An Itty-Bitty Bobber!
Fudge likes it.
An Itty-Bitty Bobber!
Fudge likes it.
Could there be a brighter harbinger?
A panorama of flowers trying to ward off the mean old cold
The bright early plum
She wants to bloom free
Says winter’s a bum
I agree with the tree
Apples, coaching the laggard trees beyond
And the moss the moss on the stone is listening
As is the little strawberry nestled in the hay
Spring is coming, surely any day!
MARCH SNOW? NO!
Check that out, those rambunctious strawberries running for all they’re worth! I admit I hate to weed and so some weeds are taller than I am. Also, some really insistent viney crap is taking over no matter how many of those plants I pull up. I think they multiply by rhizomes, the root internet between plants. I pull up one gob, roots and all, but the root internet gets the signal: We’re under attack! Grow faster! Spread further!
Now that they’ve infiltrated the strawberries, it’s clear why the poor berry runners are fleeing. I attacked back, wading into the berry patch early in the morning to take a couple hours in the stifling heat to yank weed after weed. First, I know that stuff will sprout right back up. Second, the stuff is infested with turkey mites. Heard of chiggers? Turkey mites are very similar. They burrow into your skin and it itch-itch-itch-itches for days. Sure, shower and scrub right after weeding to wash them off. Fine plan that I did follow, but the faster burrowers had already dug in. Really, most came from my shoes. I had wiped them inside and out with bug spray, but that was a Bullwinkle move as I got ‘em up and down me RIGHT NOW.
You hear so much about unwanted refugees on the news. In can’t help but see those striving strawberry runners reaching out into bare gravel toward a block retaining wall, toward nothing hospitable, as an illustration of an archetypal theme. Unable to let that continue, I extended the strawberry bed and put 25 more (super-sale!) plants in with them.
Oh, my poor yard up in town, where we dream of the cabin. I cannot do without growing things, and for years I have sought fresh apples and peaches and such right off my own trees. That should not be so difficult, should it?
I finally pulled the dead apple and peach trees out of these pots and left them unceremoniously on the curb. Last summer I went to Lowe’s seeking big pots for these trees and all they had (that I could afford) was these foo-foo plastic ones. I foolishly left the saucer attached to the bottom. How was I to know that sauce would keep the whole thing from draining? We had a hard rain one day and the potted trees filled to the brim and stayed that way until I got another look Monday evening after work. By then, a cold front had moved in a chilled the place way down. I tipped the pots to drain them, but still left the darned saucers on.
After the second occurrence, the trees were goners. I at last forced the saucers off and the water pouring out stank. I got large nursery pots from a greenhouse supply place. Here are my new trees bought at the less than half price end-of-summer sale at Stark Brothers (great place). I got two Idared Apples, a couple Zestar Apples, a Starkspur Ultramac and a Sweet Starkrimson Cherry. I did have to put the unplanned cherry in an old pot, but with NO SAUCER and fresh dirt. I got bags a Miracle-Gro soil for all and put a peat dressing on top…they’re going to do GREAT!
I only wish my trees and bushes were as undying as my idealistic hopes!
Other names: Umbrella Plant, Duck Foot, American Mandrake, Wild Jalap, Racoon Berry, Hog Apple and Indian Apple.
Lest the “American Mandrake” scare you, like, don’t eat the plant or unripe fruit. The May Apple is not a real mandrake, but chowing down a plant might well do you in.
As a relevant aside, the real mandrake is a member of the Solanacae family (as is the Deadly Nightshade!). People used to think tomatoes (from that family) were poisonous. Potatoes are from that family too, don’t eat the green skin or the sprouts – same for eggplants. Tobacco to peppers to petunias, it’s a big family! I mention these simply as an example of how you can eat poisonous plants and fruit if you know what you’re doing.
So, like eating the correct part of the potato, eat only the fully ripe, yellow fruit. That is if you can beat the squirrels to it some time from late May through July. This website has pretty good information on it:
Eat the Weeds can be found at http://www.eattheweeds.com/podophyllum-peltatum-forgotten-fruit-2/
Walking through the woods is wonderful and Spring is a magical time to take it all in. From the tree-borne constellations of Redbud blossoms to the tiny, precious wildflowers, I love it!
You may know I work in town and only get home to the cabin on weekends. I have a small rocked front yard with the center cleared for a good-sized strawberry patch. My dwarf fruit trees live in big containers arranged around the patch. Last March one Friday, I rolled in after dark, so missed the tragedy on the snow covered ground.
That next morning I went out to check on my trees, to see the bud progress and look for bugs. I saw to my horror that one had been dragged away. I followed the dirt trail to the gnawed, misshapen fiber container. Then I spied the five foot switch in the weeds, chewed, that used to be a healthy second year Winesap Apple tree.
Thinking it might still be dormant enough, I replanted it. I sprayed it along with the others. I hoped. It really seemed like it might survive. Now I despair. Unlike the Gala, the Rome and the Yellow Delicious, this poor guy is brittle. No burgeoning buds. I can’t help but believe that if I could have found it much sooner I could have saved it. But I was 70 miles away.
I put a taller fence around the center garden patch. Ugly. However I do have indoor critters to raise my spirits…
I had an obsession years back ( who, me?) about chickens. The cabin was about ready to move into and I needed to segue from working on the cabin to working for pay. I got work at the brand new, opening soon chicken plant five miles away! New factory, new career (food safety) and great folks to work with. As a fabulous bonus, any packaged chicken with too few days left to ship was sold at deep discount to employees. I lived on chicken.
Back home, I had a cabin to decorate. Why not chickens?
These are some treasures I’ve collected over the years. The silver one is from Iran – Persia the guy said. The bug-eyed one is battery operated and squawks while waddling. The one with glasses is the Scottish brainy fella from Chicken Run. The one with her neck stretched out I got while in Scotland, from the shop that
made it. The rooster in the lower corner was done by April White, a co-worker at the chicken plant. When you roll the wooden one, the egg inside tumbles.
The best of all was the little chicken house I built on the front porch with a ladder going down into the fenced front yard. I got three cochins and a Rhode Island Red. Blackavar was solid black. Guess which breed Rhoda was. Sylvia was, that’s right, silver. The sweetest doll was a Partridge Cochin, thus Partricia. She would come up to me for a neck rub and would eat from her own little bowl of cereal as I ate mine. I wish I had pictures of them all, especially Partricia. I got so may huge brown eggs I got “The Good Egg” cookbook by Simmons and got really good at making soufflés.
Years of happy. Then fox, fox, fox and finally Particia, fox. I wish I had pictures of those ladies to post. I do have these pictures, Bark and Bark:
I get a newsletter from Chelsea Green, a homestead and resilient farmer kind of publisher. I like adding nuts into my whole wheat bread and gosh, they’re expensive. I tried planting English walnuts a decade ago and they would still be maturing if they’d lived. I am not that fond of the common black walnuts around here though I do use them. I’m not generally one of those instant gratification types, however three years for a filbert, AKA hazelnut, to mature is a persuasive argument for them.
Alas, the State of Kentucky apparently has some pernicious anti-filbert disease rampant such that nobody grows them here. Ha! Not until an outfit called Badgersett hybridized some resistant ones. They have a research station where they have many versions of filbert depending on what you want, geared toward the commercial growers.
I got six in the mail. Their customer service is slow and frustrating but the little seedlings eventually arrived with each in its own cozy tube (hence they call them ‘tublings’) and I planted them according to instructions, taking all the precautions against squirrels I could. You see, these seedlings still have their little nut attached and would seem to present a great temptation to the fluff-tailed rodents.
One positively (negatively?) dried up in a blink, prompting me to dedicate myself as Aquarius the Water Bearer (actually I’m under Cancer the Crab). Two more succumbed during August. One seemed to be hanging in there last Friday, but this Monday it was a goner. ONE SURVIVOR! Isn’t this tiny fella a true beauty? This tender darling deserves an extra dollop of attention.
Over the last couple years, I have purchased several red raspberry plants from Stark Bros, an outfit I have been happy with for many years. My continued complete lack of raspberries to pile in a bowl in the kitchen is not their fault. I got not one raspberry this year. Sure, I saw quite a few clusters ripening, I just didn’t get to them first.
I got a book that showed how to string the lines between posts for them to grow across. I read how to fertilize and spray them for insects. I perused sellers of bird netting. I know what I should have done. Naturally, I did little of it.
The raspberries mainly survived and are bushy with vines winding through the peach and apple trees. They had a spurt of tiny berries the birds found appetizing. If I can get my act together, in a few weeks I’ll review the pages on pruning and pick up my end of the bargain I made when I brought these hapless plants into my yard. Maybe, depending on the great mess of other stuff I gotta take care of. Looks like I bit off more than I could chew, but the lure of juicy raspberries to stain my teeth remains strong. I can almost taste them, a reminder of care not taken. A slurp of coffee will wash that sorry taste of neglect away so I can go grab a pair of gloves and at least get the major weeds outta there. I really will, in a minute…