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Friday, February 10, 2012


Weeds can be our friends. Managed carefully that is.

There are indeed noxious weeds that should be removed, yes. However, they can be useful still. They can indicate what types of plants will grow in that location. Depending on what they are and when they are pulled, they can help add green matter to the compost bin.

That leaves a lot of useful weeds. Edible weeds are abundant. Plantain, Wild Carrot, Lambs Ears, Purselane, Mustards, Wild Chives and Onions, Chickweed, and tons more. Next time you go to yank some of those weeds out, reconsider. Maybe plan on securing a patch of that weed instead. Right where you found it since it's already growing there. Transplant like weeds into that area too if you can and make it a thick patch. Make damn sure you know exactly what weed it is you have, never eat anything without serious identification.

We have raspberries on the property that were being smothered out as weeds. I cleaned up the patch, and now all the raspberry weeds I find elsewhere in the gardens I pull out and put them in their proper patch. We are now ready to introduce the red raspberry to the patch :)
I found that the FOH garden is pretty much useless right now for anything but weeds, and not the useful kinds. Blew a few packets of spinach, chard, and kale finding that out. Found plantain growing there though, so I went around the yard and collected a goodly amount of plantain seed growing in the weed strips, and now I've started seeding in part of the FOH garden with an excellent pot green alternative. As I identify other weeds that grow well in the FOH, I will start spreading that seed in more too. And yep, some of our first mushroom growing efforts will be stacked in that area. Only oh so much pot greens our household can use after all.
As a har de har.. I scattered about a third of the plantain seed on Imbolc. And now it's all cold and snowy again. I still plan on splitting up whats left over 2-3 broadcastings in the area.
Another high yield seed out of the weed strips was wild carrot. After they started seriously going to seed, I collected all the heads I could and scattered them in a hedgerow strip, loosely marking off where our property meets the neighbors property on the far side of the firepit sanctuary. Over the next couple years, I will be able to start harvesting seed. Some will be for cooking, some might be utilized for actually growing carrots :)
A nice side effect of pulling plantain and wild carrot seed and relocating them to good bed areas is now I can start to eliminate the parents beds in favor of plants I want to grow in those areas. I can now proceed with full blackout plastic for the entire arch drive, the three sisters row, and veggie row.
We have wild chives. Sometimes in some rather thicker bits on the road side of the pole barn. And we have moles. In that same area. But they never seem to use the spots where the wild chives grow. So I will be using that weed for pest control and see how well it works. Tossing plugs of it into the fenceline will also help out not needing cleanup efforts so much. Where it is growing thickest this year I have to resist trimming out and allow it to go to seed.
This spring also kicks off the chickory patch. It too will serve as a section of hedgerow bordering the firepit sanctuary.  It already grew heavily in sort of a border strip along the easement drive and I want to encourage that.

The path to the firepit is being changed. I'm planning on keeping the original opening and mowing open the whole upper hill area quite a bit. To the edge of where I want the chickory patch to end. As long as I'm starting seeding in the marigold border and know I want some picnic sized space there anyway, might as well start setting it in now.
I'm pretty sure some future plans for the mown open area will include some sort of overhead canopy action.  I'm thinking ahead on this one, and calling the canopy plant hops. We will be planting in a main cultivar with a couple flavoring cultivars elsewhere. I figure the main cultivar would be great as a canopy plant. Maybe mixed in with a pretty blooming something that won't interfere with hop harvesting.

A weed renewed:
At one time, there was a local variety of bee balm, AKA bergamot and oswego plants of scarlet hue that were so populous here they were weeds. Now they are considered almost extinct in our region. Not only are they lovely and give joy to the wildlife, they also may be of tea quality use. Bergamot is one of those distinctive components in most Earl Grey teas. I have tracked down a couple of local conservatories that may be able to help me with re-populating part of the firepit sanctuary wild space with this species again. The side opposite that of the drainage field.

My love is in charge of dinner tonight, and that is serving up soon, so enough stuff for now. 


  1. This a wonderful post, if only more people could be enlightened to the benefits of weeds. If you have not read Joseph Cocannouer books on gardening, soil health, and the importance of weeds you might find his books interesting, one of which is available online at http://www.journeytoforever.org/farm_library/weeds/WeedsToC.html

  2. Oh, I had not heard of this author before. Thank you so much for commenting Mr. H!!