Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't Tread on Me

Like a biological Berlin Wall, grass has laid siege to a citizenship of zucchini, tomatoes, onions and broccoli in my garden.  I can’t say this is the first year this has happened.  Blame it on my procrastination.  Blame it on poor planning.  I’m guilty of both.  But let me tell you a little secret about Extreme Weeds.  They’re good camouflage.  I live in the midst of a highly productive rabbit community, and my vegetables bear no damage.  You see, I am quite sure that Peter Cottontail has no idea of the vegetables that lie beyond The Wall.    So what if I have to play hide-n-seek to find my ripe tomatoes?  Mr. McGregor should’ve let his weeds grow.

This year will be an exception.  Bit by bit, down it must go.  Why would I tear down the camouflage that has served me so well all these years?  What could jolt me out of my weed-induced stupor?   Pituophis catenifer.  Commonly known as Bull Snake.  Two large specimens were recently found cavorting in the vicinity of my veggies, and I feel much differently about playing hide-n-seek with them. 

So bon voyage to my camouflage/procrastination.  The grass must go. 

As I weed, I work around another prickly persona in my garden.  No slithering scales here.  In fact, I planted this one.  Cucurbita pepo.  Commonly known as Zucchini.  If you’ve ever grown any member of the vining Cucurbit family (Pumpkin, Watermelon, Cucumber etc.), you’ve probably experienced firsthand the painful irritation that occurs from handling them.  Every inch of the stems and leaves is covered in a sharp stubble.  The horticultural terminology for this phenomenon is pubescence, coming from the root word puberty.  But this is no peach fuzz we’re talking about.  This is a full-on 5 o’clock shadow.  A good proportion of plants bear hair of some form.  Some are named for it, as is Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina).  Its namesake softness comes from an abundance of downy pubescence.

The hair serves a purpose.  Leaves are covered in tiny holes called stomates.  The plant transpires through these, but they are also a portal for moisture loss.  Pubescence provides a bit of aerodynamic cover for these stomates, reducing dehydration.  Additionally, they help shade sensitive leaf tissue from the glaring sun.  Take a walk around your garden and discover the world of hairy leaves.  But keep your eyes peeled...there may be some unexpected discoveries lurking there.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...