The dominance of weeds in our community garden plots is truly unbelievable. You'd be forgiven for mistaking the whole thing for a crop of oilseed rape. Although several of the plots are well-tended and fenced (can you see the fences?), the majority of the field is completely yellow with Brassica flowers.
This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the color of the wildflowers, and the composition of the offending weeds has rotated through a handful of seasonal successions. I've gardened in plenty of yards, but trying to produce a crop in a poorly-maintained agricultural field is an, uh, unique experience. I could spend 2 hours, rooting out every weed in my plot with a shovel, return 2 weeks later and find nearly-chest high weeds throughout, with stem bases more than an inch in diameter! The soil is just saturated with years-worth of escaped weed seeds - and the inevitable neglect of the frustrated gardeners just makes each following season worse. No wonder we learned in school that weeds are the #1 pest in agriculture!
A few plots are pretty incredible in their productivity - mostly tended by families of Asian and Eastern European immigrants (along with some unusually-dedicated hippies). I didn't get why they spent so many late May afternoons loading up massive raised beds of compost, or spreading heavy mats of straw or plastic mulch over their plots, but I sure do now. When I set up next year's garden plot, I'll definitely start out with some sort of newspaper or straw mulch (Though my boss said he once laid down some straw before a trip and returned to find a thick, young carpet of rye in his plot!).
It occurred to me, as I waged war on wild parsnips, brassicas and chenopods, that it'd be a better use of my time to eat these pests. If it wasn't such a hectic summer, I'd have studied up on my taxonomy and gotten down to dinner - and probably would have gotten a lot more food out of my now-abandoned plot.
Garden Rant is way ahead of me.
as was Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.