In an earlier life, I was a lawn grass guy. Interlopers like chickweed, bindweed, and clover were annoying. Crabgrass was irritating. But the weed I really couldn’t tolerate was spurge.
Spotted spurge are dark green plants with red stems. They push down deep tap roots and grow low to the ground, outwards from the center, in a rough wagon wheel shape, creating a stiff matt that shades and chokes lawn grass.
I have no tolerance for it. I am called to pull it from the ground wherever I find it.
For example: Yesterday afternoon, I was out for a walk around Rideout Field in West Concord while chatting with a friend on the phone.
As my friend and I talked, I walked the field perimeter and the edges of the baseball and softball infields. As I reached the grass behind second base on the Little League field, I looked down and I saw spurge!
I had to stop. I couldn’t help myself.
I leaned over and, with my right hand, gently pulled at various tendrils of one plant until I found the tap root. Grasping that between my thumb and the second knuckle of my index finger, I wiggled it and pulled until, with a very satisfying snert, the tap root gave it up and I lifted the plant into the air, like a fisherman holding up a freshly caught fish. This were a good ‘un; the plant was about sixteen inches across.
Inspired and, all the while, chatting with my friend, I found the next spurge taproot and then the next, creating a mount of spurge that would have filled two five gallon buckets to overflowing. I carried the mound to the nearest “TRASH ONLY” barrel and dumped it in. A good half-hour’s work. Made my day.
I detest the plants so much because spurge’s stiff interwoven mats so quickly crowd out good grass in a lawn or field and, once they take hold, they’re very difficult to eliminate.
They’re kind of like the dozens of “low to the ground” low priority tasks in our sales lives that, after a while, accumulate and crowd out important sales activities. At the beginning of a month, it looks like green grass ahead. By the end of the month, we’re choking.
The best way to deal with that is to keep a sharp eye out and pull the loose end “weeds” as soon as they sprout rather than waiting until they’ve accumulated and spread out.
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