Grow Your Own #5

This month's Grow Your Own theme was WEEDS.

As we reach the peak of the year in terms of heat and light, growth is strong for both crops and weeds. However, Grow Your Own tutor Kai Lange suggests we look at weeds as friends rather than foes.

Weeds have been described as "plants in the wrong place." However, in many senses, they are doing an important job where they are.

1. Weeds as indicators

Weeds can be indicators of a soil conditions and can highlight a lack of something. For example, docks and couch grass can be a sign of soil compaction. Unlike other plants, docks, thistles and couch grass can cope with low levels of oxygen in the soil. Instead of trying to remove weeds, Kai encourages looking to what the weeds are telling us about the conditions. So in the case of soil compaction, is there a way the compaction can be reduced? For example, wood chip on paths can distribute weight and reduce compaction.

2. Weeds as beneficial

In some cases, weeds can be working bring back balance and diversity to soil. For example, docks, thistles and dandelions are known as mineral accumulators - their tap roots that can penetrate compacted soil and accumulate minerals.

3. Weed diversity

Weed diversity can also support healthy soil life, supporting the soil food web. Weeds can also act as a living mulch - preventing soil erosion and retaining moisture in the ground. Diversity of weeds suggests a healthy soil life. Lack of diversity suggests imbalance in soil life.

We can support the beneficial work of weeds by firstly, observing what they indicate. What are weeds in your garden telling you?

Weeds at Global Gardens

Docks (Rumex obtusifolius): Docks can be an indication of compacted ground. At Global Gardens we are spreading wood chip on the areas indicated by dock. We manage docks by cutting them back before they go to seed.

Creeping buttercup (Ranunculus repens): Creeping buttercup can be an indicator of wet and heavy soil. Creeping buttercup is said to deplete the land of potassium and may have an allelopathic effect on neighbouring plants. We try to remove creeping buttercup where possible due to this allelopathic

Creeping cinquefoil (Potentilla reptans): Creeping cinquefoil grows in neutral soil. At Global Gardens, we are noticing more of it as we bring more soil into cultivation. We try to keep it under control by regular hoeing, as it can spread very quickly via runners.

Bindweed (Convulvulus spp.): Can be indicative of soil compaction. It can also be spread through cultivation and composting if spreading the roots. At Global Gardens, we try to keep on top of bindweed control by continuous weeding and hot composting of the plant matter.

Weeding

Annual weeds can act as a living mulch supporting soil moisture balance. When hoeing, you can leave annual weeds on the surface as they support soil life.

Perennial weeds that are preventing healthy soil growth are better hot composted. At Global Gardens, we put all perennial weeds (couch grass, bindweed, docks) in a black composting bin. We had around 10 litres each week and after about a year, the composted weeds can be added to the general compost heap.

Weeding

Annual weeds can act as a living mulch supporting soil moisture balance. When hoeing, you can leave annual weeds on the surface as they support soil life.

Perennial weeds that are preventing healthy soil growth are better hot composted. At Global Gardens, we put all perennial weeds (couch grass, bindweed, docks) in a black composting bin. We had around 10 litres each week and after about a year, the composted weeds can be added to the general compost heap.

Weeds for life

Did you know that dock seeds can live for up to 80 years? Biodynamic philosophy teaches us that seeds aren't the problem, conditions are.

OTHER NEWS
print.png
  • FACEBOOK
  • TWITTER
  • INSTAGRAM
  • CONTACT

© 2017 by Global Gardens. Created by Cornelia Van Rijswijk