To Weed or Not to Weed? That is Never the Question

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.  ~A.A. Milne

“This is a mint plant, mom,” says my nine-year-old son.

“No. It can’t be. I don’t smell any mint.”

You know right away when you have a mint plant in your hands. It has that tingling, calming fragrance that makes you want a nice cup of tea.

Why is it, I wonder, that I am the only family member who can identify a weed. My husband claims he just doesn’t know what a weed looks like. I’ll tell you what I think. I think this is a little too convenient. He’ll also claim that all those weeds have a right to be there and suggest we not get in the way of nature. My nine-year-old, I can’t blame him for trying. My six-year-old is off the hook.

I consider myself an expert in identifying weeds. They’re plants’ ugly step-sisters, pretending to be something they’re not, growing, intertwining every which way, trying to blend in with the other plants, trying to be plants. They never fool me. I can spot them a mile away.

I should know because I’ve had plenty of practice. When I was a child, my five siblings and I tilled the soil together for weeks, weeding every day after school, sweat dripping from our faces. It was our quality time together. It was our family project. No arguing, no back talking, just weeding together in harmony. This patch of soil was going to make everything all right. We planted tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, strawberries, bell peppers, zucchini, onions…did I mention zucchini?

This was a bit odd for us, since we were a family who did not eat many fruits and vegetables to begin with. Back then, we were having none of it. We had half a cow in a second freezer, thank you very much.

What I remember most clearly about the garden is that the zucchini did well, as I suppose is common. The only one who really liked zucchini was my mother. Now, I like it just fine, sautéed in a little olive oil, fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Doesn’t it sound enticing? All guests left our house with one or two zucchini, whether they liked it or not. Oh no, not another zucchini. Please, no. 

The mint is in the foreground, and the “weed” is in the pot. I must admit the weed has me fooled.

A couple of years later in our family counseling session, I don’t recall anyone ever uttering the words, “a family garden,” when asked “What is it that you want?” It wasn’t a part of anyone’s equation then. The garden, however, sparked light and hope for a time.

In my own backyard, weeds have no business, natural or not. They strangle my poor plants, choking them, suffocating them. They don’t belong. They need to be punished, pulled out. They must die.

“Mom, what’ wrong? Are you all right? I think you have a little dirt on your chin,” says my son.

“Oh, I’m, uh….just getting some weeding done.”

“I’m planting this mint,” he says fervently.

We argue briefly. He actually convinces me that once we plant it, we’ll be able to smell the mint. It is quite endearing how he went to the trouble of locating the extra potting soil and planting it by himself.

What could I say? The weed stays. In the meantime, I’m thinking the time is right to plant some zucchini.

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40 thoughts on “To Weed or Not to Weed? That is Never the Question

  1. It’s not always the weeds that unnerve me. They are innocently trying to make their way as freeloaders and who can blame them (yank). It’s those Trojan Horse plants I paid money for that invade without mercy in one season. Artemesia, ivy,and obedient plant. Shudder. You’ve inspired me to repost a very funny gardening article I wrote on the subject. And you also reminded me, it’s time to pay attention to the dying plants and their weedy companions outside my doors. Thanks.

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    1. I’m glad I motivated you to do some weeding. Definitely repost your article. I’d love to read it. Those pesky weeds. Well, who can really blame them? They are just trying to live and thrive any way they can. The pests. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, Dianne. Yes, weeding is good for the mind, too. I always ache a little after I do it. I actually don’t mind it much. I always feel like I’m accomplishing something. I’ll try that zucchini. 🙂

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  2. Zucchinis are good, wish they’d grow here! As for mint and lavender, last I tried introducing them they took over! I still get shoots every now and then, aaaarrrrggh!

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  3. Sure, you have to weed. I do all the gardening in my family. In fact, gardening or any hard physical labor around the house is my surest way of gaining some quality alone time. Once I’m working in the garden I can be sure that no one will bother me or come out to help. It’s great you have your son working.

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    1. Thanks, Stephen. Sounds like you don’t mind the weeding. Actually, I don’t mind it. Like you said, it’s quality alone time. It helps me think somehow. I’m lucky my son is very helpful. And, he’s pretty good with hands. So, I’m hoping in the future he’ll know how to fix things 🙂

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  4. A husband who thinks weeds are just part of nature sounds incredibly familiar to me. I too pursue the little moisture suckers all alone. Zucchini is one of my favorite things….particularly when used to bake chocolate cake.

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    1. Oh, I never tried zucchini in chocolate cake. That’s one way to get your vegetables, isn’t it? Yes, I’ve given up on him helping. It seems obvious to me what weeds are. I give up! But, at least it’s good alone time so long as it’s not too hot.

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      1. I think it counts as a vegtable but then I’m not a nutritionist. It does make for a really moist cake though. Totally agree that it is good time to think and it is guaranteed alone time because no one wants to get close enough to be asked for help.

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      1. That’s kind of what I was thinking only a few seconds after reading over the entry. Unfortunately, most of the stores around here don’t seem to know what the term ‘fresh’ means when it comes to produce.

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      2. Television, in my opinion, is a waste of time since I have a world of information awaiting my fingertips while browsing the internet. Movies, music, television shows (minus commercials), and so much more information than they ever thought to provide in a single 16–21 minute television episode.

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