Friday, May 2, 2008

What is a Weed?

This morning I went out to weed, or maybe thin the garden. It could go either way. I grow three crops in my garden that are both much loved herbs and weeds. Parsley, Cilantro, and Dill. I let them go to seed every year and as a result they multiply and try to take over the next year. Cilantro at least is civilized about it. Its seeds tend to drop where they were produced, so they don’t cover the WHOLE garden. However they are prolific and they do tend to spread. Right now they are the most abundant weed in my garden. I love to weed them since they make my hands smell wonderful. But mostly I just thin them and let them grow among the other crops. Right now I’m thinning them to about an inch apart. Later in the year I’ll actually have to plant some. Cilantro bolts quickly in the hot weather, so I have to at least attempt to succession crop. The seed is hard to germinate in the hot summer weather, but I do love my cilantro so I always try.

Dill is also up and like the cilantro many of the little plants have their first true leaves. Its favorite place to grow is along the boarder of the beds. I think the wind blows their seeds around and when they hit the mulch at the edge of each bed, they get stuck. The little dill seedlings are almost invisible since their leaves are so slender, but if I look closely I can see they are everywhere. I’ve even found them outside the fence in the perennial bed.

The parsley is just starting to come in. At least I think so. Its seed leaves are almost identical to the cilantro seed leaves. They are a little thinner and a little pointier at the tips. They germinate a little bit later than the cilantro and grow more slowly. Or course there is one fool proof method to find out which seedling it really is. Pull it up and smell it. Cilantro is so pungent, even when it just has its seed leaves. Parsley is also different from Cilantro because it is a biennial. The plants over winter and in the spring they are growing everywhere. I treat parsley a little like my dandelions. I use a trowel and pull them up by their taproots. I always leave a few plants to give me parsley leaves in the spring and to seed the next year’s batch of parsley.

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