A weed is any unwanted plant that grows in our gardens.
Most gardeners consider weeds to be unsightly, however these plants can have beneficial properties. Many weeds, like the dandelions are edible.
Some weeds also provide a food sources to garden pollinators. Clover is a favorite nectar source of bees. Bronze fennel and Queen Anne’s lace attract predatory wasps and flies, as well as ladybugs, which prey on garden pests.
Weeds can improve your soils health or indicate a soil problem that needs to be corrected.
Folklore provides some interesting information about what weeds have to say about our soil.
Weeds in the legume family, such as vetch and clover, are “nitrogen fixers.” They form helpful relationships with soil bacteria that make nitrogen, one of the most important plant nutrients.
Folklore has it, if you see a lot of leguminous weeds, it means that you have nitrogen poor soil where other plants won’t thrive. Over time, the nitrogen fixing properties of these plants can help to improve soil quality. In fact, clover and vetch are often grown as “cover crops” to improve soil.
Weeds with deep taproots, like dandelions, are often found in compacted soil. These weeds can indicate soil that’s in need of aeration.
Similarly, creeping (bind weed) buttercups often thrive in heavy soil that is low in organic matter.
To help prevent weed problems. Build a rich soil. Many weeds thrive in poor, compacted or disturbed soil, and enriching your soil can do wonders to reduce weeds.
For vegetable gardens, constructing raised beds at least 12 inches tall and filling them with high quality, weed free garden soil is one of the quickest ways to prevent the vast majority of weeds. When building a new raised bed, line the bottom of your planting area with a couple of layers of corrugated cardboard (flattened boxes work well) before adding the soil. This layer will help to smother most weeds.
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