Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weedy Wednesday

Have you ever marvelled at a weed that's pummeled its way through concrete?

These are poking out of the bottom of a pole down the street - but on close inspection they look more like the work of a guerrilla gardener who has abandoned their crop.

In my garden, I usually keep a few weeds in place to admire and forage. Purslane, with its succulent plump leaf usually gets to stay. This plant has more omega 3 than any other and is high in Vitamin C. Very juicy.

And there is a lovely purple-furly thingy that tastes like pepper on the tongue (see below).

And of course, mint galore, that seemed like a good idea to plant at the time.  Perfect for those mojitos I never seem to get around making quite often enough.  It's actually fun tearing these 'weeds' out of the garden because of the explosion of scent.  Tossed in salads or made into tisane, there is still lots that ends up as compost.

By the time I get around to weeding my garden there is generally a lot to do.  So it can be quite  satisfying, pulling unwanted weeds out from between the front cobblestones.

 I don't use pesticides but sometimes I'll dump boiling water down into the cracks.  With some of these it seems to nourish new growth.  It seems you've made a difference and then again before you know it they're back in force. I've come to admire how tenacious and adaptable weeds can be.

Michael Pollan in Second Nature makes the point that most weeds flourish where man has disturbed the ground in the first place.  I love his description of them as opportunists:

 ...weeds are not superplants:  they don't grow everywhere... weeds, as the field guides indicate, are plants particularly well adapted to man-made places.  They don't grow in forests or prairies - in "the wild."  Weeds thrive in gardens, meadows, lawns, vacant lots, railroad sidings, hard by dumpsters and in the cracks of sidewalks.  They grow where we live, in other words, and hardly anywhere else....
Weeds are nature's ambulance chasers, carpetbaggers, and confidence men...Virtually evey crop in cultivation has its weed imposter, a kind of botanical doppelganger...

And yet as resourceful and aggressive as weeds may be, they cannot survive without us any more than any garden plant can... Without man to create crop land and lawns and vacant lots, most weeds would soon vanish.
(pp. 109-110)

And a parting thought from Dogen:

A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.

1 comment:

Neil and Susan Brown said...

Its amazing how we look at weeds in North America. A dandelion salad in France is considered a delicacy. They wouldn't think of spraying them as weeds.I love your garden philosophy, it was a pleasure to read. Susan :)