I Heart Indies

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I went out in the garden the other day and had a cow.

(The cow is not an actual cow, nor is it really a metaphorical cow.  It is, I believe, a metonymic cow.)

The reason for my emotion - an emotion so strong I had to resort to bovine figures of speech to describe it, is weeds.  The garden is rank with weeds.

This happens every year.  The end of the semester, when I'm too busy to spend much time outside, coincides with prime weed-growing season.  By the time I get around to checking on things - metonymic cows are had.

I have considered the matter carefully, and I believe the problem may lie in our whole Western approach to agriculture.  Why do we privilege some plants as desirable - tomatoes, cucumbers, okra - and treat other plants - dandelions, chokeweed, crabgrass - as, well, weeds?  Admittedly, chokeweed is going to have a hard time winning any popularity contests on the basis of its name.  It's like when Mr. and Mrs. Unit named their little boy, G.  They should have known anyone with a name like that would amount to no good.

But imagine how much simpler life would be if instead of fighting weeds, we cultivated them.  Dandelions, for example, create quite pretty yellow flowers, and the little cotton balls they make are a delight to any child who's ever blown them and launched a thousand airborne seedlings.  Poison ivy, that much maligned plant, is green all year long and makes an ideal covering for a privacy fence.  Chickweed, I'm told, is quite tasty if used as a salad green, and bindweed, well, I don't know anything good about bindweed, except it's sometimes called a zombie plant because it's so hard to kill.  Even that must be an opportunity; imagine if we could use zombies for good instead of evil.

The main point is I believe by realigning our horticultural priorities, we could make gardening simpler and more productive, a boon to mankind.

Now if we could just find a constructive purpose for fire ants.


  1. I agree. It's real important to consider the usefulness of something before you curse it. Around here we have discovered you can hide a lot ugly stuff with kudzu.

  2. Good news on the "fire ant" front. There's a new kind of ant...called "Crazy Ants"...moving in from South America. They have already spread across the southern portions of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. The good news is that they eat fire ants like popcorn. The bad news is that their primary weapon is sheer weight of numbers, taking over property by reproducing like crazy. Pretty soon all our yards will be swamped with crazy ants, and we'll be sweeping them out of our houses and shoveling them off the lawn like Minnesotans do snow in the winter. (Except it'll be year-round.)
    Maybe this is the big push we need for everyone to start eating insects.