Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gardening Genius

Though my thumbs have become a little greener over the years, I admit to being a fair weather gardener at best. (When the weather is not too hot, I garden, the rest of the time, I hold my plants in light and love from the air-conditioned comfort of my back porch, cool drink in hand, with a promise to weed and water tomorrow.)

Some years we get amazing crops; basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, flowers to celebrate the sheer beauty of nature. This year I planted everything in square foot garden boxes and allowed the blooming bits to take over the space they formerly occupied in the plot out the back door. Only, I have yet to see a flower. Only, the green plants that LOOK as though they should bloom any minute are oddly familiar and making me nervous on a wholly intuitive level. I've been thinking I really should try to identify them, just in case. So I sat down with a plant in my hand and my computer on my lap this morning to tackle the problem.

I began with the species of golden rod, since the entire family is allergic to this little flower, come autumn when its pollen is released. My husband "grew into" his allergies after a year here, and he and Lily are the worst of the lot. Pierre is not a vacation kind of guy, so it was a surprise to hear him talk of leaving for a couple of weeks in August. Turns out he has been tracking the pollen count the past two years to find out how far north, west or any other direction we would need to go to be there when it is the worst part of the year here. Great lengths for a homebody to voyage.

As I cleared all of the species of goldenrod from identification, I scrolled down, scanning the list for something else this pretty little green thing could sound like. It was fern-like, delicate leaf structure, but looked as though it would grow sturdier. Then I spotted it, thought; "nah, probably not," but clicked anyway. There are actually two different plants that cause the pollen we are potentially fleeing come fall, one is goldenrod, and the other: RAGWEED. The picture was a perfect match.

Mild-mannered, eco-minded, nature-loving, kid-protective me was instantly on my feet, looking for my gardening gloves. Then, freaked out by the very number of weeds out there, (and the very hot degree of the temperature in the morning sun), I raced all around the garage looking for weed killer. Do we even own any weed killer? (I have forbidden its use, we're not supposed to have it on the premises.) How fast can I get it on there? Will it poison the tomatoes next to it? Do I care?

The bottle, when I found it, looked large and foreboding and seems to require mixing of some kind. I took a deep breath and decided to leave it for a little later. When I will give Pierre the great satisfaction of getting out his forbidden chemicals and taking care of those buggers. Though I think I will ask him, very nicely, to please leave the creeping charlie and the dandelions alone.

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