On the subject of weeds
This week: On the subject of weeds; The obnoxious Cleavers; Weeds are hero plants – Discuss…; A bit more philosophy;
The sun has shone almost all day, every day this week.
It has not been an “inside” week, although either side of mid-day, I have been inside.
Following my trip to Bauhaus in Split last Saturday, I came back with the wood I needed to add some extra storage in between the roof beams of the Utility Room.
This has allowed me to relocate baking tins from the kitchen, at the same time freeing up kitchen shelving.
Last year I added storage between the beams, but had not put any above the refrigerator. I decided I could still access the storage trays and the extra space would be useful.
I have also carried out a rapid reconfiguration of the shelving in the U-Room, to make space for kitchen machines which are only used in the winter. Things like the Slow-Cooker and Air Fryer.
We, that is the felines and me, have been enjoying our walks in the olive groves and along the paths through the Maquis. Everywhere there are the spring wild flowers, like these Tasselled Hyacinth, Leopoldia comosa.
The obnoxious Cleavers
You go away for a few days and while you are absent, the plants run riot!
Moisture, plus warmth and bright sunshine equals exponential growth. It is nature’s way to ensure continuation of the lineage for annual plants.
Here insert the word “weeds” for “plants” and you will get my drift.
I have patches everywhere of what I know as “cleavers”.
With a botanical name of Galium aparine, it has many other local names in different parts of the world. Here in Croatia it is known as Čekinjasta broćika, or Bristle Broach.
When I tell you it is a climber with leaves which stick everything they touch, and round “velcro” covered seeds known as “burrs”, I am sure you will recognise it.
This year is a good year for Cleavers. The stems are fluted and emit a white sap when broken ort cut.
Its Latin name of “Galium” comes from this ‘milk’ which was used in Greek and Roman times to curdle milk to make cheese.
Every part of the plant bar the roots have tiny Velcro like bristles, which help the plant to stick to everything it touches.
Let’s look at the flowers and leaves in closeup, where you can see these bristle-like hairs.
Then soon after flowering and being pollinated, the circular seeds develop, wither and turn brown.
They catch onto everything which passes, to ensure that next spring, there will be more of them!
It is a very efficient way of making sure your progeny survive…
On the subject of weeds
On Monday I was in the orchards pulling my ‘cleavers’ out by the roots before they set seed.
Fortunately the soil is still moist and they are easy to remove. Cleavers also just have a single root which is easy to remove.
Everything that has been removed has gone on the compost pile, where it will all rot down.
One small area I have which I generally use for salad crops and sweet potatoes was completely covered in various annual weeds.
I have some Fuchsia “Dollar Princess”, to plant.
This is a half hardy perennial which likes partial shade and I have planted them at the back of the bed.
Before the rain arrived late on Monday afternoon, I had cleared the weeds and done my planting for the day.
Another area I have cleared of weeds is my herb border.
Despite the wet spring, the soil is very dry and every new plant which I put in needs regular watering.
Weeds are hero plants – Discuss…
I was attracted to a headline in the Guardian newspaper this week, telling me “Weeds are ‘Hero’ plants”.
I suppose it all depends on your point of view!
What do I mean by a weed? Well, probably, an invasive plant, difficult to remove, readily re-seeding. Something which will crowd out what I plant.
It seems that there is a move by British horticulturalists to rebrand “weeds” as resilient plants and this year one third of the Chelsea Flower Show gardens will feature “weeds”.
Walking through the olive groves, I am struck by the profusion of wild flowers. They vary according to the time of year, but the ground is literally covered.
There are several types of Dandelion in flower at the moment, with late spring bulbs and lots of grasses.
Some owners clear their groves with weed killer, other just clear around the trunks of the olive trees and some leave the grass and flowers alone.
I am aware that some weeds are “pioneer” plants, growing where nothing else will grow and over time producing top soil which in time other plants will inhabit.
Every year I leave some of my “weeds”, because they look nice. Plants like the Wild Carrot and the Wild Salsify. I even save seeds of some wild flowers, to try and get them to spread.
It was interesting to read that as climate change intensifies, there is a move away from completely manicured gardens, to ones which have wild areas where deep rooted “weeds” grow, because they will survive drought and flood, when other plants will not.
I have one of those areas, where the limestone bedrock protrudes.
May is also now the official “No mow” month, when owners of lawns are invited to leave their lawns un cut. This is so that the wild flowers, flower and provide food for pollinators.
I’m going to try that approach this year in the orchards. Even as I can hear a neighbour with his rotavator going at “full tilt” turning the soil and burying his “weeds”.
A bit more philosophy
English humour does not travel well.
Probably this is because there is no single English language. British English continues to develop, but so does the American, Australian and International versions of the language.
I like the cartoon characters of “Calvin and Hobbes” who have been around continuously since they were created by Bill Watterson in 1985.
The single daily strip and a large weekend block have been translated widely, because the philosophy behind each storyline has international appeal and travels well.
It helps that one of my felines is a Hobbes like character, with tiger stripes, the same white shirt front and the same look of deep knowledge in his eyes.
This week, one of the cartoon strips caught my eye:
A day can really slip by when you are deliberately avoiding what you are supposed to do…
I’ll admit that this week I have avoided pulling weeds, every daylight hour of every day, until I saw some have already gone to seed… I was able to find several other “more fun” things to do instead!
I also identify with the little boy who hates school, and hates doing homework!
Now I need to go and water some plants. It is no good prevaricating, thinking that rain is forecast for next week.
This week’s blog is finished, so I have run out of excuses. I need to just “go do it”…. NCG