The Weeds Grow
a long winter, when spring finally arrives, the gardeners and farmers
just can't wait to get out and start planting. However, they soon
discover plants sprouting from seeds they didn't plant. These plants,
like greedy strangers, soon become unwelcome, and the dictionary calls
these unwelcome plants "weeds." Like troublesome insects,
weeds take some of the enjoyment out of gardening.
can read through the gardening magazines and farm journals and find
much written about weeds, but very seldom is it praising. You are
told how to prevent, outwit, and even poison them. Did you ever read
anything good about weeds?
are Nature's greatest and most widely dispersed group of plants. Man
has often condemned the weeds and considered them his enemy. Mention
weeds and most people think in terms of control. They rarely think
of why weeds grow.
you ever wondered why weeds seem to grow everywhere? Or have you ever
thought of how desolate and bare the earth would be if the only plants
growing were those we planted?
too, fought weeds, with much dislike, until one day I asked the above
questions. After much thought and study, I discovered some obvious,
but usually unseen or unthought of, facts. I found weeds weren't the
enemy I accused them of being.
weeds aren't all bad, and I feel they deserve at least a fair amount
of recognition in the plant society. Weeds are here for a purpose
and they have a job to do. They are here to insure that the
soil of our planet always has the protection of a green blanket,
and little does man realize the importance of this cover. Our fertile
soil, man's greatest natural resource, which took Nature centuries
to build, would erode away without the protection of a plant cover.
profusely growing weeds are part of the Creator's plan because man,
with some of his bad cultural practices, would lose much of his valuable
topsoil if the weeds didn't move in to help prevent it. Weeds take
no chances; they soon invade and protect any soil left bare.
it weren't for weeds, mostly unwanted weeds, the topsoil of many farms
would have eroded away years ago, gone from our farms forever, gone
to muddy our rivers and fill our lakes and eventually end up in the
ocean. Weeds are said to rob our crops of moisture, sunlight, and
nutrients, but they shouldn't be unjustly accused. The weeds don't
rob, they only borrow, as eventually it all returns to the soil for
future crop use.
are not given the protection man has given his domestic crops from
insects, disease, and other adverse growing conditions, causing weeds,
or wild plants, to maintain hardiness. Rarely do you find weeds destroyed
by insects or diseases.
weeds are pioneer plants as they are able to grow in soil unsuited
for edible or domesticated plants. Each year, as the pioneer plants
grow and decay, the soil is improved. Nature gave these plants a means
of protection, such as a bitter taste, thorns, or even made them poisonous,
so they wouldn't be eaten by animals. This is so they could continue
the soil-making and building processes until finally good soil
is made. Then the edible plants can move in and take over.
are indicators of certain soil deficiencies. For example, scientists
have found that wild daisies grow in lawns that are deficient in lime.
The daisies somehow collect or manufacture and store lime in their
tissue. When the daisies die, the lime is deposited in the topsoil.
This continues until the lime becomes sufficient for the lawn, then
the wild daisies disappear.
are rarely found growing around the area in which I live because the
soil, having been made from limestone rock, is already rich in lime.
Many of the wild plants tell us other conditions of our soil. Some
grow only where the soil is waterlogged; some grow in soil that is
acid and others only in alkaline soil.
are times when weeds are even good companion plants. Some have insect
repelling abilities, while others with deep roots help surface feeding
plants growing next to them to obtain moisture during dry spells through
capillary attraction. Water moves up the outside of weed roots from
the deep moist soil toward the surface, and shallow rooted plants
make use of this moisture.
controlled or spaced weeds also give a certain amount of beneficial
shade and humidity. When the weeds transpire, the air becomes more
moist and there is less moisture loss from domestic plants.
are easily grown and make an excellent cover crop. The successive
growth and decay of weeds lays down an absorbent mat on the soil,
which prevents erosion from rain runoff and wind. This absorbent mat
of growing and decaying weeds traps the rainwater and causes it to
soak into the soil for future needs. The water soaking into the soil
keeps the springs flowing, which feed our rivers, keeping them crystal
clear and flowing at an even rate instead of flooding after each rain.
This insoak also feeds the wells from which many people get their
the decaying weeds holding the rain on the soil to soak in, and the
growing weeds taking up and storing in their tissue the soluble plant
foods, the wasteful leaching of phosphate, nitrate, and other minerals
is prevented. This helps prevent the pollution of our water with an
excess of these nutrients.
are a vital link in the soil fertility and food chain. Farmers should
realize the value of weeds toward soil building and conservation and
take full advantage of them.
vigorous weeds become too numerous in the fields and gardens, however,
their control does become necessary. Not realizing the dangers of
spraying chemicals into the environment, many farmers and gardeners
use powerful herbicides to destroy weeds. Some of the herbicides are
hormones so powerful that one ounce distributed over 35 acres of cotton
will seriously injure the entire crop. Some herbicides can persist
in the soil for years, and they upset or unbalance the necessary harmony
of the soil organisms.
are safe and non-polluting weed control methods available. Mulching
with organic materials smothers weeds while also conserving moisture
and helping control soil temperature. The old reliable method of hand
weeding, hoeing, and timely cultivation with adapted equipment is
still the most widely used and most effective safe method.
most important thing in weed control is to stay ahead of them, especially
if permanent control is desired. The weeds must not be allowed to
reseed. In a fertile soil, rich in humus and beneficial soil organisms,
weeds are not such a problem because the rich soil will compost and
digest some of the weed seeds, preventing them from sprouting. The
result is that weeds don't become too numerous where they aren't really
you beginning to see that weeds are not just an accident, but were
planned and have a purpose?
protecting the soil, weeds and plants perform still other services
for man. Plants are the bridge of life between the mineral kingdom
and animal kingdom. Plants alone have the ability or power to use
the energy from the sun to convert the elements of the earth into
food for man and animal. The plants are the bridge between the soil
and you because all the food that nourishes your body, sustains your
life, and makes you grow, comes directly or indirectly from plant
delicious vegetables we eat today were nothing more than weeds centuries
ago before people started cultivating them. Even today a lot of the
plants we call weeds are cherished by many as delicacies.
long ago, certain weeds have been valued as having therapeutic powers
and medicinal value. They are no longer called weeds but are given
the respectful name of herbs. If you search through the folklore medicine
journals you can uncover a natural herb remedy for almost every ailment,
and from these much of our modern medicine has advanced. Aspirin and
many of the other pain relievers doctors use originated from plants.
Penicillin, which is a drug of nearly miraculous effectiveness against
a number of dreaded diseases, is obtained from a primitive plant of
the fungi group.
have the power to convert man and animal waste products back into
useful materials. The carbon dioxide we exhale while breathing is
converted back to life-sustaining oxygen and a food element-carbon.
The pollutants from automobiles and factories are filtered from the
air by plants. Without these services, we would soon suffocate and
algae and fungi that feed on garbage, manure, and dead plants and
animals, cause your compost pile to transform waste into valuable
fertilizer. These plants are very small or microscopic but serve a
vital link in the continuing life-cycle of birth, growth, death,
decay, and rebirth.
plants also furnish fiber for clothing, building material for our
homes, and make homes for most of our wildlife.
fuel we use to warm our homes and run our automobiles is energy from
the sun's rays captured and stored by plant life many years ago. Each
plant, be it domestic or weed, is still today operating as a perfectly
efficient factory, capturing the sun's rays to be used now or stored
for future use. In capturing and converting the sun's energy, the
plants prevent the air and earth surface from being overheated by
the penetrating sun's rays. You might say the plants are air conditioners,
as they keep us comfortable.
of the plants, especially the wild plants, Nature is never boring,
but always beautiful and fascinating. When the plants bloom, they
add sweet fragrances to Nature. They attract and feed the fluttering
butterflies, and the bees make honey from the wildflowers. The grasses
and flowering weeds beautify our roadways. They cover or hide the
trash and litter thoughtlessly thrown aside as well as the bare rock
could probably go on and on finding good things to say about weeds.
If you are wondering, I still hoe, pull, and cultivate to control
weeds when necessary, but it's with a different frame of mind. Mainly,
I have learned to use the weeds to an advantage. Here we might add-the
weeds cause the gardener to get his exercise between planting time
though few people love them, and they are always being destroyed,
the weeds are very generous. They keep coming back, as their seeds
are usually impatiently waiting in the soil to sprout forth. Weeds
take no chances-they produce many seeds to insure the survival
of their kind so there will always be plants to clothe and protect
Garden-Ville Method - Lessons in Nature