Wild Strawberries

I mowed the lawn, most of it anyway, on Saturday. I knew Attila was coming for a visit, and that he would mow it during the few hours he would be spending with me, so I maximized our together time by mowing as much of the lawn as I could manage, which was most of it. We have a double lot here at the little house in the city, so it is like mowing the lawn for two houses. I am putting my knee brace to good use.

While I was mowing I discovered sections of the lawn that had been taken over by wild strawberries, sections the birds had not found. There were lots of little red strawberries. Turning off the lawn mower mid-mow, I knelt in the yard and ate up every last little strawberry I could find. The neighbour across the street found this hilarious.

He called over, “Are you eating your lawn!?!”

Of course I let him know I was eating wild strawberries, but that didn’t stop us from having a good laugh. When Attila saw him later the next day, he was still laughing, and telling the story of his neighbour “eating her lawn.”

After starting up the lawn mower and proceeding with the lawn mowing, a motherlode of wild strawberries appeared where the yard gets partial shade. Again, the lawn mower was switched off. A container was required for this patch of strawberries, and the patch yielded about a cup of wild strawberries, which were later added to a fruit smoothie.

There is a deep ditch between the front yard and the road. It was created two summers ago, when the road was repaved. I cannot mow it, there is no possibility that my arthritic knee can handle walking along, or down, or up, that steep slope. The boulevard, which is the deep ditch in our case, is filled with weeds. Knowing that Attila would mow this area on his visit, the weeds needed to be addressed. Two weeds in particular were troublesome, both designated noxious weeds by OMAFRA. The first, purple loosestrife, was flowering in tall spikes. The second, wild parsnip, was in its early stage, leaves just popping up here and there in the boulevard. Mowing these noxious weeds is not a good idea. They needed to be eliminated.

Some time ago Bex recommended a concoction of vinegar, epsom salts, and Dawn detergent to spray on weeds, to kill them. It was worth a try. Early Saturday morning, spray bottle full of this concoction in hand, I delicately wove my way down the steep slope to the bottom of the ditch. I had my mosquito gear on, thank goodness, because I really stirred them up walking through the deep weeds. The purple loosestrife died almost instantly, turning brown and curling up. The wild parsnip took all day to show any signs of distress, but died before Attila mowed on Sunday afternoon, 24 hours later.

To prevent further infestations of these two noxious weeds, we decided to plant clover as a ground cover in the ditch. It was difficult to find clover seeds, but eventually an agricultural supply company in the nearby countryside was located, and a quick drive secured two kilograms of Dutch White Clover seed. On Sunday, this was sown along the banks of the ditch, and along the property fence line in the back yard. Luckily it rained overnight, so the seed is off to a good start.

I remain vigilant with my spray bottle though, ready to annihilate any purple loosestrife or wild parsnip, or thistle that invades our property.

Attila arrived for a visit late in the evening on Saturday. We enjoyed a leisurely meal, chatted, and retired for a good night’s sleep. Attila needed the rest.

Sunday we thought to work on yard maintenance, so as to “take it easy” during this visit. Ha! The yard work took all day to accomplish. Luckily, Attila finds yard work extremely relaxing, and so he felt rejuvenated. I worked near him for most of the day, removing grass from along the chain link fence, which after having been left to grow for the past five years, was healthy and substantial.

Our garden is looking healthy, with the recent rain. It will be sometime before it yields much produce though. I have been enjoying our rhubarb, the only early offering. Strawberries and asparagus offer early yields, and are on our list of “eventual” garden musts, but need us to be living here full time to make them a practical garden choice.

Attila returned to the country house, slightly refreshed, to face another week of work, and keeping the house “show ready”. Since his employers suspended all weekends off (they used to get two or three between the 1st of May and the 1st of September) he is wearing down, having no significant breaks from his heavy responsibilities, and physical labour, at work. The company has already lost two very good employees due to this new policy, and there are mumblings, they are going to lose more.

Since Attila is planning another overnight visit in two weeks time, the pain of parting was not so intense as he waved goodbye, beginning his five hour drive back to the country house. Perhaps it is that we both feel some kind of change approaching, even if it is only a formulation of a viable Plan B, or C, or D…

Meanwhile, back at the little house in the city, I keep myself busy with my projects, finishing Volume One of my book, doodling with my graphics tablet, paying bills and keeping up with day-to-day administration tasks, sorting through the piles of material left after our renovations, preparing some of it for a trip to the dump, and storing the rest in an organized fashion.

The weather today is hot and humid. I usually go for my walk early in the morning when the weather is this sticky, but I got busy with other things, and started out after 1:30 p.m. I will not forget to get our early again!

While out on my walk today I discovered two young wild parsnip plants in front of someone’s vacant property. What to do?!? I emailed the county office, they have a weed control department, to ask them about it, and will wait for a reply. It needs to be dealt with, or those young plants will thrive, go to seed, and spread all over our neighbourhood. I don’t feel comfortable taking it upon myself to spray in front of someone else’s property, seems a bit aggressive to me. I will wait for advice from the county weed inspector.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

19°C [the shaded thermometer outside my window days 25C]
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Monday 15 June 2015
Condition: Mist
Pressure: 101.4 kPa
Tendency: rising
Visibility: 10 km
Temperature: 19.0°C
Dewpoint: 17.9°C
Humidity: 93%
Wind: S 17 km/h

Quote

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”
Booker T. Washington
1856 – 1915

14 Comments

  1. Scott is using Bex’s concoction in his endless war against dandelions (we have an acre or five of them).

    What is the plan for Attila’s employment when the country house sells?

  2. The sensations of summer have pleasantly graced your life. Yard maintenance requires very little effort from me. Bales of pine needles cover the ground. Mr. Campbell comes every so often to pluck those hearty enough to poke through. I haven’t seen a dandelion in years!

    I’ll stop here for fear of overstaying with too many words. *laughing* Love.

  3. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Hmmmm… Okay, I wonder how Bex’s solution would do on our non-lawn? We have one area of the front lawn that is nothing but weeds (an area that use to be under the crabapple that was downed a few years ago). Sounds like that would also be great for keeping cracks in the driveway and along the house under control…

    Your wild strawberries sound delicious! So glad you got to have some – and in a smoothie, yet. Yum!

  4. Kate, I will be interested to hear how Bex’s concoction works on such a large area, and on dandelions.

    Ah, the plan, when the house sell, well, there is no plan really. I guess, despite our ongoing optimism, we don’t really believe it will ever sell, lol. We have a few thoughts though, about what might transpire. One is that we would stay in a trailer on our camp property, rent a port-a-potty for the site, and stay there until it gets too cold, then either rent a place near Attila’s job, or bite the bullet and accept a minimum wage job near the little house in the city. We aren’t really sure what will happen, we just know that to make any kind of change we have to sell the country house, it is the first step, and until it actually happens we are immobilized.

  5. Reenie, your place must smell like heaven when the sun beats down on those pine needles! No dandelions, I can’t imagine! We have oodles of them. I wish we liked the taste of them, so that we could eat what grows naturally. But I can’t abide the taste of dandelion greens, no matter how they are cooked.

    Summer! At last it is here. Thinking of you sitting in your lovely porch, painting, with the scent of sun warmed pine filling the air.

  6. Teri, I tried the Bex’s concoction on the cracks in the driveway, and have some success, but not total success. It may have been my spray bottle though, it was acting up and not providing good coverage. The brown spots all along the banks of the ditch out front attest to the concoctions potency though.

  7. Thanks for asking Teri. Terra bounced back quickly after the first few days of recovery. She is back into the swing of things, just returning from a trip to Ireland to visit her sister, and now back at work full time. Oh to be young!

  8. Gosh, I can’t take all the credit because I think the Epsom Salts and Dawn part of that concoction were from someone else! Or else maybe on a web site I provided? All I used was vinegar and water mixed together in a spray bottle. Not the other stuff. But glad to hear it’s working. So much better than putting unnatural chemicals into the land!

  9. Hey Bex, I KNOW it was you! 🙂

    You passed along that suggestion a while ago, it was very timely. I think you liked the entire recipe on Facebook, then outlined how it worked for Paul, although he only used vinegar and water. I would not have known about it, or trusted it enough to try it, had you not written about it. Thanks!

  10. Noras

    Hi Maggie, You had me laughing with the vision of you (in my head) on all fours munching away on wild strawberries. Glad you were able to share the bounty with your wild life companions!

    What did you use in your smoothie?

    I have never heard of Dutch white clover but I hope it takes and works well. Why are wild parsnips so disliked?

    You mentioned your garden looking healthy. That’s always a good sign! You sound very busy and content. Happy to hear Attila was able to visit and the parting was not as painful.

    Little know fact is that Booker T. Washington had a summer home in my hometown in Fort Salonga on 30 Cousins Street. I never saw it nor knew of it until several years ago. Apparently he spoke at the church I attended when I was much younger but he was gone by the time I arrived. I’m fairly certain the life for black people in Northport had to be trying back in those days.

  11. Nora, I throw random things into my smoothies. The one with the strawberries had citrus juice, water, frozen mixed berries, fresh wild strawberries and two dates. Sometimes I mix the fruit with milk, like a milkshake. I use different kinds of juice, today it was grapefruit juice. I have a 2 kg bag of mixed berries in the freezer at the moment, so my smoothies will be made with mixed berries until they are gone, then I might find a different frozen fruit, who knows. 🙂

    Wild parsnip is a noxious weed. It is an invasive species.

    “Like giant hogweed and other members of the carrot family, it produces sap containing chemicals that can cause human skin to react to sunlight, resulting in intense burns, rashes or blisters.”
    Source: http://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/plants-terrestrial/wild-parsnip/

    That is really interesting that Booker T. Washington had a summer home in your hometown. I would have loved to hear him speak, but alas, we are too “young”, and missed that opportunity.

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