Gardening: Weeds use Them and Lose Them

by the railroad tracks

Bob Ewing 2007
Bob Ewing 2007

weeding

square foot gardening

weeds!

Weeds, if they were called by any other name would they still annoy us to such a degree. The topic of weeds and weed control can touch off a frenzy of discussion when gardeners gather.

Some gardeners have little to no problem with weeds as they either use them to attract beneficial insects to their garden, eat them, for example, lambs quarters have serious food potential, or they read them and realize that the existence of weeds is telling us something about our garden; usually about the condition of the soil.

When we get the message we can take the proper steps to eliminate the problem and watch the weeds disappear.

Others mulch and mulch heavily this reducing the space that weeds can claim.

Nature does not like bare patches of soil and the plants that we call weeds are nothing if not opportunistic, they will quickly move in where others fear to grow.

Weeds are hardy pioneers that are often the first plant life to appear on an abandoned site. So if you do not want the weeds to move in then do not leave patches of soil available to them because if you leave it they will come.

In addition to mulching, you can avoid digging all together; often when we turn over the soil to create a new garden bed what we do is free the weed seeds that have been lying in wait for the opportunity to grow to spring forth.

Resist the temptation to dig and deny them that opportunity. No-till gardening plus mulching will reduce your weed concerns.

Like many activities how you approach your garden depends to a considerable extent upon your attitude towards the garden; towards Nature and towards weeds.

When I am giving a garden talk or starting a workshop and feel the need to gain some insight into the people who are there; I ask one question; when you hear the word dandelion what is your first reaction?

If they gasp and say weed or worse then I know that I have my work cut out for me; if they say healthy, salads, wine or tea substitute than I have a very different crowd.

The dandelion, the bane of many suburban lawn and gardeners, is probably one of the most versatile and useful plants that grow so freely in our yards and just about anywhere it can get some sun and put down roots.

I am not suggesting that you deliberately grow it, although you can buy seeds, if you wish, but I do feel that you can learn to love it and try some of the recipes, like dandelion fritters.

I find the dandelion to be quite a beautiful plant that contrasts brilliantly with green lawns; if you pick the heads before they go to seed and deep fry them in batter, for example, you won’t be spreading them around the neighbourhood.

In fact you could invite the neighbours over for dandelion tea and fritters and maybe just change their minds.

Once again, if you do not leave space for weeds to garb hold in your garden and do not set free the seeds already hiding in the soil, you are well on your way to reducing your weed worries.

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Comments 7 comments

Peter M. Lopez profile image

Peter M. Lopez 8 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

I see my lawn in a whole new light. Dandelion fritters? Interesting, I may have to give them a try.

By the way, I clicked on the "lamb quaters" link because I had never heard of them, and I got a "Error 404 - not found" message.

Great hub.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

They are tasty, thanks for the link tip, should be ok, now.


Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

I know that dandelions are loaded with nutrients. But I had never tried them. I'm checking out the dandelion fritters now. Sounds interesting. I have to say I am not the most efficient gardener, as my lawn has its fair share of dandelions. So thanks for the advice.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcoem, think of the dandelions as a food source and enjoy their beauty until it is time to harvest.


cgull8m profile image

cgull8m 8 years ago from North Carolina

I have perenniel weed problems, this article and the video really helps and I hope to handle them better this year. Thanks.


SlowWorm profile image

SlowWorm 8 years ago from UK

I've never really had a weed problem. A definition of a weed is a plant that grows where it is not wanted. Many weeds have attractive flowers and can add a little extra colour. I even quite like the yellow flower heads of dandylions. A lot of cultivated plants can get out of control if you let them.


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick Author

"A definition of a weed is a plant that grows where it is not wanted" exactly, thanks for stopping by.

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