TALES FROM THE GRUMPY GARDENER #3: There’s Nothing Dandy about Dandelionss


There’s Nothing Dandy about Dandelions

There is nothing dandy about dandelions.AAAAdandelion#1

Absolutely nothing!

Those little yellow topped intruders somehow, someway continually find their way to repopulate Grumpy’s lawn every spring. Any space, however small, infertile or barren will act as a likely and inviting host for this most evasive of all plants.

Grumpy blames his ancestors for the importation of this pesky pest. Even though dandelions are thought to have evolved about thirty million years ago in Eurasia they were only introduced to North America by early European immigrants.

Introduced?

You mean our ancestors weren’t just happy to find tobacco, beavers and maple syrup? They needed to INTRODUCE dandelions thirty million years after the fact?

You see the word dandelion morphed its way into English from an Old French term translating as “lion’s tooth,” a description of its somewhat pointed leaves. However, in vernacular French, the word for dandelion is actually pissenlit, which means “pee in the bed,” a graphic description of the plant’s diuretic quality.

Grumpy wishes dandelions would just “Piss off!” because that’s exactly how he feels (Pissed) when he sees a carpet of yellow spreading across his lawn.

In Ontario we can no longer purchase a quality herbicide to eradicate this nuisance. In years past – one easy spraying – and those little dandies would wilt into little bundles of under-the-foot crispy crunch.

Now, everywhere he goes the store shelves are stocked with that Weed B-Gone stuff (no other alternatives present) which for Grumpy has only become a “Money B-Gone” proposition. He’s dropped $60 on that stuff with little or no results. Grumpy actually heard those little lions chuckling and chortling as he showered them down with a fervent cry of, “Begone with you foul and noxious weeds!”

In response they chant, “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, we smell the blood of someone dumb”.

The last big box store Grumpy visited had two huge pallets of that “B-Gone”  stuff sitting right beside the checkouts.

Pallets?

The next thing you know that big box flyer will include a full page ad for the sale of the freaking Brooklyn Bridge.

AAAAdandelion#2This spring Grumpy has seen dandelions filling in space as if they are about to take over the world. Parks, farm fields, school yards and pristine lawns are being totally and completely encroached by this yellow menace. This morning at his local Timmies Grumpy spied a long boulevard completely infested with dandelions – the grass was completely gonzo.

And, the worst of it all, as these little pests go to seed, you can watch those fluffy bundles blowing in the wind. This is not the “answer” Bob Dylan envisioned nor is it something the guy next door will compliment you for. This is “dandy-geddon” on an enormous scale.

Oh, Grumpy fondly remembers dandelions in his misspent youth. You know rubbing the yellow on his arms as war paint, blowing the fluffy seeds off the flower, popping the heads of with his thumb and projecting them at his target in “dandelion” battles and imaginary skirmishes. He also remembers holding the flower under another friend’s chin to see if the yellow reflected there thus revealing that the friend had a girlfriend.  Of course, turning the stems into interlinked loops made cool bracelets and necklaces. Some of Grumpy’s friends never had girlfriends – ever.

But that was then and this is now. Grumpy is a freaking senior citizen with attitude. He is ENTITLED to a weed free lawn.

Seriously folks, Grumpy has enough of these little pests in his lawn to consider turning Grumpy Villa into a dandelion farm. Forget about horticulture, Grumpy could get into “pissenculture” – the commercial production of dandelions.

Really this isn’t a bad idea given the medicinal qualities of this noxious weed.

QUOTE: “While consuming dandelions probably won’t make you wet the bed, the plant does contain minerals and vitamins that affect the human body’s processes – specifically digestion, urine production, and liver detoxification. The plant is high in iron, beta carotene, potassium, and vitamins A and E. Because the dandelion root runs so deep, sometimes two feet into the ground, it acts like a well, bringing up substances that its neighboring plants are not capable of mining.”

Recently, the dandelion has been touted as a cancer preventing food. Grumpy, as a service to you – his avid readers, has discovered that every part of the plant is edible.

The French make a delightful salad of dandelion leaves tossed with bacon and croutons in vinaigrette and flavoured with chopped herbs such as borage, parsley, garlic and chives. They call this delicacy ‘salade de pissenlit’.

And, of course, everyone has heard of Dandelion Wine. Grumpy does consider himself somewhat of a vintner given his taste for wine and his frequent consumption of the product. Maybe dandelion beer is a possibility?

Now that’s a EUREKA MOMENT!

Now, Grumpy is a little long in the tooth and doesn’t have the financing to put his idea together, but he offers this tremendous opportunity to you, as your friend, financial advisor and mentor. He’ll sell you his idea for the reasonable franchise fee of $10.

NOTE: Grumpy has cobbled together these ideas from Amish Country where every year there is the Breitenbach Dandelion Festival.

So here goes. Given that dandelions are taking over the world it is time to capitalize on this “GOLDEN” opportunity. Harvest your crop of dandelions and open a restaurant business called – THE DANDY LION BISTRO.

AAAAAdandelion#3

Your marketing tagline will bring in the customers in droves, “Come to the Dandy Lion. We serve the finest weed in Canada!”

Your signature product would be “craft” prepared dandelion wine and dandelion beer, all made to compliment your dandelion epicurean feast.

(Check out dandelion PISTIL beer here: http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/96/80412/?sort=serv&servT=1&start=0)

The Breitenbach Annual Dandelion Festival has a gourmet feed that has the following six course meal on the menu. Design your menu around this example.

1st Course: Seared Scallop & Shrimp with a Dandelions & Dry Riesling Wine puree

2nd Course: Soup-Dandelion Blossom Bisque

3rd Course: Dandelion & Squash Ravioli with a Dandy Wine & Sage Brown Butter Sauce

4th Course: Dandelion & Pancetta Stuffed Beef Tenderloin topped with Shiraz & Port Pepper Sauce

5th Course: Goat Cheese & Dandelion Mixed Salad topped with Dandelion Croutons & Café Rosé   Vinaigrette

6th Course: Dandelion Couché (Solara Cream Sherry soaked Almond Sponge Cake layered a with Dandelion & Pistachio Mousse and topped with Dark Chocolate)

Each course is served with a different carefully chosen wine or beer. This sounds pretty yummy, eh?

Grumpy’s package franchise deal includes the shipment of all of Grumpys dandelions to you. He guarantees a regular supply given his propensity for “pissenculture”.

So, if you decide to take up the challenge drop Grumpy a line and let him know how it’s working out. In the meantime Grumpy will initiate his own eradication strategy by popping those little buggers out of the ground one “weed” at a time. He’s going to call his stoop and pluck method, using the mysterious tool he invented the, “Handy-Dandy Jim-Dandy”. Sooner or later you might just find Grumpy’s little weed popper-implement in your local big box store. And guess what? You’ll find it right beside those huge pallets of you-know-what but at a quarter of the price.

Grumpy feels that his latest invention and his franchises will rival sales of the “Hoola-Hoop” and the “Super-Duper-Pooper-Scooper”. He just won’t go to the “Lion’s Den” for financing, given that those dudes have a direct connection and relationship with the notorious Mr. Dandy.

In the meantime, as part of your franchise package, Grumpy directs you to these sites for more ideas and recipes.

Stay classy!

DANDELION FRITTERS:

http://www.learningherbs.com/dandelion_recipes.html

RECIPES:

http://www.squidoo.com/dandelion-recipes

GREENS:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sauteed-Dandelion-Greens-242014

WINE RECIPE:

http://www.wine-making-guides.com/dandelion_beer.html

HONEY, JAM AND SPREADS:

http://homecooking.about.com/od/condimentrecipes/r/bljelly9.htm

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9000 HIGH FIVES!


Thanks again folks for following this blog and pushing it past 9000 visits. Please do keep checking back. Because of the Phenom’s intense basketball schedule it’s been tough getting new stuff posted lately.

Hang in there because this weekend brings us the last basketball tournament of the season.

Again, thanks for taking a ride with Grumpy.

Stay classy.

Tales from the Grumpy Gardener #2: Be on the Lookout for Jack the Nipper


WARNING: Be on the lookout for Jack the Nipper

There are a lot of “Jacks” that Grumpy likes including “jumping Jack flash”, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick” and, of course, actor and AAAAJackimagescomedian, Jack Black. But, when it comes to this time of year and Grumpy’s garden, he completely detests that guy know as JACK FROST. He’s the guy you sing about at Christmas. You know the one that’s “nipping at your nose” while “your chestnuts are roasting on an open fire.”

Well I say, “Nuts to that!”

Jack Frost is persona non grata and totally unwanted in my garden.

Consider this:

Jack Frost

By C.E. Pike

Look out! Look out!

Jack Frost is about!|

He’s after our fingers and toes;

And all through the night,

The happy little sprite

Is working where nobody knows.

He’ll climb each tree,

So nimble is he,

His silvery powder he’ll shake.

To windows he’ll creep

And while we’re asleep

Such wonderful pictures he’ll make.

Across the grass

He’ll merrily pass,

And change all its greenness to white.

Then home he will go

And laugh ho, ho ho!

What fun I have had in the night.

How cute?

The reality, of course is that Jack Frost is a serial killer bent on the extermination of all emerging plants. Unlike the poem, he stalks through Grumpy’s garden like “Jack the Ripper” but, in this case, he’s more prone to be “Jack the Nipper”. His cold fingers “burn” those succulent leaves as if he’s carrying a fiery torch.

The little bugger may think this is all in good fun but for Grumpy it delivers setbacks to his virtual Eden that inevitably cause veins to pop out on his forehead – big throbbing ones.

One Wikipedia article characterized our Jack thus, “as a mischief-making spirit, carefree and happiest when he can behave as he pleases. With no obligations, he is able to flourish.”

Heck, that’s what Grumpy thought retirement was all about but, apparently not, because family responsibilities and his burgeoning garden keep the old guy running on a treadmill 24/7. There is no “flourishing” for Grumpy within the confines of Grumpy Villa, especially when frost is in the forecast.

Damn you, Jack Frost.

Take these past few days, for instance. The night time temperature has hovered around 0 C and the nights have been partially clear. The words – FROST WARNING – are broadcast everywhere, on the television, on weather websites and in print.

No one wants to go out in the morning and see, “the foliage of certain plants exhibiting frost damage by appearing water-soaked and dark-green, turning black in time.” The outcome is usually leaf scorch, browning and even total plant death.

Damn you, Jack Frost.AAAFRSTdam

Of course, there are many things a gardener can do to prevent frost damage.

For example, you can cover those susceptible plants with newspaper or large pots. But, you’ve seen Grumpy’s gardens and know this would be an impossible task. He doesn’t have thousands of large pots at his disposal. His garden is too expansive. Bending over that many times would put Grumpy in traction.

Another trick is to get out there and spray water on the plants to raise the temperature enough to prevent freezing. The trouble is that when the temperature is that low Grumpy’s hose is frozen solid too, feeling like an anchor cable in his hands and blocked by icebergs such that a mere dribble emerges from the spout.

Drip, drip, drip will not prevent the nip!

And, his hands themselves become frozen to the point that sense of touch is impossible and the pain is incredible. Grumpy’s “dropsy” becomes epidemic, of course, while all the while he is tripping over that solidified hose he’s dragging around. Eventually, the night air turns blue with curses and complaints.

Damn you, Jack Frost.

Another gardening article had this suggestion regarding frost damage.

“Do not automatically give up on a plant that has been frost damaged. Many plants can be surprisingly resilient and may well rejuvenate from dormant buds at or below soil level. This takes time so recovery may not be seen until early summer.”

Ya, right! That’s when we in Norfolk start to experience summer drought. Drought season begins just about the time frost season ends. Old Grumpy, with hose in hand, attempts to nourish those recovering brown tinged plants before they wilt into paper thin crispy critters.

This gardening thing is a never ending battleground folks.

So, once again, tonight Grumpy will be on the lookout for Jack Frost. There is another FROST WARNING in effect.

The secret to the endurance of Grumpy’s Garden is really its diversity. He has planted so many plants and built so many gardens that Jack Frost often gives up and moves on to more susceptible environs.

GARDENGEDDON
Bring it on Frosty -we have strength in numbers here!

Take that Jack Frost. You are done like dinner.

Nonetheless, Grumpy thinks that children have a better appreciation for “Jack the Nipper” though. They take a more humorous approach. Here’s a few of

their Jack Frost jokes.

GARDENGEDDON Bring it on Frosty -we have strength in numbers here!

GARDENGEDDON
Bring it on Frosty -we have strength in numbers here!

Who is Jack Frost’s favorite aunt?                    

Aunt Arctica

What does Jack Frost eat for breakfast?        

Frosted Flakes!

How does Jack Frost get around town?          

By icicle.

Where does Jack Frost keep his money?        

In a snow bank

What happened when the icicle fell on Jack Frost’s head?

 It knocked him out cold.

What does Jack Frost take when he gets sick?   A chill pill.

And so on!

Stay classy, my friends.

Tales from the Grumpy Gardener: Chapter One -“Max the Killer Cat”


Chapter One -“Max the Killer Cat”

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 “In gardens, beauty is a by-product.  The main business is sex and death.”

Sam Llewelyn

Grumpy’s garden is inhabited by a lethal killer of the feline variety. Otherwise known as “Max the Cat”, our neighbor’s pet frequents the gardens at Grumpy Villa on a daily basis.

His quest is quite simple; that of seeking out with veracity every mouth-watering morsel of furry/feathery prey he can put his fangs into. Many a carcass has been put to rest by yours truly, the undertaker of the Villa’s back forty.

RIP –Chip and Dale.

On cold and snowy days Max meanders over to reconnoiter our many bird feeding stations, slinking around our tiny pond like the “lion in the winter”. He goes by the mantra, “A bird in the mouth is better than two in the bush” and he has the notches on his whiskers to prove it.

When my daughter babysat Max’s family’s two children after school, Old Max would wander over to Grumpy Villa and scratch at our screen door as if checking on his own litter. You see Max acts more like a dog than a cat, and as an experienced “doggy-agitator” he has no match.

Old Max lays on the grass exactly one metre from the end point of a tethered “Pumba the Farting Dog”; totally antagonizing the little guy into a barking and yelping frenzy. The poor dog charges to the end of the line which results in a dead stop 360 spin when he reaches his limit. Meanwhile, Max rolls over on his back and purrs loudly in self-confident splendor. Grumpy is sure that the cunning cat waits patiently to see the dog’s head pop off and catapult across the lawn.

But admittedly, Max is fearless, having taken on most of the dogs in the neighborhood in one-on-one battles of scratch and swipe MMA Armageddon. Many a pooch has been observed yelping loudly as they high-tail it from Max’s lair. Grumpy believes that this petulant pussy is a kitten on steroids.

You see, Old Grumpy built his garden paradise to attract wildlife and that it surely did, including that of the predator variety – MAX THE FREAKING CAT! Among the beautiful and pristine flowers and foliage there is a life and death battle of survival going down. When you create a garden, you are creating a jungle, my friends.

Why is Grumpy describing this situation in such detail? Did you think this BLOG would be just about flora and fauna and Bambi and all things Disney and the Outdoor Channel?

Well, today Grumpy spied his first baby bunny foraging on sweet clover in the backyard, putting Old Grumps on RED ALERT or CAT WATCH, as it were. As Chief Park Ranger, Grumpy must now be proactive, protecting the poor buggers he’s deliberately attracted into Max’s house of horror.

You see, that darn cat views the garden at Grumpy Villa as a source of culinary delight. When it comes to rodents and feathered delicacies, Max surely is a “Foodie”.

Now, when Grumpy spies that furious feline strolling through his gardens, he’s forced to scream and pound on the windows until Max slinks away into the cedar hedge. Sometimes he encourages Pumba to jump at the patio windows and bark like a maniac. Max, to be sure, realizes that a shattered window is another effective method for decapitating a dog, so he sits and watches amusingly with that Garfield-like smirky smirk. Ultimately, this causes a spider web of veins to pop out Ranger Grump’s forehead.

No wonder, “%$#$& cat!” is Grumpy’s frequent lament.

Imagine how Grumpy feels when he finds a lounging Max prone on a padded chair in the screened-in room? That cat licks his lips in defiance, goading old Grumps to run outside to shoo him away. No matter, by the time he scrambles out the door to institute the “shooing”, Max is out-of-sight and long-gone.

Grumpy is certain that he has heard Max burp as if adding an exclamation point to the fact that one more of his furry/feathery friends has bit the dust. He wishes he had a dollar for every time he’s had to grab the spade and initiate an internment.

Or, worst of all, Grumpy might find a trail of feathers or fur strew across the yard that surely declares – MAX WUZ HERE! Certainly, Grumpy feels as if his garden paradise has become a “Field of Screams” because of that damn cat.

And guess what? Max is not the only predator stalking Grumpy Villa.

In the wintertime a Copper’s Hawk snatches finches and sparrows from the bird feeders – easy pickings when Grumpy baits the trap by attracting hoards of birds to his yard. Another time, while talking to a neighbor, a Red Tailed Hawk tumbled into the boughs of a pine tree a mere three feet away with a bird tightly clutched in his talons.

Grumpy wouldn’t mind a predator skilled enough to take out that possum that comes to drink at his pond in the dead of night. And, never mind the vultures that circle Grumpy Villa on a daily basis waiting for Max to complete his murderous acts.

Leftovers anyone?

“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.”  ~Benjamin Disraeli

In closing, Grumpy has a word of advice for those of you who wish to convert your yard into a garden paradise and/or a “built it and they will come” game reserve – TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD! Because for every cute little chipmunk, furry bunny or pretty songbird you invite to your yard, there surely will be a “MAX THE KILLER CAT” type predator ready to regularly test Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” postulations.

If you garden extensively be forewarned, “It’s a jungle out there!”

Or, as Rodney Dangerfield said as the character Thorton Mellon in the 1986 movie “Back to School” –  “I have only one thing to say to you today … It’s a jungle out there. You gotta look out for number one. But don’t step in number two.”

Hi Ho!

DON’T SHOOT THE GARDENER


Preamble:

ZZZimagesCAHXI5V6Grumpy has been a busy boy these last few weeks. Not only has he been working on the Park and Gardens at Grumpy Villa but he has been “running the roads” with the Phenom and the family as this is prime time for the rep basketball season. Time is surely flying by so Grumpy must be having fun, right? Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

It’s raining today so Grumpy is taking a day off from the rigors of garden maintenance and the edicts written on the dreaded honey-do list. He’ll let his fingers do the walking today, across his keyboard, of course.

Enjoy.

DON’T SHOOT THE GARDENER

ZZZZimagesCAJB9FI8

In the beginning there was an half an acre lot. The lot was empty; save for some newly planted saplings and a whole lot of grass to cut. The Good Wife was very pregnant and because of some medical difficulties she was required to remain off her feet, remaining horizontal at her command post on the chesterfield.

In that position she could know all, see all and direct the day-to-day activity around Grumpy Villa. And, please know, I have my wife’s permission to characterize it thus.

As an aside, a year later our daughter, the Smurf, drew a family picture in kindergarten class that was rather disturbing to her lovely teacher. All of us were draw in a standing position, except for the Good Wife who appeared to be in a prone position floating above our heads.

On interview night the teacher was relieved to see the Good Wife in person because, as she said, “That picture had me thinking that you had passed away and your daughter had depicted you in heaven.”

No, that’s Mommy resting on the couch for an entire year. The Smurf had stayed at her side for that entire period as kind of a toddler nurse/go-for couch companion.

I recall that I called home every recess break to check on my lovely wife, only to have long conversations with my precocious daughter.

“Hi, daddy, what are you doing?”

“It’s recess, honey; I’ve just called to check on mom.”

“Are the kids in your class being good?”

“Yes, sweetie; can I speak to mommy, please!”

“I’m watching a video, daddy.”

“Oh, that’s nice! Can I speak to, mommy?”

“Oh no, she’s sleeping daddy! She’s tired.”

“Oh!”

“I got mommy a drink of water, Daddy, and we played with my dollie.”

“That’s nice. You are taking good care of Mommy.”

“What did you take for lunch today, Daddy?”

“Oh, I just brought a sandwich.”

“What are you doing now, daddy.”

“Why talking to you, hon.”

“Tee, hee, hee. That’s funny, daddy.”

BRRRRRIIIIIIIING!

BRRRRRIIIIIIIING!

The recess bell would sound and once again I wouldn’t get to speak with the Good Wife. But, I can tell you this, those conversations with  the Smurf Nurse will never be forgotten.

Anyway the Good Wife, who loves flowers, had been the main planter of the few Gardens bordering this half acre lot on all of the previous May 24th weekends. Consequently, an urgent request came down from Chesterfield Central, “Grumpy, maybe you could plant the gardens this year.”

The beautiful bundle that was born a way back when is the child that has been referred to as The Phenom in this space and who turns 19 years of age next week. Yes, I am about to enter my 20th year as Head Gardener and chief cook and bottle washer around Grumpy Villa.

Little did the Good Wife know that Grumpy had picked up a pamphlet at the International Plowing Match in Paris Ontario that detailed how to convert your yard into a natural paradise as well as attract loads of wildlife? It’s kind of a “build it and the will come” approach to landscaping. Nevertheless, Grumpy has been in garden overdrive ever since!

Every year these Gardens have expanded using Grumpy’s beg, borrow, and steal approach to hunting and gathering. You see with the expense of three kids and a wife who loves to shop, creativity has been the only way to get the materials necessary for two decades of construction projects and garden expansion. Soon there will be no lawn to cut as every inch of space is slowly converted into colourful garden space. And, that, my friends, is a good thing.

Here are some examples that detail how the scavenging was accomplished.

An old deck was deconstructed and converted into two garden arbors.

Old glass storm windows were collected for two years on “junk week” in order to convert a playhouse into a garden house that we affectionately call, “The Cottage”.

Wood chips were hauled from huge piles at a forestry operation a quarter mile from the Villa. Walking paths were created throughout the yard. FREE OF CHARGE

The old wood entrance steps to the Villa were demolished and converted into a bridge over a dry river.

Rocks and boulders were collected from piles of field stones on local farms.

Plants were split and moved about to fill spaces and many a plant sale was attended. Eldest son, Matt, directed the purchases since he was a landscaping student and golf course technician.

But, I’m still looking for that partridge in a pear tree.

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Really, a lot of your garbage and thrown-away junk might be found somewhere in my yard. I actually bought a magazine this year called FLEA MARKET GARDENS that claims it has 500 ways you can gather junk for cool garden projects. I’m excited to say that these ideas are not only amazing but dirt cheap.

Last year Grumpy used the left over storm windows to build a mini-greenhouse/ hot box to start his bedding plants sprouting.

Why?

Because the price of a four or six pack of annuals is becoming like a  purchase of platinum on the black market. No one wants to pay that price for something that dies away after the first frost of October. Grumpy would rather throw his money away on beer and potato chips.

The storm window greenhouse also protects Grumpy’s sunflower sprouts from being eaten by those damn but mighty cute chipmunks inhabiting his yard. Remember, Grumpy “built it” and now they do come – in droves!

But this, of course, is only part of the story. Because, if you garden, you know that with every addition to your paradise comes an exponential increase in your workload. Spring cleanup and garden prep becomes a full time 24/7 endeavor of mammoth proportions. All the while, you must deal with the weather mavens that restrict your activity and destroy your hard work at every turn.

And, after spending a winter barely ever bending over or stooping down, the work becomes an A-535 liniment smearing task of Tylenol wolfing-down magnitude. You become so freaking sore even your hair hurts.

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So, the next blog will attempt to detail the “rest of the story”. The how and the wherefores on how to get the estate gardens looking as good as they do in June.

As a point of reference, please take the time to view the following YouTube video that was produced by Grumpy last year in late May –early June. This video shows how the garden “will” look – not as it looks at present.

Heaven forbid that!

Grumpy has merely scratched the surface of his garden prep this season. Just click the link for your private viewing.

88 PLEASE CLICK HERE: FREE GRUMPY VILLA GARDEN TOURhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugovQL-9E0k

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