something for (next to) nothing

I am thrifty. I love the challenge of uncovering the treasure in the piles of thrift goods. I love restoring the sheen of cast-off things. I love the bargain price of something that was better made than anything manufactured now.

As it goes, I also love saving cast-off plants in the garden.

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from left to right: tiny sensation (I think), tiny padhye, and tiny ghost Asiatic lilies.

The lilies shown above were all rescued from the clearance rack at Lowes. Three dollar quart pots with three bulbs per. Bloomed out leafy stems don’t bother me. They are bulbs, I don’t need showy-right-now. Showy-next-spring is awesome, too.

I typically invest garden money in bulbs (and tubers and rhisomes) and perennials. The only annuals of interest to me are herbs and veggies. Unless the annual is self-seeding: we have a few portulaca popping up from plantings two years ago. And our cilantro patch is self-maintaining, although I add seed each year to encourage a spread of plant development through the summer.

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our largest patch of walking onions, as the bulbils mature and begin to weigh down the scapes…

The walking onions were a freebie left in the break room at my job three years ago. Through the growing cycle, they provide a shallot-like bulb underground, a sharply hot green-onion like leaf (although more fibrous), and pearl onion-sized bulbils instead of flowers on top of a fibrous scape (that I recently learned does an excellent job flavoring pickled veggies). The bulbils have great flavor. Also, on occasion, some scapes will top off with flowers, or partial flowers. They are delightful tossed in a salad.

These things just. simply. produce.

They grow through most of winter, even if just the bulb under ground. They always recover in early spring. And if allowed, the bulbils will weigh down the scape eventually and plant themselves. Hence the name “walking” onions. I typically harvest the plants at this point, use as much of them as we can, and then replant a new generation from the bulbils.

This has been the best free-to-a-good-home find since my mom brought a dog home from the appliance store when I was in eighth grade. Honestly.

For me, loving on left-to-die bloomed out bulbs, and sharing splits and starts wherever found is a solid way to honor the art of finding beauty in the worn and broken things of the world. One more stepping stone in the garden of our wabi-sabi life.

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