The volunteer turnip mocks my gardener's hubris. (click to enlarge)
During the past five years I’ve radically altered the way I go about growing food in a garden. It’s not that I’ve adopted some busy and intense new scheme. Nope. It’s simply that I don’t want to do any work in the garden anymore. At least no more work than is inescapably necessary to ensure that there’s stuff to eat there when I show up to harvest. In fact, ideally that’s all I want to do…just show up to pick whatever crops are ready. I want to be a harvester, not a gardener. (There’s a whole new crowd of lazy gardeners out there, by the way, who are trying to figure out if ideas like permaculture can get them off the work hook).
My relationship with weeds, for example, has changed completely. Bring em on! As long as they don’t pester my food plants. They pull in a lot of carbon from the air which becomes valuable biomass in the compost pile, and the ones with deep roots pump nutrients up from the subsoil.
I’ve given up sport weeding. It’s thankless work and it makes the garden look naked. I like a messy looking garden full of a wild variety of plants that I’m not responsible for. And more than that, I’ve become quite shy of pulling any weedy interloper because I worry about pulling some welcome volunteer that I may not have recognized as a seedling. [read more…]