Early spring is the time for watchful weeding. Not only are weeds early to sprout, but they’re easy to see when not blocked by preferred plants, and their roots have not yet cemented deeply into the soil.
But one person’s weed might be another’s salad, as Aileen Hewitt describes in the New York Times. Her article is a delightful read and lists many edible ‘weeds’ found in her garden. But she also illustrates a side-effect of compost that I, too, use to my advantage – her compost ensures that multiple volunteer greens are available in her garden, my compost brings perennial benefits I’ll discuss in a future post. Still, I bet there are some ‘weeds’ Aileen hesitates to compost as they are truly insidious.
My compost piles will never intentionally see a common blue or wild violet (Viola papilionacea). These often adorable heart-leaved early bloomers that delight with tiny purple, lavender, white or mixed-color blossoms love the climate of my established planting beds. Keeping them in check requires regular vigilance. Miss one post-flowering thinning session – as I did last year – and these seemingly innocent plants broadcast enough seeds to crowd out the toughest neighbors.
Last season, by late summer I had beds of violets highlighted here and there with ‘other’ perennials. By the first of October I was so sick of looking at violets, I went on a weekend cleansing expedition that relegated loads and loads … and loads … of violet plants to the neighboring woods.
Still, and as expected, my fall weeding frenzy did not remove them all but simply thinned them enough to ease keeping them in check this year. I will enjoy their early fresh-green color, and their engaging, happy blooms; I’ll even transplant some – especially the miniature white-flowered varieties – to more appropriate locations, but once those purple beauties cease flowering they’re finding a new home.