For saving space and soil, this method also has several
other benefits, including no soil-borne diseases, no
weeds to pull and no soil to till, run-of-the-mill side
benefits of soil-less gardening.

What Is Growing In Your Garden?

The popular definition for the word, ‘weed,’ is any plant that grows where it is not wanted. Weeds are defined by their tendency to flourish at the expense of the gardener’s overall vision, and the battle is on.

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It is important to consider, though, that a plant is a weed only within a given context, which is to say that one person’s weed is another person’s wildflower with medicinal value. The majority of us pull dandelions up by their roots and dispose of them in the interest of preserving the look of a perfect green lawn. We fail to consider that the dandelion is good medicine, packed with healing properties and vitamin-rich leaves that are a delicious, spicy addition to a summer salad. Cooked dandelion leaves sprinkled with salt and vinegar make a delicious leafy vegetable—similar to spinach.

In the wild, there is no such thing as a weed, because the overall vision is in the hands of Mother Nature, who accommodates and incorporates all forms of life. Each plant has a purpose—nature achieves balance over the long term, without the aid, or interference of human supervision. While one plant may prevail over others for a period of time, eventually it will reach an apex and then it will naturally decline, allowing for other plants to sprout and survive. This self-regulating system was the first gardener of our ancestors, who learned the art of agriculture by studying the forests and fields of the as yet uncultivated earth. Weeds are harbingers of this wilderness, pushing their way into our well-ordered plots, undermining more delicate flora and flourishing in spite of humans.

In the future when you see a ‘weed,’ consider, looking deep into its roots, learn its name, its habits, and possible uses. Instead of seeing a plant as an unwanted intruder, consider seeing it as a healer offering its leaves for a medicinal tea or its flowers for a colorful salad. No doubt if you look long enough, you will learn all plants are a messenger from Mother Earth, reminding you that, even in the most carefully controlled garden, Mother Nature cannot be completely ruled out.

By Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD


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