It’s been a wild month for Ben and me, as we’ve finally settled into our new home in Phippsburg. One of the wonders (and key selling points) for this house is the gardens, which are vast and many. I’ve been daydreaming about a garden of my own for years now, studying up and lusting after others’ pretty green acres, but it turns out that studying in your apartment in Portland is an entirely different animal than being set down with a rake and a pair of gardening shears in the center of a thriving garden that’s suddenly all your own.
Consequently, there have been stages of acceptance in this process. At first, I was reluctant to touch anything for fear that I would ruin the whole place. The previous owner had set aside some time to go over things, and until that day came I was as timid as a turtle in traffic about pulling anything up.
“I’m pretty sure that’s a weed,” Ben said to me as I stared down a six-foot-tall thistle.
“What if it’s there for a reason,” I said. “Like, maybe they put it there because it repels bugs. Or putting a thistle next to the kale makes the kale grow faster.”
“Or maybe it’s just a weed,” said Ben.
I wouldn’t let him pull it. When Emily (the previous owner) came round, she looked at me like I was daft. “You’ll need to keep on top of the weeds or things will go wild fast,” she said.
“So you didn’t put this here for a reason, then?”
“It’s a weed. I didn’t put it there at all.”
Lesson learned. After Emily walked me through the place and bid me farewell, I dove in. I’ve been weeding ever since, with a few breaks in between for writing. I’ve learned a lot in the past week, but there are still many, many things I don’t know about this gardening adventure. For example, I learned shortly after our arrival that we’d inherited a garden full of cabbage worms and flea beetles, so it’s been trial by fire trying to keep on top of that.
And, to top it off, there were several plants that Emily didn’t actually recall the name of, or where they’d come from, so I’ve been researching and frankly have come up short. Which is where you, dear reader, come in. For those garden enthusiasts out there, I have several photos below of mystery plants I can’t figure out. Are they weeds? Can we eat them? Should I be plotting the garden around them, or tearing them out as fast as I can find them?
There are others, but I don’t want to completely take advantage of the unique skillset belonging to Maine Crime Writers readers. Though there are obviously some challenges to this new world set in front of us, I have to say that I’m having a wonderful time getting to know the house and the grounds. I harvested 35 garlic bulbs the other day, the kale looks like it’s starting to rebound from the cabbage worms, and I know the tomatoes will be ready before I know it. On top of that, there are blueberry, raspberry, and golden raspberry plants that have been yielding like crazy. Next comes conquering canning, freezing, and preserves for fall and winter. Come hell or high water, my larder will be full when the winter winds are blowing this year!
Jen Blood is author of the USA Today-bestselling Erin Solomon Mysteries and the Flint K-9 Search and Rescue Mysteries. To learn more, visit http://www.jenblood.com.