Weeding

Asters ©Janet Allen An overabundance of asters: some of them become "weeds"

Surprisingly, we don't have to do a lot of weeding because our own plants don't leave space for any weeds. But we do "edit" a lot. In other words, we pull out extra plants that in the proper place and in the proper amount could be considered just garden plants.

The good news is that there's not the urgency there would be if we had actual weeds. If we don't weed out the jewelweed today, for example, next week is fine since the worst that could happen is that we have more "real plants" than we had planned. We do have to keep an eye on assertive plants, though, since some can overrun more sedate plants that we want to foster.

Compost heap ©Janet AllenOur informal compost heap

When we do weed out plants, though, we never bag them and put them out to the curb as routinely happens around our neighborhood.

We put these weeded-out plants either in our "official" compost bin in the backyard or in my unofficial compost heap behind the bushes in the front yard.

After a few years, I removed buckets and buckets of beautiful, rich compost, which I added to our edible garden. (Our habitat garden doesn't need this extra soil improvement.)

IMPORTANT: We don't put weeds that are going to seed or plants that are diseased into our compost pile! But we don't put them at the curb either. They go in the trash in a black plastic bag to the incinerator (probably the only good thing about the incinerator…)

Town truck ©Janet AllenOur town truck collecting plant debris from the curb

And shouldn't all this plant material stay on the property where it grew anyway, both for environmental reasons and for our town's finances?

Why should our taxes be used to drive huge trucks around carting away plant material that could simply decompose on each person's property? We could—quite literally—fund an extra teacher or two with the money saved.

Casual weeding

Tucking the weeds in ©Janet AllenTucking the weeds in

But if I'm just casually grabbing a weed or two, I simply tuck the weeded-out material behind a nearby plant and let it decompose where it lays.

Day 2 ©Janet AllenDay 2

The next day, these weeded-out plants are already less noticeable.

Day 4 ©Janet AllenDay 4

By the fourth day, someone passing by wouldn't even notice them.

Prunings ©Janet AllenPrunings blend in

Usually we just tuck them in behind or under plants so they're even less noticeable. They're already on their way to enriching the soil.

Weed or feed?

Purslane ©Janet Allen
Eat your enemy

After railing against the onslaught of purslane here, there, and everywhere, we read that it's an excellent source of omega-3s—and that it's a tasty addition to salads, commonly used in other countries. We're now harvesting it to add to our salads!

We haven't tried lambs quarters, though it's said to be another healthy, tasty green. It hasn't appeared in our yard, and we're hesitant to deliberately add something that 1) isn't native, and 2) produces so many seeds that it could become a real problem.

Garlic mustard is another edible green, but since we see only an occasional plant, it also is not something we want to deliberately introduce. If we already had a lot of it, though, it would be another salad addition, pesto etc.

True weeds

Wood sorrel ©Janet AllenWood sorrel

Our two nemeses are actual weeds: yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta) and petty spurge (below). Fortunately neither one is a noxious weed, and they're both quite short and easy to pull out (though the sorrel's roots sometimes remain in the ground). But there SO MANY of them! They're everywhere and become very annoying aesthetically.

This one is wood sorrel, I guess a native. It has little yellow flowers, but in this photo, the flowers have become seed pods and thus we'll have more and more.

Unknown weed(Enlarge) ©Janet Allen
Petty spurge

Petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus), a non-native, doesn't have any noticeable flowers. I believe the flowers are greenish and blend in with the leaves.

Wood sorrel and this weed have an unholy alliance to fill every available bare spot in our whole yard. They sure are frustrating!