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Chicago? And more weeds

  • Subject: [cg] Chicago? And more weeds
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 13:00:24 -0700 (PDT)

Hi, all,

First, some Chicago questions, including ones I should
have asked long ago.

How many community gardens (as represented by this
list) make compost within the garden? Do individual
gardeners do it, or is it a group effort? And,
separate issue, how many use local compost, either
purchased or donated? Is it like a 'truckload' every
couple years, or what?

Second, do any composting questions or compost issues
stand out in your community gardens? How many have a
problem with rats in the compost?

Last, anyone on this list going to the ACGA conference
in Chicago is invited to come by the Charlotte display
(Cultivating Common Ground) and say hi. I look forward
to putting faces with messages.

Now, about weeds:

Jeneva recommends Joseph A. Cocannouer's 1950 classic,
_Weeds, Guardians of the Soil_. So do I, it is a
_great_ book.

>A Kenyan in one of the community gardens that I
co-ordinate is very fond of rough pigweed, which he
grows for the edible root.<

Just had a similar experience, when a couple of
Mexican gardeners spotted a pigweed growing along a
garden path. "Calalou" said one - and by golly he was
right, it was Amaranthus spinosus, aka 'calalou', a
popular warm weather 'spinach' in tropical areas. So,
in this case the 'weed' was food.

On the other hand, Sharon, I'd be very careful about
Polygonum perfoliatum, aka 'devil's tail' and
'tearthumb'. It has spread to seven states so far,
mostly in the mid-Atlantic states plus Oregon. It's a
nasty little vine when it takes over. As the intensity
of action against invasive exotics increases, I think
we'll see aggressive steps to control such species,
something that's already happening in North Carolina
(whatever the ecological issues, and like it or not,
I'm afraid 'stopping exotic plants' plays to American
nativism). Meaning our gardens might get sprayed if we
don't know how to identify, control and keep out the
worst invasive exotic weeds. Meanwhile, there are some
great traditional and native dye plants out there that
are much better behaved (and you don't need gloves to
handle 'em).

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

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