In Permaculture, the Natural Garden, Organic Farms and Small Farms there really are not to many weeds considered to be obnoxious, although there are the ones that really seem to present a problem. Growing and cultivating all seems to become so much easier once we begin to work with nature instead of against it.
Most native annual type of weeds actually benefit the garden and our ecosystems in more than one way. In the photo, Giant Ragweed has been cut and dropped between the newly sown crops. It adds much back to the soil as a green manure as it also smothers out the obnoxious grass and unwanted weeds. This makes for a nice path between the rows and restrains any grass and weeds from growing up into the beds.
It is crucial that only Native Plants for your region be grown. Invasive, non-native and exotic plants endanger our ecosystems. To find out the best natives to grow in your region visit one of the Best Native Plant Data Bases available online.
For most annual weeds it is far better to cut and chop them down for use rather than pulling them out by the roots. Leaving the roots to rot in the soil helps to loosen and open up the soil, making it healthier and easier to work. Deep rooted weeds will actually help pull up nutrients from the soil that will benefit nearby shallow rooted plants that you want to keep.
Keeping nature in balance naturally is significant. We surely do not want our property to be consumed by weeds, especially weeds such as Giant Ragweed. The trick is knowing when they bloom and go to seed. It is as simple as harvesting them beforehand where you don't want them growing and letting them seed out where they are not bothersome. One of our favorite places has been in back of the barn and along the edges of our pasture. Although they spread by wind, controlling them in this manner will keep them at a minimum.
Giant Ragweed or Horseweed, as it is sometimes called can grow to be nearly 12 to 15 ft as our native in SE Texas. Although there are many different varieties of Ragweed, most do not get this large.
Giant Ragweed is on the top of the list as one on the most common natives being eradicated with Herbicides by American Farmers commercially in the U.S.. An example of this would be GMO corn and Soy. Ragweed is in turn grown commercially for pollen collection and manufactured for Pharmaceutical Companies for the treatment of allergies.
Research has been done for over 30 years proving that Organic and Sustainable Growing Methods are healthier and out preform Conventional Methods that rely on Herbicides and Chemical Fertilizers.
Historically, Ragweed was prized and even cultivated by Pre-Columbian North American Indians. Researchers have found however that the cultivars during the earlier periods had seeds 4 to 5 times larger than our modern day natives and might indicate selective breeding by the Indians. They were valued then and still are today for the oils from the seed that are said to have better drying properties than Soya Beans.
The plant has been cultivated by the Native Americans for medicinal purposes as well as a food source. It is said that the leaves are very highly astringent and have been used externally to heal wounds and insect bites. It is also said that the leaves are made into a tea for treating all sorts of ailments such as fever and colds.Working with Nature Instead of Against it
While there are so many different species of Native Plants and many considered a weed, we must take notice of the importance they all have within our ecosystems. It is a major concern the loss of diversity that is happening throughout our country.
Loss of habitat has been largely due to development and agriculture. The heavy use of herbicides and chemicals is wiping it all out at an alarming rate as well.
The are so many choices and methods available for controlling weeds naturally. Finding the one that works best for you is at your fingertips.
The understanding of native weeds and plants is important for people who want to do what is best for our ecosystems and for a healthier future.
Ragweed is well know to be a huge source of winter seed for many bird species. Ragweed plants are also used by many butterflies and moths. Many other natives considered to be weeds are important for our endangered populations of Bees.
Everything connects together and by preserving our natives and our wildlife we also ensure a healthy environment for our own food futures.