Friday, 8 April 2011

God in the dock

There are docks everywhere, but mostly on the disturbed earth. So I spent a cathartic hour with a spade in the morning sunshine, slicing the tops off any dock that crossed my path.

When I was a child, I saw dock as the beneficial plant that grew next to nettles and provided the salve for any stings. Now it's more complicated. I partly see them as an even worse weed than nettles, being even harder for the kichen and landscape gardener to eradicate. They are even designated an "injurious weed" under the UK Weeds Act 1959*. But they also have a beneficial effect on the soil; their roots go deep down, breaking up any compacted soil and bringing minerals up to the surface. I left the leaves where I sliced, so that the minerals go back to the topsoil. In fact, on very compacted sites, permaculture books advise planting dock on purpose. I haven't got to the bit where they explain how then to get rid of it. Rumex obtusifolius indeed. But anyway, God is in the dock, and the nettles, and the cabbages, and the heartsease.

* Along with curled dock, creeping thistle, ragwort and spear thistle; but who knew there was a UK Weeds Act 1959? The things I found out writing this blog!

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