The Zen of Weeding

The Zen of Weeding

With all the gardening I’ve been doing this summer I’ve done a lot of weeding. I’ve started to think of weeding as a meditative activity. It can be tedious, tiring, boring. It can also give you contact with plants in ways you otherwise wouldn’t have.

I find that when I’m “in the zone”, just pulling out weeds (plants growing where they are not currently wanted) I don’t feel like there’s anything else I’d rather be doing. MugwortI am enjoying the feel of the plants and the earth. I love studying the plants and learning more about their structure and how they grow. It is really amazing to start pulling out a plant like mugwort (a common “weed” that is actually a sacred plant in some cultures and a very good women’s herb).

I pull out the part of mugwort that’s growing above ground and a bit of the root and I think I’ve got all of the plant, but then I pull out another one and find that it has a l-o-n-g root that goes running for several feet under the surface of the soil.

A yard or two away I find that the plants growing there are actually attached to the root that I am pulling here. Who knew mugwort had such a large, connected system of roots? It makes me think of the connectedness of all beings, a connection that is hidden to everyday sight.

When I pull out plants I can see close up how the leaves grow out of the stem, where the flowers attach, how the seed pods look.

Did you know that ragweed, that much-reviled plant (yes, I’m allergic to it) actually has beautiful leaves, and tiny little green flowers? There are separate male and female flowers, both on the same plant. The pollen gets blown by the wind to other plants so they can be pollinated and make seeds. It’s this wind-blown pollen that gets in our eyes and noses and makes us so miserable every August and September, and the pollen can travel for hundreds of miles on the wind.

I generally leave a few ragweed plants in my garden because I know I’ll be subjected to pollen from everywhere anyway.

The quiet connection with the plants that I feel when I am weeding is grounding and is its own sort of meditation. I say little prayers for the plants are going to the compost heap, as well as the plants that stay in the ground and continue to grow.

July 2002