All my GardenLine and Plantrama listeners would love an easy way to rid their gardens of weeds. And frankly, if there were a product, tool or magic potion that made weeds quickly disappear from my gardens you can be sure that I’d be using it too. Lacking such instant solutions, however, I once again appreciate the benefits of having to pull weeds by hand. Nothing else takes us into our gardens and in contact with the earth in quite the same way.
This morning I was blessed with the perfect weeding weather: cloudy and cool. The soil was a bit moist from the not-quite-enough rainfall of yesterday, and it was a pleasure to be able to surrender myself to the task of pulling weeds. I once again marveled at how much all the plants in my “Annual Alley” have grown in the past two weeks. Weeds, annuals and self-seeded “party crashers” filled the bed, staking a claim to the nutrients and sunlight. The weeds and excess volunteers needed to go before the wrong plants won.
As I started to pull and disturb the ground, a catbird became my BFF. He sat on the vegetable garden fence, watching me work and waiting to see what tasty treats I would pull from the ground. He would spy the tiniest white grub that I tossed onto the ground behind me, flying down to grab it as soon as it landed. For awhile we planted a game of Nervy Bird, as I tossed grubs and a couple worms closer and closer, to see just how bold he would be.
The buckets and wheelbarrows filled, and the catbird would perch on the edges and look to see if any thing valuable was being thrown out with the weeds and dirt. That bird ate well this morning, and my phone got dirty as I tried to take his photo with my garden gloves still on.
Emptying the wheelbarrow in the compost, I saw that the majority of plants I pulled were not weeds, but volunteer annuals. I call them my “party crashers.” As the host of this garden party, I have a responsibility to make sure the invited guests (the annuals I grew and planted) are made comfortable and have a good time. Just because a bunch of Nicotiana, Verbena bonariensis, or Verbascum show up doesn’t mean they should all be allowed to stay. There are many times when the gardener needs to say, “Thanks for coming, bye!”
Weeding is good exercise. It’s a great form of meditation as you let all else fall away and focus on just one thing: pulling weeds. This garden task is also a reminder that everything is connected to everything else. And a catbird just might become your new best friend.