Steve Hartman: "I have a weed addiction"

CATSKILL, N.Y. -- I have a confession to make. Even though I only do this at my place in upstate New York -- after the kids are in bed -- the fact is, I have a weed addiction.

I just can't stop pulling the things. Mugwort, Canada Thistle and Leafy Goldenrod are some of my favorites.

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Andrea Hartman
CBS News

I realized the extent of my addiction only recently, after my cameraman interviewed my wife Andrea about it.

"He goes out at 7:00 at night and weeds until dark," she said. "I mean sometimes he's out there past dark."

And her point is?

"It's not weeding a garden, it's weeding five acres," she said.

Four and a half, technically. See, a few years ago I had this idea to turn my weedy hillside into beautiful prairie full of native wildflowers and grasses. I contacted Neil Diboll, who would eventually become my dealer.

Neil owns the Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin. He got me hooked on weeds through gateway plants like Purple Coneflower, Compass Plant and Smooth Aster.

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Steve Hartman, surrounded by wildflowers, pulls weeds from his property in Catskill, New York
CBS News

"I was trying to get you hooked," Neil said. "Yes, my product is highly addictive. It's called love of nature."

But here's the problem: before you see those flowers in the magazine you often need to spend a great deal of time weeding a new prairie meadow and Neil made no mention of how addicting that can be.

I would come out every night and dread it. And then a switch flipped and I started coming out here and loving it.

"Weeding can induce a meditative state," said Neil. "And that is therapy for all of us in this crazy world we live in when you can just tune everything out and focus on one, single-minded purpose."

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Steve Hartman pulls weeds from his property in Catskill, New York
CBS News

Of course the downside to a laser focus like that is that sometimes the rest of the world becomes a blur. For example, I'm told the prairie actually looks pretty nice now -- but honestly, I can't see the flowers through the weeds.

I know there are still a lot of them lurking. And that's OK. I mean, what else am I going to do at this point, just give up on the whole project?

"I could live without it," said Andrea.

"You want your husband back, don't you?" asked my cameraman.

"No, I don't know if I could live with how defeated my husband would feel if we gave it up."

I thought that was sweet. I'm going to take her to dinner -- after the first frost, of course.

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  • Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.