I didn’t work today in the garden. I spent most of the day making phone calls and keeping up with all the spin of the noosphere. Went to work, played chess and stood in the cold soaking wet spring air, feeling winter holding tight, even though we’ve passed the Equinox. The light is returning, though, and plants are starting to thrive. I noticed flowers on the Walnut tree today. I also learned that there have been several quantitative studies where Elaeagnus benefitted the growth of walnut trees. Elaeagnus was also mentioned in Hemenway (2001) as a possible juglone buffer between Walnuts and their toxins and other trees, such as apples. So I am planting them heavily.
I also learned last night that the mystery plant is salsify. I have never seen anything quite like it, but as its leaves look grasslike, I have mistaken it for a weed on many occassions (it’s growing in the paths where the tenacious weeds do, not in the bed!). I have unconsciously been mutaliting salsify thinking it was a a weed or grass! It has made its testament as being very tough. Once, a few of the kids and I dug one up and found the root to be, well a Salsify root, like a full grown, grocery store sized carrot, only yellow and where broken exuding a milky white substance. Very powerful plants, doing a miracle of breaking up our heavy clay soil. After my discovery, I will weed around them and help them grow to seed, save and replant the seeds. Clearly, this is a plant that grows well with the natural rhythms of the land, which includes not only heavy clay soil and soaking wet winters and desert dry hot summers but also children stomping over it and the gardener unsuccessfully trying to weed it. The root is edible and substantial, as are the leaves, but the best way to prepare them I am still not clear on.
I was also thinking tonight about the planting of the nursery plants that I ordered from Burnt Ridge Nursery in Washington.
So far I’m looking to play Yellowhorn under the fruit trees and Aronia under the Pines, at the edge of the garden and the slope. The Magnolia vines, I want to plant along the deer fence, but not in the newly sheet mulched area. I’m not sure about the other yet, although I was thinking about putting the Loquats just south of the Pines in newly dug holes and the olives interplanted with the struggling row of grapes. I guess the Elaeagnus will go there as well, and I’ll also put some near the walnut trees.
On another note, the artichokes were looking really big and ready to eat today. Maybe tomorrow?