Wednesday, June 6, 2012

War of the Weeds

The weeds were apparent when the snow melted.

One of the reasons we bought this house (or more accurately, started renting it from the bank) was because we were told the previous owner had been a master gardener. It was hard to envision what the back yard looked like because over four feet of snow covered everything. However, by the end of April we were delighted to see the yard was, indeed, a skillfully laid out series of beds with pea gravel walkways.

The delight was tempered considerably when the snow completely disappeared and the years of neglect became apparent. Horsetails and dandelions were running rampant!

While I’m ambivalent toward horsetails, and dandelions only annoy me slightly, Mrs. Poynor hates them both with the white-hot, burning passion of a thousand suns. There is no invective vile enough in her vocabulary to adequately describe either of them. The neighbors call in their children when Mrs. Poynor is seen prowling about, waving her weeding trowel in search of the offensive plants. Peals of maniacal laughter echo through the neighborhood as one after another long-rooted dandelion is snatched from the earth.

A field of nightmares
 At issue is not Mrs. Poynor’s tenacity in her weed control efforts – if nothing else, she is determined – the issue is numbers. We have worse odds than the defenders of the Alamo. After entire days spent in plucking, pulling, pinching and probing, it became apparent there wasn’t enough time in one summer to physically eradicate the pernicious plants. Enter chemical warfare.

Neither of us has ever been in favor of chemical solutions to weed problems. (My objection is environmental in nature. Mrs. Poynor’s objection is emotional: she loves personally choking and wrenching each of the offending weeds.) However, faced with daunting odds we succumbed to the quick-fix temptation, and judicious application of a nationally known herbicide was made by carefully following the manufacturer’s directions.

Far out man... we scoff at your chemicals!
The effect produced was akin to a mildly bad acid trip for the dandelions. They wobbled about for a few days, then produced a profusion of blossoms. The horsetails merely laughed. (It did manage to kill some nearby raspberry plants, however.)

Enter scorched earth weed warfare. Armed with a 5-gallon tank of propane and a gazillion-BTU torch, I have been reducing the haughty herbs to ashes. Progress is being made, albeit slowly.

Gazillion-BTU torch in action. Burn until rocks pop.
There has also been some minor collateral damage. The bottom limb of an ornamental shrub needs to be trimmed, now. And certainly that one iris will recover – the roots didn’t burn, I’m sure. Paint will easily cover the scorched spot on the deck (good thing the water hose was handy). On the other hand, I’m not sure my hearing will recover from Mrs. Poynor’s loud screeches of, “Burn baby, BURN!”

Oops! Collateral damage.

1 comment:

  1. I like your style! Will you weed my flower beds while I'm gone????