The Unstoppable Forest is Taking Over

| 9/7/2010 8:47:36 AM

Nature abhors a vacuum and living in the woods has confirmed this for me. If I leave any amount of soil exposed during the warm months, something will grow there, whether I want it to or not. In the vegetable garden, what I want is nice clean soil between rows. Just the rows of lettuce and broccoli and corn and nothing in between.

Mother Nature has other ideas and weeds are the result. At this time of year I’m appalled by how many weed seeds are in my soil. As I suggest in “The All You Eat Gardening Handbook” the best way to deal with weeds is to keep them out of the garden to begin with. This means keeping your garden weed-free every year. Otherwise the weeds that go to seed ensure that you’ll have a weed problem for years to come.

I’ve seen proof of this in my own garden in recent years. I’ve discovered that when I make my garden a priority and keep on top of the weeds, I reap the benefits of my hard work the following year when I notice a lot fewer weeds. During the summer that we filmed our gardening DVD I kept the garden meticulous. Last summer while I was writing the gardening book and taking a lot of photos in the garden, I tried to keep up with the weeds. But unfortunately there have been too many years in between when I’ve had other commitments with work or projects like installing my wind turbine or upgrading the solar system and weeding the garden got relegated to a much lower place on the priority list. Once you let the weeds move in, they are here to stay. I expect them to peter out as the summer passes but they don’t. They just keep coming in waves.

There is an upside to this though, and it’s with how nature rejuvenates itself. This makes me feel a bit better about the potential to deal with climate change. When I lived in the city my hobby was growing trees. I’d take any maple seedling that grew spontaneously or black walnuts and chestnuts from trees in my neighborhood and grow them in pots. I sold some at garage sales and planted them everywhere I went. When we bought our 150 acres there were areas around the house that I wanted filled in, and I had hundreds of trees ready and willing to take up the call. And so I began planting.

I cannot believe how well they’ve done. When we moved here there was a large field in front of the house with a clear view to the road. This is where I planted the first and best trees. And as you can see from this photo, they have thrived. This first photo shows the field between our house and the road shortly after moving in.

Jared Barnhart
9/9/2010 8:59:47 AM

I should probably share this with you too. They are fairly easy to distinguish, but I don't want you to get sick on my account! Especially since I don't know your area. Enjoy!

Cam Mather
9/8/2010 12:43:12 PM

Thanks Jared. I'm going to try the purslane. Tomorrow. Honest! Cam

Jared Barnhart
9/8/2010 8:33:52 AM

Have you ever tried eating the purslane? I'm not an expert forager, but I know that the wild purslane that ends up in gardens here is edible. And actually tastes pretty good in a salad.

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