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Gardening: Weeds use Them and Lose Them

Updated on November 7, 2020

By the Railroad Tracks

Bob Ewing 2007
Bob Ewing 2007



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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