It may sound strange, but I love to weed. As a young person, I spent countless hours pulling weeds in the humongous kitchen garden we planted every year. That kind of experience would traumatize most people and put them off weeding for life, but it instilled in me a profound love.

In part, I love to weed because it takes me back to the cool, dew-drenched mornings and hazy, sun-drenched afternoons of my childhood. It reminds me of long hours spent in companionable silence or lively chatter, working beside a number of family members in various times and places.

But there’s something else about weeding that appeals to me on a deeper level, something in it that soothes my soul. It’s a form of moving meditation: active enough to keep my monkey mind occupied, repetitious and methodical enough to allow me to slip into a sort of trance.

I also find weeding very satisfying, in more than one way. It offers the cathartic effects of physical labor coupled with the psychological pleasure of tangible progress. I feel as ridiculously edified by aching muscles as I do by neat planting beds. And I feel peaceful, on top of the exhaustion and pride. What’s not to like?

Up until this last week, I haven’t been able to weed because it’s been so dry. Where I live, there used to be a foot or so of rich topsoil, an accumulation of thousands of years of decayed plant and animal matter. A couple decades ago, a developer scraped it off, sold it, and built houses and laid sod on the remaining clay subsoil. So my garden beds are built on and out of clay.

When clay gets dry, it becomes the kind of material that people have been building houses out of for millennia. Roots sunk into dry clay cannot be removed by pulling; it is impervious to most hand tools in that state, even my trusty hori-hori.

I feel like a black ops garden commando when I strap this puppy on.







So I am woefully behind on the weeding, and I don’t think the neighbors are happy about it.

I wrote the above paragraphs last week, before we got some much-needed rain. I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to get in a little weeding since, though we were away for three days of prime yard working time over the weekend. I’m still behind, but most of the really big weeds have been removed. Now the yard merely looks unkempt instead of overgrown.


4 responses to “Weeding

  1. You’ve inspired me to look at weeding differently. I loathe it. Mostly, I guess, because I let it get away from me. If I were more methodical… things might be different. If I move somewhere, the first thing I will look for is good soil. But it seems everywhere south of Indianapolis is nothing but clay. Oh well! Just keep telling yourself that even a rose is a weed where it’s not wanted. Embrace your weeds!

    • The glaciers stopped just south of Indy and dumped all the great topsoil they had scraped off the rest of the continent. That’s why the land is so flat and the soil is so rich in the northern half of the state. I do embrace my weeds — my threshold of tolerance drives the neighborhood nuts!

  2. And Jen, where did you get that evil looking weapon? I can picture you with it strapped to your calf and swinging through the air like Lara Croft, Tomb Raider! 🙂 We had a downpour two days ago and all my soil is flat, compacted and cracked. I have to go in there today and stir it up, uproot the weeds before it turns into brick. And then mulch. Time to hoe!

    • I got it many, many moons ago at Natureworks, the organic garden and education center where I worked. I use it ALL THE TIME. It is the best tool for weeding ever invented. And it makes people think you look like Lara Croft, besides. ;-D

      My boss at Natureworks also gave me another wickedly delightful tool that I use whenever I’m not using the hori-hori: a tiger tooth serrated harvest sickle (Barnel BLK 727). It slices through vegetation like a hot knife through butter. I don’t have a holster for that baby because, quite frankly, it might slice off my leg.

      P.S. Don’t forget to mulch as soon as you weed! 🙂

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