Stalking the “Wild” Asparagus

I’m a forager wannabe, as my regular readers know well. I’ve been known to pick dandelions for the rabbit and to incorporate into salads, pesto – you name it. When Chuck and I take walks, we’ve learned the location of raspberry bushes that no one harvests.

I have my perennial rhubarb and a raspberry patch that is slowly but surely recovering from its near-destruction in the building of the new garage. I have my annual garden patch with tomatoes, peppers, and whatever decides to bloom where I plant it. So far, that includes potential for zucchini, spinach, parsley, peas, and perhaps butterfly garden flowers. Maybe.

I bought the butterfly garden seed-infused mat from a recent online auction. My main objective in this auction was a 10 inch cast iron skillet, and as long as I was bidding, I dropped a minimum bid of $2 on the butterfly garden. Now, I have no idea how old this batch of seeds might be, or how many of those seeds were stolen by the cardinal family in the backyard. I tore the mat apart to spread it out to fill the space, and it fell to pieces. Is that good or bad? No, don’t answer that. Here’s the result.

Lovely? Not yet. I planted peas in the spaces in between the mats.

But I’m off on a tangent. I didn’t start out to talk about the potential butterfly garden. I actually started out talking about foraging in the great urban-slash-suburban cityscape. I was at a most unlikely place when I saw asparagus growing. The airport, my friends, it was the airport. While waiting for Petunia’s plane to arrive, I kept myself busy playing Pokemon Go. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that a gravel landscape between the parking and the pick-up areas had a speck of green in it.

The wind was blowing hard and blowing cold, so I did not get out of the minivan to take a close-up. The signs that said “No Unoccupied Vehicles” might have had something to do with that, too.

Well, there you have it, people. I found asparagus growing in the gravel at the local airport. Foraging now is simply fun. If it ever becomes a necessity, you’ll want to be with me. No matter where we are, we’ll stalk something edible.

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Rhubarb Season!

It’s that time again. I hadn’t been able to get to the rhubarb patch due to illness followed by bad weather followed by the siding project. By the time I got to it, harvesting and weeding were all happening at the same time. I ended up with about 5 – 6 cups of the delicious tart fruit, and I searched my cookbooks for an easy way to use it.

Daisy’s Rhubarb Compote

  • 4 cups fresh rhubarb, cleaned and finely diced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Rhubarb should be soft and sauce thick. Serve either warm or cold, but my recommendation is to serve it warm with a dollop (you choose the size) of whipped cream. I suppose vanilla ice cream would do, too.

This compote, like a thick applesauce, had a nice tasty kick to it. I might try adding orange zest or ground ginger to my rhubarb barbecue sauce next time I make it.

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Spring Memories

 

A few years ago, and not so far away, I had a papasan chair that masqueraded as a large pot for plants. We’d noticed it tipping, leaning to the right, and it needed help to get upright again. Nobody leans to the right for long in Daisy’s household. Trust me. 

It looked like this from the sidewalk.

It looked like this from the sidewalk.

Close up, it looked even worse.

Close up, it looked even worse.

I wrestled, pulled, pushed, and eventually slid the top off its base. Then I reached for the camera – and I laughed out loud. Any neighbors lucky enough to witness the event surely think…trust me, I probably don’t want to know.

It's all about that base.

It’s all about that base. Whoa.

I tipped and balanced the planter part until it seemed stable, and then added a cinder block to help keep it in place. The base went out to the curb for Excess Garbage Day. Convenient timing, wasn’t it?

That papasan bit the dust the following fall, but I got lucky. Chuck sent me a text one night on his way home from work. There’s a papasan out on the curb a few blocks from home. Do you want it?

Of course! I tell you, folks, the man’s a keeper. He saws holes in old chairs just the right size for pots of flowers. He picks up an aging papasan chair for the same purpose. When the planting is done, I’ll share photos.

Readers, can you suggest a few unusual planters? Chairs, buckets – the sky’s the limit.

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Priorities, Priorities.

Where to start? That’s the question. Here are a few choices.

  • Clean up the weeds near the deck where the black-eyed Susans are supposed to grow.
  • Split rhubarb plants to better fill their tiny plot.
  • Break up soil in sections of big garden.
  • Spread compost on sections of big garden.
  • Finish clearing weeds around rhubarb.
  • Turn soil behind garage. Weed around garlic.
  • Clear an area behind garage suitable for spinach. Plant spinach seeds.
  • Pull up creeping ivy around bushes.
  • Put cushions back on porch swing (Amigo would put this at the top of the list).
  • Weed around transplanted peonies.
  • Go to Fleet Farm and buy new rain barrel.
  • Find something to plant in the papasan-turned-planter.
  • Measure sections of big garden for square-food planning.

Then again, I could relax and watch the Milwaukee Brewers game with Amigo. I think I’ve found a solution.

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And the season begins!

Not baseball, silly readers. Planting! Seedlings are started. The tomatoes are doing well, the peppers following slowly along. Lavender and baby’s breath have sprouted, and they’ll be ready to go in a large crock (it was a deal due to a large crack) sooner or later.

There are two containers that I didn’t label. I know at least one batch is milkweed, but I honestly can’t remember what else I started in the small containers. Marigolds, maybe? It’s kind of crazy that I was so good about labeling, but the two I didn’t mark did not come up…yet. I keep hoping.

We picked up a couple of raspberry canes at Fleet Farm last weekend, and I put them in to help strengthen the returning raspberry patch. If these two send out shoots along with the recovering canes from last year, we’ll have a decent size patch in no time at all. Well, in a few years. Gardening time is measured in seasons and years, not weeks. Perennials in particular often need time to grab hold.

Strangely enough, strawberries are coming up well. I didn’t think they were in a good spot – not enough sun, too much shelter. I might still be right; they might not bear fruit. But right now, those jagged green leaves sure look pretty.

Lettuces and other greens have gone up in price. I might check the farmers’ almanac and see if I dare start lettuce seeds this early. In Wisconsin, folks, we can still get snow or ice storms in mid-April. We can’t assume anything.

And so it goes, as the planting season starts.

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Get outta my compost, punk!

I like my small compost bin most of the time. In winter, I park it right next to the driveway and close to the house so I can fill it up without trudging through (much) snow. The down side to my small composter is, without a doubt, the opening in the back. It’s lightweight, and it bulges out when the bin is full. That gives any wandering critter with opposable thumbs access to the goodies that haven’t yet decomposed. See for yourself.

Growl. Getting eggshells out of the wood chips – ugh.

I picked up what I could and tossed it back in the bin. I straightened out the back piece as much as possible. And then I did what I could to brace that back opening and make it less accessible to small furry bandits. Er, critters.

The temporary solution!

A couple of old campaign sign wires, a shepherd’s crook complete with wind chimes, and I think I have this thing put back together.

As for a more permanent solution, I’ll share soon. Here’s a hint: we made a trip to one of my favorite shopping centers: Fleet Farm.

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Warm Weather Wonders

I didn’t grab a jacket or gloves as I left the house. The air was so refreshingly warm! But then I wondered – is this a February thaw, or is this due to global warming?

I planted seeds and put the containers under the grow lights. This much is typical for February. Then I wondered – could I actually put these outside for a few hours? And I thought, this is strange. Very strange.

We went to a neighborhood brewpub for supper and stumbled into live music. Fun! The place left their entrances wide open. When we left, we heard a scooter drive by – in February. And I wondered – is this the new normal?

The aroma of a wood fire was strong in our neighborhood. I know of at least four outdoor fireplaces or fire pits. If this keeps up, we might even start using ours. Oh, dear. Then I looked at the calendar and wondered – What kind of cause and effect relationship is going on here? This odd warming trend just isn’t right.

And that, my friends, is the way it is. We might be enjoying a short thaw and warming trend, but the overall climate changes are nothing to enjoy in the long run.

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Planting Season?

The Burpee seed catalog came a few days ago.

I decided to try an experiment I saw on Facebook.

These two are unrelated, unless you consider that fact that I am Daisy, the one who approaches new experiences and ideas with, “Hey, could I grow that?”

I haven’t opened the catalog yet, but it won’t be long. I might start with a quick inventory of seeds I already own. I reorganized my seed collection last August to make inventory easier.

The Facebook experiment came in the form of a short video. Lop off the base of a head of leafy lettuce, soak it in water for a week, and then plant it. Easy, right?

I cut off pieces from two kinds of bunny food:- romaine lettuce and green leaf lettuce. Each hunk of lettuce got dropped into a wide mouth canning jar with a few inches of water. Then, good gardener that I am, I waited. And I waited. I kept looking for roots to grow or signs of sending out shoots from the bottom. Nothing. I waited the seven days and a few more, and still saw nothing in the way of rooting material.

Chuck commented, “At least they’re not dead,” which prompted me to back off a little. Sure enough, he’d noticed new growth at the top of each lettuce head. I’d been looking at the bottom. I decided to try the next step: planting.

Small, but very green, this has potential.

I also planted a few green onions. The onions have root balls, but they’ve been sitting in the cold garage since late October. I don’t know if they’ll grow or not. With that in mind, I also planted a toothbrush.

A toothbrush?

Yes, people, I planted a toothbrush. While I monitor the scallions in the hopes that they’ll thaw and grow, I’ll also monitor a toothbrush. My sister-in-law passed it on to me, saying it was supposed to be biodegradable and would I please test it? Of course! I left a little bit sticking out so we can observe and evaluate the process. Heck, it works with tongue depressors and craft sticks.

And now, I wait. There’s a catalog to browse while I let the greens grow and the toothbrush decays.

Readers, do you plant indoors? Have you tried any of the lettuce experiments?

 

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