The planet is our home; we need to be more responsible. Here's what I do.
It’s all vegetables, fruit and flowers down that allotment. Pretty colours and ripening produce. Burgeoning baskets of tubers, pods, roots and blossoms.
How come they get all the attention eh?
Yet those precious prima donnas have bugs and diseases and problems. They need special attention, nurturing and nursing. Heaven forbid it gets a bit cold or windy at the wrong moment and the whole lot goes down the tubes.
But then there’s weeds.
Constant, reliable, fundamentally resilient.
They expect nothing and ask for no special treatment.
And then they never get any limelight or celebrity. There’s no pictures of weeds on Instagram. No status updates about impressive pernicious plants on Facebook.
Occasionally nettles will get in on a plate of risotto but on the whole the humble weed goes unnoticed like a plain bridesmaid.
So here’s a few weeds that deserve some attention. The evil antiheroes of my allotment.
This inconspicuous fella is Couch Grass. Notice those long muscular root systems. They can spread under paving for miles. They wrap themselves artfully around cultivated plants, hiding amongst the roots, choking them like the Boston strangler.
Then there’s this little sweetheart.
Tiny white and yellow flowers twinkling up at you. It’s particular top trump strength is multitude. In large numbers it invades every space going. It has tiny plants and giants. It’s other skill is hiding among the leaves of other similar tender plants. It can grow as tall as a bean or as short as a beet. It’s a master of disguise.
I don’t know it’s name but I know it’s prolific. If you’ve got an idea then do let me know!
Bindweed is a more devious strangler. It also likes to climb on other plants but it does so while twinning tightly around them. It has it’s own multiplying strategy. The seeds grow along the plant so that when you try to remove it from your raspberries it explodes sending new seeds in all directions.
Fat Hen appears useful. It’s less pernicious than it’s colleagues and is potentially good chicken feed but check those seeds. Waiting to fly into the air all over the plot.
Of course the Nettle has most of these powers, stealth and clever spreading, penetrating root systems. It’s a master imitator. It seems to grow most happily alongside raspberries and mint, imitating their leaves, height and structure. And then just as your engrossed with gathering plump succulent fruit, it strikes your ankles, the tender part if your wrist.
But at last a good guy, a hero to the rescue.
What are the weeds that you do battle with every day?
How do you tackle them?
Have you had any great victories?
a blog by a multilingual expat-since-birth, linguist, researcher, mum of three, living in the Netherlands and writing about bilingualism, multiculturalism, parenting abroad, international life...