May 26, 2010


Weeds are the yin yang of the garden. Recognize the ones you can work with and the ones that always must be eradicated promptly. This takes a few seasons to do as different weeds sprout and grow in different temperatures.

Grass is the number one enemy of the gardener. It not only robs your plants of sunlight and nutrients, but it can wrap around plant roots and strangle the plant to death. It not only starts from stray seeds blown in, grows vigorously underground. To remove grass from a garden bed, you must reach into the soil and remove the root too. Any little piece of root left will grow more grass very quickly.

We have a perennial buttercup here, which is very pretty, but nothing else can grow where it grows. It too must be pulled with its roots. Bindweed grows quickly and wraps itself quickly around young seedlings and old plants alike.

Dandelion is not a weed in my garden. Its long root brings nutrients from deep in the soil for my vegetables to use. When young its leaves are yummy, when large they cover the ground making a living mulch for my other vegetables. I keep them cut short so they won't make too much shade. When I need to add a plant to my garden, I pull out a dandelion and use that hole since the soil it perfect. In the fall I pull the biggest ones to dry the root for winter drinks. Dandelion root and leaves are extremely nutritious and should be eaten by everyone.

Learn about the weeds that are in your yard, be able to identify them and how they might be an ally in the garden. While it is true the wind brings in new seeds every year, mostly you will be dealing with the same weeds year after year. Some are delicious like chickweed, pigsweed and purslane. Some weeds improve the soil, some encourage decomposition in the compost, some deter plants. I could go on, I go into much more detail in my book.

I sprinkle fill my vegetable beds with edible weed seeds, collected the previous summer, to compete with the local weeds that are not edible. Eventually all my weeds are edible and there is no wasted space in the garden.

Start weeding furthest from the house. As you pick divide the weeds into 3 groups: one for the compost pile, two for the barnyard, and three for the house.

Weed early in the day.
Don't weed when it is raining, it is easy to spread disease in the garden.
Weed after a good rain when the foliage is no longer wet.
Weeds come out the easiest and are more permanently destroyed when removed each month two weeks after a full moon. That is to say, the week before the new moon.
Pull unwanted weeds every chance you get. If time is short, or the weeds out of hand, get rid of the grass first and then remove the weed tops (the flowers to stop more weed seeds being produced).

Weeding is the part of gardening that makes a gardener great.


  1. Ok, you have tossed out a teaser. What do you do with the dried dandelion roots? Do you peel them? And how do you make a drink from them? We have lots. I know the horses love them, root and all. This post needs a follow up post for all us northern hillbillies.

  2. I have the same attitude towards the dandelions. I like them. I harvest them to make wine and syrup and eat the young greens in salad.

    I wage a constant ongoing battle with the thistle and burdock, however!

  3. I like your approach to the weeds. I don't like things in my garden that I didn't put there. I think it's a control thing.:) Glad to see you back writting. Peace

  4. I thought you smoke weed... or is that only a particular type? ;)

  5. Wow RuralRose, I am not sure I have the guts to be so careful with me weeds!

  6. I agree about the weeds. If you don't keep up, they can overrun the garden, but some weeds are better than other weeds. My raspberry patch has bindweed, so I know how hard that can be to keep under control! I also keep a weed pile for the house when my favorites are young and healthy (purslane especially).

  7. I don’t know a lot about weeds. I only know what I have put in the soil, and everything else has to go. I probably should be more careful, but it is the part of gardening I dislike the most, so I want it to be done quick.
    I agree - grass is the worst!

  8. i rather like dandelions too, they are pretty, feed the bees, me, bunnies and just a handy plant... my theory: a weed is just a weed when growing in the wrong 'spot'....