Once I was lucky enough to interview Eliot Coleman, an incredibly erudite and witty subject in addition to one of my biggest gardening heroes. “Weeding is like voting in Chicago,” I remember him saying. “Do it early and often.”
How right he was. And how discouraged I was when, after two weeks of fun in the mountains and at the beach, my yard and garden looked miserably unkempt.
But there’s nothing to do but tackle the project. In stages, of course — one bed at a time, preceded by a soaking bath with the sprinkler, and the lamb’s quarters and morning glories shrug and slip out of the soil. (Not the crab grass, though. I think Eve would have thought twice about eating that fruit, had she known what she was paying forward to generations of gardeners.)
The one place I don’t have weeds, however, is in the beautiful square-foot beds my father built for me. Everything is going gangbusters there, from melons to okra and tomatoes and even little thyme starts grown from seed. In the midst of washing the first batch of radishes and pinched-off basil, I was struck by the beauty that exists in the silliest places in nature — spicy, knobby roots and wrinkly, lush leaves. They later became pickles and pesto, but even in their rawest form they were delicious.