Monday, June 17, 2013

Weeds vs. Garden

Recently I joined the board of a community garden. We made plots, laid down paper, ripped up cotton T-shirts to kill the weeds, and loaded each flat with gardening soil. I dug. I planted. I watered. I waited.

I didn't have to wait long though- at least for some plants.

I planted one zucchini. One. The reason I only planted one is because my mother-in-law is an experienced gardener, and if I didn't want to be eating zucchini for the next century, I would only plant one at a time. I also planted three types of tomatoes, two types of cucumber (one type is called a 'pickle' plant!) some celery and romaine lettuce; both cut down with the roots buried in hopes they would regrow.

I had planted most of it within the same week. If this was a race, I think the zucchini would have not only blew the doors off the competition, it would have popped all the tires too. That sucker is huge.

In fact, it's even got tiny 'zukes' (like 'cukes' are short for cucumbers) on it already. The things are growing like weeds!

That got me to thinking (can you smell the smoke?)- what is the difference between weeds and garden plants anyway? Is it because the plants provide us with something? 

Some weeds are actually pretty- Star of David, crocuses, even dandelions are pretty and fun to play with when they poof out- but because they don't really do anything, they are called weeds and destroyed on sight. Or at least mowed down until they show up again the next day.

I wonder if that's really the only difference! 

Was the zucchini a weed until someone realized they could make some awesome bread or ratatouille out of it? And who was the first guy to figure out that this stuff was edible? The same guy going around licking frogs to see which ones would make him high?

We might never know.

Perhaps a weed is a weed only because of the worth we put onto it. I would never have to mow again if I had my yard filled with Star of David and crocuses- and it would be a lot prettier in the spring too! 
Maybe that zucchini would be still be a weed in the forest for the deer to eat had we not be so darn curious. Of course tomatoes were considered poisonous at one point in history, until someone put it in a salad. Now we have them in our gardens trying to keep them alive. I wonder what we'll be planting in our gardens fifty years from now? 

And just how many of them would be the 'weeds' of today?


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