Weeds and Cactus

I was told once that the reason my cactus garden looks good is that I keep it free of weeds. Well, isn’t that a given? That the weeds should come out? Then I thought about it and realized that in fact too many cactus gardens don’t get weeded. I think that’s another misconception people have about cactus, that you can plant them and then forget them-after all they’re low maintenance and all, right? 

Wrong. The weeds have to come out. And I can tell you from experience that sooner is much better than later. If they get ahead of you, it is a monumental task to take care of business.

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Case in point: this bed almost got out of hand when I was busy with some deadlines and uncooperative weather. But yesterday I took care of business. The right tools are helpful. The bucket is for the weeds and trash pulled out of the bed. I know some people just leave the grass and weeds they pull out.  If you do that, the bed still looks messy, so what’s the point in weeding in the first place? The knee pad is just that, protection for my knees. I kneel down to weed so  I won’t wear out my back and because it helps to be close to see what you are doing. Weeding around cactus spines is tricky business, and I just don’t see how you can do a good job if you aren’t up close and personal to the offending weeds. The fish hook extractor, or whatever it is called, is helpful to reach in and pull grass too close to spines. The weed popper is much better to use than a hand spade or shovel to loosen the offending weeds without also uprooting nearby cactus. Yes, I know gloves protect one’s hands from dirt and those pesky cactus spines, but gloves just get in the way. They are bulky and I can’t feel what I am pulling out, so I just don’t use them. I  bring them along just in case, but I seldom even put them on. The clippers are for the occasional pruning on cholla or opuntia or whatever. Look closely and you can tell that I have cleaned the area above my gloves and am moving to the left.

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This is a shot of the rest of the bed before weeding.

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And here it is after weeding. See how much better it looks now?

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Before-

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and after.

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So now the claret cup blooms look even prettier in their pretty clean bed.

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Weeding is always more pleasant with company; thank goodness I had some.

Now that my conflicting deadlines have been met and the weather acts like it is about to improve, it’s on to the rest of the weeds. Another thing that makes weeding manageable is to just do a section a day, not trying to cover the whole garden. And once all sections are done, I get to do them all over again. Weeding is a never-ending task, you know. But doing a little at a time makes weeding doable. I recommend it.

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