A Gardener’s Thoughts on Weeding

I stared at it.  That behemoth coated in green.  I wouldn’t let it get the best of me.  It wasn’t a monster by super hero standards.  More like a monster by gardening standards.

Each spring, I put in a garden.  Cayenne peppers, bell peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, and basil.  That’s what I plant.  And along comes that is everyone’s least favorite plants.  Weeds.  In my case, lots of them.

The week after Memorial Day, it rained here in the Raleigh area.  No, it poured.  Every day for a week.  I told myself I’d get out there the following Saturday and weed the garden.  Not to happen since the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I came down with a bad cold that my husband caught as well.  We got laid up the entire weekend.

Last Monday, I looked at the garden and shuddered.

It’s a small, urban garden.  We have two tiers with the upper tier being twice as big as the lower one.  Green stuff covered the upper tier.  I shuddered as I stared at it.  A big task by anyone’s book.  Below is my mental diary as I weeded it.

1325 hours (that’s 1:25 p.m. for you non-military types) – Weeding begins.  To accomplish weeding I need music.  A mix of folk and blues will suffice.  I turn on my phone and bend down to begin my task.

1355 hours (1:55 p.m.) – Weeding is kind of fun.  The breeze coming through the garden, plus my hat and long-sleeved shirt keep me cool and bug free.  And let’s not forget bug spray as well.  I’m enjoying myself quite nicely.

1425 hours (2:25 p.m.) – I’m still enjoying it.  Weeding gives me time to pray for those who pop into my mind, like a neighbor a couple of streets over.

1455 hours (2:55 p.m.) – Oh, no.  I’m an hour and a half in, and I’ve only done one-third of the upper tier.  This is going to take a lot longer than I thought.  But at least the part I’ve done looks good.

1525 hours (3:25 p.m.) – Now the knees and back start to ache.  This is worse than medieval torture.  Thank goodness for back squats at the gym because otherwise, I’d be in agony now.

1555 hours (3:55 p.m.) – I’m squatting near the tomato plants and need to rise to give my knees and back a rest.  Wait.  I’m not sure I can rise.  Not good at all.  With effort, I make it upright.  Oh, sweet relief—until I contemplate the fact that now, I must bend over / squat again.  Ugh.

1625 hours (4:25 p.m.) – Weeding is not fun now.  I’m tired, hungry, and sweaty.  My fingers are stained with dirt.  I’m so over this.  Disgusting weeds!  Especially the nasty-looking one with thorns on it.  Just a little more to go.

1655 hours (4:55 p.m.) – Finally!  Done!  But only with the top tier.  My heart sinks.  I’m out of time.  No more today, not that I mind.  Hardly.  Sitting on the screened-in porch with a cold drink in my hand seems like a great idea.  I must do that.  One small victory for this gardener.

As I looked back on my work, a sense of satisfaction filled me.  Where green weeds had nearly drowned out the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and basil, now only dark soil and vegetable plants remained.  And that pesky bottom tier?  I think it’ll have to wait until next weekend.

Question: What chore do you normally try to avoid?


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    The Conversation

  1. Pam Vashaw says:

    I don’t have a garden. I like the idea of one, but the startup costs (tilling our rock hard soil, adding nutrients and fertilizer, and finding a way to keep the bunnies and deer away) are too much at this time.

    We do have some extensive hedges that came with the house: a couple hundred juniper bushes on the outer rim of our property and right behind them a hedge of wax myrtles.

    Despite our attempts to mulch this area, the ground underneath the junipers has become a nursery for young maple trees, Virginia creeper vines, wild cucumber, and many other weeds. When these weeds become tall enough to rise above the junipers, and/or crawl around on the tops of the bushes, it looks bad. Some of those vines grow so fast you can almost see it!

    The wax myrtles are a nursery for worse vines: poison ivy and sweetbrier (and there’s nothing sweet about those briers!) The wax myrtles are also so badly overgrown that their shade has killed many of the juniper branches.

    The chores I avoid are those that involve maintaining these hedges. Nevertheless, they are chores that I can’t avoid forever. No one has ever complained, but if I think the weeds are out of control, I’m embarrassed to look my neighbors in the eye.

    The easy job is the periodic poison ivy safaris with a container of weed killer. I prefer to root our weeds, but poison ivy and sweetbrier are exceptions.

    I don’t listen to music when I’m weeding, but on good days you might hear me singing the lyrics to “The Lion Sleeps Tonight (A-Weemah-Weh)”. On a bad day Guns & Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” is going through my head (but I know better than to try to sing that out loud.)

    The junipers are another story. The only way to successfully weed them requires me to wear long pants, long sleeves, cut off socks around my wrists, and leather gloves. I wade in among the branches and pull out as many weeds as possible. The saplings often have strong taproots that require me to use loppers to cut them down and then I have to spray the stump with weed killer or it will regrow like the hydra. This only can be done if I successfully find the skinny stumps again after putting down the loppers and reaching for the spray bottle. I usually lose them, and there are lots of “hydras” to cut down from last year’s efforts.

    Dead juniper branches are actually very satisfying to attack. If they are dry enough, you can pull off a huge branch with your bare (well, gloved) hands and feel like Thor. If they are too thick, you might fall down when they give way, though.

    I can only do this kind of weeding for a couple hours before the heat gets me. Despite my beekeeper like clothes, I still end up with scratches, bites and rashes. Nevertheless, after a shower and endless cups of water, I feel like I’ve earned the chance to settle down with a good book and relax for a while. And to think about how I could maybe get a real job and then pay someone else to do this work for me!

    • Jennifer Haynie says:

      Very cool! I love your tales of gardening. Try singing “Welcome to the Jungle.” It might make you smile. 🙂