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Garner: Post and riposte

Bob Garner
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Bob Garner

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Sunday, July 8, 2018

Facebook back-and-forth can be civil but still confusing. This is a condensed online conversation I had this week.

(Me) Any family-farm Facebook friends know what this is in my backyard? Durn … looks like it will grow too tall to pass as ground cover or natural area.

(Farm guy) Looks to be Puncturevine/Mexican Sandbur.

(Me) Not a vine, though ... individual sprouts. My weed’s lobes are more rounded, but they’re babies and haven’t reached puberty.

(Same farm guy) Then my next best guess would be Mimosa Weed.

(Ironic non-farm friend) If you like it, pull it up. Then there will be more.

Jamaican friend posts picture of huge bush.

Maybe this is the bush growing in your back yard: Tamaryndy Drzewo Obraz Jadlny.

(Me joking) That isn’t a weed … it’s Russian meddling! Or — could that word simply be “Tamarind?”

(Jamaican friend) If so, please save me that tree. I love me some Tamarind in sauces and drinks.

(Me wildly exaggerating) It’s a million weeds sprouting, not a bush. It will soon be an orchard though. I can save you the expense of bringing it from Jamaica, since the trees will be bearing by Aug. 1. Let’s make a deal.

I come to a decision and try to be comically authoritative.

We have a winner — Tamarind. The seed is likely pooped by migratory birds from Florida, or more ominously, Honduras and Mexico. But this probably can serve as a ground cover if not mowed too short, and it’s earning its way by crowding out my crabgrass for no surcharge. Maybe give legal, temporary agricultural visa?

(Me sounding more cocky) I just stumbled into a preliminary rough-draft of my next column! Due when? Tomorrow, that’s when. Often last- minute, never too late. One man’s infestation is another’s (fill in blank). A Jamaican restaurateur just told me, “The frost will ruin everything.”

Uh oh. Totally new farm expert posts unexpected comment.

Tamarind trees have opposite leaflets. This plant appears to have alternate leaflets.

(Me vexed but still joking gamely) Buzzkill! I don’t know how much they change when they stop being sprouts and become trees. Apparently we’ll never know, since they’ve arrived only recently and no one around here knows what they are.

I change directions

Maybe it’s a column about Tamarind/Chamberbitter that’s not really about Tamarind/Chamberbitter at all.

New expert will not fall for deflection.

I see Chamberbitter, Wild Violets and Dog Fennel in that picture

(Me being cheeky) Of course you do. I see green yard. I’ve got too many other pressing concerns to look for another job or hobby. Whatever I am raising, it clearly isn’t grass or weed-free grounds. Even “Joy to the World” acknowledges “thorns infest(ing) the ground.”

(Me caving) OK, ____ has correctly upset my applecart, correctly identifying this as Chamberbitter. However, I’ve looked online and found you can buy chemicals to keep this invasion, aka “Gripeweed,” out of your domain at a prices ranging up to $6,000. I’ll correctly identify it, but now the general idea for the column has morphed into … Tamarind? Chamberbitter? Chamber pot? Who cares?

I begin back-pedaling

Glad I hadn’t already submitted the first column — already roughed out on Facebook. Glad I was corrected gently before a correction was required. Glad I’m not a botanist. Glad I have friends who are. Glad I can work on a different column while kibitzing with you nice folks on Facebook.

(Me talking now to “Buzzkill”) It was a little tacky, though, to also mention the wild violets and dog fennel identified in a photo of one square foot of my backyard. Don’t you need to get out more — maybe eat some ribs with me or something?

(“Buzzkill,” gracious in defeat) That would be my idea of barbecue heaven.

‘Turns out it took an NC State crypto-zoologist (for real) to identify the stuff. I’m definitely taking him out for ribs.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Contact him at bgarner2662@gmail.com. Visit this column on reflector.com for a video extra.

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