Organic Weed Control Is a Big Deal But Not in the Way You Would Think!

weed

/wēd/

noun

  • 1.a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants.

verb     By Oxford Dictionaries

Organic weed control is a big deal on the homestead but not in the way you would think! Why oh why has society deemed anything that is not a perfectly manicured blade of grass a weed? This just drives me crazy! I grew up in Phoenix, AZ. A desert. A hot, dry climate where dirt, cacti and the tumble weed are in abundance. Yet, everyone in that big city thought it a good idea to have green grass lawns. Now does that really make sense to you? My point is, seeing the beauty and usefulness of what you have in the area you live is the key to sustainability and making the most of where you are.

The so called weeds that grow in abundance here on our property are clover, henbit, and chickweed. Yes they grow in abundance here because I don’t even bother killing them off. I think they are beautiful, the animals love snacking on them, and they are good for the bee’s and the soil.

First, I don’t worry about the weeds growing in between the beds. In fact I prefer them to be there to prevent soil erosion. Several of my garden beds are on a hill so soil erosion is an important issue for us.

As I mentioned before I find these plants beautiful and that they help the bee’s. All three, the chickweed, henbit and clover have beautiful flowers and are the first to bloom in the spring providing the bee’s and other pollinators much needed nourishment after the cold winter months.

Newbie Moment: This is not clover but instead is wood sorrel.

Unfortunately, the bee’s have been struggling to survive and many have now been put on the endangered species list. This past year we saw very few pollinators on the farmstead. Because of this we also saw a decrease in our crop production. The bee’s are struggling because of pesticide and herbicides.

Government scientists point to a certain class of pesticides called neonicotinoids — widely used on crops, lawns, gardens and forests — as posing a particular threat to bees because they are absorbed into a plant’s entire system, including leaf tissue, nectar and pollen.

Scientific American

What I do though is make sure these so called weeds stay out of my garden beds. I use a horseshoe hoe and get everything cleaned out of the garden bed. Then I prepare my soil with compost, manure or a castings tea. Once my plants are mature enough I will spend a little time each morning or two to make sure the garden beds stay free of any unwanted growth. I find this to be the easiest way to keep the weeds under control. I also enjoy the time I can spend working in the garden with my hands in the dirt.

One of my favorite weed control hacks is to use hay or pine needles as a mulch to keep the weeds under control. The mulch also helps with water retention. The key to putting hay or any other mulch on your garden though is to wait until your plants are established enough. If you are using seed you don’t want to put a mulch on right away. You will need to wait a few weeks and keep up with the garden bed in the meantime. You will also want to make sure your hay is grown organically, especially if you have an organic garden.

Other than hay or some type of mulch the next best thing is just getting out there every other day or so and spending a few minutes making sure nothing is creeping in where it doesn’t belong.

Here is an example of letting the “weeds grow in between the garden beds but keeping the beds themselves weed free while the plants get established.

The fact is some of these plants we call weeds are not only good for the bee’s, they are good for the soil and they are good for us too. The best thing that can do is let them grow. We as a society need to change the way we do things especially when it comes to what we do on our own properties. Sustainability is about not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance. Learning the benefits of these plants and how to utilize them to all our benefit and encouraging others to do the same will help the earth and the bee’s. Let’s start by not considering weeds but rather purposeful plants.

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One Comment Add yours

  1. carolee says:

    I am a firm believer that nibbling on the “weeds” as I work in my potager and surrounding gardens is, as Dr. James Duke called it, excellent preventative medicine. Many of them are filled with vitamins and other good things that researchers haven’t taken the time to investigate thoroughly. DO identify anything ingested, as not all weeds are harmless. Many however, were old pot herbs, or salad herbs and brought over by the early colonists and have happily escaped to carpet wayside places.

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