Gloved hands pulling weeds
(Image credit: Nicola Tree / Getty Images)

There are many things I dislike about gardening. I don't love to mow, I hate insect pests, and I dislike babying the few roses we have. The one thing that is my worst enemy though, is weeds. I go into this battle annually with the deck stacked against me. This is due to an abandoned house on one side, and a neighbor on the other who lets weeds grow wild. Across the street, my neighbor tends the weeds because she uses them for medicine and food. So my battle with weed pests is constant due to the presence of seeds floating over into my landscape. It is an eternal struggle, one that I never truly win.

Weeding Woes

The one thing that makes me really grouchy regarding gardening is weeds. I understand that dandelion flowers are important food for honeybees, and wild milkweed feeds various butterflies and moths. However, I can't stand the disorder and chaos that weeds represent. Plus, weeds are so stoic, my wanted plants hardly stand a chance. The latter would be pushed out if I didn't wage war on weeds from February into the first snow. Since my landscape is organic, I must battle with natural weed control, something that requires more physical activity than a chemical war.

The main persistent weeds of this area are purslane, dandelion, oyster root, puncturevine, sagebrush, various grasses, thistle, skeleton weed, curly dock, and poison hemlock. Most of these are listed as noxious weeds and it is our duty and home or landowners to eradicate them when we see them. In the fields, the farmers just spray them out with chemical cocktails. Here, I use organic weed control. That is a combination of homemade non-toxic brews and hand pulling.

Hand pulling weeds is the bane of my existence. It must be done weekly and every time it is an all-day chore. I am often out in triple digit temperatures trying to rein in their takeover. It is a thankless task because just a few days after doing all that weeding, the hellish things are in evidence anew. As the prevailing winds blow over from the abandoned house, I can view the parachute-like dandelion seeds and downy thistle float gently over to my dirt farm and settle in for occupation, and occupation it is. It is an unsolicited invasion, one that seeks to drain me of energy and sap my will.

Homemade Weed Killer

I don't only practice manual removal. My arsenal of tactics also includes my home brews. These concoctions are the result of kitchen items, often paired with things like white vinegar, essential oils, and dish soap. I also rely upon black plastic, weed barrier fabric, boiling water, and my trusty flame weeder. This last item is a true back saver but can only be used when there is no wind (which rarely happens here), and in the presence of a hose, just in case.

I can safely and accurately say that weeds are my enemy, my nemesis, my foe. I detest weeds and the actions I must take to eradicate them. If my efforts were successful for more than a few days, it would all be worth it. Yet they are not, and I can look forward to a growing season of battlefield strategies and trench warfare. It is an ugly battle and one that seems fruitless, just like most wars that are waged. However, I will persist because I am crazy, and pig headed. Let the weeds try to take me, I'll fight 'til the bitter end!

Bonnie Grant