Weeds and Chiggers

I live in a highly populated neighborhood. There aren’t many humans, but other species abound.

This year a lot of frogs moved in. As I walk through the damp garden, they jump away from my giant feet. I must appear to them as an Olympian appeared to the ancient Greeks.

The chickens grab up any poor frog that strays into their pens. Coyotes, raccoons, and the occasional bobcat grab up my poor chickens, too, if they get the chance, so I keep them penned in large, covered runs.

Do I feel guilty for penning them? Yes. Do I wish they could be out scouring the ground for ticks and other pesky locals? Again, yes.

My garden extends from the largest run. I don’t plow. Instead I add wood chips, compost, straw, paper sacks, cardboard, crushed eggs shells, and whatever else will break down and make my hard, clay soil fertile and friable.

If you don’t plow, you get a lot of reseeding. I have about 20 square feet of marigolds rising up in one section of the garden. When I see the first ferny leaves in spring, I weed around them and surround them with vegetables.  They stand three or four tall and are striking against a backdrop of okra. The same goes with the arugula patch that started with one plant several years ago.

Aw, but the lemon balm! I should have noticed that thin, square stem. This mint relative has taken over a big chunk of my garden. Fortunately, the chickens love it. And it makes good tea and an excellent room freshener. I’ve just had to make the garden bigger.

I have several garden hoes, but I mostly pull weeds. I stack them, root and all, into three piles: suitable for chickens, not suitable for chickens, and burn these suckers. The latter stack is reserved for brambles and vines that try to swallow my fences.

The chicken weeds and lemon balm I carry by the armload into the runs.  The chickens do come running.

Despite my daily routine of bug spray on work socks and flesh, I always bring a few chiggers in, too. These tiny residents are undeterred by the greasy spray on my skin.

Do frogs eat chiggers? Does anything eat chiggers? They have a purpose for being here, right?

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