Somehow, yesterday, the first day of Labor Day weekend, became a yard work day. And by yard work I mean that MLW worked in the garden while I marched about the yard attacking things with bladed weapons.
I don’t believe I would have ever really thought of an ax and machete as yard work tools, but it’s a reality out here. There are, of course the trees that are nothing but tall weeds, but there are also some varieties of herbaceous plants that, when not attended to early enough, grow tall and thick enough that a weed-whacker simply cannot take them down.
The primary offender there is Lambsquarters. This extremely common plant likes to grow up against buildings and in unattended, disturbed ground. Left to its own devices the base of the plant can get as big as a baby’s wrist.
Hence the machete.
LB was also spending part of her holiday weekend fighting the good fight against invaders. She’s been tasked with clearing the uninvited trees away from alongside the old barn. Armed with a tree saw and a branch cutter she managed to tackle and remove a 12’ Chinese Mulberry, almost entirely on her own. Few things make a father’s heart swell with pride more than seeing his 13-year old daughter dragging a huge section of tree across the yard by herself.
By the end of the day we all made several trips to the burn pile - the place where all the yard waste (that is not either compostable or good for firewood) goes to meet its fiery doom. Our pile this year is big - it stands over 5’ high and is a good 10’ in diameter. And this pile is just what we’ve done over the course of this summer - last year’s pile was burned this spring. It seems, no matter how many of our opponents we take out, they have more to send in.
And so The Yard War goes on.
The University of Illinois maintains a Weed Science website that is an excellent resource if one is interested in identifying what the the things growing, uninvited, actually are. It includes a description of the type of plants (e.g. broadleafs or grasses) to help narrow down the search; and most of the plants have pictures across the lifespan of the plant - seedlings, juveniles, mature adults, flowering, etc. - to allow one to correctly identify the plant in any part of its growing season. It’s how I came to learn, for example, that the blue flowers growing on stems in the ditches all over the region are chicory, the root of which can be used to make a coffee substitute. Fans of American western movies and books will recognize it as something that cowboys brew up at the campfire. Given how easily it grows, one can see why one might try to find a use for it. ↩