Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I've been following the discussion under Lissa's photo of her Paw Paw tree. Now the topic has turned to weeds and it's time to make a new heading before the collective wisdom is lost in the photo section.


Joseph mentioned the R word ...


Roundup? :-O I've used buckets of the stuff over the years :-( Every time when I've felt I was overwhelmed by weeds (before I knew there are many plusses to weeds) I whacked everything in sight. What always followed were more and new weeds after a month or two without anything growing at all. After some years I have worked out that glyphosate (the active ingredient) must sterilize the soil somehow - it is touted as being 'broken down by the soil micro-organisms' and well it might be but there's always a period of no-growth. So I wonder that it kills the soil micro-organisms and these microscopic critters are the basis upon which soil fertility is built. I do know that 'weeds' can get the better of you and probably we were all taught to have everything tidy including gardens. So it is natural to want to shift plants which are 'out of place'.


Some species e.g. couch grass invade our gardens and we need to pull them out or they will take over our food plants. But many species can be just snipped off at ground level. If the plants are flowering when they are snipped, they can be made into 'weed tea', the sludge goes into the compost or just on the garden and mostly the seeds will rot. However ... there is a philosophy about that whatever nutrient/s are lacking in an area, the appropriate plant will arrive to correct that lack. So I've learned to relax even about plants which are seeding all over the place. So far there has not been a total take-over by any one species, although currently Chick Weed is having a good go at it! But even it is only a winter annual and will disappear by itself come the warm weather.

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Apologies for the R word :O! To clarify, I never use it on the lawn or near my edibles. I either pull those out or cheat by covering new weed growth with mulch and depraving them of sunlight. Roundup is used on weeds growing in cracks where the house meets tile and/or concrete. Tearing at those tend to leave the roots intact and with all the rain we've had, they reappear in no time. Plus one side of my house is a jungle (again) so it's a never ending battle to suppress the uninvited vegetation, so much so my pressurised spray bottle is called B52.

Interestingly, for me at least there are certain 'weeds' which are visually unappealing. However the worst is a plant that produced daisy-like flowers which morph into balls of little black needles that love nothing more than to attach themselves to clothing, which eventually end up in places where they shouldn't be. I've learnt to recognise even the smallest seedling of that plant and they are the first to be destroyed.

I only have myself to blame I think... My weed problem used to be minimal, I always feed the weed to my chooks let them turn the soil and break down... My chook pen have the most fertile ane composted soil so I start to incorporate them onto my veggie patch (big mistake).

The weeds fed to the chook contain seed head which get mixed into the soil... As soon as the condition become ideal (in my veggie patch) it start to grow... Now I have weeds every where... In between my shallot and garlic which I can't really assess to clear, so I just leave it be... But I walk around with and snip off any flower head I can see, I am just hoping they will die down eventually..

I have also stop feeding the chooks weed with flower and seed head... I am not going to stop using the wonderful soil in the pen, just need to watch what I throw in and deal with the weed when it come up...
Follow-up to Lissa's comment on weeds here, the Isabell Shipard book on Self-Sufficiency is the best source I've found so far. There is good descriptions but still not a lot of photographs and it's not a neat field guide. The freebie weed book is directed at ridding farms of 'weeds' and does not look favourably on any of them.


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