Someone, I don’t know who, said that weeds are simply flowers in the wrong place. I beg to differ.
Yes, I will concede that some weeds have lovely blossoms, but when they rear up in spots that overwhelm my poor tomatoes, or peek surreptitiously between the fronds of hostas and ferns, I will classify them as invaders. Unwelcome invaders.
Most of the time, I blame the birds. They feast on all sorts of field flowers, where those “flowers” are where they belong, and thus can rightly be called flowers, rather than weeds. But then the birds head for my garden and lawn. Like B-26 bombers, they home in on the target and then let loose of their bombs. I’m convinced that they hold everything in until they reach the zone that will sustain the most damage, and then relieve themselves. Any seeds that can survive a bird’s digestive system will certainly be able to land and thrive, seeing their chance to sprout and root amid my carefully tended flowers and vegetables.
That part of the cycle is beyond my meager control. I say “meager” because I have little control in any phase of this scenario. I am left with only the seek-and-destroy part. This involves several levels of approach.
1. The Morning Coffee Approach. This is the most simple, and the one that should be repeated on a daily basis. It allows you to survey your domain at the same time as purporting to conquer the weeds. In reality, there is no conquering. Only monitor and manage. Step outside the door in the morning, mug in hand, and look down. There will always be one or two…or ten…plants (to be generous) out of place. Pluck them out! Throw them in the garbage, or in the woods, if you are fortunate to live on such a piece of land. Done on a daily basis, this ensures the illusion that you’ve conquered the weeds.
2. The Knee Pad I-Almost-Waited-Too-Long Approach. As the title implies, this involves actually getting down on your knees to pluck out the offending plants. Best done shortly after a rainstorm when those little buggers can’t protest by leaving roots behind. Or even during a rainstorm. As long as there’s no lightning, of course. That would be Mom Nature plucking out her weed–you! The soil is soft and offending plants will slip right out of the ground, probably screaming all the way. But luckily, their decibel level is far above human hearing, so it will not bother you in the least as you dispose of them.
3. The I-Did-Wait-Too-Long Approach. This approach resembles warfare, in that the weeds have grown to perhaps epic proportions, either crawling along the ground where they can hide for many feet before you spot their migrations, or rising up like Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors. Neither of the earlier plans will be sufficient. Here, you must first procure some brand of plant killer, making sure you read the directions from top to bottom. Then, dress accordingly. Long pants, long sleeves, long rubber gloves, high garden boots, goggles, hat. Go the extra step and use a face mask. You know you have plenty left over from the two or three years of Covid. Here’s a chance to use them, before they expire. Oh, never mind that they won’t expire. You are now outfitted for battle. Get out there and spray away. Quit when you discover that, in your madness, you’ve accidently sprayed that $100 rose bush.
Clearly, the best approach is to attack early, when you only need one hand and a bucket. For me, I’ve used most of these approaches. My summer starts out with the best of intentions, and I can feel a sense of triumph that nature is not winning, that all of my flowers are actual flowers, my veggies actual vegetables. Early on, I have no “flowers in the wrong place.” Usually, the second approach crops up (excuse the pun) sometime in August. I forestall the third approach entirely by simply ripping out the entire garden right after the first frost.
I hope none of those weeds dropped seeds that are hunkering down for the winter. Because that means, between the bird-sowers and the hidden seeds, I’ll be in the garden come spring, getting flowers in the wrong place out of there again.