Should I really be weeding?

I know I ask a lot of questions, and I hope that it is okay.

So, I have been working on weeding my garden more the last couple of days, but nearly every plant that would be considerered a weed, has known medical or edible value. I weed out the vetch, but it is a nitrogen fixer. Should I leave some to grow? And then I have been pulling out lots of other edible weeds (lemon sorrel, fish mint, etc) and adding them to salads and such. I am removing weeds so that I can plant the seedlings of the edible plants that I bought.

I am definitley not wasting the edible weeds. But it is a lot of work to pull them all up, when I would prefer to just pull out as I want that particular weed for medical or flavor purposes.

Besides the vetch, there is one plant that I can`t figure out yet (plus a mystery rumex plant).

The native weeds will take over the planted seedlings if I don`t remove them, but since they are edible as well...

Leaving the weeds would certainly be easier, but would look a lot messier...

Any thoughts?


  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,980 ✭✭✭✭✭

    You have to decide whether each garden bed is there to grow wild plants that have a medicinal or flavoring use, or to grow food for you and your family. It's okay to have some beds be one and some the other.

    Food plants have been selected over decades and centuries to produce larger edible parts, more calories, and better taste. But to accomplish that, they have been bred for softer stems and leaves, less bitter toxins, and more need for good soil and less competition.

    In short, food plants don't handle competition from weeds very well. If you want a decent amount of food from these plants, you have to weed.

    Some plants resist weeds better than others. I grow lettuce closely spaced in a dense planting, and thin it by harvesting as it grows. I've had no trouble with weeds getting through that.

    Onions, on the other hand, cannot tolerate any competition at all. You have to aggressively keep competitors away by frequent weeding.

    So if you want vetch, mint, sorrel, and so forth, do it in designated beds that don't have your primary food crops growing there.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,513 admin

    @Kuri and Kona Asking questions is perfectly fine. That's how everyone learns.

    My thoughts are that you are doing well by using these edible weeds. Some will compete far too much for them to be allowed to flourish in your garden. Others may not cause such issues, so could be left.

    I think @VermontCathy gave you excellent advice.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,537 ✭✭✭✭✭

    When you get to know your weeds better ( a weed is a misunderstood plant - most of the time ;) you will be able to decide which you should leave and yes, some plants will compete with your veggies too much and need to be removed. And I always make sure I remove a seed head from a weed. No sense in making more work further down the road.

    I tend to mulch my soil to keep in moisture and keep the unwanted weeds under control

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,456 admin

    I never worry about the looks of a garden. In spring planting, I turn the topsoil over so all weeds get turned under into the soil. Then, I seed or transplant and put on a layer of mulch. That and dense spacing prevents most weeding during the season. I keep some areas wild and harvest edible and medicinal weeds from there. Some plants, like dandelion, I intentionally plant in the garden so the leaves grow large and tender. So, it is really a matter of balance for me - minimizing work, having a lot of variety and making sure intentionally planted sprouts and seedlings have a chance to get established. Then, I don't worry about it much - just knock everything down int he fall and let it rot in place.

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @VermontCathy Your post helped me so much. I feel wasteful pulling out weeds that I know can be eaten (even though I am going to eat them), but I would rather be using the space to grow things like tomato and eggplant. Like you said, there is more calorie value in the crops that I plant. I think that I will leave small corners/ amounts of useful weeds, but pull up weeds that are growing around plants. Thank you for helping me put things into perspective.

    @Monek Marie Mulching is one of those things that I keep hearing about, but have not taken the plunge yet on. I think I shouldn`t mulch during rainy season, but maybe afterwards, when the weather is hot and dry, it would be a good idea? I also liked your fomment about `getting to know your weeds,` as if they were going to become friends. 😊

    @LaurieLovesLearning Thank you. I am going to try to not ask too many questions at once, but I will keep asking then! And since I bought the seeds for the garden, I can`t let the weeds take over the vegetables that I paid money for (the seeds).

  • Kuri and Kona
    Kuri and Kona Posts: 177 ✭✭✭

    @judsoncarroll4 I like your relaxed attitude towards gardening. It is never going to be 'perfect,' and maybe it shouldn`t be.

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