta very well, but other crops do—like canola of course. To find out the origins of this truly Canadian crop, and learn more about the Chase Superman Duffy series, comment below or on any of my social media links above for a chance to win a copy of the book that started it all, Fields of Home.

Back tomorrow with the letter R. (Can you believe there’s only 9 days left of the challenge?! How many blogs have you read?)

Gotta Jet!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: P is for Perennials

Note: My family was travelling yesterday and I MISSED my post...so I'm making up for it today, when the A to Z Blogging Challenge usually takes a break. 

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Perennials. Annuals.
One grows back year after year. The other, you plant annually.

I guess when you break it down like that, it makes sense which is which, but up until right now, I always got the two mixed up. I mean, can you blame me? It seems perfectly logical to think that annuals grow back…annually. <shrug>

Perennials—like the small flowering plants all throughout my grandma’s garden—grow and bloom over the spring and summer, die back every autumn and winter, and then return in the spring from their root stock.  Daffodils—which I’ve talked about a lot in my A to Z of Things That grow—are a perfect example.

Perennials grow “structures”—like bulbs or tubes—to help them survive the winter, while annuals produce unprotected seeds that can’t survive the elements.

Although most food crops are annual, perennial crops do have their place in agriculture. Their deep, extensive root systems can hold soil to prevent erosion, capture nitrogen, and out-compete weeds.

For more about soil, comment below or on one of my many social media links above for a chance to win a copy of Beneath the SOIL, the scariest book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy comics.

The A to Z Challenge returns Monday with the letter Q. (A tough one!)

Gotta Jet!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 17 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: O is for Oilseeds

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Canola is an oilseed.
Sunflowers are oilseeds.
Sesame, flax and saffron are oilseeds.

What’s an oilseed, you ask? Great question! An oilseed is a grain crop—like canola—that is valuable for the oil content it produces.

And in Alberta, we grow a lot of oilseed crops. Not just canola (but most of those yellow fields you see in the summer are responsible for the canola oil in your pantry), but also flax, soybeans, and sunflowers. 
Did you know that the Spitz sunflower plant is in southern Alberta?!

Edible vegetable oils—like canola and sunflower—are mostly used for salads and cooking. When combined with solid fats like palm or palm kernel oil they are used to make margarines and shortenings. Cool, right?

Check your pantry or fridge. By reading the ingredient labels, how many oilseeds products can you find?

Speaking of cooking…did you know TASTING MY STORY, the fourth book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy series is a mystery AND a cookbook? Comment below or on any of my social media links listed above, and you could WIN your own copy. (You’re going to want the recipe for MONSTER COOKIES!)

Gotta Jet! Tomorrow we round off week three of the A to Z Blogging Challenge with a “P” word that always confuses me. See you then!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: N is for Nightshade

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


If you’ve followed my blog for a bit—or know anything about me—you know I LOVE all things creepy. Beneath the SOIL, the eighth book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy series is actually a thriller.

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that I’m fascinated by poisonous plants—like, today’s N-word, the deadly Nightshade.

Nightshade has a long history of being used as a poison, but here’s something really scary—the Nightshade family includes common plants like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and chili peppers (plants my grandma has in her garden!)

All of these plants contain toxins, usually found in the foliage—maybe that’s why my resourceful grandma has never served potato or tomato greens, fried steamed or in a salad! Nightshade, on the other hand even has poisonous berries.

Yesterday, I talked about daffodils being a sign of spring, but did you know that if the bulbs are eaten—sometimes mistaken for onions—they can be toxic? And how about Hemlock? It’s one of the most famous poisonous plants in history. It even killed Socrates. The whole plant contains a poison that can cause stomach pains, vomiting and paralysis! (ew!)

Don’t worry though, not much Hemlock grows in Alberta.

However…you do have to keep an eye out for Poison Ivy. If you accidentally touch that stuff, you’ll get a rash.  It’s not contagious and it will clear up in a few weeks—but they won’t be a very fun few weeks.

Sufficiently scared? I didn’t think so. Comment here or on one of my social media links above for a chance to WIN the scariest book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy seriesBeneath the Soil.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for the letter O.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: M is for Maple Tree

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Oh, Canada! There are few things more Canadian to me than the Maple tree—its leaf is the center attraction for our  Canadian flag.

Maybe I’m na├»ve, but until I started writing this blog post, I actually thought Maple trees only grew in Canada—and that there was only one kind. Boy, was I ever wrong.

As it turns out, there are actually about 128 different species of Maple trees, most of which are native to Asia. That’s a LONG way from Canada!

Most Maple trees are tall (but a few varieties are shrubs, which I totally can’t picture) Except for a few Asian varieties, all are deciduous—which means they lose their leaves in the fall, unlike the evergreen.

Maple trees are distinguished by their leaves, which have pointed tips, and look like they have veins running through them. (I knew that much at least!)

Have you entered to WIN one of the Chase “Superman” Duffy books, yet? Today’s your lucky chance. Comment below or on one of my social media links listed above and if I choose your name, you’ll get your pick from these nine books.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow when I look at a spooky letter N.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: L is for Lilacs

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Living in Alberta sometimes means waiting a little longer than most parts of the country for true signs of spring. Grandma is JUST starting to see her tulips and daffodils emerge from the soil, when in many provinces—like British Columbia—they’re in full bloom.

For me, spring only feels real when the lilacs start to bloom. On my street, almost every second house has a bush or two—mostly purple, with a few white here and there. I love the scent of them as I run by during Track and Field practice.

Sadly, they aren’t in bloom for long—just a few weeks.

We don’t have lilacs in our yard, but the lady down the street has tons. Sometimes on the way back from a run, or after school she lets me pick a bunch for my mom. Lilacs don’t last long in water, either, but for that short time, the dining room smells great!

I thought about asking my dad if we can plant our own lilac bush but there are two problems with that—we don’t get enough sun in our yard AND young lilac bushes take about three years to mature. I don’t know if I’m THAT patient.

Oh, speaking of flowers…my grandma’s favourites are featured in 5-7-5 ERRAND BOY, the seventh book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy series. If you haven’t read it, you know the drill…comment below or on any of my social media links for a chance to WIN a copy.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for a patriotic letter M.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 13 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: K is for Kale

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


I’m not really a big fan of spinach—at least not when it’s cooked. (Yuck!) So, imagine my skepticism when my mom steamed up some kale for dinner the other night. I didn’t even know what it was, except that it looked suspiciously like spinach.

But you know what? It was DELICIOUS.

And apparently good for me. Kale is considered one of the "super" foods, filled with vitamins A, B6, C and K, not to mention a dose of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and a bunch of other healthy stuff.

But wait, there’s more!

Kale is also loaded with micronutrients, which are associated with the prevention of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Super, right?

So this year I’m going to try growing kale. Grandma says the plant can tolerate cooler temperatures, and a touch of frost may even intensify the flavour. (Go figure!) As soon as the soil can be worked, I’m going to plant my seeds. Wish me luck!

One problem, though. Kale can attract a lot of bugs, and not always the good kind. I think I’ll have to ask my sister to help me figure out which ones are bad.  Remember, Amelia? She’s the junior entomologist (aka: bug expert) in our family. You can read about her in the fifth Chase “Superman" Duffy book, AMELIA XERCES DUFFY—which you can WIN right now by commenting below, or on any of the social media links above.

What “super food” are you growing in YOUR garden this year?

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for the letter L.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: J is for Jasmine

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Have you ever smelled jasmine flowers?  Their scent is REALLY strong.

My grandma has a small patch of them in one of her (many) flower beds, and sometimes when I stay there and keep the window open in the summer, the smell is overpowering. I guess it’s not so bad—it’s not like skunk or something, that’s for sure. (Plus, they remind me of grandma, which is awesome.)

No matter how hard she tries, my mom can't seem to grow jasmine in our garden. Even though there are like 200 different varieties of jasmine plants (not all of them can be found in Alberta, of course), Grandma says we don’t have the right environment for them in our yard: nto enough light in the back because of our giant evergreen tree, and the front flowerbeds don’t get quite enough sun.

Since she can’t grow any of her own, Mom says jasmine is her favourite tea.

Is there a flower, plant, or tree in your yard that smells really strong? What or who does it remind you of?

— Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 10 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: I is for Inedible Plants and Weeds

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman" Duffy comics.


On Saturday, I blogged about dandelions, which, as it turns out, aren’t quite the horrible weed my dad, the lover of perfect lawns, led me to believe. You can even EAT them, and the young leaves are considered by some to be quite a delicacy! (I haven’t made up my mind about that yet.)

Despite the popularity of stinging nettle in some of the new Alberta restaurants, MOST weeds are inedible. And some are even poisonous—not only to humans, but also to animals. Did you know that there are about 200 different plant species in Alberta that are toxic (aka: bad news) for livestock?

Most plants are only considered dangerous when too much is consumed or at certain times of the year.  But a few, such as the Western Water Hemlock are extremely poisonous even in SMALL amounts. Now that’s scary!

Check out the names of some of these other potentially deadly plants:

Seaside Arrowgrass
Death Camas
Milk Vetch

They sound like comic book villain names, don’t they? Wait! Maybe they SHOULD be! (* jots down idea for a short story *)

As always, be careful if you decide to become a plant scavenger—some of those plants can be real pests. Oh…and speaking of PESTS, here’s your chance to WIN a copy of AMELIA XERCES DUFFY, the fifth book in the Chase Superman Duffy series. Just comment on one of my social media links listed above.

Gotta jet! Tomorrow, I’m rounding off the week with a cool “J” word. See you then!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: H is for Herbs

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


My mom bought me an herb starter kit last year and I grew tons of sage, thyme, rosemary, parsley and basil. Okay, maybe not rosemary. That stuff is tricky. But you should have seen my parsley!

By definition, herbs are plants used for food, flavouring, medicine, or perfume. We used the herbs I grew for food. There is nothing like roasted chicken, drizzled with canola oil and sprinkled with thyme, sage, and rosemary.

I haven’t done it myself, but I know some people also grow herbs for medicinal properties, or for their aromatic qualities. (My grandma, for example, has lavender in her garden because she says it smells pretty, but also because it keeps the deer from eating her flowers! Who knew?)

On the flip side, TOO much of an herb (just like pretty much anything) can be toxic. So, even though sage grows wild, you shouldn’t pick it—or any plant—without an adult to confirm that you are picking the safe herb.

If you have an herb garden, maybe you want to try COOKING with herbs—or at least canola. <grin> Comment below for a chance to WIN a copy of TASTING MY STORY, the fourth book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy series. It’s not just a cookbook—it’s a mystery!

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for the letter I.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: G is for Geranium

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Yesterday, I wrote about the ferns in my mom’s rock garden. My grandma doesn’t have ferns (at least, none outside) but she does have geraniums. A lot of them. No really, I’m serious.

Grandma collects them from her garden each fall; she then allows them to "rest" over the winter, and encourages them to start to grow again indoors, about mid-March. Grandpa always grumbles that he trips over her planters in the sunroom. I don’t doubt it. (I don’t think you realize how many she has…) That’s the best place to grow them, though, because they need a lot of light.

As soon as it’s warm enough—like after the May long weekend—the geraniums go into the flowerbeds, the hanging baskets, and even the garden—right next to the cucumbers, if you can believe it. Purple, blue, red—a rainbow of geranium colours! And of course, there’s the variety of sizes: small ones, double petals, and on and on and on…

Amelia also loves them because well…bugs.

Didn’t win the AMELIA XERCES DUFFY book yesterday? Comment below for another chance.

Gotta jet!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fern

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Maybe I’m not exactly a fern expert, but I thought they only grew indoors—like the fern hanging in my grandma’s kitchen. (I asked her about it once because the leaves look almost fuzzy!)

My grandma’s fern is not local, but it turns out there are some that DO grow in Alberta—like the ones around the edge of my mom’s rock garden. Apparently, ferns adapt to the cool Alberta spring temperatures (b-r-r-r-r), giving them an extra long growing season.

I don’t know if they are my FAVOURITE plant, but against my mom’s rocks, they are a deep green colour that breaks up all of the grey. Mom says they’ve been growing there since before we moved in. I think she really likes them.

My sister does too—she loves to watch the ladybugs crawl all over them. Yep, my sister LOVES bugs. * rolls eyes *

If you want, you can read about her in AMELIA XERCES DUFFY, the fifth book in the Chase Superman Duffy series. Win a copy, just by commenting below.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for a colourful letter G.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Monday, 6 April 2015

A to Z Challenge: E is for Evergreen

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will WIN a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Did you know that in botany (plant science), an EVERGREEN is a plant that has green leaves throughout the year? Hence the name—evergreen. (Smart, right?)

There are many different kinds of evergreen plants and shrubs that grow in Alberta, but my absolute favourites are the trees we decorate at Christmas.

Every year, my whole family goes to a “tree farm” where hundreds of evergreens are grown specifically for the season. With hot chocolate in hand, we stroll through the rows and rows of trees, in search of the biggest, fluffiest evergreen that will fit in our house. Last year, we found a beautiful 7-footer, so bushy we almost couldn’t fit it through the door!

We also have an evergreen tree in our backyard, but Dad doesn’t like it very much. He says it sucks ALL of the moisture from the soil, which is why our backyard isn’t like a golf green.

Speaking of soil…here’s another chance to WIN a copy of Beneath the Soil, the eighth book in the Chase Superman Duffy comics series—just comment below.

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for the letter F.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge: D is for Dandelion

This month, I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will receive a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


My dad spends a lot of time keeping dandelions out of our yard. Our grass is so green, the next door neighbor says it looks like a golf course—and I haven’t been on one before, but I bet he may be right. Dad doesn’t like weeds. At all.

But I wonder what he would think if he knew that dandelions don’t quite live up to their “bad weed” reputation? In fact, in some countries, people have been picking dandelions for a very different reason altogether: to eat them.

I know. My throat squeezed tight at the thought of that too. But apparently, dandelion greens and roots are FULL of vitamins, minerals and (gasp!) are healthy. My grandma says they are one of the most nutritiously dense greens you can eat.

Grandma says the best time to harvest dandelions is early in the spring, before they flower. You can use them in salads or sandwiches—and I guess, they’re not bitter at all. I don’t know, Grandma once told me her garden radishes weren’t spicy and THEY WERE!

Even if I won’t eat them—willingly—millions of people do. And you know what? Others, say that they are great for making wine – I know nothing about that either! They’re not the only Alberta “weed” with some nutritional benefits. Further along in the challenge I’m going to talk about other “weeds” that grow...and aren’t really pests at all.

The A to Z Blogging Challenge breaks tomorrow (it’s Sunday!) and resumes Monday with the letter E. Happy Easter!

Gotta jet!

— Chase Superman Duffy

Friday, 3 April 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge: C is for Canola

This month, I’m taking part in the A-ZBlogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will receive a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


You probably think I’m bias because my grandpa is a canola farmer, but I’m actually telling you the truth when I say that CANOLA is my favourite crop. The colour is AMAZING—just think about all of those beautiful fields as you drive across the province in July and early August.

Canola plants produce those bright yellow flowers that turn into seed-filled pods. The seeds are crushed into oil that is then primarily used for cooking. You probably have a container or two of it in your pantry. (You can even add canola oil to your smoothies!)

Did you know that canola is the country’s only Canadian-made crop? Because all the research that changed rapeseed into canola was done in Canada, Canadian scientists were permitted to give the new plant a new name.  It was decided to combine Can (for Canada) and ola (for low acid oil). It makes sense then, that Canada is one of the world’s largest producer, and the largest exporter of canola around the world—and a good chunk of that is grown in Alberta on farms like my grandpa’s.

If you’ve read any of the Chase “Superman” Duffy books, you know that the canola industry is also very innovative. Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk took 250,000 canola seeds into space to see if anti-gravity would affect their rate of growth. That was the inspiration behind IT’S A BLAST!, the third book in the Chase “Superman” Duffy series. And in GOTTA JET!, Chase (that’s me!) meets Kevin Therres, a race car driver who built the first ever Jet Engine Funny Car that runs on 100% canola biodiesel. Cool, right? (Actually, it’s HOT, and extremely FAST!)

Wait—you haven’t read either of those books? Comment below or on Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr and you might be selected for our daily random prize draw!

Gotta jet! Tomorrow, we look at the letter D.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge: B is for Barley (and other grain crops)

This month I’m taking part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of April, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. (Spoiler alert: C is for Canola!) Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will receive a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.


Barley, wheat, oats, rye, triticale, wild rice—these are ALL members of the grass family grown for their edible starchy seeds. Wait…why would anyone want starchy seeds, you ask? Good question!

Well, they’re perfect for making some of my favourite  food products—like breakfast cereals, or oats for oatmeal, wheat for pasta, and rye for flour. But did you know that only a small percentage of grain crops are used to make byproducts?

Large quantities of barley, corn and rye—especially in Alberta—are grown for livestock feed. Yep, those cartoon images of pigs eating barley aren’t actually a joke.

According to my grandpa, most grain crops do well in Alberta, because they’re resilient against the elements, like a cold snap, or drought.

Uh…speaking of drought, how would you like to WIN a copy of Transpiration? Mermaids, dinosaurs, sea creatures—oh my! Comment below or on any of my social media links to qualify for the daily draw.

Gotta Jet! “C” ya tomorrow.

— Chase Superman Duffy

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge: A is for Alfalfa

Today kicks off the A-Z Blogging Challenge, the annual event where hundreds of bloggers write 26 blogs—one for each letter of the alphabet—and post them each day of the month, except Sundays. This year, I’m blogging about: THINGS THAT GROW IN ALBERTA. (Spoiler alert: C is for Canola!) Don’t forget to check back daily and leave a comment on my blog, Facebook page, Twitter, Tumblr or via email at chase.superman.duffy@gmail.com. I’ll randomly pick a few winners who will receive a SIGNED copy of one of the Chase “Superman Duffy” comics.

Ready? Set. GO!

*    *    *


Have you seen the big rolls a lot of farmers have in their fields? Covered in plastic or left bare, many of those rolls are made from ALFALFA—one of the most useful and widely grown hay crops in the world.

A large number of Alberta’s ALFALFA crop goes toward feeding farm animals because it’s high in protein and contains a highly digestible fiber. (You’ve probably seen cows eating it!)

It might look cool in the movies, but I’d probably refrain from eating ALFALFA hay—though the crop has been used as an herbal medicine for more than 1500 years (aka: a LONG time).

ALFALFA is a great Alberta crop. Not only is it resistant to drought (extended periods of time without rain/moisture), when it’s planted with other grasses, it helps prevent soil erosion.

SPEAKING OF SOIL… Have you read Beneath the SOIL? Comment below (or on my Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr) for a chance to WIN a signed copy for yourself!

Gotta jet! See you tomorrow for the letter B.

— Chase Superman Duffy