Brain-free days.

Some days, it would seem that my brain takes the day off. I’m sure most folks have these days. Days where you almost lock your keys in the car after almost forgetting to lock the front door. Days where you walk into a screen door? Days where you just aren’t functioning at your usual level. Maybe you had a sleepless child keep you up the night before. Maybe you have the flu. For whatever reason, on days like these, I do my best to limit my exposure to mistake-making situations.

Today was one of those days for me, so instead of planning how to rearrange my planting plans to accommodate the extra 400 sq ft of garden space I recently acquired (community garden plots are a FANTASTIC use of under-power-line space!) I did simple maintenance tasks outdoors.

I watered our newly planted Mexican White Oak, and my potted things including this fern that volunteered itself in the pot of a rosemary that didn’t survive the summer.

These have been volunteering for months now along the sidewalk as well. I sowed them late last spring, a few tried their might against the heat, but it came on too soon and too strong and they were no match for the sweltering Texas sun. Apparently the more cautious among them remained dormant through the summer and our unexpected November showers brought them out of hiding.

I hear they’re edible – is that true? If they are from my seeds, they’re Fiddleneck ferns. I only hesitate to say they are, because so far they have not behaved like any Fiddleneck I saw in the forests of my childhood. And if it is true, do you saute them? Steam them? Put them in salads? All of the above?

I gazed about the space to find something simple to do. The dandelions smiled up at me. My eyes moved from the unmade bed where the chainlink had come down, the vines had come out, but the short wall had yet to be built. There was no way I was up for building a wall today. I let my gaze wander to the patio. DH has been wanting to build troughs along the perimeter for more herbs and peppers to have nearby while he grills. I measured the patio edges. That was easy. It was also too quick.

Oh, right! Dandelions!

I retrieved my Hori Hori and quickly had it strangled in clay.

It proved to be the simplest of tools for removing dandelions. Easier than a trowel, spade, or hoe (all previously used dandelion-removal-tools by yours truly.) Simply slide into the earth, tilt, hear the root pop, and lift. Dandelions (and thistles) will let loose at ground level if you try to pull them up by their greens. They send down a deep tap root that, if left untouched, will simply sprout another fan of leaves in a matter of days. It’s messier and takes a bit more effort (and tool clean-up) but in the end is less work to get them from underneath.

After filling the bucket twice and emptying it into the trash bin for the weekly collection, I had made a dent in the dandelion population as well as my outdoor time.

I have never been one to mind not having a perfect lawn. Perfect lawns are how some people find their peace. I find my peace in other gardening endeavors. I do, however, notice the weed population in my lawn, and will diligently remove weeds from my lawn before they go to seed. Keeping the lawn at least tidy helps prevent weed seeds from drifting into my vegetable bed. Anything I can do to keep my weeding time down is something that can bump my other gardening time higher, and that makes more time for peace.

Not by any means out of dandelions (I may very well have four more buckets left to remove), my back was done with that business for the day and I set about for something else to do.

That’s when I saw them. Perfect, cheerful, and for no known reason – seeming childlike – my first peas!

I hadn’t grown peas before this winter, and grew them more for the fact that I had received some seeds as a gift than because I was particularly interested in growing peas. Let’s just say my feelings on the matter have changed.

And of course, some things make perfect sense after you see them, but you never thought about them before that moment. I had wondered if peas grew from inside the flower cap, from behind it (holding the flower on the end of the pea), or some other way. I learned today just exactly how the pod emerges from the blossom.

As you may be able to tell from these last two shots, the light was fading fast. It was time to duck inside for dinner. DH had prepared two of my earlier Farmer’s Market finds for a feast of Wild Hog patties from Countryside Farms‘ ground feral hog and baby Brussels Sprouts from Engel Farms sauteed in butter and sea salt, with a crack of pepper and hint of garlic. (Engel Farms is also where I purchased the “Rainbow” tomato basket that I saved seeds from.)

After speaking with my dad today, I’m tempted to find some of the younger dandelions, wash them off, and saute them in much the same manner. Apparently you can also make thistle tea? I am still searching for a tea I enjoy…

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One comment on “Brain-free days.

  1. Louis says:

    Good to see you growing peas. I did that two years in a row and while I had decent success, I have decided to give up on them. I just can’t grow enough to satisfy my family’s appetite without putting in a much bigger trellis that would take over more garden space. Some things just have to be abandoned… Sniff.

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