Or, the muse seized me.  Explanations before poetry.

I’ll be telling you more about our North American Greens and Herbs Bed (I think that’s what we’re calling it) which is a little sample of plants in those categories that were used by Native Americans in North/north-Central America before any European plants arrived.

But what I want to mention now, because everyone asks, is why in the heck we are growing weeds in there, specifically Chenopodium album or lamb’s quarters, also called chual.  It’s in there because it’s a nutritious and native plant and a mainstay of Native American diets along with those of colonists.  However, it is a little, um, assertive – so we’ll be keeping an eye on it, promise.

I did have a what-am-I-doing moment recently while weeding out pigweed from among the lamb’s quarters… huh??  And pigweed is one of the great, useful, and free-spreading Amaranthus genus — and yes, we planted grain amaranth in the back of the bed.  Maria Wortman, our esteemed leader, keeps asking me if I really want to do this, and she has a point.  Amaranth is just one of the many plants that really do have virtues but you may curse yourself for planting as they self-seed or grow enormous or spread underground by runners.  We’ve avoided many of these at the demo garden (if not at home – mumblepeppermintmumble), but we do have our problem plants that are wonderful in moderation, except that moderation is not in their vocabulary.

I was thinking about this the other day when for some reason Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” started going through my head, and then I had to… well, this.  Dedicated to Maria and to the Derwood Demo Garden Weeders.

‘Twas workday, and the feverfew
Did wander amongst the parsley;
Superfluous the lamb’s ears grew
And the garlic chives not sparsely.
“Beware the amaranth,” she urged,
“The seeds that drop, the sprouts that spread;
The lemon balm should all be purged–
Don’t plant it in your bed.”
But we did plant Pycnanthemum,
How bold could native plants become?
“Robust growth” – what’s that denote?
We took our Ho-Mi blades in hand;
Sought larkspur and Solidago;
Then rested we ‘neath the maple tree,
And complained of our lumbago.
Oh, no–we may have met our match!
Please tell us it’s a joke.
No: we must halve the teeming patch
One, two!  One, two!  And through and through
The shovel blade makes grim blows.
We’ll leave it clear, and while we’re here,
Uproot some evening primrose.
“And hast thou slain the artichoke?
And done it without Round-Up?
Now compost it,” she kindly spoke,
“But make sure it is ground up.”
‘Twas workday, and the coriander
Bedeviled the garden in small ways.
What makes us want to utter slander
Is that fennel will be with us always.

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