If you research about weeds on the Internet, you’ll see hundreds of how-to guides about how to remove weeds and “Reasons Why You Should Get Rid of Weeds in Your Garden.”
Now, before you decide to put mulch on your garden to stop those pesky weeds from growing, you should also know that they have a purpose in helping your plants grow. (Though if you want to mulch, landscaping bark is excellent in Utah). So what is this “purpose” that almost nobody talks about?
Soil Health Determiners
If you’re a newbie gardener, one of the things that you should know before starting to plant anything is the optimal soil health or soil quality. Soil health refers to the capacity of the soil to support agricultural production and provide support for other ecosystems.
Now, according to Sustainable Agriculture II, soil health depends on four primary functions:
- Carbon transformations
- Nutrient cycles
- Soil structure maintenance
- Pest and disease regulation
Don’t feel pressured. You don’t have to know everything about these four functions literally for you to have successful crops or plants. The shortcut to determining if your soil is healthy is to see if weeds will grow from it. After all, weeds are plants, too, right? Therefore, the presence of weeds and its growth habits in the soil can determine the nutritional balance of the land.
It is understandable if you want nothing but the plants that you grow thrives in your pot or garden. After all, you chose to plant them because you want them. However, gardening would also mean that you should understand the essence of plant biodiversity.
Biology and Management talks about the agroecological benefits of weeds. It discusses the growing belief that some weeds should be appreciated instead of being seen solely as problems in the garden.
The reason behind this conclusion is that there is evidence that proves that weeds can provide beneficial ecological effects, including biodiversity. Moreover, biodiversity is essential for resilience, productivity, and resource efficiency of managed ecosystems — which, in your case, refers to your garden.
Do you know that some weeds are used for medicines, food, and even natural insecticides? According to an article published in the Integrated Pest Management Reviews, weeds contribute mainly to the plant biodiversity of peasant agriculture in Africa. They help by decreasing the risk of pest and disease epidemics, all while serving as a secondary source of food, medicine, and insecticide.
The article urges that the biodiversity of weeds should be managed and maintained in such a way that more useful species should be allowed to thrive. Meanwhile, weed species that provides sanctuary to pests and diseases must be selectively removed.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should start growing weeds for medicinal purposes. However, keeping a few of them alive in your garden can still contribute to the plant biodiversity of your garden.
Everything Has a Purpose
After reading this, you might indulge yourself in further reading about which types of weeds should you keep. However, you shouldn’t forget to realize a valuable lesson that you can get from gardening. Everything has a purpose, no matter how insignificant or annoying it seems to be.