Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bane of my existence (more specifically, the garden part of my existence)

It's officially Spring! Yee-ha! Warmer days, cooler evenings, flowers blooming, and the thousand little wonderful changes that always accompany this time of year. Unfortunately, it's also the time when a great evil begins to creep over the land, covering and corrupting all in its path. Strong men flee in terror, for none shall stand before the onslaught of: the Rose Of Sharon. Gaaah!

I infer from the fact that you can buy Evil Rose of Sharon at garden stores that some people actually consider them desirable plants. I can't fathom this -- it's like going shopping for poison ivy, or dandelions, or kudzu. And I can't imagine why anyone would need to buy one anyway; they grow like weeds and are impossible to get rid of. I especially can't understand why someone would buy more than one. Despite this, both of our neighbors have ERoS's growing along the fences that border our back yard. I'm assuming that they planted them in a flush of gardening hysteria years ago. They're otherwise nice people and good neighbors, and I can't imagine such decent people planting them in a lucid moment.

I started pulling out the ERoS's yesterday after work, and I spent half an hour at it. I spent another fifteen or twenty minutes today, and so far I've managed to fill a 50-gallon trash can with the pernicious plants. They grow fast, and they grow roots as fast as they grow above the ground. Depending on the soil and the roots, they're essentially impossible to pull once they're about three feet tall, and they become strenuous at a height of about 18". I'm planning on keeping up with them this year, getting them while they're small, so I don't have to strain myself ripping them out of the ground. Then again, I was also planning on keeping up with them last year -- and that didn't work out so well.

Our backyard ERoS collection is a living example of natural selection. When I first started pulling them up, shortly after we started our garden, they all had long, slender taproots. Very rarely, we'd find one with more branching roots. The taproots tend to pull neatly out of the ground, but the branching, fibrous roots grab the earth better. These plants break off above the root when you try to pull them out, and a new stem grows out of the same root. Over time, the number of plants with fibrous roots has increased; currently, about half of our ERoS seedlings have fibrous roots, up from less than one percent five years ago. The environment changed (i.e., I showed up and started weeding), and the plants better adapted to the new environment thrived.

No comments: