Wednesday, May 14, 2008

into the weeds

pretty and tasty: borage, a nice weed
I remember when I used to get paid to do gardening 40 hours a week. It was my job in one form or another for many years. Sometimes people would express how lucky I must feel to play in a garden all day for money, and I would reply that yes, I did feel lucky, but not because I was playing, and certainly not because I was getting paid much. I felt lucky because I had a real connection to my work and a sense of pride that I was doing something to improve the earth rather than plunder it. But it was a job like any other job, with its stresses and hardships and tedium. In the midst of managing everything, I would often long simply to weed mindlessly all day. To drop the endless list of tasks, troubleshooting, and timelines, to just squat and think small, think weeds, think nothing. That would have been playing, I thought, how nice that would be. But there was never enough weeding for that. I weed very fast for one thing, and I manage the garden in such a way that there aren't too many weeds in the first place. Weeding is also an easy task to give to volunteers or interns looking for a job to do. So weeding was never actually a big part of my day, which is maybe why I dreamed of it so fondly.

Well, guess what I will be doing all summer? Yup, weeding. I have the weediest community garden plot I have ever seen. I mean, it is a blanket of weeds! And not just easy weeds either, we're talking bindweed and bermuda grass, man. That stuff never goes away. You pull it out one day and it's back the next. Roots that go all the way to China. It will be interesting to see how well my plants grow, because this underground network of weed roots is a constant tap on my soil nutrients. I'm hesitant even to mulch it, because that would make pulling the pernicious weeds more difficult, even while suppressing some of the more innocuous ones. Jeez.

weeded, partially planted on left, unweeded and unplanted on right
It doesn't help that I feel like I'm being watched by my fellow community gardeners. They certainly don't have the weed situation that I do. I'm the new person, falling down thankful that I even get a plot in the first place. They know very well what they did: they gave me the plot from weed hell, and they don't even know that I used to dream of weeding. They go about their business, watering their perfectly neat little rows of beets and peas, admiring their perfectly clean black soil, looking over at the mess they handed me out of the corners of their eyes, thinking, Is she still over there weeding? Does she know not to put the bad weeds in the compost pile? Does she know those weeds will come back? How will she handle this garden bed that has frightened away all gardeners before her?

Well. We shall see.

1 comment:

CarrieAlair said...

Ha! Ha! They shall see. I really am enjoying your blog Sharon, it is a perfect combination of motherhood and gardening. Love your pictures too.