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The Leprechaun's Secret
by Richard Blaisdell
Folklore tells that Leprechauns live where
shamrocks grow, the signature plant of Ireland. We know the shamrock as
white Dutch clover. It is called white Dutch clover because in
Holland the white clovers were first recognized as a valuable
agricultural crop. The flowers are bee enticers and the clover roots
hold tiny sacs of nitrogen fixing bacteria, which replenish soil
fertility. One little seedling can travel and cover 10 square feet in a
summer helping to prevent erosion. I went to my garden center and
found a one-pound can of white Dutch clover seed. I seeded a small
area in the fall that was dry and barren after a very hot summer.
I wanted a cover crop that I would turn under in the spring and had
hopes of planting corn, beans and squash in this area in six months. The
clover seed grew quickly and covered the dirt preventing muddy areas
when it rained.
Everyday I would pass by my
beautiful green clover patch and just for fun I'd look it over and see
if I could spot a lucky four-leaf clover among the thousands of three
leaf clovers. Try as I could, none were found.
It was mid-February when the clover started to
blossom, just in time for the bees to gather nectar and at the same time
pollinate citrus and avocado trees nearby. I walked by my clover
patch and spotted a four-leaf clover out of the corner of my eye.
Whether you believe or not, it is believed that Leprechauns have control
over who finds the lucky charm of a four leaf clover. It seems the
four-leafed clover can only be found when you are not looking for them.
They seem to grow in more shade than in the sun, but to find more than
one, I thought was rare in one day. I gathered the one prized clover and
pressed it in my large wine connoisseurs book. I did try looking
for more, but none could be found. I was patient. In a few more days,
when I least expected it, another shamrock appeared right next to the
path where I stood. I picked that clover, then, I didn't look anymore. I
thought of a warning I read somewhere, “beware, if you take all the
four leaf clovers the Leprechauns will disappear”. Several days
of rain came which kept me out of the garden, but I could see rapid
growth of the clover patch. I scanned over the clovers in the
early morning before going to work. Voila'. I found three at once.
I dried and pressed them in my large wine book again with the intention
of giving them to friends on St. Patrick's Day. The Leprechauns
apparently were friendly, granting me more four-leaf clovers, but I
didn't see a rainbow and there was no pot of gold.
My clover patch receives mainly rainwater, and
thrives on my neglect. This is why it is used as a cover crop in between
seasons. When you do till the clovers into the soil, you'll discover one
of the Leprechaun's secrets. Underneath the clovers are many earthworms,
which help break down the organic material, aerate the soil, and return
to your garden riches of free fertilizer in the form of castings.
The clovers also reward you with beneficial insects that are attracted
to the white flowers.
The Dutch certainly knew what they were doing,
as did the Irish, when they used clover to help rejuvenate their soil.
When you add some history, the clovers are the “clavers” of the
Middle Ages derived from the Latin word clava, meaning club and refers
to the plants three leaflets. These three leaflets represent the trinity
and bring luck; but when clovers are found with four leaflets they bring
still more luck and all the leaves are ancient charms against witches
and any other evil. Every once in a while you can even find a five-leaf
clover, which is very rare.
This past year I tilled the white clover into
the ground and planted corn, and pumpkin along with chili peppers. I was
rewarded with delicious golden sweet corn and several orange gulf
fritillary butterflies that wandered among the corn and landed on small
yellow purslane flowers. I transplanted a few white clover plants to a
tomato growing in some used black plastic pots; it was an experiment
that worked. I had inexpensive green manure and weed suppressant mulch.
The white Dutch clover also, kept the black plastic cans cooler and the
clover flowers attracted bees to pollinate the crop of tomatoes.
Lastly, I found by chance, an extra lucky five-leaf clover, which I
pressed and have to this day. Leave it to the Leprechauns, that all the
four leaf clovers found and given away to friends were discovered before
St Patrick's Day and lo' and behold after March 17th, I could find nary