Sunday, March 25, 2007

Is it a weed?

You think you know what is weed is, don't you?

Well, if you're not into gardening, maybe you don't. It isn't a particular kind of plant. A weed is a plant that was not cultivated and you do not want. Or, at least, you do not want where it is growing. In theory, a rose bush could be a weed, or a tomato plant could be a weed, or a sunflower could be a weed. In theory, a dandelion could be cultivated.

In my yard, pecan tree seedlings are a common weed. Except for the very tall tree that was already there when I moved in, I do not want any pecan trees. I did not plant them. However, they did not accidentally appear in the pots with my pepper plants and next to my tomato plants. The squirrels did that for me. It was easier for them to put the pecans there, since I had already done most of the work.

Mulberry is also a common weed here. Many people find that the fruitless tree grows into a desirable shade tree, but most people do not actually like mulberry fruit and do not want fruiting trees. Birds eat mulberries, so someone who watches birds might want one, but the birds never eat all of the fruit, and the leftover rotting fruit on the ground smells horrible. It doesn't smell much worse than say, leftover rotting peaches or pears, but people eat those, so they like those trees better. I kind of like mulberries myself, so I've decided to keep one of this "weeds" in a large pot. If I can keep it small, the birds and I should be able to prevent the fruit from rotting.

So that one little mulberry tree growing in the pot is technically not a weed, but a volunteer. A plant that you did not intentionally grow that you like, or at least, that you don't dislike, is a volunteer. Unless it is growing in the wrong place. Sometimes you have to transplant volunteers to keep them from becoming weeds.

I have recently found a clump of "weeds" that turned out to be cilantro. I like cilantro. I like herbs in general, even though I rarely cook with those that I am able to grow. But I frequently buy cilantro to cook with, and maybe if I can get these transplanted I won't have to buy any this year. So the cilantro is not a weed in my yard, but a valued volunteer.

I think that wildflowers are volunteers. My neighbors think that they are weeds. I get notes taped to the door warning me to cut them or someone while be hired to cut them for me and I'll have the bill added to my rent. They should be able to tell that spiderwort is not a weed. In fact, it is in the bulb catalog, and here I've been lucky enough to get about a hundred or so for free. But it is difficult to convince people that they are pretty purple flowers when they only bloom in the morning, and I'm the only one to see it.

Another thing that the neighbors complain about is the jerusalem artichoke. It is a cultivated plant, and I do occasionally eat it, though not as much as the cilantro. It looks like a very tall sunflower, only without the big flower, and often without any flowers at all. But no, it is not a weed, and it is not even a volunteer. I went to the store and bought tubers and planted them. They are not weeds. I'm sorry that everyone else has trouble identifying plants, but get over it already. You'd think that someone would at least notice that they are all growing in one spot next to the onions and maybe get a clue from that.

To me, the worst weed is grass. Yes, everyone else loves their grass, but I hate it. I have no use for it. I do not have a golf course, nor do a have a cow or goat to feed it to. It is just the most invasive weed. I do not cultivate it, and I do not want it choking out my herbs and lettuce and such, therefore, it is a weed.

My neighbors have a different kind of weed. But they are not growing it. Or, at least, I have not seem them growing it. But I have smelled them using it.

Why isn't anyone complaining about that?


dmarks said...

I hate pecans, do not want to eat them. But the idea of pecan trees in the yard sounds a little bit cool anyway.

With us, it's walnuts. There are lots and lots of walnut trees.

David in DC said...

Our worst weed is bamboo. It's on the neighbor's side of the property line but bamboo respects no boundaries.

And it chokes off EVERY other kind of plant.

It's a never ending battle and the bamboo seems to be winning.

I suggested we get a panda, but RFB is much to reasonable for that.

laughingattheslut said...

When my husband still lived with his mother, they got a couple of bamboo plants.

And it took over the backyard.

And you do think that it is such a waste, and maybe the zoo could use some of this.

And I don't even know if you need a special kind of bamboo to eat bamboo shoots. Looks like if you ate a lot of them one year, that there wouldn't be so much of it the next year.

Babybull40 said...

We have a Mulberry tree in the back yard that was here when we bought our house. I ust to pick them, wash them and use them when making muffins..and so on..I haven't gotten many the last couple of years.. the squirrels love them more than I do..we also have this crazy ass vine that grows everywhere and I find I have to trim it back every year.. I do realize now that it gives us more privacy in our backyard and I don't have to look at the disgusting mess in the neighbours backyard..So this year I will leave it alone.. unless it decides to attack someone dear to my heart..

laughingattheslut said...

Good. Another grown woman who eats mulberries.

Attacking plants?

Are you a fan of Day of the Triffids or Invasion of the Body Snatchers?