article and photos 

by Leigh Mills

No gardening experience is complete without weeding and thinning.  Both tasks can be tedious and challenging, depending on the locations and types of plants being weeded and/or thinned.  Some weeds are easier to pull and thinning plants can be difficult.  I’ve been thinning carrot seedlings and weeding a lot of grass hay that grew from the mulch I used this spring.  Weeding the grass hay gave me another perspective on thinning carrots.  It also renewed my being.

The grass hay that invaded my garden beds became a wonderful learning experience.  It was from my rabbit/goat poop compost pile, undigested and full of seeds.  The grass had long, tenacious roots that were hard to pull from the ground.  It was growing faster than the carrot seedlings and choking them.  I even used a new garden tool to help me, a dinner fork.  I used it to gently pull the grass away from the carrot seedlings and help dig out the little root ball.  It took an average of two hours to weed just one bed.  I had about ten beds where this grass hay was choking out flower seedlings and other plants.

I started weeding with beds that had tiny carrot, onion, beet, seedlings, next came 5 packed beds with even tinier flower seedlings.  I went so slowly it seemed like a botanical archeological dig.  I used the fork to scrape away the old mulch and carefully pull out the grass so the delicate flower seedlings wouldn’t be ripped out.  I had to sit bent over, almost motionless except for my arms, to achieve this task.

As I sat, I realized how prepared I was.  Years of jewelry making strengthened my hands so I could pull the tough grass from the ground.  My asana practice (yoga postures) created enough flexibility for me to sit on the ground for hours bending over without too much fidgeting or discomfort.  I approached the task as a meditation practice, chanting mantras in my head and moving with my breath as each little grass ball came from the ground.  The experience became enlightening.

Then I came to a carrot bed that needed thinning.  I used the dinner fork to weed out some grass that was growing right next to the baby carrots and pulled up some chamomile in between the rows.  As I started thinning the carrots, I immediately realized how much smoother and quicker the task was compared to weeding the grass.  Each carrot came out of the ground without any effort, no matter how thickly they were planted or how small the seedling.  After spending hours and hours to weed out grass, it would only take minutes to thin carrots, no matter what size the garden bed.  My tired hands were very happy and I had a shift of perspective similar to an awakening.

I’m grateful for all that I AM.  All is perfect, no matter what it looks like or how it feels.  There is only now.  Enjoy it.