Thursday, 29 September 2011

sorting the wheat from the chaff - or in our case, the weeds from the chives

Tuesday dawned bright and chilly after a pre-dawn fog.  Perfect gardening weather.  Which was lucky because it was to be our first venture out to work in the school garden.

Before we began, a little survey; how many among us have had prior gardening experience?  A quick totting up of the numbers of waving arms – and not everyone, it seems has had the chance to get dirt under their fingernails.

So – why do people ‘do’ gardening?  What is gardening for?

Melchior told us that it is ‘to let the plants grow’. 

We looked around.  Certainly there are a lot of plants already growing pretty well in our garden.  From swaying, pink and white cosmos…..

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through dancing nasturtiums and red, red roses…..

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and all the way to fat yellow squash…..

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and - what are these? 


And (gasp) these?


A little unsure, we are, abut these last two.  But hang on a minute. 

First let‘s think back to what Melchior said earlier.  Gardening is ‘to let the plants grow’.  Indeed.  But not all plants.  Some plants we do want in our garden because they are useful (like squash) or because they look pretty (cosmos) or smell  sweet (those roses).  But some get there by accident.  And if they are allowed to grow to their full size, they will stop the plants we do want in our garden from growing properly.

These plants are known as weeds.  And one of our jobs would be to dig out the weeds.  Weeding out the plants we do not want in our garden is done ‘to let the (other) plants grow’ better.  The plants in the bottom picture are weeds.  And boy what a lot of them there are!

But what of those in the other picture?  The ones that look a bit like grass.  Are these weeds too?  Do we have any risk-takers amongst us?  Someone who would be prepared to taste a tiny bit of one of those grass-like stems?*  Thought so.  Far too many willing guinea pigs!  Let’s get the verdict from just two of them.  One, a bit unsure (but still very brave!)…..


and another very enthusiastic!


The taste?  ‘Spicy’ a bit like onions.  Which is because they are a bit like onions!  These are chives.  Snipped with scissors and sprinkled into salads!  So these grass-like plants will be staying put during our weeding frenzy. 

In short, we will have to be very careful weeders!  And so on with the job.  Forks and trowels at the ready?  Off you go!

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Careful that you get the whole weed out.  Shake off any loose soil.


Some plants are s n e a k y and can grow again from a tiny piece left behind!  Some roots seem to go on…..and on…..and on, don’t they!


Some plants are s t r a n g e.  I wonder if you can work out why these ‘milk’ weeds that Joseph found got their name…..


(and no, it’s not because they give us milk* – although it does look a bit like milk, doesn’t it!)

What sharp eyes and nimble fingers we needed…..


to sort out all those weeds from the chives – and the swaying, pink and white cosmos – and the dancing nasturtiums – and the red, red roses – and the fat yellow squash!

*Please remember never to taste anything you find growing unless a grown-up you know says it’s OK!  There are lots of plants that could hurt you.

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