Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hands in the Dirt

I've been neglecting the internet pretty badly lately, but it feels so good to get my hands in the dirt that I've been letting almost everything else slide (even the horses!). I've got three new garden beds dug and planted for herbs, and the final one dug and ready to plant tomorrow after the frost warning has passed. Quite a few of what I'm planting are simply weeds in disguise, having sprouted up in my lawn between mowings (to the chagrin of my Tru-Green neighbors!)One example is a beautiful crop of first year Mullein. I've moved them from my yard to pots so that I can harvest a few leaves at a time throughout the summer.

I left one in the ground for Fred the rabbit to nibble on. He's moved into my brush pile and sits unconcernedly by my front door when I come out each morning. So far he's leaving my potted mullein alone in favor of the wild, but he did sample my newly planted sage almost to the ground.

My other "weed" finds that I've moved to pots for various reasons include Five-Finger Grass (Cinquefoil) (no, it's not related to Cannabis),

a beautiful spread of Star of Bethlehem by my shed

a great spread of sweet-rocket from the ditch by my office, a spread of violets in march, and a few as-yet unidentified wildflowers I've saved from the lawnmower in hopes of transplanting after their blooms are gone.

The satisfaction of working on my own land, the meditation of studying the changes of the season, the back-breaking sweaty hours of digging, raking, hauling and mulching, and the good old fashioned kid-like joy of playing barefoot in the dirt are all so very good for me. Especially since health issues have kept me from being able to do Yoga for the last two months. I've started a Dandelion tincture brewing for detox, and transplated a stray Raspberry cane that escaped via rhizome from a friend's garden, in hopes of starting a Raspberry leaf tincture as well. The store-bought version seems to be helping my health issues quite a bit, but I hate to pay $12 a bottle for something I can make.

Once I'm done getting my dirt fix I do plan to get back on track with FA, this blog, the COFRA site, and all my other social comittments. Until then, I leave you a moment of zen a la Wizard of Oz. The hairy-looking alien pods have opened, and my "leave it alone and see what pops up" garden is once again in a profusion of (non-narcotic) poppies. I got pictures tonight in case the frost wipes them out. They're very pretty, but incredibly delicate.


M said...

Oh man, watch out for that cinquefoil! It's a great plant for protection so I like having it in my yard, but it completely takes over. It was so entrenched when I moved into the house years ago that I'm still trying to keep it from taking over. It likes to strangle out other plants. And I'm jealous of your mullein. I planted it from seeds gleaned from a plant growing by the side of a road, but I can never seem to get it to take off--strange for a weed. Still, it makes a great tea for when you're sick with bronchial troubles.

Tari said...

I'm totally with you.... my social life (and pretty much everything but the day job, actually) has taken a back seat to transplanting and mulching and double-digging and seedling watches. Now if the weather would just consistently stay over 70 degrees so my basil wasn't being so shy!!!

Piffle said...

The purple flower is columbine, one of my favorites. Poppies are another favorite of mine, and there are lots of kinds other than the opium poppy. Do you know the trick of searing their stems with a flame briefly before putting them in water? That way they last much longer as cut flowers. I have a vase of orange poppies and purple columbine in my kitchen window right now.

Mullein needs well drained soil and sun to do well.

JoGeek said...

M: I've noticed the cinquefoil taking over, but it can spread all it wants once I've built a little table-top extractor for the essential oil! As for the mullein, I dug up some first year plants already well formed instead of trying to start them from seed. I've heard that if you snap off the seed stalk in the second year it will make them last a few years longer in leaf. I also put them in the "self watering" pots with a water resevoir and a wick so that they can take what they need without over-watering.

Piffle: That's fantastic, I love columbine! I'll definitely have to dig it up once the flowers are gone and move it to the garden.

Tari: I'm hoping it gets warmer next week, I've got some seedlings that have been sitting in pots for days now waiting for the cold to go away. On the other hand, it sucks trying to dig a garden in full summer heat, so I'm ok with it staying a little cool for a while longer :-)

JoGeek said...

Piffle: I hadn't heard the trick of searing the stems! Do you do just the tip or a larger portion of the stem?

Anonymous said...

The purple flower is indeed Columbine. They will often self-seed. You can find them in nurseries in many other colors and varieties, or you can wait for volunteers to appear.

The poppies look like Oriental poppies. Papaver is the latin source name, iirc. There are other kinds of poppies too. Oriental poppies bloom riotously and gorgeously now but often die back in the heat of summer. But they'll come back next year.

Enjoy your gardening!