The Gardening Nana: Weeds & Seeds

Gardening NanaWhy the only thing green in this drought are weeds?

“Nana, why don’t you like dandelions?” my great nephew, Eli, asked as he was helping me pick flowers for a bouquet earlier this spring. We had beautiful blue & white flowers and a dandelion or two wouldn’t have hurt but he knew that I didn’t pick the yellow flower he liked so much.

Good question, since we have all picked them for our mothers and nothing is more fun than blowing the fluffy white seed heads. In fact, those seeds can “parachute” five miles away! It seems that weeds have the most seeds and very clever ways to survive the most severe weather like drought. So I’m sure you noticed this dry summer that the only plants really hardy and green were the weeds.

To me a weed is a plant growing where you do not want it to grow. So dandelions are a weed in the lawn, just ask my husband who spends many hours hand pulling them out of our lawn. Yet what I call a weed here in Indiana may be a wildflower in Colorado. So I like the book, Weeds: Friend or Foe? by Sally Roth, which lists many common weeds and what are their good and or bad qualities. Roth has lived in many planting zones, even Indiana, and is a great garden writer.

So even though many of us see them as weeds, dandelions are one of those plants that have many good uses from salad greens to wine and even a “root beer,” dandelion and burdock, a beverage consumed in the British Isles since about 1265. My daughter, Ann, who is studying to be an organic herbalist, sees the good side to many weeds that I grew up pulling out of the garden. She even brought me a burdock root to eat! I just could not do it, since it was one of the weeds we fought growing up on the farm.

We are harvesting the sunflower seeds from our “Sunflower Fort.” We will roast some for snacks and save some to plant next year; the birds have already had a feast! I am still looking into ways to make “seed bombs” or balls of clay with seeds inside that should be a muddy, messy project for my great nephews to garden next spring. cg

Nancy’s love of flower gardening intensified while living in Holland and was perfected with Master Gardener courses.

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