In his song “Get Behind the Mule,” Tom Waits tells us to “Never let the weeds get higher than the garden.” That’s good advice. But maybe you shouldn’t go overboard and become a fanatic who acts as if weeds are evil demons from the ninth level of hell.
It turns out that some weeds are good for flowers and vegetables, protecting them from predatory insects. So say horticulturalists Stan Finch and Rosemary Collier, writing in Biologist magazine. When the bugs come looking for their special treats—the plants we love—they often get waylaid by the weeds, landing on them first and getting fooled into thinking there’s nothing more valuable nearby.
So for example, when cabbages are planted in the midst of clover, flies lay eggs on only seven percent of them, compared to a 36 percent infestation rate on cabbages that are grown in bare soil with no clover nearby.
This could be a useful metaphor in working with your own versions of impurities and interlopers. Make sure there are always a few chickweed or henbit weeds surrounding your ripening tomatoes.