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What "weeds" do you grow on purpose?

 
pollinator
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Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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A lot of plants that are ruthlessly eliminated by gardeners who want a "weed-free"  garden are actually very useful edible or medicinal species. I intentionally grow quite a few of these and even seek out improved varieties to supplement naturalized ones. These are mostly very tough plants that require almost no work on the part of the gardener. I wonder if this is one reason they fell out of favour? Most have traditional uses and many were brought to new territory by settlers arriving from Europe.

Here's a (partial) list of the "weeds" I intentionally grow and find useful. I'll keep adding to it as I think of more. What do you grow?

Dandelion
Purslane
Dock
Stinging nettle
Comfrey
Lambs quarters
Chicory
Mullein
Heal-all aka Self-heal
Yarrow
Goldenrod
St Johns wort
Plantain
Horsetail
Clovers
Salal
 
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Location: British Columbia zone 9a
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Chickweed (Stellaria media) and Miner's lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata) both excellent cool season salad greens
Cleavers/stickyweed (Galium aparine) is edible and medicinal, but I harvest it to feed to my pet rabbit
Dog violet (native) and sweet violet (introduced), cute edible early spring flowers
Lemon balm and bronze/leaf fennel are both "weedy" but welcome
 
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For my place

Dandelion
Mullein
Clover
Arnica

 
Posts: 35
Location: Quebec, Canada zone 4a
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I simply let nature plant what it wants in my back yard, it can look “messy”  to some people but the amount of wildlife that I have seen since doing so is worth it.
To run down a few I have dandelion, milkweed, Queen Anne’s lace, thistle, gill on the ground, violets, burdock, goldenrod, asters and that’s just the top of my head.
I found that if left to it’s own devices the yard will have small outbreaks of certain species but then even out and get more variety as the years go on.
 
pollinator
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We're establishing a new growing area on what used to be neglected pasture and when we tilled, a whole lot of large thistles popped up. We leave the ones around the border because they are about 5 ft tall and they act as a mini wind break. And they grow super fast.

The air above the grow beds is noticeably warmer and moister.
 
pollinator
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Wild Lettuce (spiny)
Lamb’s Quarters
Purslane
Violets
Dandelion
 
gardener
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It blows my mind that comfrey is considered to be a weed.  I went way out of my way to plant it.  In fact, my very first Permies post was about how to plant comfrey.

Eric
 
pioneer
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Location: Pretoria, South Africa
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I've got plenty of food crops currently growing as weeds.
-strawberries
-tomatoes
-amaranth
-jerusalem artichoke
-bananas
-cape gooseberry
-sweet potatoes
-potatoes
-turmeric
-taro
-african cucumber
These are the things that I'm considering weeds. they grow so well that its becoming overwhelming, but also makes great chicken fodder and you can just move in the chickens to tame the environment and beat back growth.
 
Andrea Locke
pollinator
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Location: Gulf Islands BC (zone 8)
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Eric Hanson wrote:It blows my mind that comfrey is considered to be a weed.  I went way out of my way to plant it.  In fact, my very first Permies post was about how to plant comfrey.

Eric



I'm not sure I was justified in calling it a weed, but I am aware of several spots here where it has gone feral and is growing in ditches alongside roads. So by that definition at least it is a plant that has escaped cultivation.

I am very fond of comfrey and recently went to the homes of two other gardeners to dig several big bins of comfrey from their gardens to add to mine. This in addition to the 30-ish plants I already have :) I'm aiming for every planted tree to have its own companion comfrey.
 
Eric Hanson
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Andrea,

I understand.  To some, any plant out of place is a weed and once established, comfrey is in for the long run.

Good for you for grabbing someone else’s “weed” and putting it to good use.

Eric
 
steward
Posts: 5682
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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While I'm weeding my fields, if I see a weed that occurs sporadically, I allow it to go to seed. Especially if I don't know anything about it.


I eliminate common weeds often. I don't purposefully allow them to go to seed, they just do it. I use some of them as food or a market crop.

Because I live habitually barefoot, I eliminate goat-head puncture burrs whenever I notice them. They are common in the general ecosystem, so I don't feel like letting them grow specifically in my fields. And I keep the purslane completely weeded out of most of my fields. Other than those two species, everything else is more or less welcomed. I put a good effort into minimizing Canadian thistle. Again, it's a barefooting issue.
 
Andrea Locke
pollinator
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

I keep the purslane completely weeded out of most of my fields.



I'm curious to know what evil thing purslane does at your place to have gotten into that small group of must-be-removed weeds, Joseph. Since it is a good edible and barefoot-friendly?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
steward
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I see purslane being tremendously weedy in the gardens of my family. Therefore I don't allow it in my gardens. Huh... It's an annual, so easily weeded out... Weird the habits we get into. I eat a lot of it, while helping out family. I just don't grow it myself.
 
pioneer
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Location: Central Virginia, Zone 7.
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Three weeds I found growing on my property that I deemed pretty enough to intentionally grow:

1.  Cardinal flower
2.  Ironweed
3.  Red cypress vine

I haven't mastered the art of saving seed from the first two yet, but collecting seeds from the red cypress was easy, and I'm now able to produce beds of red cypress at will.

How can this be tarred with the epithet 'weed' ??

cypress.jpg
[Thumbnail for cypress.jpg]
 
Posts: 103
Location: Far Northern California Coast, Far South Pacific Northwest
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Last year my most populous weeds were Sweet Currant cherry tomato and Calendula plants. This year purple potatoes are popping up already and of course the raspberries are spreading. Wild plants I allow are Lambquarters, broad and narrow leaf Plantain, bitterdock, all the dandelions, clover and healall.
 
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Cornfrey is one for me. Borago too; I've never seen people online refer to it as weed, yet I've seen a garden full of it, and a few weeks after they were all removed, leaving only dirt. I guess that gardener like growing rocks.

I've prepared some space for new beds recently, and instead of composting them, I've kept the dandelions root as well as the plantago leaves. I was offered a book on medicinal plants, so they felt like perfect candidates: easy to identify, and with a tons of potential uses.
 
pollinator
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First, my yard is not manicured and contains quite a diversity of plants including dandelion, plantain, chickweed and others.  When I constructed my garden beds last year, a few dandelions and burdock made their way through the cardboard and wood chips in the paths between the beds.  I did cut the burdock back but left both to grow as I plan to harvest the dandelion root for a coffee substitute and to experiment with a kraut-like recipe with whatever leaves I don't add to salads.  The burdock will be harvested for medical use this spring.  I also discovered that the compost I spread on the beds sprouted several burdock and bittercress seedlings.  I pulled out the burdock but left the bittercress as it's probably the tastiest thing I forage and it doesn't seem to take over.  There's also a patch of cleavers growing near the dog kennel I use as my plant nursery.  I'd probably rate them and chickweed as my second favorite foraged food followed by violets.  I've also introduced wild strawberries from the edge of the woods to sunnier parts of my yard in hopes of increasing the harvest.  I did a similar experiment over twenty years ago in which I removed every runner from a wild strawberry plant for an entire year and was rewarded with a good harvest the next year though it was very labor intensive.  
 
Posts: 63
Location: Western Oregon (Willamette Valley), 8a/8b
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Michelle, like yours, our "yard" is mostly open spaces between trees home to plantain, violets, chickweed, dandelions, clover, garlic grass, miner's lettuce and more. I can't imagine considering them weeds or trying to get rid of them, they're wonderful plants to have around! My friend once scolded her son for blowing dandelion seeds around here, and I was like, no please, continue, it's welcomed here!

The garlic grass is tiny much finer than chives or ramps, very fragrant, and grows in several patches around our farm. I've introduced some clumps to new areas, usually in the early spring, and it's the best thing ever with mashed potatoes or in a pasta sauce or stir fry.

Miner's lettuce (claytonia) grows abundantly in the spring and I simply try to keep the areas it favors clear and not overharvest.

Chickweed (stellaria media) is really nice in salads, and true to its name it is a favorite of our chickens in the spring, and I scythe down the grass in areas to allow more chickweed to grow up for them.

Hairy bittercress is one that I encourage as a green mulch the garden. It's fun to disturb the seeds and send them popping everywhere, and easy to weed out of annual beds and as it only grows about 4-6" high & doesn't outcompete anything more desirable in my garden, but it does help keep the crabgrass back. It's remarkably easy to pull out and I like lazy weeding, and it also seems to attract a lot of tiny beneficial insects when in bloom. This one is another edible salad green, though a little more textural and pungent than chickweed or miner's lettuce.

Anything that can outcompete poison oak, tansy ragwort, and Himalayan blackberries is generally left undisturbed unless its in a bad place. I love oregon grape in brushy areas, and so do hummingbirds when its in bloom!

A lot of things, like purple deadnettle, aren't a problem to me, but rather welcome companions and signs of the changing seasons that never advance very far beyond disturbed areas. One exception I try to get rid of is shining geranium - it outcompetes a lot of other things like dovefoot geranium, clover, chickweed, etc. and makes expanding monoculture patches where I want woodland floor diversity, happily invading and overwhelming native habitat and species here in our oak woodland. It also turns into a smelly black sludge when cut, so I find the best control is to simply mulch over these patches heavily where I can.
 
pollinator
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Almost all of them...
3836D7A5-0C79-4522-8820-BDF54A0BF9CB.gif
[Thumbnail for 3836D7A5-0C79-4522-8820-BDF54A0BF9CB.gif]
 
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