The Art of Pulling Weeds is an exceedingly meditative practice. It is not simply about pulling plants out of the ground; it is about doing so mindfully and in awareness. Anyone can pull up weeds; however to do it well, you need to have a certain mental discipline.
Getting To The Root
You can stop the weed’s growth completely if you can pull it up by the root. If not, it will grow back again. Some weeds are easier to pull by their roots than others. Success depends on how quickly you act, for one thing. The weed will establish a strong root if you wait too long, and if it goes deep enough, you may not be able to extract it by hand or alone. However, if you can get to the weed soon after germination, just as it pierces the suface to make itself known, it can be easily plucked.
How easily you can pull up the weed by its root also depends on the nature of the soil, and to some extent, how recently the weed has been watered. Hard dirt allows the weed to take hold strongly and to break as needed, just like a lizard may shed its tail to live another day. However, if the soil is soft because it is good soil or loosened by rain or watering, the root has little purchase. The earth gives it up easily, readily.
Of course, how well the root is removed depends greatly on your attention. If your mind wanders while you are working, your hand will not find the proper hold and the root will break. And it will break if you get in a hurry. Pulling the weed by its root requires patience, sensitivity, and focus.
Weeds that spread out often overlap with other weeds, especially if you have waited too long to attend to them. Overlapping weeds protect each other, hiding the entrance of their roots into the soil. By creating a mat, they confuse the unwary by entangling within the limbs and tendrils of the other.
Only by careful attention to the way the weeds grow and have grown together can you identify the individual roots. You can see the core and true nature of the weed by thoughtfully separating each one from the other and addressing them separately. Trying to address them together often leads to broken roots. It is in the nature of things that those joined together are stronger than those separated.
It takes a special focus and awareness to attend to overlapping weeds. Resigning to frustration and rushing the effort feeds their success, and both or all live to grow again another day. By giving in to the desire for rapid results, you will find yourself returning again to the task.
It is not necessarily true that tall weeds, those that are apparent and obvious, have deep roots. Some spring up quickly though their roots may be shallow. Some of the most most difficult to control tall weeds do have shallow roots, but grow very quickly just beneath the surface. And some of them sprout not from seeds, but from nodes that form in the roots themselves.
Tall weeds may also disguise themselves as something completely different: budding trees. Weeds with woody stems that grow quickly and send deep roots may be overlooked completely by the unwary or undisciplined. They look promising at first, but do not amount to anything in the long run.
Sometimes the weeds you have to pull are those you planted. Perhaps you did not know what they were, how large they would grow, or how they might conflict with the rest of your garden. Still, they have to go and you have to do the weeding.
Most often the difficulty with planted weeds is more about the planting than the weeding. There can be sadness for a dream garden not realized, or perhaps shame or self-blame for planting the wrong thing. Yet, in the final analysis, the planting was in perfect harmony with your vision. It just did not work out as you had envisioned or hoped.
There is no advantage to keeping planted weeds when they no longer serve. All things have their time and there is no blame when that time ends. They become compost, recycled energy for new plants, new beings to grow and develop. It is the nature of life.
There is no end to pulling weeds. Though you might mindfully remove all the weeds you can find in your garden, the seeds of weeds of untended gardens of the neighbors blow in. And some come from far away and distant lands. Where they find fertile, willing soil, they will take root and grow.
It could be said that much of life is about pulling weeds: making way for the lush and thriving bounty and beauty of your cultivated garden by removing that which consumes more resources than you are willing to allow or that which no longer serves. Vigilance is required. You must not neglect your garden for very long. Weeds grow quickly.
And, of course, this is not about gardening.