As the definite
manager of housework (whether I work part- or full-time or am too unwell to work outside the house) and the designated weeder and identifier of weeds at this household, I can't help but notice that the philosophers on this thread are, I believe, guys and [warning:
social assumption ahead...] thus probably aren't responsible for ensuring that such daily housework and weeding, two very related tasks, get done. (AS just recommended the book; she isn't philosophizing. And, since it's 10:45 p.m. at my house, the housework/laundry are done for today and it's too dark to weed; also way too wet. More rain came today.)
So the eloquence of "What weeds can teach us" and rhapsodizing about their messages isn't working for me. What weeds
tell me is that I need to clean the floor (i.e., soil surface) and take out the unwanteds (the weeds
; not really "trash," but...).
Here's the definition that I use, and it's not original to me:
A "weed" is a plant that shows up, uninvited, where I don't want it.
One year, in Berkeley, when I was new to composting, I threw all of my kitchen waste into the composter.
The next spring, I spread my compost on the soil where my roses were. About a week to ten days later, there was a thick carpet of green plants about 1/2 inch tall covering the ground. I wasn't quite sure, but thought they looked like tomato plants.
I waited a couple more days, and sure enough, they *were* tomato plants. WEEDS!
I didn't want tomato plants growing up through my roses, around my roses, or anywhere near my roses. Rose thorns are bad enough; can you imagine them with tomato vines all over?
I pulled every one of those probably hundreds of tomato plants out of the ground, roots and all. These went right back into the composter, and I have never thrown tomato seeds into the compost again. My compost, then as now, ran (and runs) too cool to kill tomato seeds--Q.E.D.--so I don't compost them.
I have cleared my space here of most of the following weeds more than once, but the neighbors to our immediate south use a weed-whacker, which means that I'm forever getting new infestations of weeds. Here are the ones I usually deal with, and there is quite a variety, given the small area I have available for growing plants:
) growing through cracks in the pavement => get 'em out with the weed stick and throw 'em into the compost IF they haven't flowered yet.
) => likewise
--Yellow Star Thistle
), invasive and noxious pest; message? => not even goats will eat this one after it has flowered. No redeeming value. I dig it out and throw it in the trash.
(Sonchus oleraceus, S. Asper
) => dig up and treat as dandelion
(Allium triquetrum, A. vineale
) => edible, but my dogs sometimes just run out and start cropping the grass as if they were starving sheep/goats. It's not worth the risk to have wild onion around, so I had to remove them. They all went into the compost.
) => very difficult to eradicate physically; almost as difficult as kudzu, since it likes to grow underneath sidewalks, where it's dark. Invasive and noxious weed, non-native; what message does it give me? (well, besides the one about people not paying attention to "stowaway plants"...
) => treat as dandelion
) => produces needle-like seeds, painful to the touch. tap-rooted weed, use weed stick. Throw in yard waste for city pick-up.
, also called M. hispida) => burrs cling to feet and coats of animals, socks and clothing of people. burrs resemble small clusters of sharp thorns, painful if caught between toes of animals or people (in the summertime). shallow-rooted. City yard waste.
--and tons of Oxalis
) => not harmful per se, but will smother veggie seedlings in the early spring, when in full growth, so I get what I can of it and put it in the city yard waste. I can't be sure that I have only stems and leaves and no bulbs, so it doesn't go into the compost.
The consistent messages I've received from these weeds is, "Arrgh! [neighbor] has thrown weeds at me again!" or "Arrgh! I didn't get *all* the tap root last time!"
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9