This year, to date, I have personally destroyed nearly one thousand weedy gorse seedlings. I spend on average twelve hours per week weeding and at least two hours writing about it! So, as a relatively normal semi-organic gardener, I will spend at least three years of my gardening life weeding. Aargh! Do I actually have time to seriously tackle this most serious topic?
Weeds Are Sentient
Firstly, don't be shy to admit it - weeds are sentient. They always know exactly what their gardener is up to. They can lull novice and experienced weeders into a false sense of security quicker that you can say 'salt and boiling water' - or could that be 'hexazinone-polyborchlorate'? Oops, forgive me that little systemic slip...
Consider a two week holiday from the garden. What can the weeds possibly get up to in the gardener's absence? Anyone who has left a growing garden can answer this. Remember the proverb about the watched pot never boiling? Gardening has similar situations - how about 'A watched weed never grows'?
Weeds Are Private
It's a fact that weeds always do their growing in private. They wait until the gardener's 'day off', and then up they zoom. Weeds home alone for two whole weeks! That's plenty of time for some mega-garden-weed parties! Weeds also uncannily absorb the gardener's mental attitude. Should he or she ever feel the slightest pride that there's not much that needs doing in the garden, they'll do ridiculous growth-spurts overnight.
Different Weeding Positions
As in other earthy pleasures of life, there are many different weeding positions, and a wise gardener will adopt the one which suits not only the weeds in question but weather, time, and clothing constraints. There's the 'Stoop and Scoop' approach, favoured by gardeners en route to the car in their best town clothes. The 'Muddy Knees' style, on the other hand, is much more static, and works best when wearing proper gardening gear. It's the versatile get-down-and-dirty position, often seen combined with 'Muddy Backside'. A complete set of dry, clean clothes stationed on the back porch - perhaps with a screen for privacy - is helpful. One can't pussyfoot around this - mature gardeners often need to sit down in the wet dirt.
Weeders can wear boiler suits and overalls for that professional mild-weather look, or old thermal underwear for mid-winter sessions. Don't be afraid to accessorise your weeding clothes - for example, trendy mother-gardeners can borrow teenage skateboarding knee-pads.
Gloves are essential, particularly for piano-playing gardeners who like a bit of Beethoven after battling the bindweed. Ex-earth children like the natural feel of the soil, but then the hands get far too grubby. Dirty fingernails are still not socially acceptable, particularly for home cooks - 'Sorry, I've been in the garden all day' (when your dinner guests suddenly lose their appetites) doesn't quite cut the mustard!
Empires are built out of things that get the weeds out. Scoopers and scrapers, diggers and dicers, extractors of every shape and size - weeding tools can be made of plastic or metal, straight or curved. Sets of hoes can be as technologically advanced as the latest golf clubs. Or one can secretly use the steak knives from the kitchen, remembering to clean and replace, of course.
And what's the best weeding implement to use? That's easily answered - one which doesn't break, doesn't lose itself, doesn't mind being left out in the rain, and is easily spied hiding in the mulch.
Ha! Now I'm on firmer ground - exactly where my worst weeds seem to be. I've got nasty creeping grassy weeds, tap-rooted dandelions and dock-like weeds, weedy mallows and all sorts of interesting annual fern-leafed beauties which arrive with the horse manure. Luckily there's no oxalis – yet!
Worth a weedy mention are all the uninviteds which appear on the edges of my water race - my Verbascums, which I thought were lovely, when there was just one! Gunnera, too - they are definitely the largest quasi-weeds I grow! What's that cute weed phrase? 'A weed is a plant in the wrong place'? Humph. Tell that to my dandelions with branching root systems like super-parsnips, sheltering right in the middle of my thorniest, thickest rose bushes! They're not stupid! Lovely yellow daisy-like flowers, though.
Rather Long Weed!
No weedy names are allowed, either - I prefer my weeds to retain anonymity. That way they don't seem quite as threatening! I mean - who exactly is in control here in this garden? Hmm...