More than just a weed
Weeding is one of the most tedious chores in the garden, especially if you are pulling them by hand, one at a time. It means spending hours kneeling or crouching, bent over your garden, and it leaves you with stiff, sore muscles and an aching back. However, there are useful weeds that you should leave alone.
Don’t eradicate your weeds, manage them. Many of us learn that weeds are bad when it comes to gardening and that complete eradication is ideal. If you are not organically inclined, you might want to achieve a total wipe-out using herbicides. Having weeds overrunning your garden and choking the life out of your other plants is not an ideal situation, but rather try a management plan instead of complete removal. At a low density, weeds can provide several benefits for your garden, such as:
- Prevent erosion. When you remove weeds and plant crops only, the soil has very little left to hold it in place. Any amount of rain causes topsoil to run off even the slightest slope. Weed roots keep the soil in place, minimizing erosion and soil loss.
- Conserve nutrients. Erosion is not the only issue with uncovered soil. When soil is bare and exposed to the elements, it loses nutrients, especially nitrogen.
- Indicate soil conditions. Weeds are excellent indicators of the condition of your soil. From clues that the weeds give you, you can learn about the compaction, water levels, nutrient levels and pH of your soil.
- Provide food for birds by leaving some weeds intact. They will then leave your other plants in peace.
- Add nutrients. A common reason for getting rid of weeds in the garden is that they compete with your plants for nutrients in the soil. Many weeds, however, actually enhance the nutrient content of your soil. For example, those with very long taproots bring up nutrients from deep down, enriching the shallower soil in which your vegetables grow. Weed roots also act to break up hard and dense soil, making it more arable for your plants.
- Stretch our plant roots. The roots of some vegetable plants will use nearby weeds to travel deeper into the soil than they would be able to do alone. Tomatoes and corn both do this.
- Insect repellent. Weeds near your valuable crop plants can protect them from pests by repelling them with their scent or masking the desirable smell of your plants.
- Provide protection from sun and wind for more sensitive or smaller plants.
Many weeds are edible and rich in vitamins and minerals. If needed, Efekto has a good range of herbicides.
Consult your local nursery for advice on the correct product for the job. Maria Nel
Ferreira’s Garden Centre
Efekto: Riaan Momberg
Cell: 081 124 0288