Lazy weeding

I am a very lazy gardener.

I’m slowly getting better; I try to use google’s Calendar program to remind myself of things like regular organic fertilizer applications. But I’m not very good at following a schedule. This year everything went in the ground a full month late, for example. I nearly skipped pruning my fruit trees altogether. And as you can tell from the photos in the June Panorama post, I’m not very consistent about weeding.

But there are times when being lazy in the garden can be a good thing for the soil.

So here, I’m going to introduce lazy weeding. Maybe you already do this, or maybe you don’t for good reasons and now you’ll lose all respect for me as a gardener. But for all these years that I shared and gardened in a community plot, I’ve been taught that you pull weeds and then throw them away. They don’t ever get composted because they may resprout. What happened is that my little community plot generally had big bundles of dead weeds lying around in pathways, waiting for that mystical day when I’d have time to gather them all up and toss them in the trash.

Well I have a better idea. Nowadays I pull the weeds (before they flower!), shake off the soil on their roots, and drop them right back down on the bed between the good plants.

Weeds between leeks.

Pretty, it is definitely not. But it is good soil management.

Think about it. Weeds are brilliant at one thing: scavenging trace minerals and nutrients from deep in the subsoil where other plants struggle to find food. They bring those nutrients to the surface in the form of their own bodies and biomass. If you pull the weeds out and cart them away to the trash, you are essentially throwing away little nutrient stores that once decomposed could have nourished your plants like fertilizer.

Instead, lay them down on top of the soil and let them decompose in place – minimal nutrient loss. Minimal effort. Win-win.

There’s a second benefit, too. When there are a lot of weeds, once strewn on the ground they begin to look an awful lot like…

…straw mulch, maybe?

These weeds I’ve pulled from around my weaver willow will now help suppress other weeds and maintain soil moisture levels while they slowly form organic compost around my willow.

That’s why weeding the normal way has never made any sense to me. It’s harder, it takes longer, it depletes the soil, and it adds to your tasks since now you have to mulch more.

Lazy weeding isn’t perfect either of course. Here are some of the cons:

  • Lazy weeding can be unsightly if the weeds are big (like mine always are). You probably wouldn’t want to do this in your front beds, if you care what your neighbors think.
  • There are certain weeds I won’t do this with, like that nasty spreading crabgrass – that, I put in the chicken coop as fresh hay and they make quick work of it.
  • I don’t know if this method would work well in dry places where the weeds would turn to dust before compost.

But from a permaculture perspective, it makes a lot of sense. I’d love to hear if anyone is willing to give it a shot.

(And if you already do weed like this, well now I just gave you two justifications for being lazy. -grin-)

3 Responses to “Lazy weeding”

  1. Rachel (Hounds in the Kitchen) Says:

    I do weed like this too! Why haul to the compost bin or (gasp!) give to the city yard waste collection?

  2. Diane Says:

    Yep, I do it, too. I never saw the sense in letting all of that good stuff go to waste. In Oklahoma, we had the evil Bermuda and Johnson grass — those suckers went straight to the chickens! Here, I’m north of the Bermuda line. Yay! When I get behind in weeding here (not that I would ever do that… Ahem.), I have been collecting the giant piles and scattering the weeds to grow in the part of our yard that got graded last year right before we bought it.

  3. diana Says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only lazy weeder out there! I almost didn’t publish this, thinking, “What will the REAL gardeners think of me!?” -laugh-

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