Thursday, August 17, 2017

Are All Weeds Evil?

Last week I was having a discussion with a new gardener and the topic of composting came up. My response was, why compost? Since she has only kitchen garbage, why not simply dig it into her garden soil? My advice...skip the compost pile. But this led to other questions. Doesn't she need to compost the seeds when she deadheads allysium? My you enjoy having allysium blooming I your garden? "Yes", she said, " But it's coming up in my rows of corn." And she added that she has to weed it out. My response...why? The corn can grow perfectly fine with allysium at its feet. Besides, it helps shade the soil and thus retain moisture by preventing the sun from baking the soil and the wind from sucking it dry. Besides, it's pretty. The allysium is fairly noncompetative with the corn crop. Yes, heavy populations of other kinds of weeds can adversely affect corn, but not the allysium. 

For some reason we have been trained to eliminate 100% of weeds. Gardeners don't seem happy if the garden isn't pristine weed-free. They spend back breaking hours pulling weeds, buy expensive special hoes to get the job done quicker, maybe even spend more bucks on a mechanized cultivator. While I understand the need to keep most weeds down in population, I don't see the sense in being fanatical about it. Harmless weeds can actually be beneficial, helping to retain moisture and more importantly, providing habitat for garden friendly insects. 

Personally, I see weeds as a resource. I harvest the majority of weeds for compost material. Some I simply flip into the soil as biomaterial. Others I chop & drop for mulch. I leave some simply because I'm not going to kill myself trying to get every last one. And I swear that a low population of assorted weeds is actually beneficial. And the shallow rooted weed types don't seem to interfere much with most  veggies anyway. 

The only weed that I serious battle is the Bermuda grass. It is aggressive, spreading quickly and forming a dense mass of underground stolens. It definitely impacts the garden plants, out competing them for root space, sunlight, and water. Other than this, I simply just keep the weed population low so as not to adversely impact my crops. 

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