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Florence and I recently attended a weed walk hosted by Caboolture Seed Savers at Northey Street City Farm.  A lot of great information was provided, it was focused on the nutritional benefits of weeds rather than from a gardener perspective.

I discovered that there is a FREE service available to the public to identify weeds.  They can be taken to the Brisbane herbarium to be identified either three over the counter, or up to 10 plants can be sent via post under the correct guidelines.

There are a couple of books that looked really interesting and I will be borrowing them from the library to see if they are worth investing in. 

Does anyone know if there is such a thing as information about WHY particular weeds grow and what deficiency / problem they are indicating exists.. preferably a book with pictures. 

To try and clarify what I mean, basically I want a picture of the weed and then information such as if it is shallow or deep rooted, what kind of soil it prefers and if there is any pH they prefer etc.  Also ideally if there is an edible alternative that can be planted in that location that will do the same job as what nature wants the weed to do.

I remember Anthony talking about it once, something like deep tap root weeds are found on heavily compacted soil and are natures way of correcting an imbalance... they can therefore be replaced with other tap root vegetables such as carrots to perform the same job. 

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Wish there were such a book Donna! I had bought a book from Green Harvest Weeds and What They Tell (or similar) by Ehrenfried Pfeiffer. Turns out he was one of the contempories of Rudolf Steiner and an influential figure in early Biodynamics. However ... he's German and the weeds he described and the not-very-clear illustrations seemed to depict species I have never seen - so it was more about cold-climate weeds than any plants we're likely to see here. Subsequently I sold the book on eBay to a woman in Tasmania who probably has a lot of the weeds he covered.

Currently my only printed reference is Gardener's Companion to Weeds by Ermert and Clapp. Published in 1998 but all the advice is conventional. The illustrations are photos and none too clear. Not a book I recommend! The Library service is bound to have something useful and maybe even more up to date in its outlook. I'll check with the Moreton Library service and if there's anything which sounds interesting, I'll let you know.

Anthony may know of a book or some online references which expand on what he was talking about. It sounds like a *most* interesting attitude and one which will repay further study. I'd be interested to know, too!
Searching the Moreton Regional Libraries catalogue reveals a couple of dozen titles some of which may be useful and some are even in the DBay Library - which of course is not open at this time on a Saturday afternoon! Although the MRL is a combo of 3 shire libraries, the Brisbane City Council Library has a very comprehensive collection of just about any topic you care to think about. You're sure to find one or more books in the BCC Library which would be conventional weed books but be of some use.

I've had some experiments going here with allowing weeds free reign. In a nutshell - you can have the best of both worlds by cutting the weeds off at ground level just as they are about to flower. Considered to be the time when the plants are at their most nutritious.

Recently at Bunnings while surveying their hand garden tools, I saw the perfect tool for controlling weeds. This is a Friskars shears on long handles with the head being able to be moved at many angles. It makes chopping the weeds off at ground-level, dare I say it, a snip ;-) At around the $100 mark this is an investment in future fertility and a most satisfying instrument to use. Needs to be kept sharp!
It could be worth while looking up info on Biodynamics as I was told a while ago that the different types of weeds gowing in the back yard are an indicator of what nutrients your soil is missing - I can't remember the types of weeds though. I will ask Janna at our next meeting I am sure that she will have the answer.
Right, then I will put a link to this on Anthony's page and see if he can help me *again*!
aaahhhh so we have found the true and realistic concept that weeds are our friends and fantastic indicators of as above so below factor, thats great..........
weeds are the first infantry ranks in the army of nature, they not only as suggested can show whats happening but they are solely responsible for kick starting a system biologically that will correct the problems.
The first thing to understand is that natures consideration of what is needed (in the sense of a holistic fix) is not always what you might have in plan, for a certain area.
Elaine is on the money again as Ehrenfried Pfeiffer along with Maria Thund were the heart and soul of the biodynamics teachings a wealth of knowledge, I would suggest incredibly interesting and enlightening reading . Steiner relied on these two amazing people to scientifically backup the whole BD thing, all the way through to planetary influence which Thund was able to achieve in the field of metallurgy anyway I digress.
The regime of weeds if understood can be a fantastic help to the gardener/farmer, the second thing to take into consideration is what is a particular weed trying to accomplish by its mere existence.
Ok lets start with the obvious and simple to remember...... in disturbed soil the structure has been sent into a kaotic state and so the first weeds will have one of two purposes to cover a bare soil or if its covered to create structure or organisation. let me put it this way in the wild when there is a soil disturbance the first weeds will be ground hugging broad leaf (cover and protect) the second will be soft short burs or thorny species (they are to spread the coverage to every place that they are needed and to disway critters from digging up the area as well as start the organisation process structure) the next will be hard woody mid sized species ( they are the beginning of creating mulch, a place where other seeds can lodge become protected and germinate and increase the depth of restructuring) the next will be tall or rambling species ( they are to up the protection and mulch rate, also creating deep rooted structure porosity and organisation protecting the soil and making ready for new pioneer species trees of the new forest) the pioneers thrive in this environment and regeneration is well on its way.
As indicators they will usually not indicate what is not there so easily but they will indicate imbalance in the NPK or mineral, element/ trace element and nutritional structure. Remember nature does not do something for no reason. Donna Looks like the interest is there so, we may even look at doing a short book on the subject as I don't know of any one point of reference to this subject, not for this country anyway, what do you think?
I will go into this in detail soon if you would like I will do a thing on GTT if thats OK.
Great explanation, Anthony :-) But what is GTT?

There's two books available from the ABC by Peter Andrews about natural regeneration with farms - not easy to extrapolate to 600 sq metres - but the weed info is fabulous. But, he does not go into weeds in any specific way and he's mainly worked down south so his weeds are not necessarily our weeds in the sense we still don't quite know what the weeds say except in general terms.

If it is of any use, I would be very interested in helping out with any kind of reference material Anthony has in mind. Desktop publishing is one of my minor skills ;-) My observations here in my small plot of suburbia may be of some use perhaps.

It may not be necessary to dissect the reasons for a particular species appearance but to take the overall picture into account. Fine detail might be a complicating issue which does not do us much service in the long run. Better perhaps is to observe the weeds and cut them off at the appropriate time, leaving the roots in the ground storing carbon and encouraging micro-organisms and leave the tops to cover the ground and rot down.

There's some weeds I'm not keen on, Bindii and some enthusiastic self-layering grasses being two. I pull out the Bindys before they set seed (if I'm quick) and some of those grasses are tough hombres which I pull out too and leave to dry on the surface. There's still some weeding to do but nothing like what I was doing, spending hours digging out all that fantastic organic matter and then sometimes making weed tea but usually either composting or (gasp!) chucking into the rubbish bin.

Each gardener is going to view these plants in a different light and probably have a different set of personal rules for dealing with them. But viewing them as a gift from the Universe rather than a curse to be rooted out goes a long way to becoming comfortable with living with them.

Lesson number 1: Do not leave the land bare!

I totally buggered my sloping front foot-path (the council's land therefore we all own it) by pulling out the weeds. It scoured out where there was no grass. I've used Zoysia sp. (no mow grass) which is a slow-grower but as tough as old boots and with an extensive root system. Subsequently I've re-planted those bare scoured areas with more grass and covered it with pine bark. With all that rain it has not scoured any more and one day the pine bark will get removed and there'll be grass growing where formerly there was none. I've added weed-tea too so that helps a bit I hope.
Elaine, GTT is Anthony's Group on Brisbane Local Food - 'Green Tech Talk' :)
Anthony that would be great! I think it would certainly help others if there was some sort of reference material and like Elaine can help out and pull it together. Look forward to hearing more via GTT :)
Also if the ground is very compacted/ lacking in structure there can be another stage of deep tap-rooted weeds (which can also act as pumps for minerals from the subsoil), before the woody weeds show up.
That's true Scarlet, there is interplay in the dynamic systems within systems like dialing up different knobs on a control panel delivering the best possible actioning, depending on the problem within a climate, ecosystem in place, relevant biodiversity and history of any given requirement.
(Just like the cellular / muscle memory in a sentient being when being diagnosed and treated for dis-ease or well being energetically mind, body, soul) just wanted to keep it simple to start.
this is quite a complex field to get the head around on many levels.......
What A is trying to say in a nice way is he has to keep it simple for the dummies (ie ME) lol!
There's a lot to be said for the K.I.S.S. principle! ;-)


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