I'm a little dismayed at the majority's opinion on how to keep a yard. For many many years my Father-In-Law has kept seven acres of land in pristine lawn condition. He would often cut the grass twice a week in the summer to keep it in it's most tidy condition. Every year he would weed and feed, spread ant poison and round-up the ditch and the driveway edges. To him it was a great feat of dedication and labor worthy to be commended. To me it is a waste of precious time and money.
Admittedly, keeping the lawn as I do subjects me to a few askance glances from the more serious lawn keepers that may occasionally drop by, but most run straight to the chickens or garden and hardly notice the huge mounds of clover, thistle and various wild flowers swaying in the field.
It's not as if I live in a neighborhood were wanton seeds may blow over and desecrate the virgin lawns of the diligent urban grass keeper. I live in an area that is zoned AGRICULTURE! Therefore I do not feel compelled to spend hours of my time weekly tending an unused golf course. Land shouldn't cost you. It should give to you. Wild thistles is one of the many fringe benefits of not keeping a golf course.
My husband has lived in Louisiana all his life and has never noticed a thistle. Most likely because of his Father's fastidious lawn grooming. Since we recently took over the care of several acres of land, he noticed a large perfect rosette of leaves with thorns in the side field. Excitedly he called me over, "What is this?" "It's a thistle" Byron has dutifully tended to his thistle plant since it's discovery. These are pics of "Byron's thistle". The girls even yell, "We're going to look at Daddy's thistle!"
Besides being a simply beautiful plant, you can eat thistles. The thistle stalks pictured in the salad bowl below were gathered from an empty field that was to be a housing development before Katrina. I can't say I'm sad it's not filled with houses.
Once you identify the thistle, which is fairly easy, you cut the stalk, remove all leaves and buds, and then peel the medium green outer layer off. Inside will be a pale green hollow stalk that tastes fresh, cool and crisp. Somewhat like celery. You can eat them plain, with salt and pepper, with vinegar, with peanut butter, or in a salad!
We ate ours in all of the above ways, but we especially enjoyed it with our fresh picked salad.
My last bottle of blackberry balsamic vinaigrette was dropped broken by one of my daughters, so I threw together some ingredients in an effort to create my own and was thrilled by the results. Here is the basic recipe:
Blackberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Balsamic Vinegar 1/3's (about 2/3 cup)
Olive Oil 2/3's (about 1 and 1/3 cup)
Minced garlic (around 2 cloves)
Dried Parsley (1/2 teaspoon)
Black Pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
Sugar (1 heaping teaspoon)
Blackberry preserves (about 2 heaping teaspoons)
Mix all together in jar, seal and shake.