Prepare, Sustain, Thrive and Survive Simply

Indiscriminate Killing of Weeds Must Stop


…And an inundation of chemicals incessantly sprayed all around you — yuck! (My two cents).

The above notice is a typical tidbit from a small town City Hall newsletter. It says all weeds, noxious or not, (and grasses) are to be cut, obliterated, and destroyed, if the next door neighbors or somebody from the general public considers them deleterious, unsightly, and injurious.



I suppose this springs from an ordinance that examines what makes a weed a weed, which ones are injurious, and who decides if a weed is ugly or not. If you think this is common knowledge, you’re wrong. Weed thinking is based on a series of assumptions.  Maybe you should go to a city council meeting and ask some questions.

The fact is, no matter what the prevailing society assumes, many weeds are useful and pretty nice looking too. The redeeming qualities of many weeds conflict with farmers’ crop loss due to weeds infestation.

It’s time for our modern culture to be more discriminating about making blatant anti weed (and grass) statements. For example, if you planted native bunch grass on purpose, will the city make you cut it down?

In our overly complex society, weeds and our relationship to them are fraught with social, political, and economic pressures to conform to the weed killing ethic — no questions asked.

By the way — what exactly is a weed?

David Holmgren weighs in on that question in an article called, Weeds or Wild Nature: a Permaculture Perspective, on the Permaculture Research Institute website.He says a weed is essentially a plant that the prevailing culture considers to be out of place. Keep in mind, we’re speaking of a culture that is itself chronically out of place and suffers from a dangerous disassociation of cause and effect in nearly all its activities. dandilionRather than weeds,Holmgren prefers the descriptor “naturalizing species” for these plants’ ability to move and adapt.

In permaculture, weeds grow for a good reason. For example, when people create conditions of bare, compacted, or unproductive ground, pioneer weed species rush in to remedy the situation. That’s their job.

Also, “weeds” are like drug lords: when you remove one, there are more waiting in the wings to take its place.

Pioneer species and their characteristics

Do you recognize any of these plants?

Lupine – Grows well on very poor sandy soils and its root system helps bind the soil together, preventing erosion. It creates sheltered conditions to allow less tolerant plants to become established, and will also feed them with some of the nitrogen formed on its roots by bacteria.

Dandelion – Long tap root breaks up the soil and pulls up beneficial minerals from below. Edible and medicinal.

Plantain – Long tap root breaks up the soil and pulls up beneficial minerals from below. Edible and medicinal.

Mullein – Helps soil remediation by creating lots of decomposing biomass

These are all I have time to research right now, but there are plenty more plants whose benefits you can learn about, then weigh whether or not you should fight city hall’s efforts to make you cut them all down.

Do “invasive” plants kill off other, more desirable plants?

Since jurisdictional policies are all about killing weeds to save the planet, you may not have heard about research that refutes the idea that those evil naturalized plants always choke out other plants. They can actually increase biodiversity.

Concomitantly, there are reasons to reject the purposeful introduction of non-indigenous species. Please read the entire article for Holmgren’s discussion and references for further study.

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