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Misunderstood Plants in the Garden

  • Subject: [cg] Misunderstood Plants in the Garden
  • From: Jeneva Storme jenevastorme@yahoo.ca
  • Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 12:21:50 -0400 (EDT)


Regarding the place of weeds in the garden, I
encourage folks to read the following book, available
online in its entirety.  It's a very interesting read,
and I'm looking forward to trying out some of the
recommended weeds as "mother plants" and soil
conditioners on some extremely hard-packed soil in my
yard, and to fiberize the extremely clayey soil in our
area.  We allow some non-native weeds like Creeping
Charlie to grow in our native prairie garden, simply
because they provide a low ground-cover which
discourages the more obnoxious quackgrass and other
less attractive or more competitive weeds.  Pulling up
all the weeds simply seems to provide more space for
more weeds.  It would be nice to find ways in which
the weeds' natural tendencies could be used to our
advantage and that of our desired plants.

Many of the weeds mentioned are also very nutritious,
though they've been passed up by industrial
agriculture due to less cosmetic and transportation
value than what we currently know of as commercial
crops.  Some of them are MORE nutritious, as well as
being hardier and easier to grow than the things we've
been encouraged to think of as our only food choices.

A Kenyan in one of the community gardens that I
co-ordinate is very fond of rough pigweed, which he
grows for the edible root.  He says it is similar to
yam, though I haven't tried it myself.  I do know the
native North Americans used to eat the seeds.  Asians
come out in the spring to harvest the young dandelion
greens as fast as they come up, and I know the root
and flower are both edible as well.  Chickweed is a
very tasty green, as is purslane, both of which also
shade the soil between crop plants and help protect
against compaction and evaporation.  What they require
in extra water can theoretically be made up in the
benefits they offer to the plants among which they

I look forward to the opportunity to try out some of
these potentially valuable weeds in my own gardening
efforts.  If anyone has specific experience with using
weeds to help or replace other crops, I'd love to hear
about it.  Also, if anyone has specific, preferably
scientific, documentation on the precise effect of
various "harmful" weeds on the environment, people,
livestock, other crops, etc. I would like to see that
as well.  I'm always trying to get a good view of "the
big picture".

Weeds, Guardians of the Soil

another useful site:

Weeds as Indicators of Soil Conditions

The role of weeds as habitat for beneficial insects:

Insectary Plants

Use of weeds as healing plants for people:

For the Love of Weeds

Greening West Broadway Coordinator
"Neighbourhood Solutions for Community Change"

West Broadway Development Corporation
640 Broadway, Winnipeg, MB  R3C 0X3
phone: 774-3534  fax: 779-2203
website: http://www.westbroadway.mb.ca

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