We launched The Great Plot Clearance in November 2011 and it continues to this day. Sometimes it feels like the 100 Years’ War of Weed Eradication. Thankfully, the end is finally in sight and all those visions of beautifully organised beds and tidy paths can finally be thought of as possible.
It does us no good wandering about with visions of abundant fruit and veg plants, practically collapsing with the weight of delicious produce, dancing about in our heads. As long as the weeds have the upper hand, there’s no point in even trying to start anything. So the clearing is first and foremost; digging, raking, picking, wheelbarrowing, and complaining. Ibuprofen to follow later.
Even though I have to contend with them all the time, especially professionally, I do have to admire their tenaciousness and incredible constitution. The speed at which they colonise open ground is frustratingly amazing. I swear it takes about the same time to make a cup of tea. While I enjoy that cup of tea, I do admire their beauty, the hairy leaves of the nettles, the alien shapes of liverworts, the soft texture of yarrow. Even the stunning pure white flowers of bind weed capture my eye as it creeps up my legs.
Into the site’s green waste bin it all goes. Along with an incredible amount of rotten red carpet as well. Many plot holders use old carpets to suppress weeds, but this red carpet seems to have become a weed. In rather random locations, often deep down in the soil, we keep digging the damn stuff up. Hopefully in the next year, I won’t be serving up lovely roasted potatoes with little bits of red fluff in them.
I do wonder if some of it, the grasses mainly, could be used as a green manure. I keep thinking we’re removing a shameful amount of nutirients from the soil, but my uncertainty and fear of perpetuating weeds gets the better of me. So I find myself gazing at the nettle patch, recalling someone telling me that their presence are a sign of fine, rich soil, just before I dig the stinging little buggers up and chuck them out.