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When all else fails, plant weeds?  RSS feed

 
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Anyone else resorted to planting weeds for some signs of life when all your other efforts have failed?

My front yard’s a barren dirt patch and for myriad reasons the normal permie options to improve it aren’t available to me. Grape vines, fruit trees, vegetables, all died pretty quickly.

So I’m planting the succulent South American vine Anredera cordifolia (known as Madeira vine, lamb’s tail vine, and mignonette vine) along my front fence to bring some greenery that'll survive my dry, hot, poor soil conditions. It’s classed a noxious weed in Australia, grows really fast and is EXTREMELY tough. Weeks ago I threw the cut vine pieces on a cold compost in daily 12 hour scorching sun and not only did some of them survive, they actually started growing roots just by touching some soil!

Unlike most weeds, Madeira vine is actually an attractive ornamental plant. I’ll start looking up what other noxious weeds are in my climate to maybe provide even more life to my plot.
 
master pollinator
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After I fenced the deer out of my yard, I found out the entire yard is infested with weeds.  The deer had been eating them all those years.  So I am letting the weeds grow.  I'm slowly pulling and composting them and replacing them with native plants.  I'm just happy the ground is covered, the weeds give the yard a lush, jungly appearance which I like, and they provide material so I can finally have actual compost heaps.

I love the weeds!
 
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Tim, have you tried growing plants that are native to Australia?

I googled "Native plants for Australia and found this information:

https://anbg.gov.au/growing-plants/index.html

https://www.australia.com/en-us/facts-and-planning/australias-plants.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flora_of_Australia

Using these might help find some plants that would grow in your area and your growing conditions.

Drought, too much water, etc.

Look for plants that would improve your soil, etc

Best wishes and I hope you will be able to find somethings that will work for you.
 
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Madeira is a tasty green and highly sought after in traditional cuisines.
But it smothers electrical poles and costs a lot to manage in my region.

I'm  very much pro- 'weeds as pioneers', but Madeira vine is an outlier when it comes to profligacy and resilience.
It grows very aggressively and the starchy tubers and bulbils, in their thousands, can be spread by flood, wind and wildlife.
It also has long-lived re-sprouting roots and is so fecund that in my experience is harder to get rid of than any other weed, if someone wants to garden that area in the future.
If neglected to be kept in-check by a future tenant, it will almost certainly be an environmental problem. Take it with you when you go.

I would only recommend it indoors in a pot, but I agree with the overall suggestion of weeds as soil pioneers and easy to grow for food or wildlife.

I often use commercial black or yellow mustard seed 'spice' to sow empty areas and pioneer new beds, I can eat it, leave to flower or chop, drop and re-sow. Its very hardy, cheap and widely available.
 
Tim Kivi
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Anne Miller wrote:Tim, have you tried growing plants that are native to Australia?



Thanks for the suggestion. In terms of edibility and beauty, Australia has the worst tasting and ugliest flora of all the earth's continents because our native soils are so poor and our sun is so harsh. The only native flora Australia has ever offered the world that's good enough to eat is the Macadamia nut. Our flora are paradise to stunning native birds so they're not useless for nature, just rather useless to humans.

Australian native flora are cheap in nurseries because few people actually want them. They do grow well though and I've already picked seeds from various native plants whenever I walk past. Australian natives are surprisingly difficult to propagate, but if they sprout then they're hardy.
 
Anne Miller
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Tim Kivi wrote:Anyone else resorted to planting weeds for some signs of life when all your other efforts have failed?

My front yard’s a barren dirt patch and for myriad reasons the normal permie options to improve it aren’t available to me. Grape vines, fruit trees, vegetables, all died pretty quickly.



I didn't understand that you were looking for edibles.  I got the impression you were trying to "green your desert".

I like what Annette says in this post:  

I was a student of Bill Mollison Father of Permaculture in Australia. One of the things that always stuck with me was his trying to get through to people to not obsess over "neat" when practicing permaculture, rather try working with nature, and nature at it's most productive is messy. We certainly do get more pollinators and less pest problems if we 'mix' rather than 'match' our plantings. I also find that the best, strongest plants are the self-seeders, - the ones I want to save and swap seed from.



https://permies.com/t/self-seeding-vegetables#871934

Have you tried these?:

Tree-lettuce

Lablab-beans

Chayote Squash

/Perennial-Kale


The plant you described reminded me of the destructive plant of America's South which I have seen almost all my life:  Kudzu.  Now days I have heard some people plant it because it is edible.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/150237337546899509/?lp=true

 
Tim Kivi
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Haha I tried planting chayote (called choko in Australia) twice in my front yard, and it died pretty fast. It’s meant to be a tough fuss-free vine but it didn’t have a chance in my yard- sun and dryness killed it.

Two plantings actually made it through my summer on one part of the yard: a dwarf black mulberry tree, and purslane which stops the hose water running down from the mulberry to my paving by absorbing it. I’ve now planted a fig seedling as they’re as tough as mulberries because they’re from the same family, plus any more purslane that from the horse manure I picked up from somewhere.
 
Anne Miller
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This is the weed that I hate the most:  https://www.foragingtexas.com/2012/10/burr-clover.html

I pulled up 4 bags full last year.  I have pulled up a lot this year though there is just too much.

It makes a nice flat mat so it probably does not need mowing.I have seen it at several businesses for that reason.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicago

Besides being edible it has several redeeming such as it is a legume, Medicago species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species and as a forage plant.

And it grows in Australia:  https://weeds.brisbane.qld.gov.au/weeds/burr-medic

 
pollinator
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Yes, I'd plant weeds or whatever would grow. By the very virtue that they have roots, they will be improving the soil, albeit slowly. I'd also keep chopping it back, using the plant as a source of biomass/mulch. The constant slow addition of mulch atop the soil will gradually improve it.
 
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Tim, have you experimented with adding biochar to your soil?  It will help hold lots more water, which might help out your situation.
 
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