As a self-confessed, non-repentant mulch addict, I have fostered some strange weeds this season.
The twin causes of my folly are: Impatience and Recklessness. Impatience in that I never wait for compost to become fully composted, but spread it around when it is in that bardo state of not mulch and not compost. Recklessness in that I mulch the gardens with anything that might need cutting back or pruning, with slight forethought regarding its tendency to reseed. I will admit right here, I’m a bad gardener.
Being a bad gardener works for me because it expands the possibilities of what can and will grow. As long as I continue editing the chaos, the garden doesn’t look too bad. This is how the Pink garden looks when you lie in the grass:
If I were a good gardener and cleaned out all the organic material and seeds and leaves under the plants every year, I wouldn’t have my army of coneflowers marching towards victory in the Pink garden, or penstemon seedlings under the Newport plum tree. This year I would have no akashiso at all; my seeds from the store failed, but volunteers from last years’ batch thrived. Being bad has its benefits.
Three weird sisters have been the prominent weeds this year: dill, asparagus, and squash. I call them weeds despite their usefulness because each one has sprouted in an ungodly manner where it was never meant to grow.
Asparagus, the most unlikely suspect, has sprouted in every inch of the vegetable garden. Everything I read about asparagus says it is difficult to grow from seed. When the compost bins were full last fall and the asparagus fronds needed pruning, I chopped them into bits all over the rest of the garden. I avoided the asparagus patch so as to not attract asparagus beetle. The fronds made pretty feathery mulch. And now, seedlings with mad fat roots like tenacious clinging monsters sprout everywhere in my garden. Fortunately, they also sprout in the asparagus patch itself, insuring full recovery from the trauma of the fence installation this spring.
Squash surprised me. When I composted around the roses, these seedlings with big fat succulent looking leaves kept appearing overnight. After pulling a weed with the seed attached, I realized these were composted (or not composted) remnants of my fall window box decorations, aka, gourds and squash.
The squash seedlings may be freaky gourds, or they may be acorn squash. Hopefully I’ll find out in a few weeks because I planted some of the seedlings behind the garage and let one of the volunteers grow in a bare spot in the butterfly garden. If it’s acorn squash I’m totally pumped. I have this fantasy of building trellises up the side of the garage and growing squash vertically, a project I might not have had the guts to embark upon without free seedlings begging me to grow them. Thank you, unfinished compost!
Dill I don’t even want to talk about. It’s everywhere. Last year Eastern Black Swallowtails frequented my garden and my dill, and this year there are none. In fact, there are very few butterflies this year despite my focus on habitat and native plants. This makes me very sad. I allowed the dill to grow in select spaces to provide host plants for the swallowtails, but none have appeared.
To end on a happier note, I forgot to mention the asparagus growing out of the side of the slats of the compost bin. I don’t even know what to do about it. I tried to stir the compost and turn the seedlings into the pile, but they stayed put. I guess I will let them mature a while and then transplant into the garden. Or make another asparagus bed. I guess it’s up to the asparagus, not up to me. I’m just the gardener. The plants are running the show.