As is usual in late August, I went out to the garden this morning to begin the fall chores believing that things would be different this year. Convinced that I was there to clean up the strawberry patch and with the intention of planting some new lavender, I foolishly thought that this would take but a few moments.
As is also usual during this annual late August trip to the garden, my happy plans were foiled. A close inspection of the area revealed a much larger and less joyous task ahead. Working full time, taking care of a home, and trying to start a small gardening and crafting business has taken its toll on my time. The strawberries had more than spilled from their beds, they were planning to stay for the winter. Yarrow (which I like to keep when it volunteers as it is an herb and a free one at that) had sprung up everywhere but in the beds that I provide for it. A variety of other weeds had joined the party and entangled themselves amongst the (shall we say) good guys. Worst of all, the bane of my gardening existence, the crab grass, had sent out its long sleek seed filled tentacles in every direction possible.
I believe that crab grass may well be highly intelligent. What it has done over here it will do differently over there. It shoots straight up from between the tall plants sunning its' seed pods alongside the field flowers. If the competing plants are low to the ground, it crawls beneath them and lays its' pods in the shadows. If you were positive that the completely abused dried up space where you toss the hose was safe, you'd be wrong. It is just that type of space where it flourishes most of all crawling and spiking both. If you don’t keep it in check it will suffocate the entire garden growing vigorously while producing nothing but dessert like ground.
So here it is the afternoon and here I sit feeling defeated. After three hours of separating the strawberries from the yarrow and tearing the crab grass from the ground, I have retreated from the heat of the day. Worn and torn, my fingertips sting and my knuckles are sore. I literally wear holes in my gloves while fighting the crab grass enemy. Another battle fought but not to be won for I know every root fragment left behind and every seed pod which has managed to survive will be back to fight another day. I refuse to use chemicals. I could pull up every blade of grass that I see (although that can be little obsessive and time consuming). I use cardboard, landscape cloth, and mulch but all of this merely deters not rectifies. Overtime, this vile weed crawls beneath the covering until it manages to push its head up through a pinhole starting the whole process over again.
And so, the war goes on. Possibly by this evening I will have regained enough energy to plant the lavender and to tend to those poor strawberries (who have suffered a great trauma and are currently sitting in dirt-less buckets). Maybe it will have to wait until tomorrow. The only absolute is this…the crab grass will be back to fight another day and I will be forced to either take up arms or relinquish the battlefield that I call garden and home.