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"weeds" to combat "weeds"???

 
                                              
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      Im new here, so perhaps this topic has come up, but I didnt happen across it yet and being early early spring for me Im thinking of it lately.

      Im in new mexico. Pretty harsh compared to where I am from originally. when i first started gardening here I realized I also had meaner weeds in my beds. they were all real fast to set deep taproots, so I did still compost them, but they were usually woody, so they took a good amount of time to break down. everything you needed gloves to pull, and often a shovel.

      So I was experimenting with things like purslane, pigsweed, amaranth, dandelions, lamsquarters, and some others, as low water alternatives for my "greens". These things then spread on their own somewhat, all being heavy seeders. So far they've only spread to places I have improved.

      this has had a VERY interesting effect. Now about roughly 60 percent of my "weeds" are these other things. I dont seem to have a higher amount of weeds in my beds, its just I have different ones. So now when i pull weeds i get to eat them!!! These all also compost better and will make a good food for chickens and my fish. they are all a bit easier to pull as well, if for no other reason then they can be handled without gloves.

     
 
Jordan Lowery
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we do the same thing here, and have been doing so for a few years now. the first year in the forest garden was FULL of weeds(my little soil builders). fellow permies would come over and joke by saying "are you growing weeds or what".

funny thing is that i was growing weeds, and over time picked out the less useful ones and replaced them with similar plants that fit my needs. purslane, lambs quarters, nettles, dandelions are some of them. now i would say about 80% is useful weeds/plants, the hardest to get rid of is the annual grasses here. constant annoyance, luckily i have a gopher that seems to like this clumping grass i dislike and hes dealing with it for me.

adding beneficial seed like chamomile helps a lot too. so now you get food from weeds, and tea as well and you could keep going and going depending on where you live.

main point being that you can establish your own useful weeds to out compete the native "wild" weeds. the trick is to just give them a little helping hand like you would some veggies, once there older they can handle themselves. over time you dont really have a problem anymore.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I am gradually trying to establish edible weeds in my garden.  I have a few - henbit, cleavers, curly dock, pigweed, wild onion.  So far no success in establishing purslane and dandelion - I especially want dandelion! 
 
John Polk
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This method of "fighting fire with fire" is a great way of dealing with weeds.  We know that we cannot grow without weeds, but we can be selective with which weeds we favor.
Weeds can tell us a lot about our soils.  A friend of mine went to Montana/Dakota region years ago with his father, looking at land.  At one ranch, his father didn't even get out of the truck.  Just turned around and drove back to the highway muttering "Sage brush here don't grow but knee high.  Land aint worth tilling."
 
Paul Cereghino
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'Weed' comes from the old english basically meaning 'herb'.

a (1) : a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth; especially : one that tends to overgrow or choke out more desirable plants (2) : a weedy growth of plants

'valued' is the key word, and thus the word 'weed' has nothing to do with structure, composition, function, process or any other objective observation of vegetation.

If you value those plants, then by definition they are not 'weeds'. 

J.P. Grime calls them 'Ruderal' and they are the evidence of disturbance.. they are typically short lived, and their reproductive strategy is seed-focussed... as they devote more energy to root spread, like rhizomes, they become what Grime's calls 'Competitors' which increasingly dominate in low stress, low disturbance environments .  I don't think you can 'do permaculture' without developing strategies for incorporating ruderal species.  All vegetables are ruderal species, by any functional definition, the plants you folks are describing as weeds are vegetables.  The conventional gardening process involves disturbance and encourages ruderal species.  Herbaceous plant communities with their seasonal growth and die back combined with lots of worms and thus burrowing mammals have natural small scale disturbance cycles. 

In our systems our gardening is the common 'disturbance regime' and in our gardens the balance of 'ruderal' to 'competitor' strategy species shifts from zone 1 outward... It seems to me that more intensive permaculture gardens have to do with loading the vegetation with peferred ruderals while strategically excluding undesired competitors with the minimun disturbance necessary to maintain the system.

I think this particular branch of vegetation ecology has a lot to offer permaculture -- there are lots of ways to talk about diversity, stress, disturbance and vegetation pattern that mixes veg. ecology theory and permaculture design.
 
Jordan Lowery
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I especially want dandelion


simple, find the most clay soil you have. compact it some with your feet, and then plant dandelion seed. step on the seeds to make good contact with soil and water well.

purslane like dry areas, it grows best here over a light rock mulch and in our paths. does well under corn too.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I will try that, thank you! 
 
                                              
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  Im trialing I dont even know, maybe about 150-200 varieties encompassing many species. That is just for the edible greens. i want to be able to get a salad of a blend of things any day of the year that we dont have snow cover. some are more spinach like and need cooked so theres really two sections for this. one for the salad, and the other for greens to cook with. also for animals, both my chickens and fish will eat many of these.

  Many other projects Ive got to, but this one is particularly fun. it ws real hard tracking down seeds for these things. I should put a list together. Hopefully i will have seeds to trade in the fall. depends if i get enough for my uses.

  I agree with everything you said paul. It was more for dramatic effect. I did usually put "weeds" in quotes so as to distinguish that they arent really weeds in this set up, and im crowding out what i do consider weeds. Even those may have uses for others.
 
maikeru sumi-e
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
      Im new here, so perhaps this topic has come up, but I didnt happen across it yet and being early early spring for me Im thinking of it lately.

      Im in new mexico. Pretty harsh compared to where I am from originally. when i first started gardening here I realized I also had meaner weeds in my beds. they were all real fast to set deep taproots, so I did still compost them, but they were usually woody, so they took a good amount of time to break down. everything you needed gloves to pull, and often a shovel.

      So I was experimenting with things like purslane, pigsweed, amaranth, dandelions, lamsquarters, and some others, as low water alternatives for my "greens". These things then spread on their own somewhat, all being heavy seeders. So far they've only spread to places I have improved.

      this has had a VERY interesting effect. Now about roughly 60 percent of my "weeds" are these other things. I dont seem to have a higher amount of weeds in my beds, its just I have different ones. So now when i pull weeds i get to eat them!!! These all also compost better and will make a good food for chickens and my fish. they are all a bit easier to pull as well, if for no other reason then they can be handled without gloves.

     


You can have your weeds and eat them too.
 
                                              
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maikeru wrote:
You can have your weeds and eat them too.


Yep.   

 
 
Jeff Hodgins
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I find the use of winter active crops realy reduce weed problems. At my home plot we have Burmuda grass wich grows like a horasontal vine. I am observing a reduction of the grass since the introduction of ryegrass, clover and quinoa. The amount of barnyard grass has increased since I stopped tilling three years ago.
 
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