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lambsquarter and deciding on which weeds to keep

 
                          
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I'm a new backyard gardener and this year I decided to take a pretty live and let live approach to weeds. This worked out pretty well for all of my crops aside from my onions and leeks which are extremely pathetic. My main questions are:

1. is lambsquarter a viable weed to keep around (ie. let go to seed)? I know it's edible and nutritous but I'm not sure if its worth the competition with my intentional crops or if it is a disease vector.

2. How do you decide which weeds to keep? My garden this year seems to have been a haven for insects and birds, so I'm loathe to pull and weed that isn't bindweed, but as my onions attest this may not have been the best call. I live in Northern Ontario and can not identify some of my weeds. How do I decide which to keep?
 
Jordan Lowery
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i keep my lambsquarters and let it go. it makes a great companion plant imo. if you grow amaranth its best to not let them bloom at the same time as they will cross contaminate. i just keep cutting off the LQ blooms and using them for mulch until the amaranth is done.

i keep weeds that are useful, period. plants that are not useful to me get the boot.

learn to identify the ones you dont know, ask locals, search online, post a thread here.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I keep as many weeds as possible because I find it difficult to grow anything else.  Many good weeds die for me anyway!  

Weeds I would keep a lot of if I had them:

Lambsquarters Chenopodium
Pigweed Amaranthus
Dandelion
Chicory
Purslane
Nettle
Wild violet
Chickweed

These are all at least as nutritious as any crops we grow and some are more nutritious than any domestic vegetable.  That's not by any means a complete list of the beneficial weeds, just those I can think of at the moment.

More good weeds listed here:  http://www.foragingtexas.com/
 
                            
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You've raised a big topic here.  One that keeps me in a state of perpetual learning.  Here's a few of my favored experiences so far.

Lambsquarters are one of the useful weeds in my garden.

So much so, several plants are let go to seed each year. Keep in mind that the plants get quite tall and may dwarf or crowd out other vegetables. This year, my seed lambsquarters are growing in the broccoli patch where they occupy the 'second story' so to speak

What objectives do you wish to accomplish/foster by your selection of weeds?  

My preference tends to leafy weeds that are edible for people, when young, and preferred species for the diet of chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats etc.   The animals can either feed themselves from the weeds when in the gardens or I pull the plants and throw them into their paddocks. Often I place the roots of the weeds in buckets or pans of water so that the greens stay fresher longer. Sometimes weight the weeds down with a heavy brick or rock to keep the roots immersed.

One of the aspects of seed-saving from the majority of vegetable, flower and herb crops in my garden, has been the favored plants like cilantro, beets, chard, nastursiums, parsley, borage, mizuna, lettuce etc. replace other weeds to a certain degree.  When weeding, those plants can be often easily recognized and left to grow, where they sprout.  These volunteers often greatly outdistance their planted relatives.

Although I don't particularly favor the deep rooted perennial weeds like dandelion, burdock and dock for example, taking over the perennial beds or taking hold over the winter months in the vegetable garden, I still find them, useful as dormant season root crops for rabbits.

After weeding their deep tap roots, I wash them and the rabbits relish the roots.

Many weeds are also useful as host plants for beneficial insects.
Some weeds can also serve as hosts for insects you might not wish to overly encourage or be vectors for plant diseases like rust or clubroot.



 
osker brown
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
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according to Wikipedia:

Chenopodium album is vulnerable to leaf miners, making it a useful trap crop as a companion plant. Growing near other plants, it attracts leaf miners which might otherwise have attacked the crop to be protected. It is a host plant for the beet leafhopper, an insect which transmits curly top virus to beet crops.


and
Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Quinoa is a closely related species which is grown specifically for its seeds.[16] It is also used as a medicinal plant in traditional African medicine.


and
it is also used as food (both the leaves and the seeds) for chickens, hens and other poultry. However, the nitrates in the plant can be converted very efficiently to nitrites in the rumen of cattle, leading to changes in haemoglobin and reducing the ruminants' oxygen binding capacity.


P.S. I spent an autumn in Temagami about 10 years ago!!

peace
 
Aljaz Plankl
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common ones in a veggie garden here are dandelion, plaintain, chickweed, shepherd's-purse, gallant soldier and quackgrass. The last one is the only one trying to get eliminated, others are eaten or cut when they compete too much.
 
Thelma McGowan
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I too had problems with my onions this year. I think they might be one of thoe crops that needs its' own space weed free.

I mulched Potatoes in the first part of spring but after that I let the weeds grow up around them to shade the ground under them. amaranth(pig weed), chickweed, lambsquarters, clovers. There is an amazing amount of life under those layers! I even have a ton os slugs under the weeds layers, BUT.....zero slug damage. I have even been leaving the clusters of slug eggs too since i feel like they are a buffett for the other critters. ha

Usually I have spent the better part of the summer pulling buttercups...they are so invasive around here. But the clovers, plantain, chickweed have created impenetrables mass around my garden rows. as well as keeping the ground moist. The pigweed and lambs quarters and chickweed are delicious food, so I look at them as another crop, BUT....when they get out of hand I chop and drop them for mulch. I am letting a few go to seed on the 4 corners of my garden to keep as propogated plants. I am also going to see if I can harvest the seeds of lambsquarters and Amaranth(pigweed) simce they are both a useful grain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTwwQTZaLF8&feature=related
This is Michael Pilarski talking about useful weeds. he uses weeds but explains that sometimes he needs to keep them out of some crops. He has a really cool approach. I admire his success at growing especially since in his neck of the woods the only this things that want to grow are sagebrush and knapweed. If he can do it There anyone can be a success.

I let some some prickly lettuce grow up in the cultivated lettuce. The " Weed" grew up tall and was covered with aphids..the lettuce was fine underneath it. I thought.."Thanks prickly lettuce for attracting all the aphids" haha

in all my vegetables have done better this year with my weeds growing alongside than in years past when I have kept the rows 100% weed free.
 
                            
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Location: Ava, Mo, USA, Earth
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I consider lamb's quarters to be a crop, not a weed.  However, I'm not sure you're asking the question you want to be asking.  I don't see it as what species of weeds to leave, but what particular plants.  If anything wanted starts getting crowded out by less useful plants, it's time for them to leave.  If it's lamb's quarters or some other edible, they will be harvested.  If it has no other use to me, I'll cut it off or just knock it over and put more mulch down.  Mulch is the key to not letting things get out of hand.
 
Tyler Ludens
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auntythelma wrote:


in all my vegetables have done better this year with my weeds growing alongside than in years past when I have kept the rows 100% weed free.



That's really interesting and your experience should probably be more widely known, so people can learn not to work so hard pulling weeds! 
 
Brenda Groth
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absolutely keep lambsquarters if you like cooked spinach, as it is superior and free..and grows better than spinach in hot summers.

make sure you let one or two plants go to seed as well, esp if you are pulling it out like my hubby did, as I had NONE this spring, but have a few plants going to seed now in my garden..for next year...(if he doesn't pull them ...head injury)
 
          
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Location: Saskatchewan Zone 2b-3a maybe 3b
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Brenda Groth wrote:
absolutely keep lambsquarters if you like cooked spinach, as it is superior and free..and grows better than spinach in hot summers.



This I find extremely interesting. I live here my second summer and at the driest sunniest spot on the south wall side in fullest sunshine
grow the tallest lambsquarters, one now over four feet tall and full with flowers
and a few Sweet Clover made it too over six feet high.

whereas any spinach, lettuce etc etc  never germinated and only about five or six struggling Calendula
and no herbs whatsover germinated. Even early Broad Beans gave no production.

Now last year I had grass four feet high, which I flattened and later about four feet of snow weighted them down;
that was followed this year by little or  no grass growth but lots of Dandelion galore leaves, dark green wider than my hand.

What I had ordered and planted last year from Richter's did well to a point: I did not water at all this year:
the ground defrosted in June after all that snow, but it was too late for any tomatoes to set fruit.
Nights are already down to 5-7C so frost cannot be far away.... I liked the different Comfreys and especially
the many bees coming and going for their flowers.

So I let weeds grow and let grow what grows best and grows otherwise; also some Alfalfa went to flower and now to seed.

I appreciate the deep-rooters like Sweet Clover. I remember overseeding ten acres with Sweet Clover and that cured compaction
and all puddling so I hope the same for this former grass lot.

I think my ground is too chemicalized that I wait another year for  lambsquarter to be my spinach and lettuce substitute

 
Kirk Hutchison
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I recently transplanted a small goosefoot/lambsquarter to my garden, since there weren't any growing there. Now all I need to do is get it to produce seed...
 
Paul Cereghino
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I concur with Lambsquarter love... which provokes four more thoughts...

Specifically select which plants are weeds for you in each situation... just because it self sows doesn't mean weed.  I think self sowing annuals fill an important niche are a component of most polycultures, so you might as well pick the ones you like.

Pay attention to life history: winter annual, summer annual, tap rooted perennial, rhizomatous perennial, stoloniferous perennial, woody perennial... I think each of these has advantages ad risks when you combine them with different kinds of gardens with different kinds of goals.

The wildlings are... wild... they can take some abuse, and may be rambunctious if you give them full reproductive range.  I tend to be pretty ruthless, but always leaving a few, and they come back in sufficient numbers, but don't so dominate the seed bank that it is impossible to direct low vegetables in my garden beds.

When you scale up to a larger system, you need to be more careful, as larger systems can require more liearity and order in order to get a yield of your preferred annuals efficiently for export (I think this is the honest reason behind clean cultivation agricultural methods).
 
                                  
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i'm new to eating foraged plants, but have enjoyed purslane very much.  i notice it everywhere.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_beneficial_weeds
 
ellen rosner
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I didn't realize until I found a picture, that I have purslane all over my garden.
(It was on my list of things to get for my new garden.)

Can someone tell me if I transplant it from my one garden to the other, is it likely to take, and also will I still get the benefits. [the reason for transplanting is that I am leaving the 1st garden.]

I was told on this forum that transplanted mullein would not yield the same long taproot benefits as if it were grown from seed.

thank you,

ellen
 
Brenda Groth
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i have even canned lambsquarters several years ago we had it in such abandance and it beats canned spinach.

lambsquarters are best eaten YOUNG..but don't PULL it..cut it as it will continue to produce for a very long time if there is a good stem left.

always allow just a few in each area you want them to go to seed, otherwise you may not have them return (like this year I only had a few cause husband with head injury pulled nearly all of them..dang..he knew better too)
 
Jordan Lowery
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Can someone tell me if I transplant it from my one garden to the other, is it likely to take, and also will I still get the benefits. [the reason for transplanting is that I am leaving the 1st garden.]


your going to want to wait until you see the flowers, and then watch them until they turn into seed. they will look like little bowls with black seeds inside. once to that point you can either gently lift the plant and slide paper of some sort under the plant. the seeds will fall on this so they are easy to collect. or you can just pull the whole plant, shake over something like a big bowl, and then collect the tiny seeds to plant in your new garden. purslane doesnt transplant well. but each plant makes millions of seeds.
 
Kirk Hutchison
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ellenrr wrote:
Can someone tell me if I transplant it from my one garden to the other, is it likely to take, and also will I still get the benefits.


Yes, it should take, as long as you get most of the roots, plant it in a decent spot, and water. Both of the three purslane plants I have transplanted have survived, and one has produced seeds. They may not get big enough to harvest, but if you can't get seeds, they can produce them for you. (The plant I grew from seed is huge, the plant I transplanted very young is medium size, and the older plant is quite small).
 
                                
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Hey all
Just thought I'd throw this reference:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4oL49PBsCP0

Very helpful youtube series called eat the weeds.

Forgive him for the title - I believe he does not in fact consider the plants he talks about as weeds at all.

cheers
 
Suzy Bean
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Paul and Jack Spirko talk about "lessons from the forest" in this podcast: podcast.

Jack shares about lambsquarters.
 
Jeffrey Hodgins
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If you have a no till system like mine, then lambs quarters seem to naturally dye out over the years. When I started my no till system I selected for lambs quarters because they are easy to pull, it worked for a few years but now they only grow where the soil has been disturbed. Galium is now my main useful weed, it's great juiced in spring and fall when tender. Another great thing about Galium is that it forms dense mats so when you pull it you get a big ball of useful mulch. If I were only in town long enough to actually use the galium I'm sure my garden would be allot better. I am now concentrating my efforts on introducing perennial and biennial crops to replace perennial weeds. The half acre plot started as raspberry monoculture when I was to young to know better since then I have found that garlic reduces weeds greatly acting as a ground cover. I have also been introducing leeks, onions, shallots and chives but their density is still too low for me to say whether they also reduce weeds or not. Mint and comfrey reduce weeds but they may become problem weeds for me in the future. Some other plants I have had success with in this no till no weeding system are currents, grapes, sunchokes, rhubarb, burdock (no longer considered a weed) and scarlet runners (if grown to 3 feet tall in pots and trans-planted just after first frost). I'm sure that once all these species reach a balance that the only real weed will be the dam trees that keep trying to grow. Next thing you know I'll be replacing weed trees with more beneficial trees. That will change the whole system won't it? Looks like I'll have to wait and see what happens under the trees that I've just decided to plant.
 
Ivan Weiss
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One other use for lambs quarters that I haven't seen mentioned is as fertilizer. According to Oregon Biodynamics, lambs quarters is a dynamic accumulator of N, P, and K, and also Ca and Mn. If you have it in enough quantity, say a 5-gallon bucket full at any one time, you could compress the leaves and extract the concentrated "liquor" from decomposition to add to liquid fertilizer.

I do this with all the dynamic accumulators I can get my hands on, as wide a variety as possible. I have an overabundance of comfrey, so that is the main ingredient in the 55-gallon drum I have going at all times. Nettle is another, and during the low tide periods in July and August, I add eelgrass to it. The Oregon Biodynamics list also lists bracken, which I was happy to see, because instead of just pulling it out of my cattle pastures, I can put it to use. Bracken accumulates K, P, Mn, Fe, Cu, and Co. I found out, much to my delight, in sepp holzer's Permaculture, that Sepp does this with common tansy, for the K. Dandelion and watercress (for those fortunate enough to have it) of course are the king and queen of accumulators.

I collect the concentrated liquor from the accumulators in kitty litter jugs, or any plastic jugs one gallon and up, and mix one part of it to 20 parts of water for a mineral boost to all plants, for foliar spray, and to charge biochar. No reason why lambs quarters can't be part of this mix. But before it becomes fertilizer, or mulch, I make sure that the cattle, the chickens, the pigs, and I get a goodly portion.
 
Nacho Collado
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i keep all the weeds growing in my land. i dont judge if they're good or bad, I only cut them if they are in the way when i am planting or watering. They are there for some reason so i let them live, same as the critters in my land
also i make some firewalls to avoid wild fires when tall thistles and herbs get dry but let them seed .
this is how my land looks at the end of March March


same view later in middle of May, i was clearing the perimeter to build a perimetral fence




By the end of July i cut most of the dry thistles to avoid wild fires, leting them in the ground as mulch. most of the weeds have been seeding long timr before.


still there are some spots with tall dry weeds by the end of August


By November the 1st most of the dry weeds are mulching the ground, i only left a spot to see how evolves trough the winter to next spring


same with the critters, thy are there for some reason all of them are useful in any way.... so live and let live.







 
Nacho Collado
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