Want to know one of the easiest ways ever to grow a garden?
Have you failed at growing a veggie garden before? Have a brown thumb ?
Why not try growing a weed garden!?
With people understanding that this Coronavirus pandemic was caused by our toxic food system and ecosystem collapse, and seeing how empty the grocery stores get in an emergency, a lot of people are asking me about the basics of growing a garden. But a lot of people have tried and failed in doing things the “right way.” Turns out, that right way is not a good way for most people to have a garden, and it was never intended to be! It’s just a good way to have industrial farms, but that doesn’t work at home.
So I’ll be doing a few posts on the absolute easiest beginner ways to start a garden, including weed gardening, herb spirals, polyculture gardens, and food forest guilds.
A weed garden is one of the easiest ways for beginners to start a garden with no money, no seeds, no experience, no nothin’.
Yep, sounds like a joke! But in fact, it turns out many of the weeds that show up in a conventional garden have been proven to be more nutritious than the vegetables we’re trying to grow. Some of these (like Belgian Endive) are even expensive at the grocery store!
In fact, most of them were brought here to North America or otherwise spread around the world because they are very good as medicinals and edibles! Better still, most of them thrive as weeds because they are very easy to grow. And since they produce so many seeds that stay viable a long time, if you turn over the sod in most places where humans have lived, or remove the grass, then these weeds will just pop up.
And these nutritious plants grow most places without fertilizer.
Throughout most of the Eastern US and beyond, after removing some sod, in the first season, we’ll get a few great nutritious spinach relatives amaranth and goosefoot, wild lettuces, possibly some thistles that make excellent vegetable broth, and the highly nutritious gourmet vegetable purslane. Sometimes we may even get ground cherries.
Into the fall, these will be replaced by some “ephemerals” that will over winter, including chickweed, pepper cress, and dead nettle. These are also great vegetables, especially the cress and chickweed.
By winter there may also be some dandelion, or chicory. All of these are great, widely available vegetables, so on top of getting a free garden, you get to learn about some widely available food plants.
How to do it?
Step 1: For this particular type of garden, find a place with “full sun,“ that gets a good 8 hours of sun each day, and has some weedy lawn. The lawn must be weedy, or it is a sign it has been sprayed with pesticides that will kill our plants. If the lawn won’t grow well (because the soil is too sandy or it’s too shady) then you might not get the best food plants, so this works best where there’s a good healthy lawn.
Step 2: use a shovel to dig up the grass. I recommend starting with a 5*5 or 5* 10 foot “bed.” Try to loosen the soil underneath by digging it up a little too. Shake as much soil from the sod as you can back on top of the new garden bed. If you want to be really fancy you can google “Double digging” and try that, just make sure to put the “top soil” back on top, because that’s where the best “seed bank” is.
Step 3: Water the garden well and keep it wet if we don’t get rain for a week. Without planting seeds, plants should magically grow! Isn’t nature cool? As they come in, google the list of plants above to help identify your free food. Part of the exercise is learning about how many plants we call “weeds” are actually our allies.
For best growth, it’s good to thin the plants so they are not quite touching as they grow. Make sure you identify anything before eating it!
Folks in your local Facebook Permaculture groups will be happy to help you identify your plants and give you some ideas about using them.
Some lists of common weeds that might come up:https://modernfarmer.com/…/10-edible-weeds-likely…/https://www.ediblewildfood.com/edible-weeds.aspxhttps://www.treehugger.com/…/eat-dandelions-9-edible…