Friday, June 1, 2012
Why I Love Pulling Weeds
What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878
One of my favorite activities is wandering around my garden with a basket to collect weeds. Instead of annoyances, I see each dandelion or clump of crab grass as food harvested for my compost bin. (Enter the chorus of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”… da-dum, da-da da-da da-dum…).
Here are the top three reasons I love weeds:
1. Weeds are a great source of nitrogen and carbon. With a good carbon to nitrogen balance (20:1) fresh weeds only need a small amount of brown material to strike the perfect carbon to nitrogen ratio (30:1 for those number geeks).
2. Fresh weeds (I love that phrase) help bury my food waste in the pile to avoid flies. This is especially handy when I’m running low on brown leaves.
3. More material into the compost bin = MORE FINISHED COMPOST!
Before I get too mushy about my love of weeds, let me say there are a few that really get under my skin (figuratively and literally).
When we first purchased the house, our yard was overrun by euonymus (think of the southern kudzu problem but on a smaller scale) and that sneaky vine still fills in every available open space. It takes for-ev-er to decompose and even when chopped into bits it will start growing out of the compost bin!
Poison ivy is another “weed” I could live without. Personally, I feel that calling poison ivy a ‘weed’ is like calling the Black Death that ‘bug going around.’ All I have to do is look at the stuff and I break out in itchy red bumps. Poison ivy may be the only plant not welcome in my beloved compost bin.
On a lighter note, I don’t worry too much about composting weeds that have seeded. When you compost weed seeds you risk planting the seeds when you spread the finished compost. I figure weeds are going to grow anyway and I obviously enjoy pulling them so the dandelions go in, puff balls and all.
I managed to reference Emerson, Monty Python, and the Black Death in the same post, I think it’s going to be a good Friday!