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"The Lost"
by Daniel Mendelsohn


May 15, 2008

Creeping Jenny

I was weeding in what I hope will be our garden this morning and came across the Creeping Jenny creeping through the beds. It is also known as Bind Weed. I Googled Creeping Jenny and discovered the following facts:

. Creeping Jenny has one of the most extensive root systems on Earth and will smother everything near it.
. expect to invest two growing seasons in getting it under control.
. Although it produces attractive flowers, it is often unwelcome in gardens as a nuisance weed due to its rapid growth and choking of cultivated plants. It has been introduced to North America, where it is an invasive species in some areas. Its dense mats invade agricultural fields and reduce crop yields; it is estimated that crop losses due to this plant in the United States exceeded US$377 million in the year 1998 alone.

We grew up on a farm and our father was very particular about his fields. A field that was plowed crooked or was full of weeds showed that the farmer was a poor farmer. We walked through the fields pulling weeds and particularly Creeping Jenny. We didnít like doing it Ė it was hard, hot work, but we did it. With Creeping Jenny you have to be sure and get all of the roots because a new plant can start from a piece of the root.

I can remember one year there was a large circle of Creeping Jenny that was growing and getting larger and larger. There was no way that we could pull it all up. My father put salt on it which killed it but also made the soil sterile for a long time.

Of course I thought of the worthless things that I let into my life that crowd out the good things. How many hours have I watched a foolish television program or just whiled away the time when I could be doing something constructive? It is when the Bindweed gets a strangle-hold on a plant that the plant is in trouble. The Creeping Jenny can wind itself around it and literally choke it. So it is out with the Creeping Jenny, even though you might call it a Morning Glory. There is no glory in bindweed.

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