Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Art of Weeding

Over the weekend Spring entered the garden in all of her glory. The cool mornings and warm afternoons have provided the sort of weather which makes one rush outside to smell the newness of the season and watch as tender baby leaves unfurl in a time-lapse moment. One can smell the sweet scent of flowering shrubs wafting through the air with each soft breeze. Spring is truly a treat for all of the senses!


It is time to address the weeds, which seem to be crashing the garden party like a drunken, raucous crowd. To the novice gardener, weeding is simply the removal of unsolicited and untidy plant material which invades the garden uninvited, overpowering and bullying the true guests. All gardens must be weeded however there are many theories on how to achieve success without repeat effort. Chemicals aside, informed personal effort is the only answer. 


There are the die-hard pioneers who believe that hoeing is the only answer and that hoeing is manly. (It is!) Hoeing is primarily used in the vegetable patch to remove weeds in a crowded space; the hoe can get in and about the vegetables easily without harming them.


There is an art to properly using a hoe, which must be sharpened and oiled before use each spring. The hoe, like a good knife, is a balanced tool and this balance allows the gardener to literally drop the weight of it on the intruder without much physical effort.  A gentle rhythm is used and is almost like a dance…slowly lift-drop, lift-drop. Experts at hoeing are often amused by those who use a frantic chopping-action, which is not only a waste of energy but also has employed the human back to do the job of a expertly maneuvered hoe.


For the flower garden, hand removal is the only logical answer. To truly remove weeds it is necessary to trace the stem of the weed below the ground to the base of origin, follow the outlying roots with the finger tips, then remove all of it in a slow steady pulling motion, root and all in its entirety. It is difficult to feel the root system wearing gloves so many gardeners chose to weed gloveless, which will likely produce a 'green thumb' stain.


Weeding can be an almost a Zen-like activity, calming, unrushed, and quieting. When the soil is moist and the weather not too hot, it can be a perfect way to spend an afternoon. 

*Tip: Removing the unwanted finger stains is easy if one simply adds a tablespoon of sugar when washing hands with soap and water. 

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