Weeding Is Fundamental


I love a good weed.  It’s when I feel that I am most in my head, when I do my best thinking, when my imagination wanders up and down and sideways.

That’s the way it was this weekend when I knelt down to begin weeding the bed that’s wedged between a blue stone patio and a row of white pines growing in a bed of ivy behind a low stone wall.  In truth, I began working on this bed weeks ago, when I cleaned it, weeded it, and planted the Gomphrena “Strawberry Fields” that I had started from seed.

And that’s where the work ended.  Now all I see is the Gomphrena swallowed up by a new flush of weeds because I never had the chance or the time to place mulch.  It’s uncanny how the driest stretch of my yard, heated by the surrounding stonework, is the perfect home for weeds.   

As I pulled and yanked, my green world became black and white and I imagined myself in a 1940s film noir flick.  In it, I’m in a chair, a beam of light aimed at me and throwing the far corners of the room into shadows.  There’s a detective hovering above me, hair slicked back, hands on his waste so I can see his gun holstered under his jacket.

“You call yourself a gardener?”  That’s his opening shot.  He must be the bad cop.  Where’s the good cop, sitting behind that mirror, listening to my confession?

“You’ve got nothing on me,” I say.

“No?  Let me present exhibit A.  A border that you failed to mulch, thereby inviting weeds and such to turn your Gomphrena into goners.”

“You’re a slick flatfoot,” I offer, mixing in some ’40s slang because, well, this is my imagination and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable with the proof that’s before me.  “I have my reasons.”

 Reasons?  Maybe it was my intent to have weeds mingling with my plants because not all weeds are harmful.  According to my local Cooperative Extension, the long tap root of dandelions can help break up hard soils and bring nutrients up from the deep.  Clover and vetch, meanwhile, are a natural fertilizer with nitrogen-fixing abilities.  I tried to explain this to the copper, but he heard the hesitancy in my voice.

“That would be nice,” he said, and then leaned in so I could feel the heat of his breath, “but all you had was crabgrass.”

“Fine,” I conceded.  “I ran out of time.  Is that what you want to hear?”

“Save it for the judge, brother.  When the jury is finished with you, time is what you’ll have plenty of.”

Defeated, I sunk into my chair and looked about.  Color returned to my world, and in the time of my imaginary movie, I had successfully removed the weeds from the bed.  All that’s left to do was plant the Zinnias and Cannas and – of course – apply mulch.  But the sun was setting and the next day was already taken up with bagpiping in a parade.

Something tells me I’m going to be talking to this cop again – real soon.

32 thoughts on “Weeding Is Fundamental

  1. Too funny… but honestly, it IS a never-ending battle! With all the rain we’ve had this month, our weeds look like something out of Jurassic Park. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same cop paid us a visit! Great post!

    • So glad you liked it. It’s raining here again — and it’s predicted to rain all week long. Weeds love rain. They also love drought. A never-ending battle indeed! 🙂

  2. I am so fortunate that my husband seems to take to weeding! He uses it as his good “think time,” too. But they sure do take constant attention! Very clever story. And I learned something, too. I had no idea weeds could serve any possible purpose. They are unsightly, but that was interesting to think they may contribute something as fertilizer and soil conditioner. I think we’ll still try to avoid them as much as possible. Debra

    • Hi Debra. Weeding is great think time — and the information on beneficial weeds was news to me, as well. Clover is one thing — but dandelions, I’m going to keep on pulling.

    • Oh, go on. Actually, I always seem to have a some kind of movie playing in my head. It’s just that the soundtracks can be a bit much. 🙂

  3. Brilliant! And well written too. You had me looking on google about this gomwhatever, it’s very nice actually! Shame it’s only an annual… Please post some more pics of this border I’m curious to see how it evolves… Ok and I need proofs for your probation…

    • Alberto, thanks so much. And if we ever get a stretch of warmth and sun, I’ll add some more photos of the Gomphrena. I grew them a few years ago, in my pre-blog days, and they did pretty well — covered with thistle-like blooms. And I promise to take care of this weed issue. I’m not ready for prison.

  4. Extremely witty and creative ( as usual)!! Weeds are the strangest things – they grow 10x faster than our carefully selected plants, they thrive on neglect and survive drought and harsh conditions how? By getting even bigger and more plentiful. Sigh. On the other hand, since I have been doing the big heavy jobs April and May, and those are now done – weeding seems like a breeze! Keep at it, Kevin – you must be persistent and relentless! Plus the mulch will help a lot.

    • I completely understand about the super power of weeds. It’s a marvel how they can find the tiniest rack in the pavement and thrive in the most hostile of environments. If I could only garden each day, all day . . . Oh, wait. That’s another dream and another post. 🙂

  5. Wonderfully creative post! I always leave the clover in my grass since it makes everything healthier. I know dandelions are weeds but I forward to their cheerful faces every spring, nonetheless. 🙂

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