by Bob Shaw, EMGV
Weeds, I once thought, are a curse. Perhaps the Lord, looking down on Carolina and musing that it was just too nice, sent Gabriel to bring us extra hot weather and especially bountiful crops of weeds. I still think weeds are a curse but have found with them, now and then, a little satisfaction.
Time is important. Before I retired I weeded when I could, but I was often away and, by mid-July, had surrendered my yard and gardens and, when I passed by them, looked the other way. Now I have time to keep after weeds and have discovered a sort of tipping point: After several years of faithful but not obsessive weeding, I now hold the weeds at bay and mid-summer no longer looks so bad.
During weeding, one can pass into an agreeable meditative state or one can wear a portable radio and multitask. One can relax. A serious mistake is unlikely unless you are weeding someone else’s yard and, anyway, nature is so forgiving.
I don’t eschew herbicides; but use them sparingly – on that dratted Bermuda grass, say. Some weeds, especially after rain, come out, root and all, rather easily; crabgrass, the promiscuous Japanese stilt grass, and henbit for example. And getting down close to the ground to weed shows us so much more; the weeds themselves and their habits, occasional interesting bugs (very useful if we discover a trail of ants about to foray into our house). Early this spring, during weeding, I found myriads of beautiful red and black box-elder bugs under our maples. Sometimes, joy of joys, we may encounter a really good bug, perhaps a praying mantis.
Let’s give weeds their due – remarkable, aren’t they? Looking over a bed that seemed, at first, weed free, I spot a weed and, pulling it up, spot another close by. Soon, a forest of weeds has appeared where none seemed to be just a minute before. And how do they spring up so promptly after a rain? Coexistence isn’t an option – weeds, like Japanese beetles, don’t know about sharing.
In life we seek positive results. And so it is with weeding: What is more positive than standing up from a pile of rooted-up weeds and admiring an immaculate garden bed? Even better, sometimes one can put that pile into the compost bin and turn it into useful stuff.2 If only the rest of life were like that.
Photo captions, clockwise from upper left: Box-elder bug (credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org), henbit, Japanese stiltgrass, Bermuda grass.
1 Lucifer may have participated. If lawns are in hell, they are planted in Bermuda grass. And a close reading of Job would surely turn up a reference to Bermuda grass.
2 Avoid composting weeds if they have begun producing seeds. NC Extension Gardener Handbook, What not to compost https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/extension-gardener-handbook/2-composting#section_heading_5138