July 24, 2021

On Weeds

You never finish weeding. Weeds are growing, always growing. While you have coffee, the weeds are growing. While you take a shower, the weeds are growing. While you contemplate the mystery of mortality, the weeds are growing.

Our garden plot came to us neglected and overgrown. Weeds had had years to establish themselves and thrive. But our neighbors, even those who’ve maintained a plot for a decade, still must deal with the weeds.

A garden is an affront to natural ecology. Not man playing God, but man playing God’s personal assistant. The garden tends toward wildness, grassland or forest. As our well-established neighbors put it, “it’s a constant battle.”

Is it a battle? I’ve found pulling weeds satisfying, especially digging for weed roots and rhizomes. Couchgrass in particular spreads through the soil and pulling up rope after rope of its root system is exhausting but also calming.

Couchgrass is like the Hydra -- like the monster who grows two heads where one was severed, any piece of couchgrass left in the soil can develop into a new plant. Hercules defeated the Hydra, but I believe the couchgrass can only be kept at bay, never destroyed.

And that is fine.