Space Invaders

I don’t worry very much about weeds, really. My goal is not to have a manicured lawn or landscape that has no plant in it that I didn’t put there, exactly where I put it. I want my garden to be a natural, not an artificial place. I’m happy to let Nature do her stuff on “my” little plot of land — within some boundaries.

Some weeds I welcome in my garden, like clover and oxalis. Clover fixes nitrogen in the soil and is fairly easy to manage. It makes a nice ground cover and companion plant, and, of course, if it flowers, it provides food for bees. The flowers can also be fun to eat, or to simply suck on for the nectar. It is not considered to be invasive in the Pacific Northwest, so I don’t have to worry about it causing harm in the wild.

We have a native kind of oxalis, or sorrel here, with big leaves, that grows on stream banks in the woods, but we also have a smaller version, Oxalis corniculata, or creeping woodsorrel, in the city. It’s also a harmless weed, and can be eaten like other wild varieties for its lemony flavor and vitamin C content. Kids like to munch on them like sour candy, and they work well as an herb for stuffing fish, for example.

Other weeds can make themselves more of a nuisance, even if they aren’t invasive in the wild. One that I am finding particularly annoying at present is dovefoot geranium. It has taken over my strawberry bed and is essentially impossible to remove by pulling without also ripping out my strawberry plants’ runners. Right now, I’m trying to fill out the bed, so I want those runners to establish themselves. And a weed that it coming on this strong will probably inhibit my plants and give me less berries.

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(Pesky dovefoot geramium filling every nook and cranny between my strawberry plants.)

Dovefoot geranium is edible…though not very tasty. It’s value may be more medicinal than culinary. I don’t think I’ll be eating big geranium salads to keep it in check. It sprang up after I had already mulched the bed with wood chips, so that is not a solution. I think I’ll try straw mulch, and see if that helps. Strawberries do like growing in straw, after all. Hopefully, dovefoot geranium will hate it!

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