Living and growing up in a city, I have never had the chance to garden. I do not know a lot about gardens. Yet every time I go to the Knox Community Garden on the corner of First and West Streets, I enjoy myself and learn from the gardening process. Because of this, I would like to start writing this Community Garden Column to share little things that I learn from the garden, from the people who work for the garden, and from nature.
Friend or enemy? Creeping Charlie
On Saturday, April 25th, we had our first group gardening time. Our main task was to till the garden and remove our biggest enemy: Creeping Charlie.
If you go to the Community Garden, you can easily see the pretty purple flower patches throughout the plot. These are Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea). Another common name is ground ivy. It is of the mint family Lamiaceae and has a romantic smell. It thrives in moist, shady areas of the lawn and garden but can also tolerate sun. It is a kind of plant that can easily take over any lawn if you let it grow wild. Part of the reason for the spread is that the plant is rhizomatous, a reproduction method in which their stems grow horizontally in the underground and strike new roots and shoots out of their nodes, up to the surface.
Most people consider the Creeping Charlie plant a weed because of its propensity for spreading, yet this has not always been true. This ground ivy was actually brought here from Europe because of its culinary and medicinal uses. It has been used to treat colds, coughs, inflamed eyes, and other ailments. The plants can also potentially serve as an herbal tea that is rich in Vitamin C.
Although Creeping Charlie could be useful, given that we want to plant different things in the garden, it is a weed to us. That was why one of our tasks this past Saturday was to get rid of it. We did not use herbicide because we strive to keep the garden as organic and sustainable as possible. Given that Creeping Charlie is very stubborn stuff, the only thing we can do is to grab a shovel and dig it out.
For you, feel free to consider Creeping Charlie as friend or enemy. However, if you are interested in the garden, you should definitely come and join our battle against it.
Want to join the Community Garden?
The Knox Community Garden is located on the corner of First and West Street, across from EcoHouse and Phat House. The Garden Club meets each Thursday at 4 p.m. for planning and information sharing and Saturday from 3-5 p.m. for general garden work. Rain location for Thursday meetings is Co-House, 237 W. Knox St (across from Sigma Chi). Everyone is encouraged and welcomed to come — no experience necessary.