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.
steve bossie wrote:we have alot of junk fish species in our waters here. i catch 100 of them . put in a sealable barrel w some molasses and let them ferment for 3 months. leave the lid a little lose for gas to escape. even the bones disappear. makes the best fish emulsion!
Ryan Sanders wrote:I am also on the long patient journey to more shade and wind protection in a dry climate. I would definitely second the nursery idea. It has been really easy and allows me to cheaply grow more locally adapted perennials. I just make a point of collecting seeds in the fall.
I have adopted a couple strategies:
-Plant the riparian zones: shade begets shade, so move the edge out slowly. I can mostly neglect these plantings.
-Drip irrigation for perennial establishment in full sun. I run one poly pipe with drippers that can be connected to a garden hose a few times a year when the trees are stressed. Even plant spacing means you can reuse for a new row once established.
-Individual larger plants: These get babied often watered by hand with 6"+ of mulch. I only plant a couple per year, so they can get the necessary attention.
From a pioneer species perspective, locusts and siberian pea shrub have been the top performers outside the riparian zone.
Tyler Ludens wrote:
Even annuals are slow-growing in your locale? I planted native wildflower seed in one bald spot on my place and they made complete cover in a couple seasons with no irrigation. Some were annuals, some perennials. Shrubs and trees are much slower.