I have a gardening style that I like to refer to as “desultory” because it sounds fancier than “hit or miss.” My garden is a fairly good size for the city. None of it is in lawn. “Good for you,” people call out. “Those lawns are such a lot of work.”
No, they’re not. You shave them with a power mower now and then and call it a day. Meanwhile, every patch of my soil has something going on in it and a lot of it is not authorized.
But I lose focus. I’ll start out on a likely patch with the best intentions and then haul weeds to the yard debris bin, and on the way back I see another likely patch that maybe I should tackle first, and then I go in for water and walk by a whole ‘nother patch that really needs to get under control, and by the end of the day, I’ve done all this stuff in all these places and nobody can tell.
But this weekend I’m getting a load of compost mulch delivered. They’ll dump a big ole pile in the street. So now I’m trying my hardest to get ahead of the game by getting actual significant portions weed-free in anticipation of my big pile. Once the mulch goes on a well-weeded patch, things will settle down for a good while. It’s a little method I think of as “clear and hold.”
I think this is a technique associated with whatever the hell we’ve been doing in Afghanistan. A piece of territory gets cleared of Taliban and then a few guys get assigned to Holding It–let’s call them military mulch–and then you go clear another bit. It works great, and we know, because we’ve been doing it for eighteen years.
But I won’t get it all cleared, not by a long shot. So the second technique comes into play. This involves muscle memory. My entire body has learned which portions of the yard should not be looked at, and I am quite capable of wandering through it in a haze of admiration that edits out all the bad parts. I don’t even notice them until a guest comes and pauses in front of an unruly spot. Oh that. I was getting to that, I lie.
Every weed in my garden is fully aware that there is no Shock And Awe coming. There will be no drone strikes of glyphosate; and at some point in August, all the troops are going to leave and allow everything to run rampant, and the only chemical agent being applied will be gin to the gardener. If there’s still a heap of compost at the curb, I’ll sculpt it into a Volkswagen Beetle and stick a petunia in it.
I’m not one to trivialize the dreadful conditions pertaining in the world by making false comparisons, and I will not stoop to referring to any of my doughty garden invasives as The Taliban.
I would never say that. But just between you and me, the field bindweed doesn’t believe girls should be educated.