The Winner Among The Weeds

When I first moved here five years ago, I was so excited to have a vegetable garden again. I had been pining for it for years, and even though I really didn’t have time for it, I tilled up a large plot of land the very first spring and planted one. I kinda-sorta kept up with it that first year, even though maintaining ten acres of land was proving to be much harder than I first expected, and my time was limited. But over the next few years, other commitments usurped what little free time I once had, and that garden – which I now call “the old garden” – grew wild. The situation has been really hard to clean up, and I don’t recommend doing this yourself. Without help from my chickens, it might take years to reclaim this as a productive vegetable garden. But despite the mess, three of my original perennials survive to this day. Only one, however, is thriving : sunchokes.

Sunchokes (aka sunroots or Jerusalem artichokes) are a delicious and healthy root vegetable that is native to most of the United States and part of Canada. They are a close relative of the sunflower, which is also native here. They are very hard to get rid of once you have planted them, and they spread. But since they’re a particularly delicious and satisfying food crop, and because they’re native here, I’m ok with that. Even without my help, this plant has out-competed most of the weeds and gradually expanded its territory each year. Although I’ve been working to reclaim the rest of the old garden this year, I’m going to leave the part where sunchokes grow alone until fall. It will be worth the wait to enjoy their delicious harvest.

P.S. The other two surviving perennials are garlic and lemon balm. Both were considerably less bountiful than the sunchokes, so I dug those up and relocated them.

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The Catch-up and Mustard Winter

My first grade teacher scheduled one school day per month as “Catch-up and Mustard Day”. Her rationale: everyone gets busy, and consequently the small tasks, like organizing papers, sorting out desks, and turning in past-due assignments, tend to fall by the wayside while more pressing concerns take center stage. One day per month, we dedicate ourselves to catching up on all those supporting tasks that will set up our success in the next phase of life. I’m coming off of a long string of busy months, and I need an entire catch-up and mustard winter.

By some unprecedented miracle, the universe has granted my request. This winter has been soothingly kind. The wind has deferred, the cold has diminished, and the sun shines on us at Strawberry Moon most days. I’ve been granted enough grace to clear the old garden, to build frames for new raised vegetable beds, and to remain in the chickens good graces. If this good fortune holds out, I’ll also be able to repay my planting debt to last year’s saplings before next year’s trees make their claim.

The garden before cleanup
The garden before cleanup
The garden after cleanup
The garden after cleanup. Behind it you can see the temporary “buddy coop” where Dwayne “The Cock” Johnson and Dr. John Wattleson live peacefully together, safely away from the bullies. A new and better house for them is planned, but not yet built.
Sunchoke Stalks still in the garden after cleanup will mark where to dig for a delicious harvest
I left some sunchoke stalks in place, to mark my digging spots for a delicious harvest.
Beautiful boulders of happiness, leftover from a big summer project
Some boulders, painstakingly carried home after a big summer project.
New raised beds for an easier care vegetable garden
New raised beds for an easier care vegetable garden. Also in view: the hen house, which needs to have its wheels repaired so it can move to a new spot, and the little hospital coop that needs to be cleaned and stored until needed by the next patient.
Saplings in trenches, meant to have been planted last spring/fall
Last spring’s saplings, still in their trenches. They should have been already planted, but they’re still healthy!
Sticks waiting to become mulch
Sticks waiting to become mulch. About half of these sticks have already been mulched since the taking of this photo.
Bigger logs waiting to become firewood
Bigger logs waiting to become firewood. I haven’t even started on this yet, but I did finally get my chainsaw back up and running. Weather permitting, I’ll tackle it this weekend.

Wishing you good luck and good winter for all your catch-up chores. Spring is coming!

If you enjoyed this totally ad-free, affiliate-link-free, sponsored-content-free, subscription-fee-free, 100% honest free article, please consider showing us some love! You can help us and our cause of Earth-positive agriculture by sharing this article with your friends, following us on social media, and interacting with our posts. If you’re feeling especially generous, you could also toss us a few coins through a free platform called Ko-Fi. It’s easy to use and processes through PayPal so you don’t have to create a new account.