Wednesday, July 30, 2008

summer bounty

I am at times astounded by the bounty of nature, especially in a place like this. I grew up in California where rain stopped entirely from the end of April until early October, the hillsides turned brown (some more poetic folks might have said "golden"), and the live oaks and manzanita became coated with grey dust by mid-summer. So I never cease to marvel at the prodigious amount of green growth produced by Kentucky's summer rains. Anything left unmown quickly turns into a jungle of blackberry, wild rose, any many forms of wild flowering "weed."

Several years ago, we had a slightly dry spring, and the maple trees released an unusually large number of their winged seeds. The lack of rain meant that we left the lawn unmown for a bit longer than usual in the spring, and thousands of the maple seeds took root all over the yard. By the time John got the mower cleaned up and ready to go, there were 6" maple seedlings densely packed through the whole yard.

Part of me wanted to let the entire yard go back to forest! We figured the neighbors might object. I talked John into leaving a two foot wide, 10 foot long area next to a walkway unmown. This strategically chosen plot would screen our bedroom window from the road, and provide late afternoon shade for the car.

I called it my experimental tree farm. I have tried, as much as possible to let nature take its course (I have pruned the branches on the side of the walk), and see which trees win out in the competition to survive. As you can see they are are growing quite handily. Those on the edges of the plot have a clear advantage. We now regret that we did not leave several other patches of trees to grow up, especially in our overly sunny backyard area.

On the same topic of things growing with little human input, I put in a few tomato plants this year, in tubs, and have done little about them, other than staking and tying them (a little late). We are now beginning to harvest some of those wonderful, sweet juice tomatoes. We won't get as much as I hoped, because the wet, frequently overcast summer contributed to some type of leave mold that is slowly killing the plants. My guess is before the plants completely die, I'll end up with about twenty tomatoes. Not bad for about 45 minutes worth of work.


Jessica G said...

When I took "Landscape and Floral Design" in vocational school my junior and senior years of high school, I was very happy to learn that the true definition of a "weed" is "a plant growing where it is not wanted."

I like my "weeds" they add character to the yard. Some of Nick's "weeds" that he was mowing over all of the time included some wild strawberries and mint. He now lets the mint grow to about knee height. When he does cut it it smells so wonderful!

I always hate having to pull up seedlings. It almost seems as if it's not fair. :\

Sue said...

I fear that John and I are not popular with our neighbors. We don't mow our yard often enough for convention, and we leave the bank of the yard along the road to grow wild. We like creating habitat for birds, and such. I'm willing to have a place that snakes like, to have a place for all the other things too.