For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
Become a better gardener! Discover our new Almanac Garden Planner features for 2024. It’s easy, fun, and free to try!
Tired of weeding your garden? Then don’t! Change the way you think about weeds. A weed after all is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
Why We Need Weeds
1. Weeds tell a lot about your soil. Weeds help you to assess current soil conditions. As you survey your soil, remember that you can learn a lot more from a variety of weeds growing together in one area than from a single species. For example, if you have dock, horsetail, bracken fern, nettle, daisies, or Virginia creeper, your soil is acidic. Read more about weeds as indicator plants.
2. Weeds act like fertilizer. Many “weeds,” such as comfrey, wild mustard, and most clover, have deep roots that penetrate the subsoil, where they harvest valuable nutrients and trace minerals far beyond the reach of other garden plants. As the weeds gradually decompose, the nutrients are recycled back into the soil. For example, if you have dandelions, your soil as iron, potassium, and phosphate.
3. Weeds bring beneficial bugs. Weed species of Solanum, Amaranthus, and Solidago are the favored housing for a variety of beneficial ground beetles, and their flowers provide excellent sources of pollen and nectar for beneficial insects. Having a food source not only encourages beneficial insects to stay around, but it also makes them healthier and increases their effectiveness: They lay more eggs and so are better able to control the bad bugs.
So, the next time you’re thinking about pulling those weeds, remember that they may actually be of benefit – and can help you to grow your best garden ever!
Catherine Boeckmann loves nature, stargazing, and gardening so it’s not surprise that she and The Old Farmer’s Almanac found each other. She leads digital content for the Almanac website, and is also a certified master gardener in the state of Indiana. Read More from Catherine Boeckmann