Monday, June 23, 2008

Weeding 101 (Or How A Weeding Wimp Gets Out There After Penning The Weed Manifesto)

1. Take the time to build your soil. This could involve just dumping compost on your beds in the fall. But the more air your soil has in it, the easier it is to pull those little weedy suckers out. Cracked clay soil is the worst to deal with on so many levels. So amend your beds whenever you can.

2. Get out there after a good soaking rain. Get in the muckety-muck when everything is loose and easy to snag.

3. Early morning and late evening are easier on the soul and the skin. Mid-day weeding is a recipe for disaster. I mean, is there any part of it that could be enjoyable? The scorching sun? The dried up soil? The bug swatting? Count me out.

4. Invest in a pair of nice leather gardening gloves. Virginia has some of the meanest weeds around. Thorny and nasty and relentless. But they are no match for my leather gloves.

5. If you can sit, sit. If you can kneel, kneel. Save your back and get as close to the ground as possible. Have a bucket or something very close to your weeding spot. An old sheet works well as a weed catcher, too. Then, you can just drag it to wherever your weeds go to die.

6. Have a spot that you want to put on hold after weeding? Layer newspaper or cardboard down on the area, wet thoroughly with a hose and then put compostable materials on top (grass clippings, kitchen scraps, mulched leaves). The newspaper and cardboard will stop more weeds from growing and will eventually breakdown and become part of the soil. *Warning* - I do not recommend newspaper in a bed that will be growing veggies, fruit or herbs - as we are still learning about the chemicals that are used in the printing process.

7. Larger swatches of land can be chopped up with a hoe. A hoe. A hoe. A hoe. Chop. Chop. Chop. This is also easier on your back.

8. Build in a reward for afterwards. A tumbler of iced tea, a vat of ice-cream, a hot bath. And make sure you can catch a glimpse of your good work throughout the day. From a window, from your porch, from an air-conditioned room. To help you remember that even this most tedious of tasks makes you a gardener.

I don't know why this last step is important. Trust me. It just is.

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