In a previous post, I discussed the importance of organic gardening and reasons why we should avoid herbicides and insecticides. We can take it a step beyond that and learn to appreciate weeds. Now, nobody wants a weed growing in their garden, taking up space and depleting nutrients from your vegetables and herbs, but we can rethink the importance of weeds and come up with better solutions to use them before we opt to remove them.
For starters, we should consider some of the uses for weeds. For instance, dandelions can be used for a number of purposes including making tea and wine. They also attract good insects such as honeybees while repelling various pests. Another useful weed is golden rod which can sometimes be confused with ragweed. This plant attracts pollinators like butterflies. Some plants might be considered weeds but actually make for great ground cover such as clover or wild mint. The point is before you decide to pull the weed or dump poison on it, consider what other benefits you might get from it. Is the plant edible such as the dandelion? Does it attract good insects like butterflies and honeybees? All plants serve one purpose or another. Ask yourself what that purpose is before resorting to killing it.
Certain weeds can also improve the soil in your yard or garden. For instance, weeds with strong roots bring nitrogen and other minerals into the sub soil. These weeds can also feed fungi and worms, both essential to a good garden. In this article author Darius Van d’Rhys lists a number of reasons weeds can be useful for determining the health of your soil. Choosing to either use weeds or to learn from them to benefit your yard will save you a lot of time and headaches. Trying to prevent a natural plant from growing is a losing battle.
If you must dispose of weeds in your yard there are a number of ways to do it naturally. Blocking out the sunlight by using newspaper or some other cover is one way. Vinegar is another safer chemical used to inhibit weed growth. Just make sure you only spray it on the plants that you’re trying to get rid of. Some people also use boiling water to burn up weeds. Just be careful not to burn yourself. The old-fashioned method of pulling weeds is easiest after a big rain when the soil is wet and loose, but make sure you don’t discard the weeds in your compost pile or you might be spreading additional seeds. Trying to curb the growth of naturally emerging plants is both ineffective and a waste of time. So the next time you see weeds cropping up in your yard or garden ask yourself how they can be used before you resort to their removal.