Category Archives: Gardening

Antibodies and The Dibbler

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The operator of the Dibbler is the Supreme Being of the farm. Each and every plant owes its life or death to the accuracy of the Dibbler’s holes – if a seedling is too far from its intended place in the bed, a cultivator will soon come along and end its happy little green life. A plant’s chance for success is decided by someone else at almost every stage of its life. Was it transplanted at the right depth, at the right time, in the right place? Did it get a row cover to protect from bugs and birds or was it left to the mercy of early frosts and geese? Has the field been irrigated or is it relying on the clouds to provide? Obviously, there is not much a plant can do to affect its circumstances so these external forces are really the only chances it gets.

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For a person, there can be many of the same kind of seemingly final life events; born into poverty or wealth, availability of education and healthcare, the love and attention of a family or caregiver. Nature vs nurture is a hotly debated topic and is something I am nervous to even dance around. I have been incredibly lucky with regards to almost every one of these circumstance – I love and am loved by my family, I live somewhere that a good education was readily available, I have been encouraged and supported by my loved ones to pursue my own interests and I am, on a day to day basis, strong and (as I am hearing more and more often) otherwise healthy. Because of this, I feel like I have to do everything I can to make the most of what I have been given and do something worthwhile with my life, like I owe it to whoever was operating the Dibbler and transplanted me in a straight line. I’ll not only grow beautiful leaves but I’ll produce the best damn tomatoes you’ve ever tasted (in this metaphor I am a tomato plant). There are also constant reminders in my life of how important it is to take advantage of what I have while I have it and not take anything for granted.

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I’ve been diabetic for almost 10 years and it has been a struggle to come to terms with how this is a factor that is completely out of my control and that I have to learn how to work with it instead of rail against it. Increasingly over the past two years I have been unable to digest proteins – first meat, then dairy, and now soy. Like the diabetes, my doctors and I believe these intolerances are the result of an autoimmune disease. Since I was 14, my body has been hell bent on destroying itself without even knowing it. We are still doing tests to figure out what this mystery disease is, and because I am still on my parent’s insurance, it is something I can afford to do and will probably be able to afford to treat. It is definitely something that I avoid thinking about for the most part – my most used pep-talk for awhile has been ‘Being upset doesn’t help, doing something helps’. Since there is nothing I can do to get my body to stop being an idiot, I do everything to make sure to not forget that I am still alive and living and not dead yet and until I am physically incapable of it, I will be out making the most of my life.

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Eggs are dairy

Today at work while discussing my new dairy allergy (oh yeah, I’m allergic to dairy now. What’s up with that?) with a coworker, another individual joined in our conversation and informed us that eggs are dairy. I was so thrown off by this that I googled this misconception once I got home – LOTS OF PEOPLE THINK THIS! How far removed do people have to be from their food source to genuinely believe that eggs are a dairy product? I even explained that eggs come from chicken’s behinds and milk comes from the mammary glands of mammals. Still, ‘Eggs are dairy! that’s why vegans can’t eat them!’ Another coworker informed me that eggs are listed under dairy for school nutrition. Does anyone know if this is true? Are we further confusing the youngsters we are supposed to be educating?

Impressive Neighbor

 

Impressed. Just… impressed.

Culp Branch Native Prairie

Culp Branch, for those of you who live around here, is located on FM 455 in Sanger, the entrance is right across the street from The “Dam” Store.

One of my favorite classes at my current school is Outdoor Education. Who wouldn’t love getting to leave school in the middle of the day to go fish, hike, learn how to geocache (so much fun), and in the winter, shoot a bow! Lately we’ve been going geocaching out at Culp Branch. While the kids are searching for the hidden treasures I am frequently distracted by all of the plant life.

From the beach to the road there are hundreds of plants; wild plum thickets, yucca, pecans, naturalized irises, mesquites and black locusts. I have been there are least 3 times a week for the past 3 weeks. I plan on being there for the wild plum harvest and when the mesquite pods are hanging heavy.

Gayfeather (Liatris mucronata)

Pitcher Sage (Salvia azurea var. grandiflora)

Canadian Goldenrod (Solidago altissima)

Button Willow (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Heath Aster (Symphyotichum ericoides var. ericoides)

I love looking out over the field and seeing all of the grasses and scrappy flowers that have survived the Texas summer and are putting on their last show for the season. Their colors are subtle and easy to miss but are worth taking the time to look for. Being able to take our students out here and have them hike through the grasses and learn the difference between a mesquite tree and a honey locust is one of the most amazing things I get to do.

Our School Garden

This is the courtyard where our school garden will be growing!

The middle school boys attacked the lot with their shovels and scraped every one of those weeds off. It’s impressive what you can get your students to do so long as they think it’s a game!

We all made garden logs (not journals, or diaries – the boys made this very clear) and are keeping track of everything we do in the garden each day. One of the students has even made a wind sock and is keeping a weather chart for us to use with our garden.

The picnic table was built by the school’s construction class¬† and will soon be joined by two more tables, an arbor, and a sign with the garden’s logo! Another project we worked on as a class was creating a map of our garden (to scale!) and including our future plans.

We are working on a mural that will brighten up our walls and cheer up the courtyard. We have had a lot of paint donations from our community so far, a nice power washer to clean the walls, and are currently working on getting our hands on some paint brushes.

This project has been a very bright part of my day. And hopefully a very bright part of the school!

Partridge Pea and Milkweed

B has been working on a series that has us exploring a lot of newly developed land. While he is photographing buildings I wander around and look at whatever plant life has managed to take root and grow in the freshly turned under areas.

I’m not sure what kind of milkweed this is because I didn’t get to see it flower and I’m not particularly good at identifying their seed pods. I’ve got some milkweed seed saved from last season that I’m going to try and include in the school garden.

Partridge pea  or Sensitive Plant (Chamaecrista fasciulata)

As a kid playing with the leaves of a sensitive plant (there are mimosa sensitive plants and this partridge pea and I’m sure many others) was a staple of summer time. I was only ever familiar with the mimosa variety and had not seen the partridge pea until last week. They grow tall and upright instead of the crawling sprawl of their mimosa counterparts.

The olives are done!

 

The olives are done! Their flavor was different from what I was expecting but definitely not a bad flavor. Their texture is a little soft – for a firm texture it was suggested that they be kept cold but our small fridge was not so accommodating. I’ve gotten used to their soft texture and will chop up some olives for olive salad for B who doesn’t like the texture too much.

I’d say it was a success! Next year’s foraged harvest will be more productive and I’ll try to fine tune the olive brining.