Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Buttercup for the Win

April 24, 2021

What with being on-call for jury duty, kid care duty, and Three of Earth Farm Airbnb grand reopening this weekend, there was no hole in the schedule for an adventure this week, in spite of a glorious spring opener in the PNW. Time to catch up with what’s happening on these four acres.

Earth Day was Thursday (hopefully we are all loving and working to restore Earth more than just one day a year), and Wednesday was the third anniversary of my mother’s death. How she loved the earth. And how I miss her.

It’s spring. I’ve pulled blackberry vines; gathered up fir branches dropped by winter storms; held last year’s sword fern fronds in my hand and bid the old year goodbye as I snipped them off to give the new growth a clear path; scraped the moss and loam off the edges of the driveway; weed-eatered vinca overgrowth and trimmed the salal hedge, pampas grass, and St. John’s wort with my sister’s new electric hedge trimmer; cleared trails in the woods around my acres (well, some of them); chainsawed fallen branches with my new chainsaw; cleaned the patio; mulched one “flower” bed; planted seeds. I’ve learned to do it all in small bits and it’s not too bad. If I keep my standards low . . . and let some things go.

And I’ve weeded and added new soil to the nine boxes in my meadow garden. A few weeks ago, as my young grandsons and I were weeding the pea box, Elliot stepped on the edge and it fell apart. My older grandsons helped me build the first three boxes in 2014 when Elliot was a newborn babe, and now the eldest is nearly six feet tall. I realized at the moment it crumbled I have no interest in rebuilding them.

The Bigs (in 2014)
The Littles (in 2021)

A couple weeks later, I weeded the root vegetable box and the one that has become hollyhocks of its own accord. Last week I did the bean, tomato, and zinnia boxes; and this week the squash box and the undesignated one that was full of buttercup. They are all rotting and weeds have invaded. I’m done. I would rather hiking keep me from gardening than the other way round.

And hoeing out the (ranunculus sardous, near as I can ID) buttercup is backbreaking. And pointless. It’s like the virus—opportunistic.

The buttercup wins the wild flower border.
Forget-me-not is also invasive, but it isn’t resistant to removal. And I like it, maybe because I can control it. Along with violets, it can stay.
Butterfuck invading the strawberry box.
Peas. And buttercup itching to get in around the plastic and under the rotting boards.

In the beginning it was a lovely garden, and not a buttercup in sight; now it struggles. Creating and nurturing it saved me when I was caring for my mother and for her garden creations. I needed something that was mine. But this is its last year, at least in its present form. I decided that as I pulled the not-tasty strawberries out of the zinnia bed, leaving the buttercup that surrounded the box, plotting its invasion. Trying to tame a plot of meadow that wants to be wild is too hard. Besides, the vegetables are not wildly successful. I like the idea of growing my food, but I like hiking more. I’ll stalk the farmers markets and save time and money. And my back.

Last year I replaced the crumbling deer fence, so it’s good for a couple years. Maybe I’ll plant more blueberries, and maybe raspberries. I wish I had interest in beekeeping, the hives would be protected from the bear, maybe. (The honey bees are buzzing happily as I work.)

For this year, I’m replanting the vegetables, giving up the unboxed wildflower beds. To everything there is a season, and it’s time to move on; reinvent for now, abandon eventually. And make friends with the cheerful buttercup. Question is, when the time comes, should I dig up the brick path and tiny patio (in the foreground of the last photo)—which I’ve not weeded yet and is nearly hidden—or let the earth have it?

Happy weeding—or letting it go! And one more fading trillium for my mom.

9 thoughts on “Notes from Three of Earth Farm: Buttercup for the Win

  1. (Your path is there, uncovered or not)

    As a frequent flyer to Three of Earth Farm, I will say that every inch is just bursting with life. Nature has her own way of managing itself and it always feels like you have entered into a sacred partnership with what spaces you tend and those you leave be. It’s all beautiful … even your little buttercups. Your love for the place shows. Oh, and more hiking always gets my vote !

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  2. Yes, hike now! Fill yourself with the high views, the places you touch the sacred and it touches you. Keep your body strong for striding. Send photos to folks who have never been “high,” alone on a walker’s path, scolded by marmots, swooped by eagles shadowing sunlight, drenched in sudden showers. Follow your soul… because you fill my soul when you do. Thank you.

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  3. I’ve planted beds and planters and hanging baskets for the eight years I’ve been in this house, but this year I’m cutting back to one hanging basket on my front porch, and three big pots that seem to like begonias. The other stuff takes constant watering (and the hose has a hard time reaching), and I’m the only one who looks at it. The weather has gotten so iffy since 2015, I’ve decided not to fight it. I have perineal flowering bushes planted, and the landscapers here keep them trimmed. I can get cut flowers at the Farmer’s market, and decent veggies there or at Trader Joes. It’s not like I love kneeling and at (almost) 77 years old, it’s getting harder and harder to stand up after I’m down.

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    1. Exactly. There comes a time—and no small relief—to let it go. If I were to rebuild my boxes, they should be standing ones, not kneeling, and that just sounds like too damn much work and expense. And then one has to lift the bags of soil to fill and replenish! Nope. Thank you for the affirmation!

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  4. So much to love here. I doubt I would garden if I lived alone, but I sure do like having it to look at and putter in, and love the harvest outside the door. I especially love your colorful bits! So peaceful. And yet. Whatever brings peace is priority! Ifeel you on the butterfuck… –Nancy

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