Naturally weed free garden
How to create a naturally weed free garden.
We have been taught that the only way to have no weeds is to work hard, and spend a lot of time weeding.
We have even become so desperate that we have resorted to poisons to do this for us.
But the truth is if we create a healthy ecosystem, with the right soil conditions, weeds wont even germinate, never mind grow.
So lets look at weeds, and what their function is in the biological system.
Weeds grow when soil has been disturbed.
Some kind of catastrophe has occurred, either natural or man made. A fire, overgrazing, or we have ploughed and turned the soil.
The soil is left exposed to the sun, killing of all the good bacteria that has worked so hard for us. The fungii and all the other healthy micro biology have been destroyed. There is no covering and the soil is vulnerable to wind erosion and water erosion, further leaching the soils from all its nutrients.
So what does mother nature do, it says, goodness we need to grow some plants quick. We need our hard working pioneers that can handle those tough conditions, full sun, poor soils, wind and cold etc. and there has obviously been a catastrophe of sorts so we need to feed our animals and people, and they might need medicine too.
So many of our weeds are edible and medicinal, and why they spread so quickly and easily. It is trying to heal the soil. Make a covering, to protect it from erosion and sun, to put down roots, and start building the microbiology again.
Its kind of like when we have a wound, and it forms a scab, and we start saying, oh you invasive annoying scab, and keep picking it, instead of just allowing it to do its job.
So lets look in more detail
- weeds occur only early in ecological succession towards a fully functioning stable ecosystem, like a forest
- weeds occur in disturbed soils which means that the food web lacks one or more groups
(which weeds come up often tell us a lot about our soils)
- weeds occur when we add non organic fertilizers because this creates pulses of nitrates: high concentrations for short times, no nitrate for short times
- weeds occur when there is lack of soluble nutrients
- weeds occur in soil that is either highly acidic or basic: extremes of pH.
Okay great, so what do we do to create the optimal conditions so that weeds wont grow.
We know that
weeds need high levels of nitrates. And a slightly alkaline environment -
they wont even germinate when there is not enough nitrates.
And we know that weeds don’t grow in fungal dominated soils because in a fungal dominated soil, the PH is naturally regulated.
So what do we do, we grow mycorrhizal fungi. How do we grow anything, we give it food and habitat, in this case leaves and mulch. This provides the food necessary for mycorrhizal fungi to grow.
So the first step to a naturally weed free garden is to not have bare soil. We either plant our plants close enough together, or we cover bare soil with a thick layer of mulch.
If you do already have weeds, chop them down, but leave the roots inside. They will decompose in the ground, and become food for all the good micro biology to grow, and also create air tunnels and pockets.
The next step is to work on improving your micro biology. Luckily worms (and consequently the vermicompost and worm tea) also have many mechanisms which help to create optimum conditions for the right microbiology to occur. Worms within their own bodies regulate their own pH levels to create optimum conditions to digest their food. Inside them are the right conditions for all the right microbiology to occur for digestion and that is also good for the soil.
Nature is very interesting. It has various methods for creating an optimal environment for healthy plants to grow in; but we need to listen and not continually disturb these natural cycles.
By looking to nature we can recreate these optimal conditions in our own gardens and especially in growing our own food. We are rewarded with naturally weed free garden and healthy plants that are also naturally pest free, and even better we don't have to work hard or spend a lot of money to maintain a healthy garden!