by Nancy Oakes
When my garden was just my own, one of my favorite past times was weeding. In the beginning it was mindful work learning which plants are weeds, but once you know which plants to take out and which to leave in it leaves your mind free to wander. I still love to weed, but spending untold hours on your knees, working your way through an acre of beds, only to have to start over, can leave one a bit punchy. This year while the Olympics were happening, we began a list of events for a `Gardener's Olympics.' Here are some of the high-(or low)lights.
The 50 Metre Edge event-points given for straightness, uniformity of depth and extra points for the number of worms rescued.
The Dig and Divide-a first day event. Overgrown clumps of Phlox to be lifted and divided into as many viable pieces as possible. Medals are awarded one month later for the largest percentage that survive.
The Seedling Transplant event-a 2" square mat of 2 week old Dianthus seedlings-how many can be planted in 30 minutes. Medals awarded at closing ceremonies for the highest percentage that survive.
The Dead-head event (This has nothing to do with the Grateful Dead, although it could be worked in)-a 5 metre row of pansies that have been left to their own devices. First one done wins with points taken away for the number of spent blooms missed. This could take the judges a few hours to figure out.
The Overgrown Rose Pruning event-fastest time with the least number of cuts and scratches. Points deducted for curse words uttered.
The Slug Picking Event-in the Shady Hosta Garden. A numbers game-who can pick the most in 15 minutes. Extra points awarded for the largest and the smallest.
The Weed Toss events (the Track and Field of the competition):
The Simple Toss-the furthest one can toss a weed and hit the basket.
The Blind Toss-toss a weed over your shoulder and hit the basket without looking.
The Marathon Weed Toss-a 10 metre row of weedy border. Start next to the basket. Get ready set, weed! No looking back-first one to the end with the fewest weeds outside the basket wins.
The longest couch-grass root
The longest complete dandelion root
The "How high can I pile the wheelbarrow and still make it intact to the compost" event-(self-descriptive)
And finally, The Clean Hands event-all contestants will have 10 minutes to wash up, using only soap and water. The one with the cleanest hands gets to take all the other contestants home where they will groom the winner's garden to within an inch of its life.
If that's not incentive I don't know what is!