Maintaining a garden is a labor of love that many of us are all too aware. Pruning, fertilizing, and weeding are requirements for a healthy garden habitat. Yet, we may have become be too fervent in our maintenance endeavors… and in keeping up with the Jones’s. It has been noted that the difference between a weed and a flower is a judgement. This blog is to provide some valuable information about certain weeds, and, perhaps even add a little relief to your list of chores, as well as your back.
Just as there are beneficial insects creating positive health impacts in the garden, so can beneficial weeds. As any gardener can attest, something will surely grow where bare earth resides. It is simply nature doing its job. Weeds serve purpose in a number of ways. They hold topsoil, which helps limit erosion. In this way, weeds act as a natural cover crop. They also provide food for humans and beneficial insects (ex. milkweed for butterflies), as well as staving off some unwanted insects. Weeds also pull water and nutrients into the soil. Weeds also help to break up a hardpan created by mechanical cultivation.
Of course, invasive, noxious or toxic weeds like poison ivy, will need to be rooted out. But non-spreading annuals like chickweed, purslane and spurges are harmless to the environment, and can be cut down just before seeding. They can be used in the compost pile or turned into the soil once wilted. The value served is in the trace minerals and nutrients that will get redistributed in the topsoil.
Certain weeds can also tell you what’s going on underground. This can help you when you’re shopping for land, choosing a new garden site or trying to improve an existing plot. With knowledge of what weeds might actually serve a positive purpose on your property, you can take your organic pest control and soil improvement efforts to extra lengths, all by allowing nature to work her magic. It is not to say that you allow weeds to run wild throughout your property, but there is a balance between protecting and nourishing the soil and managing plant growth within your garden beds. Researching pictures for weed identification, and weeding selectively after the weeds have had a chance to break up and fertilize the soil are great places to begin a new approach to gardening, and perhaps with a more benevolent eye. Happy Gardening!
Here is a list of some beneficial weeds for any garden ecosystem:
by Jamie Sloan, Account Manager