Dandelions are bursting out all over the city. They dot all the roadsides and every bit of grass you can see. Outside the malls, they have planted red and yellow tulips, but everywhere else, the dandelions have planted themselves.
So perhaps it’s not that much of a surprise that my own yard is overrun with the yellow weeds. But then, you see, it doesn’t matter if the rest of the city is dandelioned, all that matters is my neighbors’ yards, and remarkably, you cannot see a single dandelion in their manicured lushness.
At least the Chinese neighbor’s yard has the occasional dandelion, though these are swiftly pulled up by the neighbor’s old father (whom I shall henceforth refer to as Grandpa). But I have never seen a single dandelion grow in the yards of my American neighbors. Nor have I ever seen them weeding in the yard. I wonder what the secret is – how does their garden grow with no dandelions and no crab-grass (even if there aren’t pretty maids all in a row)?
My own lawn has shrugged off the pre-emergent fertilizer we applied assiduously. It was supposed to prevent crabgrass and dandelions, but the weeds never got the memo. The weeds also treat all the weed-killer sprays I applied like so much air freshener. Some dandelions had the grace to wilt for a day, but others just looked a little annoyed, and they all burst into flower again.
Obviously, they have declared war. So the other day I bought a new weapon, the dandelion remover. This removes the dandelion by the roots. Well, in theory. When I saw this in the garden store, I had visions of pulling up dandelions with intact long tap roots that branched off into numerous fibrous roots, somewhat reminiscent of the pictures I remembered from long ago high school botany.
It turned out, though, that pulling up dandelions is a Skill. There are many variables like Angle of weeder, Distance of weeder from dandelion, Moisture content of soil, Type of soil and of course, Size of dandelion. One could almost do a PhD thesis on this.
I take that back. Why almost? One can definitely do a long-term research on this – if one can do a 3 year, £300,000 study to prove, pretty much, that ducks like water.
But back to my dandelions. I am still nowhere close to pulling dandelions by the roots, though I have grown from pulling off the shoots to actually removing an inch or so of root. A few times I even improbably pulled up a whole plant, and waved it around like a trophy. Unfortunately, no one was watching.
In a couple of hours, I had cleared the front and the back yard of dandelions, at least the ones in flower. I had won the War On Weeds!
I sat in the shade, congratulating myself and taking pictures of the last dandelion. Grandpa kept me company, pulling up more dandelions and planting something. As I watch him pull yet another yellow flower out, a part of my mind wondered about the fact that Grandpa had been pulling up dandelions for days or even weeks now. Shouldn’t his yard be weed-free already? Did that mean the dandelions would come back in my lawn too then?
But I told myself that I was being silly. Surely Grandpa was doing it all wrong and not removing the roots. That foot-operated thingy he had must not be the right tool. He was making it look so easy too, and here I was in imminent danger of dislocating my shoulder. No, he had only himself to blame. My dandelions wouldn’t come back.