When the weeds won’t leave.

 Buttercups in flower. Photo © J. McFadden

John Henry once told me, “It’s not really Spring until the buttercups flower.” I thought the meant that in a silly, fluffy, look- at- all- the- beautiful- blossoms kind of way. I should have known he was more interested in the work they represented than whatever loveliness they may simultaneously be waving about – he really meant it in a time- for- us- gardeners- to- roll- up- our- sleeves- and- grit- our- teeth- against- Mother- Nature- for- another- year- of- battle kind of way. Because while their flowers are lovely and shiny and oh-so-yellow and all… it’s all just a sweet facade. You’ve gotta dig below the surface to understand their real nature.

If you’ve ever struggled to uproot a dandelion or two, you understand some of the problem. Everyone moans about dandelion roots, how long they are and how hard to get out of the ground. These suckers? They’ve got a similar kind of root… but they’ve got lots. And they are everywhere.

Mom joins the crusade. Photo © J. McFadden.

While it’s not impossible to dig them out, they’ve formed vicious masses in the corners of the garden, ensnaring and entangling it in their snaking, wirelike roots, taunting me with the foliage that is so easy to break off that you almost have to admire its courage and self-sacrifice: “Non, I vill die before I surrender ze roots!”(Yes, I often give plants personalities and even accents). Even if I had the time to pull them all out one by one, I’d end up tearing out all my topsoil along with them.

So I have chosen a different path. Instead of fighting each individual, I will simply kill them all at once. (No, I haven’t sunk to using chemicals like Roundup in my garden quite yet – it’s only May, after all. Give me time.) I’ve made a couple trips to the Recycling Center in Greenbelt and stuffed my car’s trunk full of sheets of IKEA cardboard and stacks of old newspapers. While people look at me funny as I snatch the stacks of paper they’ve just dropped off, and while the whole lot sometimes smells a little strange, it’s a small price to pay for what I hope will become a final, organic, solution.

I’m laying down thick layers of newspaper and cardboard along all the paths and not-bed-areas, and then covering them with about three to six inches of leaves, grass clippings, anything that will a) decompose and b) keep the wind from blowing bits of newspaper and magazine pages all over the place and causing all the other gardeners to hate me with a deep and firey loathing.

I’ve gotta credit my friend Ginger with that idea; hopefully the weeds won’t be able to push up through the thick layers of paper – they managed through all that plain old mulch that I put down like it was nothing at all – and will be smothered and starved to death. And at the same time the mulch I put on top slowly composts and disintegrates, leaving me with black compost that next Spring (this time before the buttercups attack) I can shovel from the paths onto my vegetable beds before I lay down more newspaper and start the whole process again.

That’s the idea, anyway; but who knows what the buttercups will think up in retaliation.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

:mrgreen: :neutral: :twisted: :shock: :smile: :???: :cool: :evil: :grin: :oops: :razz: :roll: :wink: :cry: :eek: :lol: :mad: :sad: