Gardener's Grapevine 2012.06.27

Written by David Green.

I get so much information on nature from so many people and it amazes me how much you learn simply by listening. My friend Carol Sutton Zych and I were discussing my number one enemy in the gardening world (next to a snake)—poison ivy.

I have a huge problem with poison ivy at the church. She said it grows so big in South Carolina it can be on a vine as big around as your arm. Well to me, that’s like seeing an Anaconda. No thanks and never. If I get a little vine growing anywhere I just start itching and blistering. If it were that size, I’d never get rid of it.

My friend Mary Lampe and I were talking instead of sewing Saturday due to the fact that the weather had given me a sinus headache and I can’t concentrate well with a brass band in my head. We have a lot of ideas for the bazaar this Christmas and it takes some communication to get them accomplished. Plus, if she doesn’t have something, I might, so we trade back and forth. We come up with a lot of ideas because neither of us wants to throw out things that could be repurposed into something else. This keeps things out of the landfills and cuts down on the costs of the items we make.

I’ve said before that I like the birds that are at Mary’s feeders. Many of them we never get in town and many people never see. I noticed that Mary had different food in her feeder than usual and it had a lot of millet in it. Millet is a pain in the backside in that it is very small and the birds drop a lot of it. Anything that is dropped has the potential to be a plant in a short period of time.

That conversation got us discussing weeds and how I find them annoying. Mary informed me that most of what we consider weeds are actually very edible. A lot of our “weeds” were brought here by early settlers for use as food or medicine. She has a book on edible wild plants and one of them is called calf’s foot. Supposedly it is very edible and tasty, but I had no idea what calf’s foot was. So we went outside for a lesson.

It is one of the most persistent weeds in my garden. I have been pulling this stuff out by the handfuls for 30 years. I didn’t know we should have been putting it on the dinner table. Another weed that is quite edible looks like jade plant. Apparently it has been used in history as a thickener for soups when boiled. It is also OK to prepare and eat like spinach. 

Chicory root can be peeled, roasted, ground, then used for coffee. Chicory is the pretty periwinkle blue flowering plant you see alongside country roads. I knew this was done during war times past when coffee was rationed because my mother-in-law told me her mother had done it. My own great-grandparents ate dandelion greens and so did I…once. They are bitter beyond my belief. My grandmother said they did this because it was often the first green edible thing in the spring and with no green grocers they welcomed something fresh and green.

I don’t know that I will be making any calf’s foot salad in the near future, but I’m not against trying it. If it’s as bad as dandelions we will just toss it out and have another lesson learned.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.

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