Yesterday, at mosquito o’clock in the morning, I walked down to Kevin’s garden near the lake to help with weeding. Gardens are essentially disturbed soil and weeds thrive in disturbed soil.
Quite a galley of weeds have assembled in the good blue soil of the garden.
An interesting thing: the color of soil. Here in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, when you test the soil for placing a septic system, the test is based on a visual survey of the sides of a test hole and soil color (not on a perc test). A handful of soil is gathered by the local septic engineer, wetted in his or her hand, crushed into a ball, and the color is then compared to a color chart. The color indicates such things as the presence of clay or organic materials. Based on color, the engineer determines drain field suitability and the required length of drainage pipe. Dark soils, such as that in Kevin’s garden, indicate the presence of organic materials.
I found all the usual suspects as I began weeding the garden: bindweed, mustard, plantain, Chinese clover, and lamb’s quarters.
Lamb’s quarters is a particularly interesting weed. Fist it goes by many names: lamb’s quarters, pigweed, goosefoot, and wild spinach. Secondly, it is edible, if not downright delicious. Moreover, it has more food value than many of the plants we regularly consume. Delicious, in terms of edible greens, typically mean not having much taste at all—lettuce and celery for example. I munched a few leaves of lamb’s quarters and found exactly that: not much taste. This is a very desirable plant according to many people—a good thing, considering a single plant can produce 75,000 seeds. I have posted two images of lamb’s quarters at the end of the blog.
As I weeded around spindly kohlrabi, onions, and carrots, I began to encounter several weeds unknown to me. One of these weeds, a kind of tall bad boy, uprooted with fist-sized clumps of soil in a tight root ball. Another weed grew along the ground and created a virtual green throw rug. The throw rugs came out mostly intact. In the meantime, mosquitoes zizzed in my ear and attempted non-permitted drilling on the exposed skin of my arms.
I have heard people claim that weeding the garden is “therapeutic.” I suppose there is an element of that in weeding. You feel something both primal and vital as you clear a way for perfect rows of green starts. But there is also an element of work as you pull industrial-strength weeds.
Lamb’s quarter has grown tall in one section of the garden. I am debating an experimental dinner on that.