Sunday, August 15, 2010

My nemesis...

These days I can hardly call myself a gardener.  Sure, one of the neighbors is paying me to keep her garden alive while she is gone for three weeks, plus some deadheading if I have time, but across the ten acres here, I feel like all I do is fight.  I went out after dinner to see if it was going to rain.  The winds have been strong all afternoon, too strong for us to get rain, as they pushed the dark clouds further east.  Thomas thought maybe after dinner the second wave of clouds would get us, so I went to see.  I honestly think anything we get will be a pittance, if any at all.

I had walked out in my apron after putting the dishes and leftovers away.  And though I should have thought to drop everything and take a bucket of water to each of the young fruit trees, I made my way into the "garden". 

Corky had been a gardener, but she hadn't lived in Miami for the last few summers.  In the middle of the circle drive grows half a dozen trees, a row or lilac bushes, a grape vine and forsythia, a great many irises, a few lilies, sage and lavender, some hens and chicks, flax, and a few other flowering plants.  There isn't much order to any of this, and between them all grow a dozen different grasses.  There are also some dandelions, a little clover, alfalfa, and salsify. Lastly, there is my nemesis, the bindweed.

I wasn't familiar with bindweed until I worked out at DeLaney Community Farm.  It certainly wasn't familiar from any gardens I tended in Portland, Spokane, or Jersey City.  The Columbine House and my two previous residences is Denver were without bindweed.  Admittedly, once introduced to it at DeLaney, I started to recognize here and there in town, and I imagine that it got to my last yard on Williams Street from the gutter, which was where it began growing towards the irises.  I never noticed it flower in my yard in Denver, though I had seen it in other yards.  I pulled it, and then I would notice it again later on.

The bindweed here is aggressive.  Tom's sister Marie has observed that it brings out foul language in me.  There are those that have suggested chemical remedies, of which I haven't ever actually heard of much success in combating bindweed.  I had heard about a mite being tested in Colorado, actually developed in Colorado, that will slowly over time kill back the bindweed, as it lays its eggs in the plant which then feed on the plant.  It can take several years to actually see the bindweed go away, but it's a start.  Generally, the best method to tackle it is to pull it up, pull it up, pull it up.  You never actually get the roots, but the more you pull, the less the plant can grow, and slowly it dies out.  This has been my method. 

Thomas and I have had a lot of projects going on, and it has also been scorching hot a lot, usually for a few days, and then it rains for a day; repeat.  My aggressive weeding has been hit or miss, though I generally find the evening to be cooler and much more comfortable for weeding, with the exception of the bugs that have been biting.  So tonight when I looked for rain, I saw instead an opportunity to do battle with the bindweed.  At one point I threw my apron around my shoulders to my back and wished it was really a cape, and I a superhero that can eradicate the prolific bindweed.  It felt like a real fight.  I came in tonight tired with bloodied knuckles.  I think the neighbors that drove by probably think I am nuts, for I really am not gardening, just weeding over and over and over.

I figured out that the bind weed goes to see really, really quickly.  Each plant can produce over 50 seeds.  I figured out that it grows up pretty quickly, especially with the afternoon thunderstorms.  But as soon as there are a couple days in a row of hot weather, it goes to seed.  My eyes are now trained not just to pull the bindweed, which are obviously easiest to grab before they have gone to seed, but also to see the seed heads all over the ground and snatch them up before they can sprout.

Oh what an existence!  And to think that I only pull the ones in the garden.  They are all over the place!

1 comment:

Britta said...

I, too, loathe bindweed. Best to you in the battle.