Sunday, June 15, 2014

Weedling or seedling?

When they're little, all children are adorably cute, but it's a sad fact they don't all stay that way, especially once the hormones kick in. That's what's happening in my backyard nursery at the moment. Right now there are lots and lots of baby plants coming up, some from seed I have sown, but many others are just horrible little weedlings. So how do you tell the difference between a weedling and a seedling? You just wait and let them grow up a bit more.

This typical baby seedling could be one of many thousands of
species, but as far as this patch of ground is concerned, it's probably
either a chickweed baby or a parsley baby. But it's too early to tell...
With its second set of little crinkly leaves appearing, this guy is
showing distinct signs of curly parsleyness. It can stay!
Uh…ohhh. Once this bub has sprouted its second rung of leaves
it has revealed itself to be the start of a smothering, spreading
chickweed, the bane of this garden bed's existence. It cannot stay!
If you are wondering "what is chickweed?" this is the stuff.
Spreads like a rumour, thrives on neglect and loves wet weather
(when the gardener is inside reading books). I'll never get
rid of chickweed, all I can do is limit its spread by hand-weeding.

The reason for this blog posting is simply that I have been trying to establish some little green herby borders here and there by spreading seed generously in a line and waiting for them to come up. It sounds like a nice idea, and it will look good in a few weeks from now, but sowing seed in a line along bare ground just invites weedy seeds to set up shop as well. While there's not a lot to do with these herby borders after you sow the seeds, apart from some watering, the main job is weeding: keeping the uninvited intruders down in numbers so the 'wanted' herbs can get established. The parsley border is in front of what should soon turn into Pammy's flowering poppy patch. 

This is my chervil border, which is coming
along nicely in a line in front of our gardenias.
I love chervil, both in the garden and in the
kitchen. It can be a bit weedy if it likes your
garden's soil and climate, and it does pop up
here and there, but it's always so pretty.
The unseasonably warm weather we had in May
ruined my first crop of coriander, which bolted to
seed in the heat. This second crop, a mini border
in front of a vegie patch with shallots and lettuce
all doing well, is loving the cooler, wetter winter
weather and should last until spring.
Last night I was talking with some good friends who have just had their front and rear gardens professionally designed and planted, and they look great already. However, the dreaded onion weed is coming back up already, marring the effect of their beautiful new plantings. Talking with them about controlling onion weed (a never-ending task, in my opinion) reminded me how much time I spend in the garden just pulling weeds. Hardly exciting work, but if you take on a garden, you need to embrace the seemingly dreary work of weeding at the same time.

I say "seemingly" because I view weeding as "thinking time". There's something about simple drudgery, like washing up or weeding, that I actually like doing. While my hands are busy doing a simple task, I find I often think of story ideas, blog posting ideas, and plan out my days and weeks ahead. Maybe I'm a bit odd, but I really don't mind weeding at all. As long as there's not too much of it, that is...


Padaek said...

Chervil and coriander seedlings are looking great! Perhaps you should get some chickens - would they help control the chickweeds? :)

Jem @ Lost in Utensils said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who has the "weedling" or seedling" debate! This blog was suggested to me and I'll be following. I also have a kitchen garden blog so I think we have a bit in common with growing food!

Jamie said...

Hi Jem, thanks for the comment. Just visited your fab blog and I'll be following your adventures, too.

Shawn said...

I can relate to your chickweed problem..No matter how much hand-weeding you put into your garden, there will always be more weeds. "Spreading like a rumour" haha, I like that. I use "weeding time" to plan my days and thing about chores I need to do, also! :)

Diana Studer said...

thoughtful weeding, and I look out for volunteers to travel with us to the next garden. Everything seems to prefer to grow in the gravel path.