This year, the garden's equivalent to the bird flu has been an innocent-looking perennial weed known as field bindweed, or by its scientific name, convolvulus arvensis. We have been advised by the Steering Committee in a recent email to "keep an eye out and dispose of it properly." Bindweed has been discovered in a few plots and will proliferate rapidly if not dealt with in a timely manner.
About a week ago, before reading the email, the skies were finally cleared from our "mini-monsoon season." I ventured over to my plot, bracing myself for what I might find around my tomatoes and peppers, which I still had not gotten around to mulching. I encountered an explosion of one type of weed in particular, so hardy it even grew under the shade of my plot-neighbor's massive squash leaves. Though I discovered that one of the compost receptacles had been quarantined because a gardener accidentally threw some bindweed in with other plant matter, I went about my usual business, filling a wheelbarrow with extraneous plant matter from my plot and dumping it in the other compost pile.
I had always thought bindweed was the vine I had growing in my own yard, which had darker and shinier petal-shaped green leaves growing straight up on a single stem. Then I read the email, and when I opened the link to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources site showing photos of our resident scourge, I felt a rise in my body temperature and a wave of nausea. Were the weeds I had composted the same as the bindweed seedlings shown, with its spade- or bell-shaped leaves? Had I committed germ warfare?
To be continued...