Archives for posts with tag: weeds

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”  – Louise Erdich

This quote makes me giggle imagining. Sitting under this apple tree amongst dirt and lady bugs (real ones, not those lady beatles that make a mess of things and hide in the siding) with the juicy sweetness of apples all over my cheeks and down my chin, checking to miss the soft spots and worm holes in the apples scattered about the ground, making sure I miss not a one. In a way, I guess, in the spreading myself quite thin over a number of curiosities, I strive for the same – a little sweetness from all that garners my attention.

The garden by moonlight has a beautiful sweetness all its own. This is what I am immersed in – the nearly full moon bathes me (and whoever I can get lucky enough to talk into helping me!) at the wane of an evening harvest. It’s luxurious. This place is so seep-into-your-bones beautiful. The birds accompany twilight in singing and swooping for a veritable meal (they aren’t eating enough mosquitoes in my opinion).

The cucumber beatles did a number on the melon and squash planting. Thankfully Dad’s self seeded pumpkins were big enough to not skip a beat – they are even flowering, which absolutely astounds and humbles me. I liberated them a bit from the encroaching pigweed last night. I think that made them pretty happy. I am tempted to replant the squash and melons varieties that were not so fortunate to withstand the assault. I have decided to utilize a biodynamic planting calendar – that is planting by the phase of the moon. For me, the greatest significance in this is that I get ever more connected to what is happening in my midst that for the majority of my life I blindly raged beyond in my carrying on of dailies. This gives me such peace and grounding – to tie myself and my garden to this persistent and dependable cycle. Herein, however, lies the challenge: plant squashes between the waxing of the third quarter and the full moon… the last full moon was only on the 26th of June… which means, patience, patience, patience, then hope like hell everything grows to maturity before the (cross-your-fingers) late frost. 🙂 Global warming, right? So, I’m hoping that biodynamic really give a boost and boon to the seed if I plant it appropriately… this is my grand challenge to that system and my great experiment of the summer…. beyond straight rows and tilling.

There has been a lovely sweetness to work as well. Even in my recalcitrance to it. This is my pseudo-job that I eluded to previously. Before going to work at One Step At A Time Gardens (see a link to their site below) it had been OVER A YEAR since I had endeavored to work for anyone but myself. My dad, my mom, my stepfather, both grandfathers, my aunt, my uncle – all entrepreneurs, all self engaged and self employed… I told my brother that it’s just not in our blood to work for other people. He laughs. I’m half-ass serious. So, even though I love the outside, I think the people I work for and with are better than the best I could ask for, I still begrudgingly sally forth to my 8 hour shift. Often a chunk of these 8 hours are spent weeding… which I typically follow with another couple of hours of the same in my own garden… It has been enlightening to see, though, that even people gardening for production for seemingly eons have weeds… I mean, BIG weeds! (a sign of good fertility I imagine) They were crowding out broccoli and cauliflower and cabbage that was pretty well established. Opportunity! Brian is comical on a regular basis. He coined Cauliflower Liberation Front, the CLF, and this evolved into the Vegetable Liberation Front as we moved into various beds. It could have been a consequence of the heat and weeding induced delirium, but by the end of 3 and a half straight hours of liberation and sun we were rolling with laughter. I am quite sure my cheeks hurt my than my hamstrings. He did a demonstration of proper thistle pulling technique, Eli chimes in with use of the Eye of the Tiger as theme song, consideration of recruitment of Levi, the 15 year old fella that lives across the pond (not the Atlantic, but East Twin Lake) who is big into film making – an opening scene of each of us striding down a row in black shades and a full tote of weeds and a real gem is born. We laugh over  how we could imitate CNN clips of Al Qaeda training video clips that inevitably show soldiers training over monkey bars (this was unbeknownst to myself as a non-tv watcher these days, but I was laughing, as politically inappropriate as that may be, please forgive me. :)) as inspiration for our VLF training film. Oh, we have fun. That laughter is so good for the soul, so I guess I will keep going to work and pulling my share of weeds.

My garden was graced with these two sweet and lovely maidens, Jess and Colleen. They just happened to travel 1,382 miles from Boston to get there. I like to think it was the soul mission of the trip. Makes me feel special. Really Jess is moving to Portland and I happened to be a nice mid-way stopping off spot – I mean, if the garden wasn’t going to pull them in, for sure the World’s Largest Bullhead was an irresistable enticement! 🙂

This last sweet piece of life that I want to share with you today includes my family’s tendency to change recognized holidays to days that fit better with our getting together. 🙂 That would include, this year, both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Each we decided we were going to celebrate one week late. Seth and Timothy come over to Mom and Shane’s every other Sunday – Father’s Day was not one of them. 🙂 We celebrate family by hanging laundry together in the summer. Just kidding. It was intermission in the croquet game really. The guys in my family are ruthless. Shane and Seth duke it out sending each other down the hill alternately. Tim at one point was behind both Mom and I, Seth had already completed the course and was “poison” and Shane was to follow. Tim was lamenting over the fact that he was dreading that Seth and Shane were going to target him first – I asked him why he supposed that, and his reply, bless his soul because I gave him a really hard time and used more sarcasm than most ten year olds should have to hear, was that he was the dude. I was laughing. He was not the first victim of the “poison.”

The title of this blog comes from the dash of my truck. My sweetgrass plot is beautiful and thriving and I hand mowed yesterday. My truck is full of the musky vanilla aroma as the grass wilts and dries in the magnified sun, and my trusty (but faded) little red bird rides with me reminding me to savor the moments of life. The bird symbolic of the cycles of 12, also embodies peace, love, grace and the confidence that all is as it should be. Deep breath.

“Are wild strawberries really wild? Will they scratch an adult, will they snap at a child? Should you pet them, or let them run free where they roam? Could they ever relax in a steam-heated home? Can they be trained to not growl at the guests? Will a litterbox work or would they make a mess? Can we make them a Cowberry, herding the cows, or maybe a Muleberry pulling the plows, or maybe a Huntberry chasing the grouse, or maybe a Watchberry guarding the house, and though they may curl up at your feet oh so sweetly can you ever feel that you trust them completely? Or should we make a pet out of something less scary, like the Domestic Prune or the Imported Cherry, Anyhow, you’ve been warned and I will not be blamed if your Wild Strawberries cannot be tamed.” – Shel Silverstein

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

How all encompassing this quote embraces the multitudinous fashion of life – the growth in the graden, the growth of the soul, the endless sea of innocent facination with the world.  Reckless, these days, would be a wonderful and à propos description of the chaotic and wild nature of my garden. Biodiversity reigns, chaos ensues, and in the midst a beautiful and basic synergy intertwines. crystal lakeRegal and breath taking sunsets have in simple measure inspired something to look forward to and to be hoped for each day anew, reminding me with diligence the importance of taking time to appreciate the moment, to absorb the beauty. They are especially wonderful after long, cool, bug-free afternoons and evenings in the garden. I have learned a great deal in this vast experiment – some of the variables by choice, some by deferring to higher priorities… a few of which kept me from tending to my flock for three weeks. This past week I have gained valuable insight about who thrives on weed pressure, and who withers in recalcitrance at the competition. The tomatoes are beautiful… branches heavy and sprawling with fruits – I have had the wonderful fortune of plucking Nyagous (brown) and Royal Hillbilies (pink) – also a handful of cherry romas, snowberries almost ripe and pear tomatoes (my all time, melt me in my tracks, favorite… my neighbor, Chuck McLaughlin, would leave handfuls of these tomatoes on my tricycle seat when the family would take airplane excursions – a most delightful recollection!), but these small tomato varieties don’t stand a chance at making it out of the garden, as they go directly into my mouth for my tastebuds to enthrall in.  The huckleberries paid no mind to the weesd either, but I thought they were awful (they weren’t those delectable mountain types), so I ripped out all the plants I had pampered and turned them into green manure.

The onions, they had no time for this nonsense of competition – to hell with that, we are calling it a season… and in the process of my partial-green-manuring project (to some people this would seem like weeding, but in my opinion, it’s all just semantics) I mananged to locate most of them that my brother had not already absconded with, and they are waiting to be put into storage or to be transformed by an experimental recipe – much like the sweet Walla Wallas that complimented the green tomato chutney experiment of this evening. The potatoes seem to have their own interpretation of the weeds, as well, with the All Blues being the most sensitive, to the La Rattes in complete ignorance of the fact that most gardeners would keep these companions clear, thriving heartily in spite of the wild neighborhood.

rootsThese horseradish roots belong to plants that are in a patch nearly as old (ah-hem, young I mean!) as I. And, as long as I set up my operation outside with the breeze from the right direction, I can refrain from adorning my goggles from my chemistry lab class when I process it into spreadable goodness. It’s powerful stuff! Have also been doing a great deal of seed harvesting – cross pollinated Asian cabbages, hemp, dill, rat tailed radish, golden alexander, golden sweet peas just to name a few. There is an entire drying operation in full swing in my parents’ basement that also entails a variety of herbs and yarrow from the prairie. I think my mother and Shane might be a bit excited to have their space back soon, without the obstacle course of projects that seems to be inherent in my presence! 🙂

seed savingThe markets have continued to challenge and entertain me. I am completely enjoying the opportunity to network with folks I never would have met otherwise, but I still find an undercurrent of frustration tugging at me from time to time. Today, however, I indulged in not stressing, not doing much other than enjoying my day and showing up at market – I sang and played my guitar, I worked on some jewelry, I slept in, I made a wonderful breakfast and a blueberry sage sauce. I smiled constantly and really enjoyed this magnificently September-like day.

I also entertained notions of just driving. It’s like that little gypsy bug just sidled up next to me with wanderlust in the pocket, whispering in my ear “just drive. preferable west. ” Ah, I think this is a rascal that I may perhaps never fully find my thumb on, and while even though I am absolutely enamored and fascinated with my intense love for this place – this place in which my sense of community, my roots, and my passions mingle tirelessly – I expect my hunger for change and travel and adventure will always tease me away from time to time. I have learned at this point, however, that the coming home part of the journey is at times the most gratifying and rewarding – poignantly captured in the words of Nelson Mandela, “There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered, ‘A Long Walk to Freedom'”

quoteworthy

“I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”  Helen Keller

We have done it! We have taken that long and arduous stride of action towards our dream, our passion, our goal – that foot was caked in lead – and, fortunately our perseverance is prevailing, even if Mother Nature is getting her druthers from time to time.

prairie seed

This beginning I speak of is that of planting the prairie and establishing the conservation segment of the farm. Over the next few years an evolution will occur of regression in mimicry of her roots. It is a fruitful and diligent task to establish mesic prairie, potholes and wetlands in an area that was once topographically marshland now dredged and tiled for the ambitions of agrarians. One that we are up to, however. The “beginning” was a day last week – we mixed our expensive forbes and grasses in the old watering tubs we had for cattle and my horse, loaded the Brillion, and Dad set to planting as an impending storm approached – full of energy, color and movement – not so different than ourselves.

looming horizon

This system moved into the area a couple of hours early – this photo was taken around 2pm. I got the equipment put away and the shop and barn closed up, and when Dad came home we stood at the end of the driveway, in awe of the lightning, and swept by the cold wind rushing down from aloft – it was absolutely exhilarating. Since that day our project has been on hold, because the next portion to plant is in the peat ground east of the runway and it does not dry up with any expediency. Yesterday I was back on the Massey with the little tiller fluffing up a beautifully tilthy seed bed, so with any luck today the planting will resume. I also spent some time on the 2520 with my worktunes and NPR keeping me company while I drove in what felt like incessant circles mowing what will soon be worked up in an attempt to kill the existing sod so that more prairie may be seeded in the autumn.

The garden is growing so emphatically. She is in a constant shift of motion and energy – right now the cabbages are showing off striking yellow blossoms, while the golden snow peas and rat tail radishes are providing the abundance of fruits. The red romaine lettuce is enjoying a break in the heat and humidity, and continues to provide the contrast in color. The borage that I planted amongst the strawberries and dill is vigorous, and the purple blooms arrived recently to my enthusiasm. I finally broke down. I am no longer a weed-free gardener (as in expenditure of energy), and have gravitated to a more weedless version of my experiment. It will never be perfect, so to speak. but it gives me a goal to keep in mind – and I think the plants are ever so appreciative as they now are allowed to bask in the full glory of the sunshine. Once again, those weeds came in handy, and I am resolute in my interpretation of them as both cover crop and green manure. 🙂

I have finally gotten my jewelry shop up and running on the internet. This is a fantastic speed bump to have traversed, as I have been putting it off for quite some time. For those who are curious, the shop can be found at www.capriciouslyquixotic.etsy.com – the interpretation of the name being something along the lines of whimsically idealistic – which I feel I am a victim of with a far greater frequency than I care to admit, although to those who know me this comes as no surprise. A sample of my work lies below.vail

As if I needed another reason to have a preoccupation with the atlas, right? Torturous and inspiring to the gypsy soul. 🙂 Another fun sidenote is that I now have a grasp on the functioning of the acetylene torch which tickles me to no avail!

Looking forward to a minimal week of markets – both the Clear Lake and Mason City markets for Saturday, the 4th, are cancelled, so if you want any goodies for the weekend, the Friday market in Mason City will be the place to find myself and my wonderful and enthusiastic counterpart, Tiffany (she has been bringing beautiful and delicious kales and greens, and her fused glass jewelry is spectacular!!).

“By the choices and acts of our lives, we create the person that we are and the faces that we wear. By the choices and acts of our lives we give to the world wherein our lives are lived, hoping that our neighbors will find our contributions to be of worth, and hoping that the world will be a little more gracious for our time in it.”  -Kenneth Patton

Festive greetings from a weed friendly gardener! The garden is lush and green and the sweet clover, red clover and dwarf pack choy are adding their brilliant colors to the mix. The inflorescence of the grasses lends a nice artistry to the aspect when the wind gently tosses the grains about in the breeze. Lambs quarter, oxalis, Shepard’s purse, pigweed, smartweed, and the newly added purslane add a splendid biodiversity to the various vegetables, fruits and tubers patchworked around the garden. Not the picture of permaculture efficiency, but the artistic merit is entirely gratifying if one is not focused on economics. The sunsets have been breathtaking when not hidden behind storm clouds, and the brilliant yellow light that lays upon the landscape at dusk humbles one to stop in their tracks to absorb in appreciation.

neighborhood

Last night we had the great good fortune of experiencing the most wonderful in ambiance, camaraderie and flavor – satiating in an array of aspects. My father and I attended the Slow Food event at Paul Willis’ farm near Thornton, IA. Paul raises hogs for Niman Ranch and is entirely passionate and enthusiastic for the endeavors in which he invests his energy – consequently he attracts many of the same type of people. I was so fortunate to catch up with old friends and acquaint myself with new. Paul and Phyllis were great and gracious hosts, and the pot luck dinner provided by the energy of “local” efforts – both in measure of personal preparation and ingredients made for an entirely satisfying and gratifying experience.

 

paul

The evening wound up with a grand tour of the prairie and wetland on Paul’s property. Over 100 species of plants in one space is awe-striking and inspiring – the purples of Ohio Spiderwort and alfalfa to the yellow of the Golden Alexander and the white of the Yarrow, plus so many more that have already escape the grasp of my thought – ah, just instills a little peace in one’s bones that there are folks whose visions and actions are carrying us and pressing us on in the right direction.

Today, the market! The North Iowa Farmer’s Market to be exact. I continue to experiment with recipes and ingredients and presentation of my wares. You will find a variety of preserves abound on the table, as well as artisan homemade crackers and gluten-free treats that seemingly melt in your (well, mine, too, as I have deemed myself quality control!) mouth. For fresh produce I have wild greens (most commonly referred to as weeds, but I will post a couple recipes that will make you feel differently about these fabulous and nutritious alternative edibles!). I will finally have my jewelry for sale in addition to a hand crafted model-scale barn that was created by my stepfather. Always treats for tasting, and if you can’t join today, then perhaps tomorrow, as that will be the first of the Saturday markets in Mason City – you will find us downtown from 8-11am in the parking lot just west of City Hall; 10 1st St NW.

crackers

“We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”  — Aldo Leopold