I have long been a mulch junkie such that my garden has been built with lawn clippings. It is now a rich loam chock full of life. It is spongy and worm dense.
Hypothetically any weed 'problem' was simply blanketed with more mulch.
But with the recent drought conditions my working template fell apart. I was now overhead watering and my mulch supply -- via the 'Mower Men' of my acquaintance --dropped off to nothing.
Then the Tradescantia (Wandering jew) invaded.
With the recent weather I've got a major Trad Happening outback.
How much of a problem is this, I ask myself? What have I done to deserve such weedy abundance?
Other weeds are easy to manage but Wandering Jew keeps wandering no matter how much of it you pull out.
The chooks love the stuff. I make a great brew of weed tea with it (if I can say so myself).
But this time around the weed has gone crazy.
While I chop it back and pull it out -- not that you can ever get all of it -- I'm beginning to learn to live with it.
The irony of Tradescantia is that despite its contagiousness, it is remarkably easy to pull out. Grab a good hand or sickle full and pull! It inhabits the soil so very lightly.
So I am forced to ask: what harm is it doing?
Maybe I can use it as a cover crop?
I've not found anyone celebrating Wandering Jew this way. It's really a bit 'out there' to even suggest it -- unless you were Peter Andrews.
This weed may now be carpeting so many beds but my veges are doing fine growing within it. There is a problem with shading as the Trad builds up and thickens, but otherwise I'm finding I can intervene at my leisure.
Mulching with lawn clippings doesn't suppress Trad. Mulching with Vetiver does.
Of course there is a feral POV that weeds are good -- just a plant out of place -- but if you are hosting a Tradescantia monoculture it isn't easy to be so generous.
And is embarrassing in front of visitors.
This article really does lay down the joy of weeds:MANAGING WEEDS AS COVER CROPS.
As its author,Eric Koperek , argues:
Sell your plows, disks and harrows — you don’t need them. Grow weeds or other cover crops and leave the fungi alone. Open the soil just enough to get seeds or transplants into the ground. Further disturbance cuts profits and yields.
Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that we leave weeds alone and I definitely don't argue to let Trad be...but methinks that as weeds go, Tradescantia makes for a pretty good cover crop.
There are better ones of course. But a weed in the hand is worth two in the next paddock. Or , at least, the weed you know is better than the one you don't.
Anyone who has mowed Trad knows how much of a green smoothie it can be turned into. Why waste all that goodness? When you cut it with a brush cutter or mower you often get steam -- the creeper's leaves and stems are so succulent, you see.
So pull and drop is OK -- but the Trad will prevail again if you drop them in situ.
Get used to it.
I don't have a mower. I cut whatever little grass I have with an electric WhipperSnipper. I'm definitely not 'anal' when it comes to grasses and weeds. I am in no way a 'lawn' person.
But I'm going to transition to a more robust technology (above) and deploy it on my beds as well as the verges and grasses.
This device will certainly facilitate my Vetiver harvest.
The pending option, you see, is to treat you garden beds as grazed paddocks. Trim the weeds by all means . Mulch them/mulch the soil. But don't get obsessed with pulling them out and wasting them.
I may not be planting many speciality cover crops like legumes ( but I do have a few peanuts in the mix). I am, instead, making do with what's there.
All I have to do now is tell the fam ,and any others ,that the jungle I call a vegey patch is not a mess, but managed cropping with ground cover.
Not that I urge you to eat Tradescantia (although my chooks love it) but you may have read this story which is definitely food for thought:Study: Weeds are More Nutritious than Store-Bought Produce
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