Weeds Are Useful

There are plenty of places in the gardens where the weeds and brush grow profusely. I don’t mind them because they are a haven for many good insects and spiders to live. They come out and quickly dispatch any invading bugs with joy. And the weeds and grasses are a steady source of nourishing mulch for the vegetables, and make great hilling matter for hilling the potatoes.

I’m getting around to weeding the arugula patches. In a way, self-seeking arugula is a kind of weed. Once it is established, you can’t get rid of it, but then why would you want to?

A book I am enjoying reading this summer is a collection of 120 thoughts by the actress, Kiki Kirin 樹木希林, who passed away in September 2018 at the age of 75 after living with cancer for five years. She played in numerous movies and television shows. One of my favorite of hers is Sweet Bean – あん, made in 2015, where she plays an elderly woman who shows up at a small shop and teaches the shop owner how to make the most delicious sweet bean filled pastries.

After her death, a number of books have been published about her thoughts on life. In the book I’m reading she writes, “It doesn’t matter if there is one person, two people, or ten people around, if you’re a lonely person, you’ll be lonely.” She also says that now that she is old, she is often requested to come and talk about being old and death. When interviewers ask her what she thinks about death, she says, ”I‘ve never died so I don’t have a clue about death.”

Even though she was often asked to make speeches, she was surprised that there are those who claim to have been saved by listening to her speeches. “That’s dependency disease you know. You need to think for yourself,” she writes.

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When Potatoes Bloom

It’s a special time when pototoes bloom. I look forward to their gentle flowers every year. With flowers this lovely, it would be easy to deceive those who have no ideas potatoes develop in the ground, that potatoes are the fruits of these delicate blossoms.

The cherries are maybe a few weeks away from ripening. Mine never make it to market. We and the birds end up eating them all.

The five young Barred Rocks are not far from laying their first eggs. All siblings, these five hang out together all the time.

It’s also the special time of the year when garlic scapes can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What do they taste like? They are a lot like string beans with a hint of garlic.

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Why Didn’t I Think of That? First In, First Out Done Easy

The drakes are lost. Both of the hens, Snow and Emma, are spending most of their time on their nests, incubating their eggs. Without their mates, the drakes meander, not sure what to do, or so it seems. Duck world is so different than chicken world. Drakes and roosters have different world views. With roosters it is, ”I am the king, and how many hens can I bang?” With drakes, it is much more complicated. Drakes and duck hens converse, quarrel, make alliances, and play.

Solcion has come out with an innovative canister. It has lids at both ends. The idea is that you add things from one end, and use them from the other, so that you are always using the older product first.

The lids are different colors so you know which end to use when adding products, and which end to use when pouring out products.

Take coffee beans. When you come home with fresh coffee beans, but still have some coffee beans left over in the canister, you add the new coffee beans from one end of the canister, flip it over, and so when you pour out coffee beans for your next morning brew, you’re using the older beans first, and the newer beans stay under the older beans. It’s the first-in, first-out principal of accounting in practice in the kitchen. Just don’t shake the canister when you add new things.

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A Fresh Morning, Hissing Ducks

It’s a cool, damp morning. Gentle rains through the night have made the air sweet. Each year has its own feel. By now the poppies should be setting buds. They are a long way from that. But the apples are forming, their little babies getting their first blush of red.

In the hoop house, Snow and Emma are on their nests much of the day, hissing and scolding whenever I approach. Would they scare off a fox? I have my doubts. If all their eggs hatch, that will be some thirty ducklings. Now I see why there are thousands upon thousands of wild ducks on the fields and marshes. At that rate of reproduction, it doesn’t take many generations to end up with millions of offspring, or keep many a fox, hawk, eagle, and coyote well fed.

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Essence of Summer

Grass flowers are underrated. Are they even rated at all? Waving in the summer breeze, they are the essence of summer.

The Japanese name for Lupine is Nobori-Fuji 昇り藤 which means climbing wisteria. The word to climb, noboru, is an interesting word because it can be written three different ways, 上る or 登る or 昇る. All have the meaning of climbing, but with subtle differences.

上る is used when referring to climbing stairs, climbing up a slope, climbing onto a train, and putting things onto a higher place, such as a table.

登る is used when you are climbing onto something with purpose or with a lot of effort, such as climbing a mountain, or getting up onto a rostrum to give a speech, or a platform to give a performance.

昇る is used for things rising high into the sky, such as the sun or smoke, and in the case of the lupine, wisteria climbing into the sky.

One word, three different ways of writing it, and there are many such words in Japanese, which give it a richness when it comes to expressing yourself in writing.

Ema and Snow have gotten serious about incubating their eggs. Ema’s nest is a huge mound. My first experience with brooding ducks, it’s interesting seeing the difference between them and chickens. Chickens don’t build such elaborate nests. They don’t cover their eggs when they leave their nests. They don’t hiss the way ducks do when you approach their nests. Chickens stay quiet, until your hands get too close, and then they draw blood.

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Summer Days, Summer Colors

We are past the days of new green. The only tree that hasn’t leafed out and settle in for the summer is the mimosa. The chickens spend hours exploring the lush forest floor.

Soon, bright red thimble berries will be right for eating off the stem. From petal fall to sweet ripeness happens quickly. All it takes is a few weeks of bright sunshine.

The scent of peonies wafts through the garden. The white ones are as glorious as thunderheads rising above the mountains.

A few weeks ago I was concerned that I didn’t have any brooding hens yet. I even borrowed this broody black hen to mother a clutch of Welsummer chicks I ordered. This week, four of my hens have gone broody. I will have plenty of mother hens to raise many chicks.

The brown chicks are Welsummers. The light ones are Redstar roosters the hatchery added to keep the Welsummers warm on their two day journey here. Though, since I ordered 18 of the Welsummer chicks, it is more likely the hatchery added the Redstars to get rid of them. Oh, well, it is what it is. Summer is no time to be upset, not with peonies in bloom.

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Under Summer Skies, the Gardens Riot

Looking out at today’s gray skies, it’s hard to believe that just a few days ago we were staring up at brilliant blue summer skies. Yesterday’s rains were a welcome relief. The forecast is for more sunshine and warmth. The garden is already a riot of green and color.

If you want to provide bees with plenty of food, comfrey is the plant for you. Instead of blooming all at once, its flowerheads are made of rows of flowerbeds which uncurl and bloom row by row. Cut the plant down, and in no time, new shoots spring up to bloom all over again, providing bees with flowers much of the summer, and you with a steady supply of verdant mulch.

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