Oh mama, am I in the weeds! Literally. As in up to my shoulders in some instances. The combination of decent spring moisture, and being out of a commission (or at least running at half speed) for several weeks gave them a serious head start. I’m scrambling to keep up.
The thing is, I really don’t mind weeding. In reality, it’s my personal form of therapy, particularly when it’s just me. It becomes a Zen-like experience because I only need to move and pull, move and pull. I don’t have to teach, explain what I’m doing, or break up fights. (Breaking up fights when my favorite Cobrahead weeder is involved is no laughing matter. This thing is a serious.)
Even though weeding seems like a mindless task, it offers me the best opportunity to let my thoughts flow. I think about how the plants are growing; what insects are busy around me; what needs harvested or watered. Or, I delve into what activities we should do as a family, or think up projects for the boys. And sometimes just having my mind toodle through the garden path is when I think of my most exciting article ideas. Since most of my day is focused on the boys, weeding is a just a great time for a mental recharge.
I’m not a neat weeder, much to the chagrin of my husband. When I’m serious, I’m on my knees in the mud (since it’s so much easier if I water before I weed). Within moments, I’m covered in dirt. I’ll stay that way all day, and even go into town as long as there’s not too much mud falling off of my pants. It’s all part of getting into the work. If anyone has a problem with it, I’ll give them a hug.
This summer I’m significantly behind in my weeding tasks due to that pesky surgery. I’m doing much better, although I still feel stabbing pains if I’m wrestling long tap-rooted weeds too vigorously, but it’s giving me a new perspective on the whole process.
As I tackled the garlic, herbs and tomatoes yesterday I thought about how differently I weed than when I first started over 30 years ago. Way back then, I made sure there was no weed in the picture, and “fluffed” the soil with my claw at the end of the task. This was mostly because I worked for women whose gardens were on display, but I did the same with my own. It looked beautiful when I was finished. Oh, and everything was hauled away. No weed would be left to possibly reroot or look unsightly.
Now, I don’t sweat it. As long as I pull enough so I can see the plants, and provide the vegetables room to grow, I’m fine with that. It doesn’t have to be perfect anymore. Actually, my gardens are leaning towards the wild side more and more as I delve into the fascinating world of permaculture. Permaculture is setting up a landscape that closely mimics nature in how plants and features work together to create a fairly self-sustaining system. Think of when you walk through the forest. Nobody cleans up when the leaves fall, or when a tree dies, yet there’s abundant life. This is why these groups of plantings are often called “food forests.” It’s not just vegetables or trees or shrubs; it’s everything growing together, benefiting from each other.
As far as weeding goes, if I was really good, I wouldn’t weed much at all. I’d cut and drop the “weeds” (since many weeds are valuable food and medicine sources) in place in order to serve as a mulch to protect the soil and keep moisture close to the plants. The weeds also break down to improve the soil. So, instead of creating a picture perfect garden, I’m pulling weeds and tucking them back around the plants or placing them in the pathway (as long as it’s not bindweed; that’s from the devil and goes to the chickens).
It’s still going to be a long process to catch up on the task and find all of my plants before fall, but little by little I’m wallowing my way through the vegetable patch.