Posted by: David | May 25, 2009

In The Garden

A week ago I was coming back home from Connecticut on Interstate 91. Had a great time at my BFF’s daughter’s bat mitzvah. She did a wonderful job and is becoming quite a thoughtful young woman.

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Bad safety. I also took a little video as I passed through Springfield, MA.

My mind was already in the backyard pushing the lawnmower around and weeding the garden. I took last Monday off to catch up with myself. I lose a little bit (or do I gain?) when I immerse into the hubbub of my friend’s active household and the racing clamor that is now southern Connecticut. I mowed the entire lawn that day. A 4-hour task.

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We had a bit of frost last Tuesday morning.

The greenness of the backyard and gardens refilled my soul quite nicely. As the sunny week progressed, I continued the nonstop weeding process, filling my eyes with verdure and keeping my hands busy. Weeding is very meditative. Killing thousands of baby plants that one does not want in garden beds, thinning out the ones that one does want, and trying to do it quickly, efficiently. I use both hands and pull gently so as to get as much of the roots as possible.  Some of what sprouts from the garden are not weeds, but ‘volunteers’. These volunteers are desirable plants that come up on their own from seed sewn by nature, but if they’re in the wrong spot, then they’re pulled. Poppy, mustard, dill, borage …

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Before weeding. The asparagus are all done by the end of June so they can share the bed with some mustard.

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After weeding. Left behind some mustard, dill, and a borage plant, right next to the asparagus stalk.

Clearly there are still plenty of little tiny plants left in the after picture that one could call weeds, but most of them are just too small. Weeding is one of the more constant garden tasks, and weeds missed one day will be pulled the next. Some plants don’t mind weeds so much, while others like garlic and onions, are not happy unless they have the soil to themselves. Not sure why people whine so much about weeding. I bet they also whine about washing the silverware when doing the dishes. Whatever.

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The mustard plants (purple leaves) growing beside the garlic are volunteers.

There’s a gardening method known as “companion planting” where one plants certain things in close proximity to enhance the health of each. We’ve used some companion planting principles in the past, but our more recent garden plantings are companions by chance. The compost pile never got hot enough to kill the remaining seeds of the dead mustard plants so mustard sprouts pretty much everywhere. So do the poppies, whose tiny seeds rattle around in the brown heads in the Fall and are scattered easily by the wind. This year we seem to have a lot of dill volunteers.

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A whole lot of red clover came up before the Jerusalem artichokes.

Red clover is everywhere, and as a legume, it is able to gather nitrogen from the air. So it provides an essential plant nutrient for itself and for the soil in which it lives. Since the Jerusalem artichokes will soon be 8 feet tall, I decided to leave the red clover alone. Besides, the deer might just stop and nibble on that instead of getting further into our garden.

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Our first batch of asparagus, raw.

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I overcooked them, but they were yummy. Even with nothing on them.

So I hope that those of you who like gardening are out working in yours on this lovely Memorial Day 2009. This somber holiday is the traditional time when folks in Northern New England begin their gardening activities. It’s a nice counterpoint to the remembrance of the fallen who have served our country in the armed forces.

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Responses

  1. Wow, I’m jealous. Your garden is just full of greens!

    Living Dead Girl, it’s interesting how often the green images draw the green envy. Or is it? It looks from your blog like you’re a fan of gardening too. Thanks for visiting. We’ve been working this soil for about 14 years and it’s coming along nicely. 🙂

  2. Your backyard is beautiful!

    Thanks birdpress! We feel pretty lucky to have this backyard. I hope nobody decides to dump their nucular waste here! 😦

  3. So many green things, and you know them all by name. I’m impressed.

    My dad used to show me the volunteers in our backyard; he taught me that a weed is “anything growing where you don’t want it.”

    Thanks PT, that’s nice of you to say. I agree with your dad. This year’s garden seems to be especially rich with volunteers, or maybe I am just noticing more and leaving them to grow.

  4. I like that asparagus picture. I didn’t even know asparagus grew out of the ground. That’s outrageous. -A.Barclay, Leaky Brain

    Um, really? I thought you were a teacher. Oh right. An English teacher. Well that’s cool. Yeah, they grow right outa the dirt. Can I please have back in to the Leaky Brain? Pretty please?

  5. The lawn is just like the one around Windsor castle.
    Since you had been writing about driving home and there had been a photo of the highway, my first perception was that you had taken the photo while swerving on the highway because of the S in the pattern of the lawn mower. (What a strange word, this mow and mower.)

    Yes, I was just saying that very thing to the Queen yesterday. It’s been London-like here for the past 3 days … dreary, gray and rainy.

    I promise I didn’t do any swerving. I am an excellent driver. Never had a speeding ticket, and the only car I ever totaled was before I even had a driver’s license. 🙂

  6. The poppies that are so pretty individually are a curse, aren’t they? and are sometimes seen as symbols of vice and neglect. But on the window sill with daisies and blue and yellow flowers that have no name here they look very happy.

    I don’t see how they’re a curse. The flowers don’t last more than a day or two and the variety that grows is distantly related to the opium poppy. I like the primitive look of the seedpod that comes after the flower.

  7. I wish I had my own yard to garden like this. How fun!

    Hi TGFTG and thanks for commenting. I wish you had a garden too. I wish everyone did. I’m adding your blog to my blogroll because I should have done that like a year ago.

  8. These are wonderful pictures and descriptions. I feel as though I took the trip with you. “In the Garden” is the title of the last chapter of The Secret Garden and it’s what I always think of when I read those words.
    Those asparagus(es? i?) are so plump, they’re almost scary! And your last two photos are good enough to taste.

    Thanks for your comment museditions. Glad you enjoyed the photos. The verdure is good for the eye, I’m convinced. No secret, this garden. The asparagi WERE good enough to taste. And then, of coarse, there’s the enjoyment of peeing asparagus perfume afterward … pun intended. 🙂

  9. They are used as symbols of vice or even crime and fresh blood. I thought that they were bad for the cows to eat. Wheat farmers seem to fight them. Some wheat fields are full of them, and some other wheat fields look like green lakes and not a single poppy in there anywhere.

    The poppies that come up in our gardens are certainly prolific and vigorous. There are some perennial poppies in my wife’s herb garden, but the ones that come up as “weeds” in the vegetable gardens are annuals that produce many tiny seeds which spread in the fall then sprout in the spring. They have a funny smell and the foliage is quite fragile when I pull them up if they’re too close to plants we’re trying to encourage. I bet they would be bad for cows to eat. They’re probably toxic. The flowers are pretty though.


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