A friend defines a weed as anything growing where you don’t want it. By that definition I have a bumper crop of weeds this year.
Following the Square Foot Gardening plan I attempted to plant a four by 5 foot section of my garden in mid April, when we had a warm week. I carefully planted carrot seeds, four by four in one square, placed beets in a three by three array, and Swiss chard seeds were only four to a foot. Then the rains came—and they were heavy. Now that seeds have sprouted—only some of them, I watched birds feasting and many never made it—I have a beet growing among the Swiss chard, a head of lettuce trying to share a square with a Roma tomato plant, and carrots attempting to flourish outside the raised garden plot.
I refuse to consider these plants in the wrong place as weeds. They are, after all, still edible. Live and let live, I say. However, it’s also a good year for real weeds. Most annoying is the succulent weed that has come back every year. Years ago a woman who is a master gardener visited. Looking at those weeds she said, “Just throw out that soil and start new.”
I should have asked her, “How do you throw out soil?” but didn’t. I mean, where do you put dirt that is—well, dirty? So I just attempted to pull out each and every one of those weeds. Obviously I didn’t do a good job because today, I was pulling more of them out.
Maybe the problem is with my compost. I have put weeds that don’t appear to be going to seed in my compost. I know compost must heat up to destroy unwanted seeds. And I’m fairly certain mine does not heat enough. That happens best with coffee grounds and grass clippings. But we have a mulching lawn mower and don’t drink coffee so there’s a dearth of those warming elements. I knew one man who stopped at Starbucks each night to pick up their coffee grounds for his compost. He even had thermometers in the bins to measure the heat. His compost was really cooking!
In the parable where the weeds are collected and burned and then the wheat is collected— Matt. 13:24-30— an enemy sows weeds in the master’s field. Whenever I hear that story I laugh. I need no enemy to sow weeds in my garden. Or perhaps, if my compost has weed seeds, I am my own worst enemy.
I recently reviewed composting instructions on the Internet. They said don’t add “pernicious weeds” to compost. Well, I never put poison ivy or nightshade into the compost. But perhaps I should call that reappearing succulent pernicious. “Pernicious weeds” makes me think of Willy Wonker’s “vermicious knids.” I pull weeds and dream of Willy Wonker taking me to “live in peace and safety” away from the pernicious weeds. I wouldn’t mind all the chocolate either.