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July 11, 2017
Camper weeding at camp altiplano,an Ecosystem Restoration Camp

Frances, weeding in the vegetable garden at camp Altiplano

I like weeding. It gives you a chance to get up close and personal with your plants, see how they’re doing, which ones are growing well and which aren’t, and also to reflect, both on your immediate surroundings, and life and the universe in general.

Today, for example, I spent some time weeding the courgettes. A few had been completely chewed by the snails, but others looked happy and healthy. I looked under one of the leaves – there were about 8 snails sheltering from the sun. It seemed pointless to remove them – there are literally 100s of 1000s of snails that could take their place, and the rest of the plant seemed extremely healthy. It even had a courgette forming. To be honest, if the snails had “wanted to” they could have wiped out the entire market garden, so I decided to be relaxed about their presence and let them be.

Most of the weeds that I was removing were plants from the amaranth family that are extremely high in protein and can be eaten by us (or the chickens). As I was taking them out a question came to me “Why am I doing this?” It seemed a bit daft, to say the least, to pull such a useful plant up and leave it there just because it hadn’t been planted by a human. So I decided to take some to the chickens, who were I have to say very happy with this new addition to their diet, cook up some to try, and leave some patches (that had sprung up where the crops had not made it) intact for future harvesting. There you see, I wrote harvesting not weeding.

It’s all about perspective. Weeds are only weeds if that’s what you choose to call them, and snails may be less of a pest than you think. If you can be relaxed about snails, I thought, you can be relaxed about life, which surely is not a bad place to be.

1 Comment

  • Justin R-Sondergaard says:

    Hi Frances. A quick question. You mention chickens; so may I enquire as to why you not feeding the snails to the chickens? I know there may be a concern for parasites, but every free-range chicken I presume eats their fair share of insects, worms and snails. Regards, Justin.

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