Saturday, September 5, 2009

Weeding as market regulation

We have what our friend Bettina Klaus calls a Sisyphus garden: we can weed for an hour whenever we want, and get trashbags full of biomass.

Weeding is a bit like being a regulator, you have to decide what counts as a weed, where. This always gets me thinking about what constitutes "unfair" competition, or maybe "competition in restraint of" what we would like the garden to be.

I am a permissive regulator; if we have planted some ground cover in one place, and it also takes root where we have planted a different ground cover, let competition decide the winner. "Unfair" competition takes the form of parasitism (vines that reach for sunlight by climbing over their slower growing hosts) or shallowly rooted, ephemeral tall plants that spring up between the roots of longer lived plants, but compete with them for sunlight and water.

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