10 tagged with #herbology

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hundreds of daffodils shake out of the soil, pried gently from hardened clay. they tumble heavily onto butcher paper, gently wrapped and left on the porch to dry. boxwood roots stretch into the spaces they leave behind.

i clear some plants, which i deem weeds, to make room for other plants, which are also weeds. balloon flowers can stay because i think they are cute. fireweed can stay because it has been here for longer than i have. bindweed must always go.

from hours of staring at plant identification charts, some words embed themselves into my consciousness, even as i don't think of myself as a dedicated botanist. when i see a wide-spreading flower with a central ball and thin petals, my mind whispers asteraceae, the flower like a star. slowly, in my head, i build a dichotomous key from scratch. and this is how is goes.

15 August 2020 22:05


this is the cycle every year; i throw potatoes at the dirt and bury them, slowly, heaping loose compost around the tender sprouts week by week to force them to reach ever higher.

i abandoned them for most of the summer, out of a frustration with my legal relationship to this plot of earth, and knowing that i had planned to be away for a month. weeks ago, i peeled back the top layer of sod, scaring away a large black salamander. i only found enough potatoes to fill the palm of one hand.

"i want ten percent," my downstairs neighbor had joked when i pulled sprouting potatoes out of our shared compost to bury them in the yard. "those are the fingerlings i threw out weeks ago!"

so i laughed at my harvest, some of them small enough to fit up my nose.

some days after that harvest, my brain itched at the thought that i had done something wrong, so i returned to the plot and went several layers deeper. you have to shake the earth with your hands, fingertips gently pushing aside dirt and freeing tangles of roots like matted hair. the earth smells like potatoes. small grubs unroll themselves, the way i feel when my alarm wakes me too early.

i recovered 174 grams of potatoes in total. when i offered 17 grams to my neighbor, he re-gifted them back to me.

04 October 2018 17:21


sycamore shed crunches underfoot
leaving piebald trunks
people wonder, is it sick? is it dying?

no. it just looks like that.

the seed pods of the sycamore contain a mild herbicide.
wherever they fall, other plants struggle to thrive.

put your chair under the sycamore; you'll enjoy a large lawn with little effort.

26 August 2018 21:23


i stepped outside and could feel the sun rubbing against my arms, like the air was barbed and pricking my skin. heat rose from the ground, tickling under my chin. i wanted to jog to the gym, but the thought of exerting myself under this sun wilted all motivation.

instead, i went to the yard and stuck my fingers under the hay, feeling for the cold dampness that kept my potato plants healthy. this is a rough place to grow potatoes, sometimes. some of them haven't broken the surface yet, and i can't bear to cover them with grass cuttings until i can see them. but my eyes swim in the heat, and it's only mid-june, and i don't know what they want.

i covered them. come back to me soon, potatoes.

14 June 2018 22:22

wet season

i left a plastic cup next to the green onions; over 24 hours, it almost overflowed with rain. the shoots stretch fanatically towards the sky, their cells turgid with fluid as they race to outgrow their cousins. the ones that fall, i pinch off in a quick twist so i can dice it and freeze it before it rots in the dirt. i want to have green onions late into the winter seasons when nothing grows. i will not let any of these go to seed, or become snail food.

all the potatoes i buried have rotted, and i threw them back into the compost in disappointment. ironically, the potatoes my housemate threw into the compost months ago have sprouted, so i extracted those and replaced my failed sprouts.

i never understand what plants want. sometimes, i squat in the grass, staring at them as if they will mutter their desires to me if only i paid enough attention to them. when i was a child, i'd see my father doing the same, while my mother rolled her eyes at him. at least i understand that.

10 June 2018 17:24

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