Daron Williams wrote:I don't mind weeds and I tend to let them be (with a few very specific exceptions). But my view is that weeds are not the "perfect" plant. Nature works with what it has available but nature does not always have a complete toolbox to work with. I'm going to have fun with this analogy
There are many native plants who's populations have been eliminated from an area due to past human activities to the point that even the seeds are not present. These could be seen as lost tools.
There are also non-native plants that are not available. These could be seen as new tools that nature could try new things with.
The weeds are often the common plants that were introduced by humans. Though there are also plenty of native plants that people consider to be weeds. Weeds are the most available "tool" for nature to use to increase the abundance of a site.
But if I bring in other plants that I have identified through study and observation (perhaps observing other sites with similar conditions but different plant communities) then I can provide nature with new tools for the toolbox that might result in more abundance.
If these new tools are a better fit for the job then they will thrive at the site and spread.
To me nature is like an master builder who has lost most of the tools in the toolbox. As a master builder nature can do amazing things with what is left. But by bringing in new plants I can provide nature with a much better toolbox resulting in even more amazing things being built.
So I don't mind the weeds but I also don't think they are perfect. I think they represent nature doing the best work possible with that is available.
I see my roll in all of this as an assistant (or funder?) who can bring in new tools for nature to use. Sometimes these tools get thrown out but often they get used and result in more abundance than would have otherwise been there. Though often that abundance is created in a way that is different than what I expected. I provide the tools but nature wields them.
When I do remove "weeds" it is because sometimes the site just needs a bit of disturbance to provide space for true abundance to take shape. Disturbance in nature is not a negative if it does not repeat too often and is not too intense.
I also chop-and-drop and even remove plants that I planted once they filled their role in creating abundance. An example is shifting a site from being dominated by support species to being dominated by food producing species as a site matures.
Going back to the toolbox analogy sometimes while nature has done its best to create a masterpiece the available tools may have just been lacking. By creating some disturbance (removing some of the "weeds") and also providing nature with a larger toolbox I can help nature rebuild and create something even more amazing than before.
For me it comes down to avoiding treating this issue as black and white. I don't like it when people want to remove all weeds for no real reason other than the plant is a "weed". But I also think you can go too far the other way and never remove/replace a weed even when doing so could result in more abundance.
I like looking at each situation and figuring out what path will lead to the most abundance and act accordingly.
Anne Miller wrote:Most plants have some things to offer the world. What I consider the weed I dislike most has edible seed pods and is a great ground cover.
Many people are rethinking the usefulness of what many call weeds. Look at the lowly dandelion, for example.