Don't Judge a WeedWritten by Dina Colman
Don’t judge a weed by its cover. If a dandelion weren’t classified as a weed, it would probably be a cherished flower. When you think about it, dandelions are pretty darn cool. They even have health benefits. So why do they get such a bad rap?
If you look up the definition of a weed, it says, “a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth.” I find it interesting that the definition has so much subjectivity to it. One person’s weed could be another person’s treasure, depending on how they valued it. And who says that vigorous growth in a yard is a bad thing? For me, a plant that grows without my careful nurturing is my kind of plant. We believe weeds to be the enemy because that is what we are taught to believe. What if instead we had been taught that having weeds pop up in our yard was a sign of good luck? What if a beautiful yard was the one with the most weeds? I like Ralph Waldo Emerson's take on it. He says, "A weed is a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered."
Think about how much time and money you put into killing the weeds in your yard—whether by pulling them individually as they pop up or by spraying them with pesticides. To me, it feels like I am working against nature rather than with it when I am fighting the weeds. And, by using pesticides to kill the weeds, I risk bringing those toxic chemicals into my home. I’m not saying that I’m ready to have a yard full of weeds just yet, but I do not dislike all weeds simply because they have been classified as such. I think they should be considered on an individual basis.
Not only can there be beauty to weeds if you get past their classification as a “weed,” but there are actually some weeds that are beneficial to our health. For example, stinging nettles is a weed that pops up in the spring and is packed with nutrients. They are a good source of protein and contain high amounts of vitamins A, B, and C, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They are used to help arthritis and allergies, and are often used in detox diets. Dandelions aren’t just pretty to look at and fun to blow on, they are packed with minerals such as iron, potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, C, and D. Dandelions are good for cleansing the liver and can help support the digestive system. This is not to say that all weeds are good, it is simply to say that not all weeds are inherently bad.
While I’m plugging weeds, I’d also like to put in a good word for native plants. A native (or indigenous) plant is one that has developed over hundreds or thousands of years in a particular region. They have adapted to the geography and climate of that region. This is in contrast to a non-native plant which has been introduced by humans. Native plants typically require less fertilizer, water, and care than their non-native counterparts which is good for you and the environment. (By the way, weeds can be native or non-native.)
When planning your garden, how about working with nature and finding out which plants are indigenous to your area? And, when you see a weed pop up, rather than immediately reaching for the weed-killer which is full of toxins, try seeing the weed in a new light. Is it a weed because you really don’t want it growing there or is it a weed because others have told you it’s a weed?
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