Saturday, April 12, 2008

Weeding violets

Violets are beautiful flowers, delicate yet colorful. My yard is a carpet of wild violet, which I think would send many gardeners into a fit of hysteria. Generally I just mow them; they stand in nicely for grass and are highly drought tolerant, important right now when despite our recent rains we are still at a level-four drought.

In my woodland flower bed, however, I do not want violets.

When I first planned the bed, I read about a foolproof method for suppressing weeds--a thick layer of newspaper covered with compost or pine straw. I duly hied myself to the Farmers' Market and its industrial bins of newspaper recycling, and came home with arm-loads of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (They have fewer glossy inserts and a higher print-to-colored-ad ratio.) I spread my paper, and covered it with pine straw, and happily, blissfully waited out the winter. Such winter as we have in Atlanta. However ... I had used too thin a layer of newspaper; while the paper was suppressing many of the weeds, it was no match for the powerful invasive, determined wild violet.

The area where that bed is had been hard-packed clay under a garden shed, judging by the soil and the concrete-lined post holes. That means that violets are almost impossible to pull out unless the ground has been soaked. It rained last night, so this afternoon I armed myself with a trowel and some buckets and tackled the bed. I got about third of the thickest nest of violets out, but still have a lot to dig. Oh, well. It is good fun; I had Piglet out in the yard with me, and I sang silly versions of folk songs to him (What will we do with a barking Piglet erlai in the morning? Yes I should have laid more paper, yes I should have weeded sooner, DANG, I should have laid more paper erlai in the springtime ... ) At least it was until my back complained. I would never have made it as a farmer.

Meanwhile, I just listed some purple floral doughnut beads on ETSY, in honor of the violets. Yes, the violets are in a sack, so they cannot root anywhere else, bless their nasty little plant hearts.

No comments: