Press-Republican

Columns

June 3, 2013

Tackle weeds bit by bit

On Sunday mornings, my husband usually fixes us a delicious breakfast.

He does the cooking, and I make the toast. As I was buttering our toast last Sunday, I starting thinking about weeds in my flower beds.

Toast crumbs in the butter and weeds in the flower bed seem to have the same effect on me. They mar the image I have of how things should be.

Butter is good stuff, especially on fresh sweet corn, but toast crumbs make it less appealing. Fortunately, you can take them out easily enough and return the butter to its original state.

You can do the same with weeds in your garden, whether it’s a vegetable or flower garden, but it’s more difficult, of course. First, toast crumbs don’t grow and take over the butter dish. Weeds can multiply and spread while you’re eating dinner, taking a shower or sleeping at night. That’s their nature, so we have to outwit them whenever we can or surrender to them.

I usually try to outwit them, but it’s a challenge. One of the ways I entertain myself while digging weeds is to count how many different kinds I have and pretend the number is so high because my soil is great. It’s small consolation but better than none.

With my nemesis, vetch, I take a different approach. Vetch is attractive if you don’t mind it vining around everything that doesn’t move out of its way.

One morning my dog, Ollie, wasn’t following me around like he usually does, and I started listening for muffled barking noises. Fortunately, he had gone inside.

Vetch has a root system that has to be seen to be believed. It runs horizontally under the ground and breaks pretty easily, so I challenge myself to see how long a root I can pull before it breaks. My personal best is 23 inches.

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