about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

weeding

Whoever thinks weeding has to be a mindless chore is so-o-o wrong! Like every aspect of gardening the activity of weeding provides inner space for meditation, thinking, planning and philosophizing. There are lessons to be learned, parallels between weeding the garden and everyday life to explore...

Which is needed - impulse or control? In most cases I have discovered that spontaneous, unplanned weeding is not constructive. Simply pulling the cunning critters out by hand means minute baby weeds, scraps of roots, left in the soil to return like Dracula in the night - (not an particularly helpful analagy I know, but I cannot resist a vampire allusion, and once established I believe it is difficult to eradicate a vampire colony). So a weeding session is prepared for almost ritualistically. Gardening clothes, boots, hat, suitable weeding tools with a decent amount of time set aside, at least an hour and a half, preferably longer.

It uncomfortably makes me think about the notion of friendly fire, or collatoral damage (CD), practical, utilitarian ideas which are extremely important - and cynical - politicspeak. Yet it has to be acknowledged - CD is relevant to my weeding activities. Weeds are not just undesired plants - they really do have superior survival abilities. One of their strategies is to lurk within a patch of desirable seedlings, e.g. love in the mist or forget me nots or violets. To get them out roots and all, it is necessary to sacrifice the defenceless flowers - compasssion or restraint on my part means triumph and spread for the ruthless.

Weeds use different survival strategies - there are some that have little bulbs deep underneath the surface, and if you fail to dig them up, they spread and multiply. ("Go forth and mutiply" - that was not meant for weeds, surely). Some weeds disguise themselves as desirable plants, so you have the dilemma of weighing up the risk if they are left vs the consequence of CD. Sometimes you can see what's weed and what's not, but they are so interwined you can't get rid of one without the other. A horticultural hostage situation.

Weeding is not like housework, or is it? At least there is the illusion that one day there will be no weeds if one is thorough and determined. (But the vampire always seems to come back)

Finally, weeding presents me with the dilemma of naked skin vs rubber shield. (This is not an adult blog, so I will refrain from pointing the rather obvious analogy here). Without gloves I can be more sensitive, and have more control. It is also more satisfying to get dirt on my hands. On the other hand, inevitably getting scratches which then get infected is contra-indicated for a long and healthy life.

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