What f’n Red Sorrel taught me

I originally hated writing this post about a friggin weed. 
It pained me to no end. 
I felt like a weed didn’t deserve my time and effort, so all I really wanted to do was wallow in self pity about how this weed was slowly bringing me to my knees. 
And then I realized I couldn’t have been more wrong. 
The weed in question, red sorrel (aka sheep’s sorrel) has been plaguing me for years. I would do my best to eradicate it by hand (no chemicals here) only to see it come back ten times worse. I’m talking carefully pulling out the roots and rhizomes like I was detonating a bomb. Some times the roots would extend two to three feet but I’ll be damned if I didn’t get them all. 
I just pulled and pulled, never taking the time to actually research what I was pulling out. I was like a caveman:
“Weed bad, must pull.”
In fact, it wasn’t until I started this post that I even knew what this weed was called. It took a desperate plea on Facebook, along with the photo below to get an answer as to what it actually was:  

Once I got the name and confirmed that it was in fact accurate, I began to read up on it. As I learned more and more about this plant, the skies opened up and shouted “Now learn from what you are reading dumb ass”. OK, got it.

So here is what I was able to dig up and how that bit of info taught me more about my soil and growing conditions than I ever anticipated:

  • Prefers, even thrives in acidic soil – I would have guessed this soil was closer to being alkaline but either way, I NEED to get my soil tested. I’ve been too damn lazy to do it but why I deny myself this important bit of info is just plain dumb.
  • Thrives where there is a lack of nitratesReason #147 why I need a soil test.
  • Thrives where there is poor drainageNo friggin surprise there 
  • Thrives where there is little competition with other plantsThe best solution to handling weeds has always been to provide them with competition and “weed” them out. I need to take this to a new level and plant more where there are any open spaces. Now that, is music to my ears.  
  • Pulling out these weeds can actually promote more to appear as each broken root can produce another rosetteI’ll never get that time wasted back. Will definitely rethink my approach when dealing with these. Here I am pulling the weeds a few weeks back: 

And how it looked when I was done: 

And then sadly,  a few weeks later:            

  • Is commonly used as greens for salads and is loaded with nutritional value – you mean I could have just pulled the leaves and made a f’n salad? Get me the blue cheese dressing already.

It took a weed to teach me that I need to “get in touch” with my soil and I thank it for teaching me that lesson. I’m so caught up in buying a plant, finding a space for it and then hoping it will all work out.

Remember, it all starts with the soil.


9 thoughts on “What f’n Red Sorrel taught me

  1. Bonnie

    Dear John, I have some sad news for you. I first must say I didn’t know the name of the above said week. My soil is so-so. Blue hydrangeas stay blue and pink hydrangeas stay pink even when living side by side. After having our water line repaired my soil is very well drained and can in fact fall to the drier side. I have this same plant growing up between the cracks in my stone walkway. So we may have the correct name, but I am not for sure we know it’s characteristics. It only appeared last year. With each year there is a new weed that appears. Go figure!

  2. kacky

    What a bummer to have done all that work and then not even gotten to enjoy the salad! Weeds. grrrr. But at least now you know how to handle it/what to deprive it of and hopefully if nothing else get a free lunch. HA!

  3. garden girl in SA

    I had a good chuckle reading this post. What you have said applies to most weeds. In life we tend to hate or fear what we do not understand – knowledge is key! I have made peace with most of my weeds, they help to bind bare patches of soil and most will become less prolific as my shrubs and ground covers spread.

  4. Debbie Teashon

    I love that you are literally laying down on the job! I have sorrel too and the best method I found to keep it at bay in open areas such as what you illustrated is to use layers of newspaper and cover with mulch of compost. Fairly quick to smother them out and they don’t come back easily.

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