Somehow it is ironic—instead of me describing a tool that I feel you need, but don’t have, here is a tool that you do have, but probably don’t need. Unless you have steadfastly held onto the eating habits of your Neanderthal ancestors, I’m betting that you have at least one set of eating utensils in your home. It is the dinner knife that I am singling out this time. I have found that this is the best tool for teasing out weeds from ground cover. Now, if you don’t have ground cover, stop reading and go out to your garden and do something useful—take a flashlight if it is dark.
Since you are still reading, you must have ground cover . . or are just too pooped to crawl out to the garden again. Now the term “teasing” is a biological dissection term for the act of carefully separating the organs of small specimens with pointed tools like probes or dissecting needles. Every time I use a dinner knife to tease a weed out of desired ground cover plants, I cannot help but be reminded of my first biology dissection where I cut through the dorsal surface of a preserved earthworm and teased through the connective tissue until I found the two lobed brain and the nerve cords that led down and around the pharynx. Hmmm . . . you don’t have those same memories
Back to the garden: The way you use your knife to tease is to grab the offending weed and pull gently while you work the knife down into the root area and move it about. If you are successful, the weeds will be extracted and the ground cover will remain intact. If you are unsuccessful, the stem of the weed will break off only to regrow when you aren’t looking. Now I will be the first to admit that this is not a pleasant gardening chore. You are on you hands and knees with you nose to the ground (not literally). Even using knee pads does not appease my knees which insist on complaining for hours afterwards.
I have included 3 examples of weeding that recently required teasing in my garden. I always refer to the ground cover plants as conspiring plants as they seem to delight in hiding offensive weeds until they grow into maturity.
You know, if using grandma’s sterling dinner knife seems disrespectful, drop by a thrift store and pick up a strong stainless steel model, but watch out for impulse buying!
Stan, The Tool Man
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