|Think of the green leaves as vitamins for humans and for the soil|
Weeds Are Opportunists
People become vexed over weeds, because they do not understand them as opportunistic plants. Their abundant seeds are either in the soil already or in the air, so one only needs to stir up or expose soil to get weed growth.
The book Weeds: Guardians of the Soil made the following point. When a field is left alone weeds take over, protect, and renew the soil. Good , strong weeds also indicate the health of the soil beneath. Besides that, the type of weed reveals what kind of soil is below.
Weeds are good because they branch out in a net to hold down soil and keep it from blowing or running away, from wind or water erosion. They produce a lot of organic matter that drops down and feeds the soil creatures. The tap root weeds (dandelion, goosefoot, pigweed) also mine the minerals from deep down.
The home and garden industry is never going to tell the truth about weeds, because sales of useless weed killer and weed barriers would plummet. Scott's Lawn and Garden would have close down or become a day care center, where little children learn about plants and want to grow up to kill weeds.
I am not always sure about weeds. Some grassy looking weeds in the rose garden and vegetable garden turned into grape hyacinths planted by a previous renter, really stunning in color and quite healthy looking.
Right now we have a colorful outbreak of dandelions, an herb brought over for its many good properties. The leaves are rich in Vitamin C and A and calcium.
|Birds like the fluff of the dandelion seed,|
Nutrition and You - Dandelions - Mrs. Ichabod is having some now.
- Fresh leaves are very low in calories; providing just 45 calories per 100 g. It is also good source of dietary fiber (provide about 9% of RDA per 100 g). In addition, its latex is a good laxative. These active principles in the herb help reduce weight and control cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Dandelion root as well as other plant parts contains bitter crystalline compounds Taraxacin, and an acrid resin, Taraxacerin. Further, the root also contains inulin (not insulin) and levulin. Together, these compounds are responsible for various therapeutic properties of the herb.
- Fresh dandelion herb provides 10161 IU of vitamin-A per 100 g, about 338% of daily-recommended intake, one of the highest source of vitamin-A among culinary herbs. Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin and anti-oxidant, required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and vision.
- Its leaves are packed with numerous health benefiting flavonoids such as carotene-β, carotene-α, lutein, crypto-xanthin and zea-xanthn. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A and flavonoids (carotenes) helps body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers. Zeaxanthin has photo-filtering functions and protects retina from UV rays.
- The herb is good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
- It is also rich in many vital vitamins including folic acid, riboflavin, pyridoxine, niacin, vitamin -E and vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant. Dandelion greens provide 58% of daily-recommended levels of vitamin-C.
- Dandelion is probably the richest herbal sources of vitamin K; provides about 650% of DRI. Vitamin-K has potential role in bone mass building by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has established role in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.
This humble backyard herb provides (%of RDA/100g)-
9% of dietary fiber,
19% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
20% of Riboflavin,
58% of vitamin C,
338% of vitamin A,
649% of vitamin K,
39% of iron and
19% of calcium.
No Toxins? Eat away.
We use no sprays or toxins in the yard, so it is easy to eat the weeds. Chris ate the dandelion greens I just brought in. I like goosefoot.
Browsing in a flourishing garden provides endless opportunities to enjoy fresh produce too, such as dipping tomatoes warm from the sun in dill harvested by hand.
A layer of newspapers, held down by wood mulch, will keep almost all weeds from growing around the desirable plants.
More importantly, this treatment will improve the soil so much that future digging will be easy, fun, and filled with earthworms tumbling out. Sometimes the babies are wiggling around. At other times a mature worm will slowly emerge from a lump of soil, to investigate the sudden appearance of light.
Our heavy clay soil is a a bear to dig on bad days and impossible when the clay is dried out. But after a winter of Jackson Mulch, the same soil is easy to dig and productive. Then I dig the hole for the plant or rake open a trench for the seeds. I push back the loose soil and mulch to close the wound and tamp it down with a rake or my foot - lightly. No stomping on fresh seed.
Weeds for Compost
Gardeners are not going to like crabgrass in the compost bin, but they can be composted under Jackson Mulch.
Large taproot weeds are perfect for composting. They are green, full of moisture and nitrogen, eaasy to cut down or pull up. Greens will heat up the compost and help it break down faster, but there is nothing wrong with slow composting and the results from autumn leaves.
Our wild strawberries are growing across the back of the house, where the two gardens meet the wall. They have plenty of water and sun, already putting out their yellow blooms. The fruits are like little rubies, but I am not tempted. Two days of eating strawberry smoothies left me with two days of lower GI agony.
The wild strawberries are for the birds, and I plan to grow more berries in the future.
|Norma Boeckler's Stream|