Tuesday, April 22, 2003

On Dandelions--the Root

More thoughts from a spring afternoon's work on how pulling dandelions can teach us about eliminating waste. How do we get to the root cause of the waste? How do we eliminate it?
  • Gotta get the root. Dandelions are tough little weeds. Their roots are big and gnarly. And, as my wife pointed out, unless you get all or most of the root, they’ll just come back next year.
  • And the plant fights to NOT let you get the root. It seldom went straight down from the plant. It often zigged and zagged. From the surface, I could not tell where it went. I had to poke with the tool, and in so doing, sometimes cut off the root at the surface. Dandelion 1, Joe 0.
  • Getting the root was wonderfully satisfying. To see this ugly, brown, knotted hunk of weed root in my hand and tossed into the bucket was its own reward. It was, to use Aubrey Daniels' term "PIC; Positive, Immediate and Certain" the most motivating form of feedback. Check out his book.
  • By getting the root on one plant, I learned. I taught my hands and fingers what the tool felt like when it had secured the root to pop it out. Success certainly bred success.
  • Going slower was sometime faster. I learned that a bit of patience in poking the soil yielded more roots than a quick thrust down. To pull off leaves, the latter worked well. To get the root, patience was almost always rewarded.
  • Roots came out easily in soft soil. Where Gretchen had recently worked up a new bed, the root popped out easily.
  • Roots came out with difficulty in packed soil. As if they "knew" they could hide better there, they were hard to locate and harder to pop out.
  • Experience helped. The more I did, the better I could tell if I got the root, or enough of the root

You never dreamed that dandelions could be so helpful, did you? Neither did I. More in my next post on observations on tools.

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