Friday, June 20, 2014

Massive Garden Update II

Hi again!  Where did I leave off?  Well after marathon gardening for the last few days, I'm covered in bug bites, scratches and bruises.  I love finding appropriate ways to indulge in my masochistic tendencies, lol.  My latest obsession mission is to weed all the plantains from my front lawn.  You see, way back when the grass started growing in the spring, I realized I really need a lawn mower.  Due to the small size of our shed, my decision was to get a reel mower.  Now I'm sure everyone in the neighborhood who sees me mowing the lawn thinks I'm crazy.  I do weird things, like rake leaves with a rake or mow my lawn with a reel mower.  So at first, my neighbor, with whom I first interacted after almost a year of living here for the first time practically pleaded with me to use her gas mower.  Of course my husband, being the way he is, was completely opposed to the idea.  Lord knows what would happen if the mower suddenly stopped working. For the record, he is appalled that I bought a reel mower and refuses to partake in mowing.  Part of what he likes about living here is that he finally is getting power tools.  I quite agree with him though, about borrowing the gas mower.  I don't have a gas mower because I don't want one.  I bought the tool I felt was adequate for the extra-large postage stamp of a lot we have.  The people across the street have a ride-on. So now every time I talk with the neighbors, I find myself defending the idea of hard work in gardening.  Truth be told, it's the only exercise I get, so it might as well be taxing.

Anyway, the reel mower works great on grass; the only caveat being is that I don't have grass.  Let's say I have a diverse lawn which is comprised of crabgrass, plantain, clover, and fake strawberries.  Click here if you need a refresher course on fake strawberries.  The reel mower has difficulty cutting the flower stalks of the plantain because it's too high to get caught in the rotary blade.  To combat this, I invested in a weedwacker.  Then my neighbor informed her son that I was weedwacking the lawn (which is only partially true, since I had to weedwack first to get rid of the plantain stalks AND THEN mow to get everything to be even.)  Hence my steadfast fortitude to rid the front lawn of this lanky weed outlier.  All the other weeds behave and get mowed to a relatively similar height.

Fast forward a few weeks: I came back from work one night exhausted and practically falling asleep while I was driving home.  After I parked the truck, I sort of noticed that something looked different about my house.  A man two houses down was trying to get my attention as I was parking.  Apparently, I was treated to a free trial of lawn care.  Oh.  The grass is mowed down to the ground.  Subsequent mowing service will cost me $10.  Yet another neighbor who feels sorry for me.  I may take him up on his offer one day, but right now, I feel like the lawn is my personal hell to conquer, so I will continue weeding.  My current regimen is as follows:  8 am:  get dressed covering all body parts with socks to prevent further bug bites.  (Currently, I look like I did when I was 12 and came home from pioneer camp.)  Take the black bin, garden tools and gardening gloves (to prevent any more fire ant bites on my hands, which are really annoying).  Plop down in the grass and start digging out plantains.  Scoot down the hill, taking out plantains in the "row" I'm working on.  The ironic thing about what I'm doing is that plantain helps bug bites.  Which I wouldn't have if I wasn't sitting in the grass and weeding plantains.

So now that I have this huge harvest of medicinal plantain leaves, it's been fun experimenting with home remedies.  I double infused extra-virgin olive oil with whole plants that I washed, wilted and chopped in a water bath for a few hours.  This morning my fire ant bite was itching so bad I wanted to tear my skin apart.  Desperate, I put on some oil and within a few minutes, the itch was barely noticeable.  It definitely is not itch free, but I can function somewhat normally without perseverating on the blister.  The plan is to infuse it with plantain a third time, and then with lemon balm and lavender.  Also might add some tea tree oil and/or vitamin E.  Lastly, some beeswax to turn it into a salve.  Ribwort (Narrowleaf) Plantain
Plantain infused olive oil

This brings me to the unintentional, intentional plantain patch:
Medicinal Plantain Patch

Part of the reason I feel I can tear up all he plantains in the front yard is because the broadleaf plantains have so nicely congregated into a patch all on their own.  You see, I have no issues with weeds per se.  It's the untidiness of unplanned diversity I don't like.  The thistles have also found a way to create what I've christened the "Magical Thistle Forest."  They are about 6 feet tall right now and ready to bloom.  I leave them alone because I wasn't using that area anyway, and I know the butterflies and bees love them.  They have to get cut down after blooming though, because I don't like them that much.  There's also random patches of some clumping grass that I've left alone because they've deposited themselves in the landscape in a way that makes people think i planted them.
Magical Thistle Forest

The wildflower bed is starting to bloom and the mysterious unmarked seeds are starting to reveal themselves, cosmos, poppies, lamb's ear, and various others.  Next year I may reseed if it needs, since they've come up pretty sparsely.  Here's to hoping they reseed prolifically in the bed I made for them.

Wildflower bed

The herb circle is doing well.  Alpine strawberries are blooming, lemon balm is taking over the world, and the rhubarb is looking more and more promising as a permanent resident.  Also featured is oregano, marjoram, dill, thai basil, purple basil, horehound, sage, violets, and two dianthus plants I bought for $1 at Wally World because they don't know how to keep their plants watered and deadheaded.  They should come back in a few weeks.
Herb Circle with Reclaimed Glass Birdbath
Rhubarb from Seed

The fig tree is happy, though I've been finding mealy bugs on some of the plants.  I try to inspect all the plants everyday so I don't miss any potential problems.  They're easy enough to get rid of with rubbing alcohol, though I see I'm going to have to add soap spraying to my regimen.  Going to try a homemade recipe with Fels-Naptha.

Next to the fig are lavender, thyme, rosemary, more oregano and marjoram (I grew a bunch from seed), a hosta I rescued at half price from Aldi's, a lilac bush that needs a home, some parsley and bolted lettuce that I keep for decoration.

Mini garden

Oh, and I forgot, a kefir lime tree seedling for seasoning Thai dishes, and a mini succulent garden.

Next up, the vegetable patch.  More on that tomorrow :D
Veggies are growing!!!


Kris said...

Holy moly, I am tired just reading about your gardening adventures but mad impressed by the plantain infusion. So clever though ironic!

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