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Monday, August 13, 2012




Monday, 7:15 AM.  65 degrees F, wind W, breezy.  The sky is partly cloudy and the barometer still predicts rain, but I have been watering the garden.  We are picking a few tomatoes from the garden now, which is pretty early.
    I am happy to report that our four year old handled a whole hour of church yesterday without any problem.  One would have thought she was a long-time parishioner.  The juice and cake at coffee hour afterwards made it pretty much all worthwhile.
    Summertime is weed time, and one that really must be avoided in the lawn and garden at all costs is Canada thistle. Cirscium arvense, in the composite, or sunflower, family.  If it comes into a garden or lawn by seed blown in on the wind, or in  or inadequately composted soil or mulch it can be almost impossible to kill.  Its spiny leaves make it difficult to pull, it spreads by root suckers and cuttings, and it can take over a large area in a very short time.  Unfortunately, hoeing and roto tilling often just increase the number of plants rather than eradicate them.  It is often necessary to completely kill all vegetation where it has gotten a foothold, and start over.  Seeds can lay dormant in the soil for a long time.  Some years ago I made the mistake of getting free compost from a city composting operation.  Although the compost looked excellent, it obviously never reached the temperature necessary to kill the thistle seeds, and it sure turned out to be expensive stuff.  Years ago agricultural weed laws were strongly enforced and thistles seemed relatively rare; not so today. It is actually a native of Europe, not Canada.
    Common burdock, Arctium minus (or lapa), also in the sunflower family, is a roadside and field weed common throughout much of North America.  It’s prickly seeds catch on clothing and animal fur and the seeds end up everywhere.  It is a nuisance, but not nearly so much as are thistles. It a Eurasian native. I is also a very useful plant,  all parts of which have long been used in folk and herbal medicine as a tonic, diuretic, fever reliever, stomach medicine, blood purifier and as a cure for skin diseases.  In colonial times the flowers and fruit were sometimes candied and used as an after-dinner condiment.

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