There might be some weeds growing in your garden right now that you didn’t know were actually really useful. Try giving them a second chance before you pull them out.
Lambsquarters is a vivacious salad green that sprouts early and best of all, it is a vigorous self-seeder. So you don’t have to do anything to get these nutritious salad greens. What you can’t use can be used as animal feed or compost feedstock.
Pea plants can be an annoying weed when they take over native plants or garden space. But they provide animal feed, attract pollinators, and fix nitrogen into your soil, which makes for a rich compost pile.
Dandelions are a ubiquitous weed that many find incredibly annoying. But as mentioned previously, dandelions can serve a variety of functions – they attract pollinators, bring up subsurface minerals, their greens can be eaten in salads, provide food for animals, and you can even make dandelion wine from their flowers.
Mustard can be an annoyance in your garden, but the leaves are sprouts are edible. They attract aphids as well as ladybugs, increasing insect diversity in your garden. The aphids collect on mustard and thus avoid eating your actual garden plants. And, to prevent mustard from taking over your garden, you can harvest the seeds and make your own condiment mustard.,
Nasturtiums make an edible addition to your garden salad – all parts of the plant can be eaten. The flowers make especially festive additions to any plate. They attract predatory wasps and help repel squash bugs, cucumber beetles, striped pumpkin beetles, and woolly aphids. Also, they serve as a trap crop for caterpillars and black aphids. They are known as good companion plants for brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc.), cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, squash), and solanum (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.).
There are a variety of other medicinal and edible herbs that you might find in your garden – lemon verbena and lemon balm make great teas, garlic and ground ivy repel pests, and red clover and vetch fix nitrogen while providing ground cover for predatory insects.
Do you have any of these weeds growing in your garden? Perhaps you can consider letting them stay for a bit, and play around with how you might make use of them. If nothing else, weeds make great compost fodder.