Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Nincompoop dreams of burdock root

When I was studying Finnish in college, very early on I started having dreams in fluent Finnish. I don't know what language those dreams really took place in since, when awake, I could barely stumble through a conversation about the weather in Finnish. Last night I had my first gardening dream. I was going to water and weed a small garden plot (that has yet to exist in waking life) and found two rather large, leafy burdock roots growing next to my seedlings. That's all I remember of the dream. And that's practically all I know of gardening: water the plants, pull out the weeds. That I can even dream of burdock root is new.

Last month, Aaron discovered three rhubarb plants lurking in the tall grass. They had both stalks ending in a leaf and tall, seedy stalks. I had to call my dad to ask him how to proceed. How many stalks could I harvest without harming the plant? And what about the seedy stalks? Could we eat those? Should I be watering the plants? How often? How much? And what about that similarly sized plant next to one of the plants with almost identical leaves, but totally different stalks? All my years in New York are showing. I am mortifyingly ignorant when it comes to gardening. Oh, um, and cars and driving and cabin maintenance and transfer stations (the dump) and 4-wheelers (I had to check with Aaron after the happy hour, “Are 4-wheelers ATVs?” Yes, they are. ATV's being All Terrain Vehicles.) and solar systems and bush hogging and chickens and vehicle identification (people recognize each other's cars and trucks. I don't go beyond size and color.) and flooring and insulation and mowing and tree identification and so on and so on and so on. There is so little I do have competency it may account for how consistently I gravitate towards the kitchen, away from that endless list of areas in which I am a plumb, dumb bunny. I have quite a learning curve ahead of me.

See how bad it is.

This is one of the rhubarb plants after I got done with it. I read, and was told, remove the stalks with seeds. That poor plant was all seed stalks. However, when I asked my neighbor who works on a farm to identify the rhubarb-like plant, she said I should have just left the seed stalks. It is time in the Maine season to leave the rhubarb alone, apart from keeping it hydrated. Although she said rhubarb is very hard to kill, and that it should be fine, I'm skeptical. The plant next to it was burdock root, a weed to be removed.

Lets just hope my success with Finnish, or rather lack of success, is not a harbinger of my success at country life. And now, enough writing, the boys are sleeping and I have raspberries to pick. I am inspired after picking these at the conclusion of my morning run.

This time I'm going with a container.


  1. Loving reading about your adventures in Maine! and I'm jealous of your berry picking. Nothing better than fresh raspberries in the summer or homemade jam throughout the winter.

  2. Don't worry - you can only kill rhubarbs by over maintaining them. They love peat with horse drops. If you don't have any around, I'll ship you some. (I love rhubarb, but Jussi says its a nouseweed (his parents are farmers).)

    Remember to feed kids milk with rhubarb due to oxalic acid.

  3. Lovely post and beautiful raspberry picture (nice counterpoint to sad plants picture). xo, kaari

  4. Thanks for all the feedback! I'm sorry I wasn't able to get a better pic of the birches for today's post. They are so lovely.

  5. Oh, you should try eating the burdock root too! I used to eat it all the time in Japan (they call it "gobo") and it's yummy, depending on how you cook it.

  6. Ginny,

    I'll have to get some advice on cooking it from you.