Weeds are more than an annoying problem in your garden. They are also unattractive and challenging to eliminate. If you do not use proper methods to prevent them, they can mess up your yard and even vegetables. But not all weeds are bad.
Some have positive uses or effects and can act as friendly plants to the vegetables you have grown on your small home farm. Most beneficial weeds can help to fertilize the soil, increase moisture, and repel pests.
Also, some weeds act as food sources. You can eat their stems, leaves, and flowers either cooked or raw. Although weeds can be useful to your garden, avoid planting them in your garden purposely. With a few exceptions, many can grow together with your vegetables without causing any harm.
Top 10 most beneficial weeds and their uses
The following is a list of ten useful weeds and their uses.
1. Bashful Mimosa
Bashful mimosa, also known as touch-me-not or sleepy plant, is a creeping annual or perennial flowering plant. It grows on soils that have low nutrient concentrations. That means when it sprouts in your garden, you need to test your soil to determine the nutrients that it lacks.
Furthermore, when growing in an area, it changes the physicochemical properties of the soil. As a result, it increases the value of nitrogen and potassium in the garden. As one of the many beneficial weeds on a small farm, it provides ground cover for vegetables like peppers and tomatoes.
2. Broadleaf Plantain
Broadleaf plantains grow almost anywhere. You will find them in cracks in sidewalks, roadsides, and meadows. When they grow on garden beds and lawns, they will accumulate several minerals that are beneficial to your vegetables. These include magnesium, iron, sulfur, calcium, and silicon.
When broadleaf plantain grows in your garden, it will enrich the soil and attract beneficial soil organisms. It is also one of the many weeds with medicinal qualities. It helps to improve digestion, enhance wound healing, and lower inflammation.
Chickweed grows in distributed soils and tilled areas. Whenever it sprouts on your farm, it indicates low fertility in that space. One of the benefits of the plant is that it can help to accumulate phosphorous and potassium, which are essential for strong rooting and vegetative growth.
Furthermore, it tends to attract insects or pollinators that are searching for nectar. Apart from benefiting your garden, chickweed is one of the many edible weeds found in gardens. You can eat its flowers and leaves either raw or cooked.
The clover is a small annual, biennial, or short-lived perennial herbaceous plant. It grows freely in garden vegetables and tends to shoot up even after repeated mowing. Clovers are beneficial weeds because their flowers attract pollinators.
Clovers are legumes that host a lot of bacteria. The bacteria fix nitrogen in the soil and help to fertilize nearby plants. Furthermore, it provides ground cover for plants like broccoli and cabbages, thus allowing them to retain water in the soil.
Many people consider the common dandelion an annoying weed. However, it is one of the most useful weeds that can grow in your vegetable garden. The dandelion is the most visited plant by pollinators. It helps to restore the mineral content of the soil.
The plant can also create drainage pathways in compact soils, both of which are essential for a healthy garden. Dandelions have a taproot system. It helps to break up hard soil and goes deep into the ground to bring up nutrients that many garden plants cannot reach.
Mugwort is one of the most challenging weeds to eradicate when it invades your lawn or vegetable garden. But despite its undesirability, it has many applications and benefits on your small home farm. The plant helps to absorb heavy metals such as iron from the soil.
It prevents soil erosion, thus allowing your vegetables to hold onto the soil and grow well. At the same time, it helps to nourish the soil that lacks nutrients. Mugwort is also a medicinal plant. Traditionally, people have used it to treat stomach and intestinal problems such as gas, constipation, and diarrhea.
Pennycress is an annual flowering plant that grows to a height of 60 centimeters with upright branches. It is one of the beneficial weeds for home gardens because you can use it as part of comprehensive weed management. In other words, it can provide ground cover and suppress aggressive spring germinating weeds like the giant ragweed.
Furthermore, the plant grows well in soils that have a lot of metallic minerals. Some of these metallic minerals include arsenic, lead, and nickel. When it sprouts, it will decrease the levels of these minerals from your garden.
Pigweed grows in farm fields where owners have already cultivated. Also, you will find them in gardens where gardeners used excessive chemical fertilizers. The advantage of having them sprout in your vegetable garden is they help to improve the quality of the soil.
As one of the good weeds in your garden, it has deep roots, which accumulate nutrients such as phosphorus, calcium, manganese, potassium, and nitrogen. Pigweeds also tend to loosen the soil. That is useful in providing a better footing for germinated roots, and help nutrients, water, and oxygen to reach the roots.
Starflower or borage is a common weed that grows in gardens annually by self-seeding. It has edible leaves and considered among weeds with medicinal uses. The plant is rich in GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), which is essential in decreasing inflammation.
Borage also acts as a companion plant for various vegetables. It grows well with legumes, strawberries, squash, and tomatoes. It will repel worms since it only attracts beneficial insects like bees and wasps. When it grows in your garden, it will increase resistance to pests and diseases.
Wormwood is a companion plant for your vegetable garden. It has a harsh taste and potent smell that repels insects, flies, moths, specific ground larvae, and pests. The weed will keep off nibbling animals like rabbits and deer.
Wormwood plant is useful in ornamental beds. But if you want to increase its pest repellent properties for your vegetable garden, use it around carrots, onions, sage, rosemary, and leeks. However, uproot it immediately it grows near fennels.
Not all weeds are bad for your garden. Some beneficial weeds can help to fertilize the soil, increase moisture, and repel pests. Also, some of these plants are edible, either raw or cooked. You can find many that have medicinal properties.
But despite their many positive uses, it is not recommended that you introduce weeds to your garden purposely. Instead, allow them to grow naturally next to your vegetables.
IW’s Chief Editor and a lover of green spaces.