Sow There! Weed pulling is wise when you can see your breath, Feb. 8, 2019

This broccoli plant hasn’t grown even a quarter of an inch. Broccoli apparently only grows when you’re busy playing in the sunshine. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)
February 8, 2019

Change is not a particularly exciting process to observe. That’s why we have so many idioms that recommend finding more exciting ways to spend our time:

  • A watched pot never boils
  • As fun as watching grass grow
  • Moving in the slow lane
  • As slow as molasses in January.

Last month I maneuvered a yardstick to measure the children in my class. The moment was filled with potential and also fit nicely with our unit on measurement. Most of the children are in the 4-foot-5 range. I also have a chart on the wall for lost baby teeth, but our counting unit has come and gone.

The day we measured it was a bit like pulling teeth. Standing against the wall didn’t seem like as much fun as twirling around with the extra yardsticks.

For now, that piece of paper has receded into the general clutter of the classroom. Yet, one day soon they’ll realize something amazing has happened. They will have grown.

Months ago, our outstanding garden helper Angie brought in tiny broccoli sprouts. We measured those as well, on the same day that we planted tomato seeds.

Since then, I’ve been secretly logging my disappointment. One day I popped out to the garden plots on a dismal day after a series of rainstorm.

Nope. The broccoli had not grown not even a quarter of an inch.

Broccoli apparently only grows when you’re busy playing in the sunshine.

Yank it

Weeds, however, are in an entirely different universe when it comes to time.

If I had been smart, I would have had my students measure weeds instead of broccoli. Weeds grow inches each day. They pop up in places where you looked for weeds the day before. Seedlings of common groundsel, and Velcro weed morph from invisible to invincible in less time than you can tug the hoe from beneath the pile of slowly decaying leaves.

I know it’s cold this week, which means you’ll burn more calories if you spend time pulling weeds. The wet weather gives you an easier wiggle and a better chance to tug the roots. I’ve had great luck in the mud yanking deep-rooted mallow. Another winter culprit to catch right is the three cornered leek. These are in the allium family and can be used in the kitchen for a light onion flavor. However, I won’t be the only one to tell you to yank them in your yard and scour the neighborhood if you ever need free onions.

These plants grow bulbs and also toss about black seeds like confetti at Mardi Gras.

In the rain, three-cornered leek is easy to tug. Grab as closely as you can to the moist soil and jiggle back and forth until you can pull the bulbs easily. If you wait until summer, you’ll lose many of the bulbs to the tough turf.

However, persistence pays off. Over the years I’ve yanked enough leek to fill a flatbed truck. When I spot them these days I almost want to greet them like a lost friend.

Early bloomers

You’ll also note that weeds bloom and produce seeds before anyone can even think about almond bloom. I planted poppies in the alley again this year. If I look closely I can spot the tiniest white flowers – weeds! The greenery is only about four inches high, which is easily overlooked when I’m driving off to work.

If I was to take my own advice, I’d be crawling around on my hands and knees now, yanking those babies when I can see my breath in the air.

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