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Reading 'Weeds' as Indicators of Soil Conditions

 
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Temperate Humid Climates - what's the best resource you have found on reading 'weeds' as indicators of soil conditions? (I am located in the eastern US.)

Several species of which I am already familiar of their indications - dandelion, buttercup, crabgrass, sorrel, sedge, burdock... I would like to see a more comprehensive resource, though, if one exists.

Thank you!

~Rachel
 
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This is an intruigingin topic. I've heard folks mention this, sort of like a side conversation, but this makes so much sense.
Anyways I know very little, but I would like to learn more. So i asked google and came across these two items that looked worthy to share.
https://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/holen/article/1993jun20.pdf
https://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/soil-indicators-zmaz87jazgoe

Please keep us posted. We too live in the Eastern states, in the Southern Appalachians.
 
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Newbie observation from Louisville, KY: I find that along with sorrel, one of the first things to pop, especially if I disturb the soil, is clusters of thin wild onion. I would love to know why. Are they just latent and waiting for a nudge or is this a stage of succession...or both?
 
Rachel Yocum
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Hi Sena,

Thanks for the MSU link! The bit about mineral accumulators is helpful. It gives me a few more options for addressing phosphorus and potassium needs. I tend to ferment certain 'weeds' and use them in a diluted state as foliar feeds. I have done that with nettles, yarrow, chamomile, and allium family plants (with very nice results!), but this gives me more 'weeds' to work with.

Thank you!

~Rachel
 
Sena Kassim
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No problem Rachel!
Comfrey is often grown and used to add calcium to the soil. Any weed tea that's good for us and the garden.

Such an interesting way to observe the land.
Thanks for posting this question
 
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I know that Johnson grass indicates low humus, poor drainage, low phosphorus, and high potassium.
 
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There is little hard science (papers written on indicator plants are few and far between), but there is a good deal of anecdotal evidence, to support the belief that some weeds prefer certain types of soil and growing situations.
Moss, as we all know, can be a good indication of poor drainage, it can also be a sign of compacted soil or low fertility.
So, "reading your weeds" isn't a foolproof way to evaluate your soil, but it can be a useful hint that something's going on below the soil surface.
To find out what the weeds are really telling you, do a soil test to confirm nutrient levels and soil pH.

Redhawk
 
Myron Platte
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There’s a weed for every niche. You can get a pretty accurate read by not only looking at the ground and saying “ huh, I have dandelions, I must have soil compaction.”, but then going a step further, and saying: “wow, those dandelions are really taking over, there must be something about my soil that they really like, and there’s another low-calcium lover around... I probably don’t have enough calcium!”
 
Sena Kassim
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Excellent though Myron, thus you receive an apple. Thanks for contributing! =)
 
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