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Putting "bad" "weeds" to good use

 
garden master
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Do you have a stubborn weed that seems to grow everywhere, and you feel like you can't get rid of it?!

There's another thread Which "weed" do you dislike the most? where we talked about weeds we dislike.

One of the weeds I dislike the most is dogfennel (Eupatorium capillifolium).

It's toxic and after looking it up I couldn't find any good uses for it.

However, last summer, I had a period where I let everything grow in my garden, and a cucumber started trellising up the dogfennel. Both plants grew at about the same speed, so it provided a perfect living trellis for the cucumber to grow on and supported all the cucumbers. It has thin feathery like leaves, so it provided mild shade for the cucumber plant during our hot summers.

The cucumbers were bug free too, although I think this was more due to breeding, as it was a super vigorous volunteer and the other cucumber volunteers were the same way. This vine lived longer than the other ones though.

Have you found any good uses for frustrating weeds?
 
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I've never tried this before, but I've seen one gardener on Youtube use Solanum carolinense (Carolina horsenettle) as a barrier to keep small critters out of his garden. I cannot find the video though .
 
Steve Thorn
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Ryan M Miller wrote:I've never tried this before, but I've seen one gardener on Youtube use Solanum carolinense (Carolina horsenettle) as a barrier to keep small critters out of his garden. I cannot find the video though .



Very cool!

I've been thinking about letting wild blackberries grow around my fruit trees to do a similar thing, they are just so tough to get rid of though once they get established.
 
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Year before last found me spreading dandelion seeds over my lawn. My “lawn” was planted on a hard pan and I wanted the dandelions tap root to help break it up. Best way to keep your lawn dandelion free is by trying to encourage them.
 
Steve Thorn
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Dennis Mitchell wrote:Year before last found me spreading dandelion seeds over my lawn. My “lawn” was planted on a hard pan and I wanted the dandelions tap root to help break it up. Best way to keep your lawn dandelion free is by trying to encourage them.



That's awesome how a "problem" can be a solution!
 
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Dandelion is by far my most common weed. By leaving it to grow I noticed that aphids left all my other plants alone.

Chickweed seemed a problem last winter but it didn’t stop any of my desired plants growing. It dies completely in my summer so I have absolutely no need to be concerned about it.
 
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We have a garden we didn’t plant this summer, and I saw goldenrod among weeds growing in there. Just took a few cuttings to make an oil with it, but letting them lay out in the sun for at least a day before I bring them inside and wash them before making it.

There’s supposed to be uses for the sweet mint that is overtaking our backyard, but none of those uses appeal to me. I am not okay with pouring borax all over my backyard, but laying tarps around to sit on them instead, so that I can plant wheatgrass in their place.

So long as I remove any flowers or seeds, plus also the roots, the other parts of most weeds can go in the compost pile as a green addition.
 
Audrey Wrobel
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Ryan M Miller wrote:I've never tried this before, but I've seen one gardener on Youtube use Solanum carolinense (Carolina horsenettle) as a barrier to keep small critters out of his garden. I cannot find the video though .



Very cool!

I've been thinking about letting wild blackberries grow around my fruit trees to do a similar thing, they are just so tough to get rid of though once they get established.



You can grow chives, garlic, nasturtium, and some other things around fruit trees. Google “herbs to grow around fruit trees,” as many carry benefits that may be good for your particular fruit tree. You want those that have shallow roots, impart nutrients your tree needs, and/or protects your trees from from pests, so I vote for chives if it fits your needs best.

You need to divide chives as they grow bigger, like every two years or so. They tend to bush out as they grow larger, and they self seed by flowering mainly purple; are perennial.

 
Steve Thorn
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Audrey Wrobel wrote:We have a garden we didn’t plant this summer, and I saw goldenrod among weeds growing in there. Just took a few cuttings to make an oil with it, but letting them lay out in the sun for at least a day before I bring them inside and wash them before making it.



I've got some goldenrod growing too. How do you process and use it?
 
Steve Thorn
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I don't really think of my goldenrod as one of the "bad" weeds, but it can spread with it roots pretty easily and grow fast and shade out other things.

This can also be used as a positive thing though, as it can shade out less desirable plants, and it seems to be pretty shallow rooted and easy to pull out if needed.

Did I mention it will attract more pollinators and other beneficial insects that you can imagine! And it looks amazing too!
Goldenrod-blossoms-in-early-fall.jpg
Goldenrod blossoms in early fall
Goldenrod blossoms in early fall
Goldenrod-and-cinnamon-basil.jpg
Goldenrod and cinnamon basil
Goldenrod and cinnamon basil
 
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I use blackberry cuttings to help reinforce the bottom of one section of my deer fence. The adult deer don't come through but the fawns were finding a way through which then made the adults panic and sometimes break through the fence.

But as I'm digging out blackberries the dried thorny canes work great to help block the areas the fawns were going through. In the long run I will be planting a hedgerow but in the short run the blackberries are a great fix.

I also maintain some blackberry patches as living fences to keep deer out. This has worked well in several areas.

Plus, every summer I harvest a ton of blackberry berries and my family and I love eating them.

In that thread you linked I think I mentioned blackberries as my most hated weed. But despite that I do use them a fair bit. I'm just also steadily removing them and replacing them with other plants. Though I doubt I will ever eliminate them and I don't really see a need to as long as I can push them back to a couple manageable patches as opposed to the third of an acre they covered when my wife and I bought our land.
 
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A weed is a flower growing in the wrong place.
George Washington Carver
 
Steve Thorn
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That's some good uses for the blackberries Daron, and you're right, they are very tasty too!

I'm so clumsy with them, they always seem to poke me somehow. Even if I wear gloves, I still get poked somewhere, guess I need some thicker clothes.
 
Daron Williams
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Thanks! Yeah, they still poke me despite all the "experience" I have with them. I always come away from my work removing them with cuts and at least one thorn stuck in one of my arms or legs...
 
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Steve Thorn wrote:

Audrey Wrobel wrote:We have a garden we didn’t plant this summer, and I saw goldenrod among weeds growing in there. Just took a few cuttings to make an oil with it, but letting them lay out in the sun for at least a day before I bring them inside and wash them before making it.



I've got some goldenrod growing too. How do you process and use it?



I can't seem to track down which of my wild food books it was in, but I swear I remember that all above ground parts of goldenrod are edible.  Personally I will eat the young, more tender leaves growing at the top of the plant, usually just adding them to a salad or cooked dish.  The flavor for me falls into the "eh" category so I can't say that I really use it much despite the abundance I have growing.  I believe most people will collect the leaves and flowers, drying them out to then use for making tea.
 
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Just before Japanese stiltgrass seeds out, I grab handfuls to use as a straw mulch in the beds. It is quick work to pull up a sizable amount.
 
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This is a very different take on bad weeds, but by knowing what kind of soil they thrive on, I know what I can apply for fertilizers and lime to make my soil thrive again.

Smooth bedstraw is really aggressive here, but getting your soil sweetened with lime will kill it. Just like potash will wipe out milkweed. Make the soil what it ain't and the weeds go away!

In this way weeds are not really "bad" just indicators of what my soil has for problems. If there is anything bad about them, it is that I let the soil degrade to the point where they thrive. And I am really the bad villain if I do nothing.
 
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Mart Hale wrote:A weed is a flower growing in the wrong place.
George Washington Carver



Then what is this? (Couldn't resist. Two of us have been sawing and hacking on this thing for two hours. Long way to go. No way to get a truck in to drag it out.)

Monster-holly.jpg
[Thumbnail for Monster-holly.jpg]
Monster
 
Mart Hale
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Diane Kistner wrote:

Mart Hale wrote:A weed is a flower growing in the wrong place.
George Washington Carver



Then what is this? (Couldn't resist. Two of us have been sawing and hacking on this thing for two hours. Long way to go. No way to get a truck in to drag it out.)



That is a weed growing in the wrong place.     :-)


There is the 55 gal barrel method of burning it out.





Also you can make a forge out of it :-)




 
Diane Kistner
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Mart Hale wrote:


Also you can make a forge out of it :-)






I could send my landlord this video and give her a heart attack! LOL! It was one of three old holly bushes growing up by the house. They would grow up about four feet taller than the roof and were a bear to hack down. Finally, I got two of them dug out by this guy, who came back to finish the third one. The third one was twice as big as the other two and is proving to be a real PITA.

 
Steve Thorn
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Here's a video I made of the wild goldenrod above and some cinnamon basil growing near it.

The goldenrod starting blooming just a few days ago in very late September, but the cinnamon basil I planted has been blooming for maybe even three months now, which has been a great long blooming plant that has attracted a lot of beneficial insects and pollinators too!

This video is best viewed on full screen on a computer to get the full effect. That's for those that like looking at insects though!

 
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Tall oatgrass (Arrhenatherum elatius) is my monster weed.  If you've got larger livestock, I guess they can eat it, but it's useless, otherwise.  Well, it would probably slow down an attack of zombies approaching in the dark from your perimeter; when you mow, set the blade on a high cut, and NOBODY can walk through your field because they will be tripping over it with every step, and end up either retreating, or attacking on their hands and knees.

It has small (1/4 to 1/2") stacked tubers, which create thick clumps when they multiply, and spreads by seeds, too.  Most people seem to dig it out, but if you leave a viable tuber behind, guess what happens?

The pH of the soil doesn't bother it, it's happy in very acid or very alkaline soil.  The state ag colleges say it's even relatively impervious to glyphosate.  Their only real suggestion is to keep it mowed really short CONSTANTLY for several years and starve it out.  Maybe.
 
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I have a weed I hate but use. Some call it coffeeweed,  others coffee bean weed. But it's actually a legume. The reason I hate it so is it has hard seed. So once it goes to seed you'll be fighting this thing for 4-7 years. I only have 3-6 to go LOL. But now every time I disk, turn soil, pull a harrow I have hundreds to thousands of them pop up. But knowledge is important,  my clover cover crop is slightly poisonous to germinating seedlings. So when I disk under my cover crop a month before I plant, or transplant, I let the weed grow. Then the day before I plant or same day, I disk the weed under and plant my cash crop. I then cultivate crops of 2nd flush of weeds (which is usually less than 1st flush) and it's slowly lowering the seed bank reserves in my fields. But at least it added some nitrogen and biomass to my beds.
 
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