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At the Garden 5/14/11; Grandpa Admire and Why Mint is NOT a weed!

May 19, 2011

The weather today hearkened back to that of my first day at the garden, but that was only thing that was similar.  So much has occurred in the various beds of soil.   The rhubarb looks like it might explode out of its bed. Beside it is lovage which tastes like super celery and the sorrel, which according to Susan will soon go sour, but presently fills your mouth with a burst of lemon flavor when you nibble on a leaf. The oregano is so persistent that it had to be trimmed back and mint (lovely mint which is NOT a weed…let me name the ways….) is everywhere.

Here is a map of the garden courtesy of the Ginkgo Organic Gardens blog. The red font indicates what has been planted.

Today was a Chicago Cares day so there were many hands to make the work light.  We weeded and weeded and weeded. I think I am beginning to like weeding.  You’d think the most tedious task would become boring, but to me it feels so integral to all the other work. Plus it is lovely to chat with my fellow gardeners while I weed.  I am making friends with so many wonderful people.  I have learned that weeding is less difficult if I use the cobra tool and dig under the roots and then pull.  If you are weeding in a bed it is important to shake the dirt loose from the roots before you add it to the compost bucket because the desirable plants in the bed need the soil to grow.  I’m sure all you expert gardeners do this without thinking but it is quite a bit of important knowledge to bank away for a novice like me.

Then there was planting!  We planted two varieties of lettuce in and among the cucumber mounds. I remember one of the names because it was so distinct, Grandpa Admire.  I remember hearing that one of the varieties was less for eating and more to provide a certain nutrient to the soil to help the cucumber.  I asked Susan why the cucumber was planted in mounds.  Her answer was that the cucumber is a climbing vine plant and the mounds support the growing plant and ensure that they get enough sun.

I decided to do some research on Grandpa Admire.  Here’s what I found.

As you can tell, from the picture, Grandpa Admire should be planted 1 inch apart, ¼ inch deep with a thin layer of soil on top.  The other type of lettuce was pretty similar.

The fiddleheads I harvested two weeks ago were delicious by the way. I sautéed them with butter and onions.  They had a very “greeny” taste similar to asparagus.  I think I might just carry on the tradition of my New Englander ancestors and harvest a few every year.

At the Woman Who Bike Brunch last Sunday, I had my first mint julep.  What a delightful beverage!   I was eager to try another one so I harvested some mint from the garden to bring to the wedding I was attending that evening.  Turns out the bar tender had no crème de mint liquor so instead she made a delectable Bailey’s, Amaretto and mint concoction.  My god that was tasty!

Now as you can tell I am partial to the pernicious plant, mint that is sometimes called a weed because of its tendency to spread and take over soil throughout the garden.  However, I just can’t call such a tasty useful plant a weed. If the delicious aforementioned cocktails weren’t enough to convince you, here is the list Claire, a fellow garden volunteer and I came up with.

1)   The leaves taste good straight off the stem.

2)   Mint ice cream

3)   Mint tea

4)   Breath mints (can you imagine a world without them!)

5)   Healing properties

  1. Perfect for all stomach upsets
  2. Natural producer of menthol so it is ideal for sinus pressure and allergies and colds.

And so on and so on…

Just let me know next when you feel the need to weed your mint.  I’d be happy to take it off your hands!

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