Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Modest Request

I have just spent an hour or so on yard work, my usual form of exercise. Much of it consisted of pulling out self-seeded privet, of which my yard produces an inexhaustible supply. I also got rid of some ivy, ditto. Which suggests ...

If someone who does genetic engineering wants to make himself really useful, he should look into engineering vegetable pests to make them good for something. If only my yard grew a variant of ivy whose leaves made a tasty and nutritious lettuce substitute, I would have a lifetime's supply of salads. I am not sure what can be done with privet, other than letting the trees grow up and turning them into lumber, which would make the yard unavailable for its present function of growing fruit trees. But perhaps someone can think of something.

10 Comments:

At 3:42 PM, December 11, 2012, Blogger Julien Couvreur said...

Along those lines, why can't we engineer fixed-length grass? That would save the hassle of mowing the lawn...

 
At 3:51 PM, December 11, 2012, Blogger Xerographica said...

I really really hate ivy.

Have you tried Nasturtiums? Both the flowers and leaves can be eaten. It's not for everybody... but I really love the punch it packs...a bit like wild water cress...or maybe Dandelion greens...but not as bitter.

If you made a salad using all three...and mixed in an olive oil, lemon juice, crushed garlic, cumin and cayenne dressing...then you'd probably want to have somebody sign a waiver before they tried it.

One person tried to sue me when their taste buds exploded.

 
At 5:09 PM, December 11, 2012, Blogger jcast said...

Of course, the reason weeds grow everywhere and useful plants grow only where you put them (if then) is that useful plants have been genetically engineered (by selective breeding) and weeds have not. So perhaps genetically engineered weeds would be out-competed in your yard by the normal sort anyway.

 
At 9:41 PM, December 11, 2012, Anonymous Gray Woodland said...

Privet is useful for something, for certain values of something: it is the traditional English hedge of choice for small sub/urban gardens. On the other hand, I've never seen a privet that would be any use for lumber, even where they have run wild, so maybe we're not talking about exactly the same species.

English privet is quite often seen in a modified variety to make it fitter for purpose, though the modification was achieved the old-fashioned way, and is the very boring one of golden variegation.

 
At 11:04 PM, December 11, 2012, Blogger John David Galt said...

Edible kudzu could replace the welfare state! :)

 
At 1:31 AM, December 12, 2012, Blogger Unknown said...

Could arugula be what you are looking for? It grows wild in the mountains (here in Italy, anyway) and spreads easily in the garden. And it tastes great.

 
At 10:36 AM, December 12, 2012, Blogger Ralph Musgrave said...

Ground Elder smothers everything else and is edible.

 
At 12:01 PM, December 12, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

Checking for Ground Elder online, I find:

"Once established, goutweed plants are highly competitive, also in shaded environments, and can reduce the diversity of ground cover, and prevent the establishment of tree and shrub seedlings."

If it can prevent privet seedlings, it sounds like just what I need.

 
At 12:14 PM, December 13, 2012, Anonymous Kid said...

And if the experiment with ground elder turns out not to be much of a success, how are you going to get rid of it?

 
At 1:17 PM, December 13, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

"And if the experiment with ground elder turns out not to be much of a success, how are you going to get rid of it?"

Details, details.

The recommended way seems to be to eat it. I haven't had much luck controlling mint with that approach, and I gather elder is even more vigorous.

 

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