|Weeds! Curses, curses, curses!|
Look, I’ve got a full-time job, a toddler to help raise, a couple softball teams to coach, book clubs to participate in, social obligations, neighborhood watch meetings to attend, and Boston Red Sox games that need to be watched. In other words, I really don’t want to spend my free time pulling stupid weeds. [Heavy sigh] But I know I need to. And yes, my waistline could probably benefit from some jogging as well. [Heavier sigh - pun intended.]
While bitterly mulling over this topic, it occurred to me that I was feeling more than a little bit of animosity towards my weeds. In fact, my thoughts on weeds were downright unkind! After all, they compete with my plants, they monopolize my time, and they steal my garden tools when I’m not looking. Okay, I admit that last part isn’t entirely true. I probably just misplaced that trowel. But still, it'll be a cold July day in Sacramento before I'll trust them with my stuff! (For the out-of-towners, there's no such thing as a cold July day in Sacramento. Just look at weather.com for proof that I do not jest.)
Side note: I don’t know what I’d do without the internet. Aside from providing me with historical weather data and the gazillion other ways it enriches my life, I am so thankful for the knowledge the internet provides me in my gardening endeavors. Seriously, what did people do when they had a question none of their friends could answer before there were search engines? (I can practically hear my mom shouting "Encyclopedias, Dummy!" at me.)
Still mulling over the role weeds play in my life I asked myself this morning, “What’s that quote about knowing your enemy's weaknesses?” Sounds like a question for Google. Go ahead, click on the link before reading on. It's worth a giggle or two. According to the always correct Internet, the quote is a lot less quotable than I had remembered. I was thinking something like “Know thine enemies” but turned up with the much longer-winded quote:
“It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” -Sun Tzu, "Art of War"
Bear with me. There is a point to all this. You see, I know I have weeds and I have established that they are my enemies, but unlike the Japanese maples cultivars, ornamental grasses, and bell peppers in my garden, I don’t know the names of my enemies. I suppose I just never liked weeds enough to find out what they were called. A gruff and generic "that's a weed" would suffice if someone asked me what I was cultivating in my driveway. You see, unlike blooming poppies on the roadside or fragrant roses growing by a picket fence, you don't often hear people say stuff like "Oh my! Check out that courageous little nutsedge growing in the crack on the sidewalk." Call it a gap in my education as a gardener, but the study of weeds doesn't seem to lend itself to learning by osmosis.
It was past time to change this deficiency of mine so, once again, I turned to Google even though I knew where it would take me this time. I’m lucky enough to live pretty close to the University of California at Davis which has a great horticultural department and they have an entire web site devoted to scientifically-supported advice on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for both agricultural purposes and home landscaping. Through their web site I was able to look at a key with the most common weeds in our area and then identify the three officers leading the forces against me. Here they are:
Sergeant Spotted Spurge
|This is where the sidewalk and my driveway meet. "Welcome home" it screams at me every single day.|
Colonel Creeping Woodsorrel
|The horticultural version of tailgating: "Dude, get off my grass already!"|
|Growing amongst wooly thyme, this can be hard to spot until it flowers.|
Commandant Common Purslane.
|Today's Two-for-One special: Common Purslane with a splat of Spurge.|
The good news is that all three of these can be picked off - and I literally mean that literally. As long as I stay vigilant and pull these out by hand before they set seed I will win the battle and, eventually, the war will be easier to fight. In the meantime, I'm a better garden warrior for knowing their names.