HAPPY MOTHERS DAY
Ahhhh Spring…The trees are blooming. The flowers are blooming. The grass is green. The birds are singing. Mothers Day is here. Look at how beautiful the garden is…wait…WHAT IS THAT?!!! GAH! It’s a weed. There’s another!…Oh Shhhh….oot!
We’re not talking about the weed making headlines in Colorado and Washington. We’re talking about those monstrous little plants, with the audacity to grow in our lawns and planting beds. Where do they come from? AAAGGGHHH…the frustration!
Last weekend, we celebrated our seventeenth wedding anniversary. How did we spend it? In the garden, of course! We prepared and planted our vegetable garden. Unfortunately, an army of weeds (mostly Dandelions) had set up camp in the fallow soil. Guess we should have planted a cover crop like Winter Wheat, or Vetch. Did we reach for the herbicide sprayer? HELL NO!!! We preach the green gardening gospel here. We reached for the gardener’s best friend. This friendship will last a long time, and costs less than one bottle of concentrated herbicide.
It would be easy to gripe about the work, and cuss at the weeds. Instead, we looked at it from a different perspective. Here were some pretty flowers that we didn’t have to plant. We did not have to purchase seeds. They required no fertilizer. They just appeared out of nowhere. Why is it that we hate this little plant so? Maybe because it reproduces so quickly. It will also crowd out other plants. Being a perennial, it will return every season until the root is entirely grubbed (dug out).
Okay, Dandelions have some bad qualities, but they bring children and mothers joy alike. Many a mother has received a bouquet of Dandelions from their loving child. Young children like to blow on the flower heads that have gone to seed, and watch the lightweight seeds parachute through the air.
In truth, it was a win-win situation with the dandelions. The taproots run deep and loosen the soil. After some digging, we were left with soil that was well turned. We added some compost, the proper amount of organic fertilizer, and in the end no tiller was really necessary. Now we were left with a mountain of dandelions. Should we just throw them on the compost pile?
We have been toying with the idea of eating some of the common weeds, like Dandelion and Common Chickweed. After some research, we found that Dandelions are more nutritious than spinach. We actually saw Dandelion greens on sale at a supermarket for $1.99/bunch. Too bad we didn’t have a buyer, because after digging out our 3000 square foot garden, we were sitting on some serious green. The name Dandelion comes from French, meaning “lion’s tooth”. Presumably, this refers to the jagged leaves. Well…we decided to take a chance and eat some.
How did they taste? Were they bitter? In the raw, they were very “earthy” with a slight bitterness. Depending on your taste, they could make a nutritious addition to your salad greens. Using them alone as the green, probably might overwhelm the average tastebuds. Next, we decided to sauté some.
Early on, they became very bitter. As they cooked the bitterness was reduced, but still present. This house is a 50-50 split on whether they are edible or not. One says, “Yes”. The other says, “Yuck”. To offset the expected bitterness, we paired the meal with roasted parsnips and carrots. Parsnips are naturally sweet, and still in the garden. Parsnips will stay in the garden through the winter. To wash our palette, we chose a moscato, which is a sweet white wine.
Admittedly, the greens are somewhat bitter, and sautéing them may not be the best preparation. One recipe suggests boiling them first, throwing away the water, and then sautéing them. This seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. All of the nutrition is literally cooked out of them, then thrown down the drain. Future culinary experiments will be taking place. We will keep you updated if we make any breakthroughs. Should any of you, the crew, have ideas or recipes, please send them to us.
Weeds pop up everywhere. The seeds blow in the wind. Birds plant them, post digestion, with a squirt of fertilizer. The seeds can travel on our clothing, on our cars, on cargo vessels, the fur of wildlife, and list goes on. They have been around since gardens and crops have been grown. Weeds are mentioned in the Bible. Shakespeare alluded to them in Hamlet writing, “Do not spread the compost on the weeds”. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered”. Weeds are mentioned in some of the world’s greatest literature. For the most part, they are portrayed as dastardly, delinquent, invasive, frustrating invaders. Here are a few tips to ease the frustration of weeds. Remember though, there is no such thing as a weed free garden. Even gardens that are covered in pre-emergent herbicides WILL get weeds. Prevention is definitely the best medicine. A thick, healthy lawn will crowd out, and shade out, weeds. Set your mower to the highest setting when cutting Fescue and Bluegrass. In beds, install 3″ of shredded hardwood mulch. You can place a fabric (or newspapers) under the mulch for added protection. Plastic is not a good idea as it blocks water and air exchange to the roots. Keep in mind, if you are planning on planting and transplanting, having to cut through the fabric can be frustrating. Eventually the fabric will begin to wear down, need to be removed, and will end up in the landfill. We prefer to place newspaper under the mulch. It will last for most of the season. The paper will naturally break down with the mulch, which builds your soil. It is also easy to cut through. Just dig right through it.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with weeds is RELAX! The garden and gardening is meant to be enjoyed. As Vicki always reminds, “Gardening is a process, not an event”. Don’t compare your garden to anybody else’s. That garden with seemingly weed free beds, and golf course grass is most likely a polluted poisonous system, chemically maintained, all for the vanity of aesthetics. A garden like that can be compared to a person who is solely concerned with their own appearance, never growing in any other aspect of their life. A few weeds in your garden gives it character. You may also be saving at-risk fellow Earth dwellers from extinction, by allowing a few volunteer “weeds”.
There are many children that, once reaching the teenage years, appeared as though they might end up as a weed. With nurturing, care, guidance, and love, most end up beautiful (blooming), productive (fruit bearing) adults. Thank God for Mothers!
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all of the mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers. We salute you, and wish you a wonderful day.
As soon as the blooms fall off of your Azaleas, prune them as necessary. They will produce buds soon after the bloom ends. If you wait too long, you will be pruning off next year’s blooms.
Don’t forget to cut some flowers and blooms for inside the house. The beauty and fragrance is well worth the effort
-The HH Team