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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Who Speaks for the Weeds?

Bull Thistle

Our garden was recently weeded.  What was once a dense plush bed of greenery and blooms is now irritatingly neat rows of cultivated flowers with naked soil between them?  The weeder (we shall call her Bob) was very unhappy that I let the garden get to this state.  I looked at the piles of Bull Thistle, Buttercups, dandelions, and wood sorrel she yanked out of the garden and looked at her with curiosity.

"Aren't those flowers too?" I ask.  No, says Bob those are WEEDS.  "But the weeds have flowers on them?"  She looked at me like I was someone who needed assistance eating oatmeal.  To me any plant that produces a flower is welcome in a flower bed.  I like it to look wild, verdant, an explosion of life, as if God planted it and not Bob.

Why I wonder are weeds so hated and despised?  For example if I am a few days late mowing my yard it erupts in buttercups and dandelions with whole continents of clover flowers.  It is a magnificent example of biodiversity and natures splendor.  Bob seeks monoculture, just green grass as far as the eye can see uninterrupted blades.  If I wait a month to mow burdock, lambs quarters, and occasionally a mighty thistle will shoot skyward.

I ask myself who is stranger, me or Bob?  Bob seeks to make the yard like the carpet in the living room.  The flower bed a series of neat rows like a corn field.  She will pull and poison and wage war on any organism that disrupts the order of her universe.

For example Bob dislikes my beehive.  In fact I learn that not only are honey bees vermin but the wood borer bees that are zooming around the summer sky like harrier jets are repellent to her.  The bald face wasp, the yellow Jacket, the fuzzy harmless Bumble Bee, all is considered pests to be destroyed.

How can this Bob woman profess to like flowers but not bees?  The only reason flowers exist is to attract pollinators to assist them in reproduction.  If the world was without bees it would eventually be without flowers.  It would also be without most fruits, vegetables, and nuts.  Our diet would exist of mostly cereal grains and corn.  Gone would be apples, pears, strawberries, almonds, oranges, limes, lemons, black berries, raspberries, blueberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, and watermelon.

God put the weeds on the Earth because they are a vital link in the circle of life.  Often they are the only source of nutrition for bees between nectar flows.  Monoculture is death.  If you plant only one type of plant, corn let's say, you will have to dump chemicals on it to keep it alive.  It would get picked clean and die otherwise.  Old world farmers understood this.  They often used to employ tricks like letting the bean stalks climb around the corn stalks.  The beans use the corn as a trellis.  They alternated rows of potatoes, and carrots, and cucumbers, and tomatoes.  This is biodiversity.  A garden like this will be fruitful and grow with minimum human or chemical intervention.  It would be a benefit to not only mankind but all of God's creatures.

A lot of people don't know this but most 'weeds' are completely edible.  I have watched gardens fail and produce nothing and if you just turn your head slightly you can see a pile of 'weeds' the gardener yanked out and threw away that was full of things to eat.  I once ate a salad at a high end restaurant and it was one of the best salads I had ever had.  I looked closer and mixed among the romaine lettuce were tender dandelion leaves.  We paid good money to be served those "weeds".

If you plant vegetables and flowers, you have to water them, weed them, kill insects with poisons.  If you don't, supposedly they will die.  Maybe, maybe not, but everybody seems to think so.  However weeds grow without mans intervention, often in spite of mans intervention.  Weeds find life in cracks in the sidewalk.  They survive and even thrive despite repeated attacks from the gas mower.

So, Bob if you are out there reading this.  Your ways are the ways of death and destruction.  Your ways will lead to the catastrophic loss of life on Earth.  Your ways are a sin against God's creation for which we are stewards.  I will speak out for the weeds; they have as much a right to live as you do Bob.  They are arguably contributing more than you are.  While I am at it I will speak out for the pests too.  The buzzing insects that ignore you and you seem to fear and loath.  It is no wonder God gave them stingers because he knew in his wisdom that someday arrogant and ignorant humans would try to eradicate them.

I choose life, for me, for my children and someday grandchildren, for all the inhabitants on this rare gem called Earth.

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