Friday, July 19, 2013

Garden Weeds Get Ahead Of Tom

The edible weeds in my garden have quite gotten away from me this summer. Searing heat and high humidity have kept me from my appointed rounds and consequently, my lamb’s quarters have grown larger than normal.

But that’s not a bad thing, as it turns out. Lamb’s quarters, Chenopodium album, puts out lots of side shoots as it matures, making akin to broccoli in that respect. And each of these shoots resembles a young, entire, lamb’s quarters plant.

And so I am eating the vitamin-rich lamb’s quarters with reckless abandon. I even have enough to freeze a few packages for winter’s use.

Even so, it’s time to do some serious weeding and cultivating, as soon as weather permits.

Next, readers might like to know that they are invited to attend any of my foraging sessions held at Spruce Point Inn in Boothbay Harbor each Tuesday through August 20. Sessions begin at 1:30 and last until 3:00 p.m.

To join in, just go to the reception desk at the inn and ask the receptionist to direct you to the foraging class. I like to begin inside, where I discuss whatever wild plant samples I may have collected earlier that day. Then, weather permitting, we walk around the grounds and identify useful wild plants growing there.

The inn’s habitat includes a seaside hedgerow, shady paths and a woodland walk.

On days that it rains, I show a DVD of wild plants.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Touching Scene

A Touching Scene 

A forest of mint and other perennial plants in front of my house have become a favorite haunt of songbirds. And since my front door is a glass slider, I have a front row seat to all kinds of bird activity.

While I’ve seen a number of warblers, these come and go, while white-throated sparrows and a lone catbird have become regular tenants. It’s interesting to watch the plants tremble as some bird hops about under their protective canopy. Of course the birds do me a great service by catching insects that might otherwise do me harm.

In addition to the perennials, I have a row of planters (Earth Boxes and Grow Boxes) lined up in front of the door, bordering the perennials. And because of the constant rainy weather, garden slugs and also, a new pest, ambershell snails, have proliferated. To protect the broccoli, basil, cucumbers and tomatoes in my planter boxes, I have used a combination of Sluggo slug bait and also, crushed eggshells.

I save and rinse my eggshells and let them dry and then grind them up as fine as possible. These I spread around on the top of the planter boxes so that they might deter slugs and snails. But lately I’ve noticed that the something was happening to the crushed eggshells. It seemed to me that perhaps heavy rains had simply washed them away. But that wasn’t the case.

Several days ago, I sat and watched a male white-throated sparrow as it emerged from the mint patch and landed atop one of the planter boxes. There, it pecked at what seemed to me must have been small insects. Soon after that, a female appeared. She sat on the ground, near the planter box.

The male then sorted through the crushed eggshells and selecting one tiny bit, picked it up in his beak and flew down to the female. He came within touching distance of her. She opened her mouth and he gave her the bit of eggshell, which she swallowed. The two repeated this process several times and I was amazed and touched by the degree of gentleness and tenderness the male exercised.

No doubt the female was tending her young and couldn’t get out to forage for scratch for her crop. The male knew that, which was the reason he went to such lengths to supply that necessary article for her.

Sometimes nature presents us pitiable pictures of death and suffering. But once in a while, she also reveals acts of kindness. In this case, the familial kindness shown was enviable.