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cynthia_h wrote: It doesn't take a tap-rooted weed or an unsuccessful carrot/parsnip to let gardeners know that there's clay about 6 inches down...

Cynthia
Sounds to me like you need to grow some more weeds! :lol:

Oh and I do housework and pull weeds when needed. :wink:
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Your sourweed (Oxalis) tells me your soil is low in nitrogen. And I'm sorry, Cynthia, living in The People's Republic of Berkely automatically makes you liberal. It's in the by-laws. :P I have lots of family there and AM familiar with the soil there (Beck's Dad overlooks the garden that Alice Waters did with Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, and I've wandered through it a few times. Richie knows Alice and has met Prince Charles and Martha Stewart in the garden (I met the homeless guy who moved into one of the greenhouses). But i got to see plenty of soil.

While the chore aspect does not add value to weeds, it should not overshadow the message that we are doing something wrong in our soil if we have them. Weeds thrive in bacterially dominant soils while our perennials, grasses and food crops all prefer a more fungally balanced soil. Compaction, chemical residues, and a lack of humus make these soils hard to move towards that more ideal situation, but these can be overcome by understanding our soils, plants, and systems, and as Fukuoka-san taught, simply observing. Our weeds speak volumes...

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cynthia_h wrote:As the definite manager of housework (whether I work part- or full-time or am too unwell to work outside the house) and the designated weeder and identifier of weeds at this household, I can't help but notice that the philosophers on this thread are, I believe, guys and [warning: social assumption ahead...] thus probably aren't responsible for ensuring that such daily housework and weeding, two very related tasks, get done. (AS just recommended the book; she isn't philosophizing. And, since it's 10:45 p.m. at my house, the housework/laundry are done for today and it's too dark to weed; also way too wet. More rain came today.)

So the eloquence of "What weeds can teach us" and rhapsodizing about their messages isn't working for me. What weeds tell me is that I need to clean the floor (i.e., soil surface) and take out the unwanteds (the weeds; not really "trash," but...).

Here's the definition that I use, and it's not original to me:

A "weed" is a plant that shows up, uninvited, where I don't want it.

One year, in Berkeley, when I was new to composting, I threw all of my kitchen waste into the composter.

The next spring, I spread my compost on the soil where my roses were. About a week to ten days later, there was a thick carpet of green plants about 1/2 inch tall covering the ground. I wasn't quite sure, but thought they looked like tomato plants.

I waited a couple more days, and sure enough, they *were* tomato plants. WEEDS! I didn't want tomato plants growing up through my roses, around my roses, or anywhere near my roses. Rose thorns are bad enough; can you imagine them with tomato vines all over? :shock:

I pulled every one of those probably hundreds of tomato plants out of the ground, roots and all. These went right back into the composter, and I have never thrown tomato seeds into the compost again. My compost, then as now, ran (and runs) too cool to kill tomato seeds--Q.E.D.--so I don't compost them.

I have cleared my space here of most of the following weeds more than once, but the neighbors to our immediate south use a weed-whacker, which means that I'm forever getting new infestations of weeds. Here are the ones I usually deal with, and there is quite a variety, given the small area I have available for growing plants:

--Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) growing through cracks in the pavement => get 'em out with the weed stick and throw 'em into the compost IF they haven't flowered yet.

--Tap-rooted mallow (Malva palviflora) => likewise

--Yellow Star Thistle (Centaurea solstitialis), invasive and noxious pest; message? => not even goats will eat this one after it has flowered. No redeeming value. I dig it out and throw it in the trash.

--Sowthistle (Sonchus oleraceus, S. Asper) => dig up and treat as dandelion

--Wild onions (Allium triquetrum, A. vineale) => edible, but my dogs sometimes just run out and start cropping the grass as if they were starving sheep/goats. It's not worth the risk to have wild onion around, so I had to remove them. They all went into the compost.

--Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) => very difficult to eradicate physically; almost as difficult as kudzu, since it likes to grow underneath sidewalks, where it's dark. Invasive and noxious weed, non-native; what message does it give me? (well, besides the one about people not paying attention to "stowaway plants"... :roll: :wink: )

--Common groundsel (Senecio vulgaris) => treat as dandelion

--Redstem filaree (Erodium Cicultarium) => produces needle-like seeds, painful to the touch. tap-rooted weed, use weed stick. Throw in yard waste for city pick-up.

--Burclover (Medicago polymorpha, also called M. hispida) => burrs cling to feet and coats of animals, socks and clothing of people. burrs resemble small clusters of sharp thorns, painful if caught between toes of animals or people (in the summertime). shallow-rooted. City yard waste.

--and tons of Oxalis (Oxalis pes-caprae) => not harmful per se, but will smother veggie seedlings in the early spring, when in full growth, so I get what I can of it and put it in the city yard waste. I can't be sure that I have only stems and leaves and no bulbs, so it doesn't go into the compost.

The consistent messages I've received from these weeds is, "Arrgh! [neighbor] has thrown weeds at me again!" or "Arrgh! I didn't get *all* the tap root last time!" :lol:

Cynthia H.
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Think of me as a wife with a y chromosome. So I am reaposible for housework and food prep in our house. Not sure I am comfortable with the implied accusation of patriarchal sophistry based entirely on my gender. I am looking for a way to reduce work and acquire a skill set.

HG, I had my suspicions the organic lawn care author was your friend. This is really an example of ask and receive. And way more than I expected. Thanks soil et al.
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I figured toil. But it seems the least I can do for a fellow Y chromosomed househubby... :lol:

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More about Weeds

Though I'm new to this forum (or any forum, for that matter), I thought it might be helpful to mention the work of Masanobou Fukuoka. His book, "The Natural Way of Farming" pointed me in the direction of valuing a way of gardening that incoporated the wildness of Nature within a perhaps more orderly structure. Through a move away from mono-culture, he has shown the efficacy of allowing all manner of plants to coexist, with each plant and crop greatly benefitting from the diversity.

After reading the "Weed Book" mentioned in another post, I realized that I have also observed that purslane has indeed been helpful in my home garden. Truly, the plants growing within close proximity to the ever abundant purslane seem to show signs of increased vigor and production.

I also appreciate that the weeds from my garden are also fodder for my compost pile, which, of course, I add before they go to seed.
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Thanks Grace. Fukuoka-san's book is certainly worthy of reading and his ideas are of benefit to most gardeners...

And that purselane is edible as well...

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Edible weeds

Thank you for responding to my post. Now that I think about it, I would like to mention the edible and medicinal value of many common "weeds". Dandelions, oxalis, thistle, burdock, lamb's quarters, poke and purslane are just a few "wild plants" that offer, not only delicious additions to our meals, but have been used for centuries for their medicnal properties. It is widely understood that these hardy, native plants offer us their hardiness and locally-grown value when we ingest them. As gratifying as organic gardening is, I find that gathering and eating these "weeds" to be equally as gratifying.
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THE MEANING OF WEEDS

Hi Toil,

They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you, and how to camouflage themselves among the perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I've concluded weeds must have brains. ~ Dianne Benson, Dirt, 1994

There is such a shameful lack of understanding regarding weeds. I attribute it to chemical company propaganda that demonizes them as 'the enemy'. Yet, if understood, they are helpful gardening friends which will dutifully obey a knowledgeable gardener.

A worthwhile book on the subject is free at this address: Weeds
Guardians of the Soil https://journeytoforever.org/farm_library/weeds/WeedsToC.html

Have you kissed your weeds today?

Les

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THAT'S what I'm talking about... :D

Thanks for the links Les

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les that link is on page one of this thread. but well worth the double post :)
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(working full-time again this week; drive-by post)

Masanobu Fukuoka, 1914 - 2009
"The One-Straw Revolution"
please see discussion so named here at THG: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10059

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cynthia_h wrote:(working full-time again this week; drive-by post)

Masanobu Fukuoka, 1914 - 2009
"The One-Straw Revolution"
please see discussion so named here at THG: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10059

Cynthia
It appears that the online reference for "One Straw Revolution" has been removed from that link. Too Bad.

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Although I'm still finding hits on on-line search for an ebook, I think this is why you can't get it anymore from scribd:
https://www.onestrawrevolution.net/ wrote:The seminal natural farming and permaculture book The One-Straw Revolution, by Masanobu Fukuoka, was published by Rodale Press in 1978.

In June 2009, The New York Review of Books republished the English language translation in celebration of it's 30th Anniversary.


I kind of agree with HG's assessment (I think he said this in another thread in the Permaculture Forum) that the core-concept of Permaculture is becoming skewed. It's also becoming awfully like a private club and a fad (with secret handshakes and everything... :>) That's why I can't really find the good in the republication especially since MF's heirs aren't continuing his work at all they say (so why should they make money off of his life's dream?) But maybe I'm being unfair. -- Still, I kind of liked it better when dedicated folks were sharing the out-of-print book all over the world....

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I actually had an online chat with the books translator, Larry Korn last week and was somewhat dissappointed by his responses to specific scientific inquiry on Fukuoka-sans no-till-ever edict (I asked about highly fungal soils in relations to food crops that prefer a balanced F:B ratio, and whether the redcution of fungal mass from tilling wouldn't be beneficial in this instance). Larry very politlely chided me for thinking too much about science, and how Fukuoka had made it clear science was not the answer to good soil management, and wound up with an analogy about how technology was talking about colonizing the moon or Mars, but did we really want to live there?

:?

Fukuoka-san often talked about observation being the core of his method, but I was always told the core of science is simply making the best possible observation you can. How these two have diverged is a bit of a mystery to me, but I think it stems from Fukuoka-sensei's railing against the scientific mores of his period, when better living through chemicals was the norm.

Just having read Mr. Cocannouer's book on weeds, I would say there were contemporaries and indigenes that supported Fukuoka-san's observations; this eventually has led to people doing scientific study in support of these whole system theories. But rather than strengthening permaculture by verifying and adopting this new science, there seems to be a fundamentalist avoidance of any facts that might not dovetail seamlessly with Sensei's masterwork. Some of what I have seen in place of scientific fact around the American permacultural circles is disturbiing in its complete divergence from known fact; I do not know enough yet to determine if this is an American phenomenon ro goes right to the international heart of this artform.

But I will not disparage Fukuoka's book, and still recommend everybody read it; he espoused an ideal and methodology that both make a great deal of sense to me. That same core of sound thought permeates all of permaculture; I feel comfortable adopting most techniques it offers and still find a value to the general thinking I find there. But the movement does itself a diservice by adopting the crass commercialism of branding and marketing, and even less good springs from blind adoption of even Fukuoka's pronouncements, when not supported by scientific observation, for in the end it is still just observation.

Open minded discussion and experimentation will gather far better results than rote repetition of an aging paradigm; a given for ANY endeavor or school of thought. I have yet to meet an infallible human and do not expect to; it could well be my opinion will be shattered by new findings and exonerate the permaculture movement's adamant positions on all fronts. Such is the nature of scientific discourse; new facts become available, and old ones get discarded. Such is life.

But read the book...

HG
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Well not sure it applies, but on dr ingham's site she mentions that to balance growth you increase food sources for the deficient organisms. So for too few bacteria they recommend molasses and such.

But the scenario above is not mentioned specifically.
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Right, another way to go about it toil, a slow methodical but eventually effective way. My way would be pretty instant and while there would be some compaction from tilling, in a fully fungal soil it would be minimal. (The tendency of a fungal soil will be to stay fungal through weak acid reactions, and the natural tendency of soil to succeed to fungal dominance)

I'm not a big fan of tilling; there are usually groans whenever I tell people to sell their tillers. My disagreement is with any rule that says NEVER; those are almost always a bad idea. My concern here was not so much with methodology but ideology...

HG
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Makes sense to me HG.

I just wanted to throw it out there, since I read it.

Hey, could that heavily fungal soil make a good inoculant? Call it tera shrooma...
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The Cocannouer book has been dogging me all day. I have been re-examining my relationship to weeds. What if when you started to get a fungally dominated soil, you planted weeds? They favor an even more bacterial soil than veggies or grasses do, and will colonize almost any soil. You could use lamb's quarters or other indigenous weed to balance the fungal ratio, break compaction, and harvest another food crop in the mix... ([url=https://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CHAL7]Chenopodium [/url]was the grain crop for tribes around here before corn showed up, and a darned fine pot herb too).

Cocannouer talks about Pawnee harvesting weeds from their tilled fields, raising them noext to corn. He talks about his own early experience of leaving "pulsely", or [url=https://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Purslane.html]purselane[/url] around corn and watching it out perform weeded rows in droughts, how these shielded the soil from heat and sun, broke through the crust but didn't compete with the deeper roots of the corn. NAtive agriculture all over the planet uses weeds to reinvigorate the soil. All these plants want a far more bacterial soil and will compete like nobody's business.

So maybe there is a no-till method to change the F:B. after all.
:idea:)

Weeds.

I think I need a minute here...

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Think if you muss I need to take a bath and stop thinking for a minute. My heads spinning I have been reading 4 different books lately, at the same time ( well not all at the same moment in time that would be hard) and following this and some of your other threads do you ever stop. Please don't I love it.

I went to Home Depot today to check out their gardening section, while looking over the seeds I was actually hoping I would see Purslane. See what you guy's did to me.

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This is really good news for a lazy gardener like me. :>

HG, if you decide to go intentionally growing specific weeds, you may run into a problem that I experienced last year: Ever since I learned to differentiate between edible and not so edible weeds, I've tried to leave the edible weeds growing in the garden. Well, last summer, I waited and waited for purslane to start taking over like they usually do -- but to my complete disappointment, I only had a few of them grow -- in between the patio bricks and a few more alongside container plants.

Also, if you remember, I let a couple of giant red pigweed grow out and harvested their seeds back in '08. There is NO WAY I managed to harvest all the seeds without letting them fall to the ground. But last year, I only had a handful or dozen or so seeds grow up in either of the locations where the mother plants had grown. :?

It seems I managed to turn around the soil conditions that allowed purslane and pigweed to flourish previously without even meaning to.... :roll:

On the other hand, if you're going to let the weeds choose where to grow, well... :wink:

What I'm saying is you may have to start saving weed seeds so you can choose and direct where you want them to *try* to grow. :P Alternatively, you could try growing cultivated selections/varieties rather than their wild cousins. :idea:

Hah! Funny! :lol: Gixx got in ahead of me with a "case in point" :lol: Gixx, they do sell culinary purslane seeds. One is called Golden Purslane, but there are others, usually found among the gourmet salad greens.

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Excellent, sourcing for a known beneficial intercrop food weed...

Although if you are cultivating it, and eating it, is it still a weed?

I need to think another minute :lol:

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Apple I did have some purslane growing last year, of it's own though. I actually found out what it was on here. I had been pulling it. But after I heard what you guy's were saying about it I let it go. It really is not a bad plant, yeah that's right I called it a plant not a weed. 8) We shall see if it comes back probably not, my soil is much different now.

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I like this definition, from Dr. Ingham (too much Ingham? I'm gonna anger her rivals) (purslane does not qualify really):



The word weed has been used too generally in recent times, so let’s agree that by weed, we mean something that requires high nitrate levels, poor soil structure, that produces huge numbers of seeds that disperse far and wide.
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Efficient dispersal mechanisms do seem to be a key feature to weeds.

But what if we use weeds phenologically to pick the best time to knock them back, say just before thistle flowers (as those can be really prolific and tough to eradicate). Mowing, rolling, disc harrow; turn them back into soil; sheet compost them. Those deep tapped ones bring up the soil nutrients form the subsoil, the shallower ones shield the soil and stop erosion.

I cannot get past the competition for nutrients mentality I have been raised with. I can see how they would help in many respects (cannot argue with Cocannouer's logic and examples), but I am having a hard time with the transition. This is NOT going to be easy... :|

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oh hey gix, before I forget:

Johnny's seeds has some purslane I think, that produces more food.

And I bet you down there in Fla is a great place for salsola soda I bet. That stuff will pull the sodium out of your soil, and tastes amazing.

HG, I wouldn't abandon competition yet.

[url]https://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/10/science/10plant.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=sea%20rocket&st=cse[/url]
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purslane grows wild here. so delicious and free :)
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Yeah I weeded a good deal out of my garden last year; I won't be so quick this year...

Neat article toil; but dodder (a full on parasite) is not the type of weed I had in mind... still, an interesting concept. Certainly supportive of plant guilds as a meme...

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purslane grows wild here. so delicious and free


yeah, but if you plan on serving it regularly, it helps to have a prolific cultivar. The wild stuff is kind of a pain to harvest, at least it is here.

HG, it's dodder in the picture, but the study cited studied sea rocket, which is a weed.
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Yeah, not all weeds are going to work with us but the Cocannoer book gives us some leads to go with as to which ones will.

You guys find any lambsquarters seed for sale? THAT's one I will be looking for...

[url=https://www.groworganic.com/item_SNV970_Seeds_of_Change_Lambsquarters_Ma.html?welcome=T&theses=6651271]Got some...[/url]

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I think they could all be helpful, because they compete for resources. As long as we get the environment right , our crops can outcompete.

So I'm told, but I think back, and I have seen this time and again. Some areas have crazy weeds that choke the crops, some seem to do fine without help. I used to chalk it up to seed dispersal.

That said, if my food is getting choked off, I have been turning the weeds to mulch or compost.

hey, I ordered some burdock and planted it last year, to make some stews. But I discovered it's impossible to get them out of the ground! Turns out they are grown in very loose soil (sand) when grown for food. Maybe we'll let them flower this year.

I like this quote from the article. It seems to lend a new credence to the idea of guilds, and all that companion planting, if not a stamp of approval.
If an individual can identify kin, it can help them, an evolutionarily sensible act because relatives share some genes. The same discriminating organism could likewise ramp up nasty behavior against unrelated individuals with which it is most sensible to be in claws- or perhaps thorns-bared competition
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My dad grows burdock as well as Japanese mountain potatoes (Dioscorea japonica). What he does, when harvesting, is to dig a knee-deep trench alongside the row, then ply the roots out into the trench.

A side story: Years ago, when he started growing the mountain potatoes, someone in Japan sent him the "secret formula" -- he asked for my help in getting the "right stuff" -- they turned out to be things like rice bran, soybean meal, etc. He was SO happy when I told him he can get all he needed from a local feed store, and inexpensively too. Until then, he used to sprinkle chemical granules and powders. After his potato harvest turned out so well, he was totally convinced and he's been gardening organically ever since.

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hey thanks appelstar, it's not too late for me to do that! I was trying to go at the things directly, and just kept slicing chunks off.
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Cocannoer talks about the Pawnee women weeding their weeds; taking out some of the crop to allow for spacing. I think that suggests a density issue rather than a need for complete sterilization...

I am buying some purselane and lambsquarters seeds this year and giving it a run on a couple of rows. I cannot ignore all the native wisdom here; this bears investigating. I will report back over this season...

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yeah, but if you plan on serving it regularly, it helps to have a prolific cultivar. The wild stuff is kind of a pain to harvest, at least it is here.
not a pain at all, you just take a handful. and eat it. and it grows fast no need to buy seeds. thats silly. my purslane grows to 4 ft diameter each so theres a lot of it.

i find it loves to grow with a rock mulch that it trails over.
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Ooh, that's a really pretty lambs quarter. *I* might have to get some, too!
Looking forward to your scientific approach and report, HG. :wink:

Soil, some of us have "inexplicably" run out of purslane.... :roll:
I hope the few I left alone last year manage to proliferate this year. :wink:

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soil, I'm thinking dinners for 4, with a purslane salad or garnish. A substantial portion. A forage themed menu would be cool, maybe rabbit for an entree with lamb's quarters for garnish. It's lemony, right? Or am I confusing lamb's quarters with something else I tasted?

It all gets more complicated if you cook for guests. well, not the lamb's quarters. we got tons.

this salad looks good:

[url]https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Purslane-Meyer-Lemon-and-Pear-Salad-with-Kaffir-Lime-Vinaigrette-108659[/url]
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I don't think lamb's quarters is lemony -- are you thinking sorrel or young rumex? In addition to culinary French sorrel, I've also used wood sorrel leaves, separated into little hearts over salad.

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rainbowgardener
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purslane

Here's a thread we had about purslane last summer:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=87589&highlight=purslane#87589

In it I posted a recipe for purslane potato salad.

Toil
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oh yeah, that was sorrel. I can't remember the taste of lamb's quarters. Is it just leafy?

see? this is why I stared this thread. I need to rectify my ignorance.
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applestar
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Hmm. "Leafy" makes me think of lettuce, you know, kind of mild and watery? I guess more like kale -- I want to say GREEN, but it's a bit "furry" :lol:
But specifics... is it... nutty? Not bitter... but sweet? Not really?
Anyone else?

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