So this time of year, the big job is the annual diggin o’ the Johnson Grass rhizomes. Rhizomes are what you call the white fleshy roots that make this Australian native so difficult to eradicate. Leave even one little rhizome joint and you just bought yourself job security, and its security nobody’s really aspiring to. I have yet to have even one prospective employee write in Johnson Grass digging under “Position Sought;” amazing isn’t it how hard work seldom attracts a crowd!
Digging Johnson grass is something only those wacko organic farmers do. Any progressive farmer would accomplish the same task with a few pennies worth of glyphosate (Round-up®) but not us boy. 100 degrees, shovels flying, carefully getting out each piece; we’re organic by golly! You all oughta come try it; takes a lotta skill ya know; not just anybody has the skill and talent to successfully eradicate a good sized patch of Johnson Grass.
Now my Grampa Pedro (pronounced Pēdro) actually planted the stuff in his plum orchards in the 30’s. Folks said if a plum fell in Pedro’s orchard it’d never hit the ground the grass was so thick. Then he’d run pigs in the orchard that would eat the plums and root up the succulent rhizomes producing a crop of pork from the same acres; inspirational, 80 years ahead of his time with this new pastured pork craze…wish I could have known him.
Shame he didn’t have our benevolent protectors of public health looking out for everyone back then; why, pigs in a plum patch!!! Wonder there wasn’t a plague named after him: Pedro’s plum crazy swine flu they might have called it to this day. Guess he just got lucky.
Enough silliness and now in all sincerity, there are a ton of life lessons to be gleaned from Johnson grass.
The most profound is that almost all problems start small; a few seeds of destruction in fertile soil…
Next, a small problem ignored seldom gets better, almost always gets worse exponentially.
That’s the bad news; the good news is a small problem addressed promptly is easily remedied.
Next, a huge problem can get fixed by starting…starting at one end of the row and working to the other.
Finally, there’s nothing like a lot of determined people attacking the problem together, and there’s a lot of satisfaction starting early in the morning with a big job ahead of you, and looking back albeit dirty and sweaty at the end of the day with it cleaned-up behind you; best sleep aid known to man.
And that’s what we do this time of year. Twenty men grab twenty shovels and go field by field, seeking out the ever present but annually dwindling patches of Johnson Grass and in a week, we look back achingly satisfied that our part of the world’s a little better…and we sleep really good.