Wednesday, October 05, 2016

A Weeding in Time Saves Nine

My daughter and I planted one of the raised beds at Princeton High School with wildflowers. Part of the logic was that attracting pollinators to the area would be beneficial for the vegetables being grown in some of the other raised beds.

Not sure if there's actual data to that effect, but what was clear is how easy it is to make a wildflower in this framed context thrive. Easy does not equate with the "plant and run" approach, which typically involves planting a garden and then assuming nothing more is entailed than patting oneself on the back. Instead, easy means planting wildflowers where they are likely to thrive, and then making brief but strategic follow up visits to water during droughts or weed out any would-be competitors. This planting required two or three follow-ups of a half hour each, until the wildflowers were so well established that nothing else had a chance.

Care of the other beds varied from neat rows of vegetables to a rambunctious weedfest, like this one with pigweed (amaranth) and lambs quarters--the taste of at least the latter when young rivaling any of the greens intentionally being grown.

Horseweed and ragweed, both native, are also quick to populate bare ground.

Here's ragweed closer up, with a foxtail grass. All of this is on the backside of the high school, where plants don't have to conform to cultural norms of beauty.

If ever the school raised the bar for beauty, though, it's good to know that the difference between a weedfest and a "really big show" is just a well-timed half hour here and there.

In the photo: late-flowering thoroughwort (white), New England aster (pink to purple) and cutleaf coneflower (mostly seedheads at this point, rising high in back).

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