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the battle of the spurge

March 29, 2010

Meet my mortal enemy.

It's meaner than it looks.

I decided yesterday that I’d rather play in the dirt than work problems on p-n junctions, so I went to work in the front yard, where I’m planning to put an elaborate garden this summer.  Previously, the beds I want to use were infested with leafy spurge, a noxious weed native to Australia that is a serious problem here in Colorado.  The folks upstairs invested some major effort in removing it last year, so I thought it’d be a matter of turning over the soil, removing the flower bulbs that are coming up, and pulling a few stray spurge roots.  I was deluding myself.

Turns out leafy spurge is a bitch to remove.  This beast spreads by seed and by creeping horizontal roots, and it can have taproots up to thirty feet deep.  I spent 3 hours working in one bed (about five by three paces), and I removed an entire trash can full of roots.  I don’t think I’m done.  Seriously, this plant has a root system that a friggin’ oak tree would envy.

The best part?  The entire plant leaks an irritating latex-like sap (think milkweed), and if you get it on your skin, it causes rashes and such.  Mmm, fun.  I did wear gloves, but it really sucks to be cursing and sweating and up to your ankles in dirt and tangled root masses and remember that you have to be careful, too.  Caution and frustration do not exactly go hand in hand.  I got lucky, I suppose, since I’m rash-free.  My prepubescent helpers (the kids upstairs got in on the job once they saw…uh…how much fun I was having, I guess) were not so lucky, but apparently the rashes are already fading.

Anyhow, I am hoping that if I leave the bed alone for a few days, most of the roots that I missed will dry out from being somewhat exposed, and that I can invest maybe only another hour or so in pulling out the stragglers.  I’m hoping.  Then, of course, I get to repeat the process with the other two beds, which are both slightly larger (three by six paces).  That extra three square paces could add up to an hour of extra time, realistically.

I curse whoever first brought spurge to Colorado, and I hope they die a violent death by rhizome strangulation or something similarly karmic.

In other news, the garden plans have actually changed.  Not as a result of The Battle of the Spurge, but more from conversations with other invested parties.  I’m aiming more for food and less for medicine than I was before.  The brassica bed is pretty much unchanged, but the other two have morphed quite a bit.  I’m now planning on planting raspberries, strawberries, squash, radishes, beans, peppers, basil, cilantro, carrots, parsley, sage…some of that is new, some of it’s not.  Hopefully it’ll still work.  I might have to cut down a couple of tree branches to ensure adequate sunshine.

I would show you the amazing updated plans (which are marginally more legible than the previous plans), but the “scanner” (i.e. digital camera) is on an ill-fated sample collection trip to southwestern Virginia with the partner.  He’ll be putting it to good use documenting the malfunctioning equipment, I suppose.

In other other news, but still garden-related, my other mortal enemies, the community gardeners who work in the plot in the backyard, are getting back to work for the season.  Some of you will recall my unfortunate interactions with these lovely folks, but some of you are new to that game.  I won’t go too deep into rant-land here now, but I do warn you that you will soon start hearing about how they all suffer from a terminal case of suck, and have no respect for the fact that I pay to live here.  They also seem to think that I have trained the miscreant mutt to rip their throats out, which I’m beginning to wish I had done (even though she seems inclined to do it even without training).  Anyhow, tomorrow I am having a chat with their leader about “working on solutions to the Pecan issue.”  My solution?  They go fuck themselves and stop threatening my dog with sharp garden implements.  She really isn’t going to bite them, no matter how scary she makes herself look.  The more realistic solution?  I’ll have to spend a few hours shoring up the dog door, and inevitably they’ll still fail to let me know when they’re coming (so I won’t be able to lock her up before they arrive) and they will still exacerbate the problem by shaking sharp garden implements at my usually quite friendly beastie.

Also, I want to give them a talking-to if they plant nothing but peppers and tomatoes again this year in the plot.  Especially if they devote more space to walkways than to actual plants again.  Dumb motherfuckers don’t know how to make a garden, even though they teach seminars that gullible yuppies pay money to go to.  I aim to show them how it’s done in the front yard this year.  Also, I will laugh if their plants suffer from diseases and pests since they didn’t learn the lessons of the middle ages and remember to rotate their crops.  I will laugh hard.  Unless the pests they attract find their way to my ecologically sound garden.  Then I will consider teaching Pecan some meaner tricks.

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