By Chris Cohan

The solar eclipse has come and gone. Now what? Oh, that’s right, I gotta go weed my garden. Zen, therapeutic, weight-bearing exercise, and a good sweat and stretch. It’s all that and more. How satisfying is it to look up and see big bags stuffed full of weeds? It is right up there with the best of life accomplishments.

For those who don’t weed, well your life, as any weeder will tell you, is simply not complete. There remains a serious hole in your existence. Weeding is fundamental to the collective cosmos in the same way the sun rises in the east, tides, phases of moon, and seasons. It is a regular predictable event that cannot be denied. Weeding has a strong soul-fulfilling quotient. Deny its spiritual value at your own peril.

Sure, you have been busy with many things. Too many things, that’s the problem. How does our day get gobbled up by texting, reading mindless emails, and clicking through 57 channels and nothing on? Now we have hundreds of channels yet the problem persists. Then there is the checkout line at supermarkets confronting us with magazine covers of happily smiling folks in perfect condition telling us of the newest and best diets and exercises. We turn our backs to the magazines, look down at our carb-heavy purchases, smile, and ponder deeper decisions — paper or plastic?

Who has the time to diet and exercise? We all do. Drop the phone, turn off the TV, take your hand out of the snack bag and enter the garden. The universe in its infinite wisdom devised weeding to complete you. It burns calories without you having to hop in a car, drive, park, and trudge into the gym only to wait for a machine. Nope, Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz,” said, ‘There’s no place like home.”  She was right. Happiness awaits you right there at home.

You now have the comforting words of two American icons to justify getting down, dirty, and weeding. Your waistline will shrink. Your muscles will ache in a good way. Your blood circulation and oxygen level will ramp up. Oh, and that annoying ache in your neck from perpetually staring at a phone screen will diminish. All thanks to the lowly weed. 

Weeds are agnostic, and non-discriminating. They are opportunistic and pop up wherever there is an opening. Grab their proverbial necks and yank.

Now is the time to get serious about weeding. Remove before they set and drop seed. Otherwise, your weeding next year will be a very big chore. For instance, morning glory vines covered in blooms in early mornings are preparing to let loose an army of viable seeds. Keep a lookout for seed pod production and remove ASAP.

Wild grape may be cute but it’s cunning. It tenaciously creeps through the garden, up and around trunks only to cover innocent shrubs with its petite grape leaves. Yank without compassion. Phragmites, the scourge of moist areas, should be cut NOW to remove the flowery tassels, which are seed bombs. Cut as close to the ground as possible and paint freshly cut tube-like stalks with undiluted Roundup. This will kill some and weaken the rest. If any green up again in early fall, repeat. Next spring, do it again. After your repeated effort, the physical removal will be less back-breaking than attaching a healthy stand. Going forward, keep a close eye on green shoots and treat or remove, as they will come back if ignored.

If a plant is doing well under stressful conditions, it’s probably a weed. If there is a mass of them growing where you do not remember planting something, or climbing up and around other plants and shrubs, they are most likely weeds. Some are beautiful, fooling you into allowing them to stay. But they will take over and swallow your garden becoming a full-time job trying to evict.

Once weeding is done your gardens will look neat, tidy, and serene. The remaining plants will be happy. You will be genuinely tired, yet calm, and satisfied by a job well done. 

Weeding, like homework, should never be put off to the last minute. Do the hardest first and early. Be as smart a weeder as you were a student. Didn’t everyone go to a good school and graduate top of their class?

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