By Bill Primavera
For the past several years, I’ve been without a garden of my own to tend, living as I do in Trump Park where the landscape is beautifully managed as part of my maintenance fee. I can enjoy the beauty of the shrubs and flowers, the latter of which are changed according to the season, without any work on my part.
But I still have fond memories of gardening chores, especially – don’t be surprised – pulling weeds. I particularly miss this chore at this time of year because when you pull a weed, it stays pulled.
When I first discovered the joys of gardening as a youngster, it was all about planting annuals and seeing quick results. But by the time I was in high school, perhaps in dealing with my impetuous nature, I found that I equally enjoyed pulling weeds to help ease those first bouts of post-adolescent anxiety. I must have been very anxious because my family’s garden was always weed-free. It seemed to have been a healthy addiction for me.
That addiction became full blown as an adult when I moved to Westchester and my responsibilities were upgraded from a small square patch of earth in front of my house in Brooklyn Heights, where a sickly gingko tree sprang from the concrete sidewalk, to a verdant acre and a half of lawn and garden.
At the same time, I had started a new job and commuted a long distance every weekday to report to a boss who was the “Mr. Hyde” personality of all time. My weeding activity was especially intense during that period. Every time I yanked a weed, it was as though I was vicariously yanking his head bald, even though he was already bald.
Lest one think that I need intervention, I would say that there are good compulsive habits and this might be one of them. At a time when many parents are concerned about violence in video games, I might suggest that as an antidote they require their children to weed in the garden for an equal amount of time that they would spend playing those games of virtual destruction. Put the quest for the elimination of villains to practical use, I say.
For adults, rather than considering weeding a chore or even therapy, it can be approached as an art, complete with its own techniques and disciplines as I first learned many decades ago when I read a joyous book called “The No-Work Garden” by Ruth Stout, sister of the detective fiction writer Rex Stout.
Recently, I was reminded of the healing art of weeding when I discovered that the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series now features an edition “For the Gardener’s Soul” by Marion Owen. In her blog at www.plantea.com, Owen said a while back that weeding can be a pleasant “zen-like” experience – and I agree.
She also writes that regular weeding in the garden is like regular vacuuming in the home. Most people probably don’t like either chore, but it’s essential to a successful garden, as vacuuming is to a clean home.
Considering that a single weed can produce as many as 250,000 seeds, and those seeds arrive through a multilevel attack from the air, rain runoff and bird droppings, weeding would seem to be a losing battle. But there are preventative measures that can help diminish sprouting weeds.
Just keep up with the following:
* Uproot the offenders and place them in the compost pile before they go to seed.
* Mulch, mulch, mulch. A three- to four-inch layer of mulch applied between plants or garden rows can slow down, or in many cases, prevent the re-growth of weeds.
* In the spring, after preparing the soil for planting, let it set for seven to 10 days. Then work the surface of the soil with a hoe. This will slice off the newly emerged weed seedlings. If you have time before planting, let the soil rest another week or so and hoe again.
* Cover the soil for a short while with black plastic, but don’t leave it on for more than a couple of months because the soil needs air and water to remain healthy.
* Use those vertical barriers, such as wood, metal or heavy plastic edging to prevent grass and weeds from encroaching from lawn to garden.
And be mindful of what William Shakespeare wrote: “Sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.”
While Bill Primavera enjoys careers as a journalist and publicist, he is gainfully and happily a licensed Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate, specializing in upper Westchester and Putnam Counties. To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.