We don’t dig but we do weed and under the biodynamic system we disturb the top couple of inches of soil to allow the cosmic energy in. So we weed each bed on a roughly 9 day cycle which does not allow weeds much chance. However, we are very tolerant of some weeds and even choose to allow them to flourish and use them in our system as food we can eat. So what are these weeds and how do we use them?
Firstly a word about plants which are not weeds. Above is a picture of our three sisters bed which utilises the qualities of eatable plants. Sweet corn supports the beans, which feed nitrogen to the corns and squash covers the ground, keeping in moisture and suppressing weeds. Nothing is in rows and it becomes a dense lush jungle which needs almost no weeding.
We often have rogue potatoes growing from last years missed crop and we always make a decision on whether they should be weeded or allowed to grow. Here are some amongst the onion crop, and also some amaranth. Because the onions are about to be harvested then we are allowing them to grow on and provide a bonus crop later. The bed does not look neat but that is not our first priority. We are after all about Self Sufficiency so what it delivers is more important than appearance. Similarly when we eat we do not eat first with our eyes like so many people but concentrate on the flavour and health benefits.
Meanwhile in amongst the potato bed we have tree spinach which has self set and is providing both ground cover for the potatoes as well as a useful cash crop which we sell to the Dean Forest Food Hub. You can also see some sunflowers that have found their way in. We love these for their aesthetic beauty as well as food for the birds.
Here we have some amaranth plants which have self set in and alongside the leek rows, and so because the leeks are slow growers we have weeded those in the rows but allowed the others which are in clear ground to grow on and provide a free crop.
Another “weed” we enjoy to eat is nasturtium and these rarely compete with other food crops and the leaves are good spicy salad, the flowers are a lovely edible garnish and the seeds a good alternative to capers.
Poppies add little food opportunity but add so much to the enjoyment of being in the garden and we leave them be unless they are interfering with another crop.
A weed is defined as an unwanted plant in the wrong place so we choose what we allow to grow and what we pull out. And in our garden it is always on the basis of its nourishment value and beauty is also nourishment for our hearts.