Thursday, June 30, 2011

Flowers in the Onions

When i planted onions in my community garden plot, i improved the soil by adding compost. Now this particular compost came from my home vegetable garden, which is surrounded by strip beds of annual flowers for cutting.

So, most of the "weeds" that are growing in my onions are flowers :) So far, i've dug out 8 dozen Nicotiana and 1 dozen Verbascum (a sweet perennial mullein that is only 2 feet tall.) I haven't had the heart to weed out Cleome, Nigella, Chinese forget-me-not (Cynoglossum), or the opium poppy that is about to bloom.

This serendipitous interplanting of flowers among the onions is an example of the pleasant (volunteer flowers) becoming unpleasant (potentially shading out the onions that prefer clear ground.)

In our daily lives, we might prefer sweet-smelling Nicotiana to stinky onions, but when it comes to cooking, we prefer onions to tobacco.

So we look at the long-term benefit. Things that are pleasant now--flowers--lead to later unpleasantness--a poor harvest of onions. Things that are stinky now (e.g., renouncing a bad habit) turn out to nourish and sustain us.

For the time being, i'm trying to have both flowers and onions, but i have to separate them. And soon.

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