Last year there was kale in the garden, too much kale really… So I did nothing about the plants and let them die off in the winter. Or so I thought. Early this spring they reappeared, and I was none too interested in an unending sea of salad. But the vigorous vegetable is a biennial, or at least the variety I have. I hacked out three plants to make room for this year’s garden, and left two others to go to seed. Maybe by next year I’ll be interested in kale again, and I won’t plant as much either.
The seed pods are really interesting. The sheer size being held upright by such a tiny stalk is mesmerizing. Each day they swell a little bigger. And beyond that, the kale is still producing more flowers at the top of the stalk. It has been a nice bit of constant color in the garden. Now I keep a vigilant eye on the pods to dry out so I can harvest.
This may be my first year of true gardening, but I am in no way a complete beginner. If anything I would say so much that I know more about gardening than the average person, but still would consider myself an amateur. This level of knowledge can be summed up that if lost in a forest I would not die quickly of stupidity. One plant I am well aware of is Deadly Nightshade. (Thank you Dame Christie, for your use of Atropa belladonna.) So when this strange plant appeared in a rather run-down part of the garden, where the wood is stored, with a strangely beautiful flower dangling from it I was interested. It was a deep violet with a little yellow protrusion beneath it.
After much debate, I’ve come to the conclusion that what I have here is related to the ever famous nightshade, Solanum dulcamara. However my decision of what the plant was did nothing to ease my debating. Besides the vegetables, I took to sow many flowers in my garden this year. More precisely, I took to plant my smaller, well-spaced flowers for areas I wanted to leave open. I still had spots I wanted thick with flowers, climbing vines, etc, were still open. So when a plant came along just as I wanted, and it happened to be pretty I didn’t want to remove it. However it wasn’t the poison that brought down the guillotine; it was the speed.
When I first noticed the plant when dealing with the wood pile, they covered a perfect section of fencing by which I wish to put a bench as a linden tree in my yard and crab-apple tree in the neighbours keep the spot wonderfully dappled with light all day excepting about two hours around high noon. In the two days I debated keeping the vine it conquered some two foot on either side, and began to spread horizontally across the ground. I do not think this is the average growth as that rate would infest my whole yard in a few weeks. Nonetheless, the speed was enough for me to tear the whole lot out.
Now I’ve an empty section of fence, a bag of poisonous vines, and the stench of something dead I unearthed. Despite that, I purchased a grape vine to put on the fence. Now one would think that would be a great idea to switch a poisonous plant for something edible, but (and perhaps this is simply paranoia) Solanum dulcamara is particularly steadfast in its regrowth. So, even though I thoroughly dug out the roots, I could not bring myself to plant the grape. It now resides in a pot up by the house… not exactly the perfect grape habitat.
For my entire life, I have been surrounded by garden and farms. My Great-Grandfather was a farmer for many years. (Though, that counts only working. He truly was a farmer all his life.) Both his parents were farmers, and those before them. It was inevitable that I too seek out the soil.
Being bookish I did not truly find interest in gardening until the doom and gloom of modern academia stretched out its cold, dying hands. It was an escape, to be perfectly honest. But one most needed. The refreshment of clear mind was delightful. That I was paid for it was secondary. The mental benefit is tremendous. I really do recommend that if gardening “isn’t for you” or that you “kill everything” give it another try, have patience, and enjoy nature.
Now I must say I have been wholly infected with a green thumb. This year I planted one dozen potatoes (red, yellow, and purple) as well as a few second year kale (trying to get seeds). On top of that I germinated 150 cantaloupe seeds, and planted out 89 to get established. I don’t want to admit it, but I really only have room for about four plants. The excitement of seeing so many superceded my rational thoughts. However, the sheer number of plants allowed me to notice slight differences in the plants that I otherwise would not notice. I hope then that the plants to make it are the best they can be.