May 16th, 2006


(no subject)

Did a little random gardening this morning--basically a half hour pulling weeds. A full day would be a bit much, but it's a nice warm-up in the morning--putter around, rip up a few things, fill the birdfeeder, water anybody looking thirsty, and go inside feeling the warm satisfaction of a job well done.


I am starting to run headlong into my own ignorance, and it's painful.

I speak of weeds.

This is arguably the worst possible scenario for this sort of thing. I've never gardened in the South (gardening in pots doesn't really count on the weed front) and I don't know very many of the weeds beyond the obvious--maple seedlings, dandelions, lemon balm, dog violets (and that last I'm not inclined to pull, except where it crowds my seedlings in the beds.) My days of gardening as a kid are so far behind me that I don't remember any of the weeds, assuming I ever knew. And I have moved into a place with a fair number of plantings that were then allowed to fall into neglect, which means that I cannot even pull everything I haven't planted and let the gardening gods sort them out, as that would have slain my lilies and peonies and trillium and all manner of nice little plants.

Plus, I confess, I feel a pang at destroying any plant whose name I don't know. It's like gunfighting. You should always be introduced first.

As a result, my main bed is packed cheek-by-jowl with stuff that I like and stuff that I don't know whether to nurture tenderly or evict with extreme prejudice and perhaps a flamethrower. And this worries me, because I have read too much and become hypersensitive to the horror of invasive plants, with the end result that if somebody introduced me to an Asiatic bittersweet, I might attack it screaming.

What I really need is a pictorial guide to weeds. Actually, what I really need is "Weeding For Dummies" but I haven't seen it. Something with big friendly pictures and arrows and labels in a nice, unthreatening font that say "IF YOU SEE THIS PLANT, DESTROY IT! MAY REQUIRE HOLY WATER!"

E-nature isn't much help on this front--it'll show me happy wildflowers, but if they were happy wildflowers, they'd be a lot easier to identify anyway! And the Virginia Tech guide to noxious weeds is a step in the right direction, but comes without thumbnails or a search engine, requiring a slow, systematic clicking of each by alphabetical common name, which, granted the sheer number of noxious weeds in the world, is a bit gruelling.

Does anybody have any suggestions? If worse comes to worse, I may finally dig out the camera and we can play a daily "Name-that-weed!" game until the yard is clear, but it seems like an extreme and unwieldy solution.

(no subject)

Some branches blew down in Sunday's thunderstorms, so I went out back to pick up the big ones and dump them on the I-swear-we'll-start-a-compost-pile-here-soon pile.*

I had an armful and reached down idily to grab a hunk. My fingers closed around the bark. And then I looked down.

Red roots. Hundreds of red roots, on bare bark. I had just grabbed a handful of dead poison ivy.

I looked at my hand for a minute, as if it belonged to somebody else. I rather wished it had.


Holding my tainted arm out, hand dangling limply at the end of my wrist, like a man holding his wife's purse while she shops, I dumped my load of dead pine boughs, went inside, and slathered up with Tecnu for five minutes, while uttering fervent prayers to the terrible and awesome Lords of Calamine.

May they have mercy on my flesh.

*We actually will be composting soon--James is researching the matter, which means that several weeks will pass while he searches the internet for the absolute perfect, optimal method of composting for our area and needs, he'll manage to locate the only geek-composting site in existence and read the forums at great length, ("Mod your compost bin! Run your mainframe off compost!") and then suddenly in a flurry of activity, we will have compost bins being built, composting being done, and he'll be running around with a thermometer, a pitchfork, and a pocket full of worms for months until it is in perfect working order.