Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Art of War... I Mean Gardening.

With a sudden burst of perfect weather, it's officially feeling like spring around here. And in spring, a young family's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of war. Full-blown, bloody war.

Our garden, completely neglected since last year as we focused on the interior, has been conquered by weeds. Armed with thorns, seeds, and taproots, the enemy was rapidly advancing across the vegetable beds. 

The battle begins.
For advice and support, I turned to the only gardening guru with the chops to tackle these invading hordes.

Hence the saying: If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.  
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War 

I could identify blackberries, dandelions, and some creeper vines. But what are those spiky purple barbarians?

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.

A little Google-fu revealed its identity: purple deadnettle. It doesn't sting (it's actually related to mint, not nettle) and it's not hard to pull up. It's just everywhere.

On to tactics. My weapon of choice is the hoe, followed by the spade if I need heavy artillery for getting at deep roots. Brett eschews my siege weapons in favor of hand-to-hand combat with gloves and a trowel. Between the two of us and a very dedicated little boy from next door, we cleared two beds and half the pathways in one day. For the rest, we adopted scorched-earth techniques - literally. We covered the ground in black plastic and are leaving it to bake for a week or two.

To the victor go the spoils, so we got to spend the next day planting our newly-cleared beds with strawberries, peas, beets, kale, and lettuce starts. I knew this was all meant to be when Brett went to a neighbor's house to return a borrowed tool, and came back with a huge bunch of her extra strawberry plants. (And flowers. And sugar cookies. We have the best neighbors ever.)

But in a final twist, the weeds had their revenge. After two days of romping in our weed-filled lawn, Hermione has been licking and chewing her paws almost raw. It seems that our dog fits right into this allergy-prone family.

An unhappy Hermie in a paw-soothing oatmeal bath.
We may have won the battle, but I think we're losing the war.

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