A Passion for Weeds

Looking At Weeds In A New Way!

Meeting Kate Wall, author and professional gardener, has inspired me to look at weeds in the garden in a new way. Some call weeds a curse, and some, a plant in the wrong place. But Kate says they can be food, medicine, and a great predicter of what is happening in your soil. I met Kate recently at the Yarrabilba State High School’s Science Fair where she had copies of her book and samples of her favourite weeds. Now, I’m not really a gardener but Kate’s passion for weeds caught my attention and I found her easy to listen to as she told me the benefits of using weeds.

Kate grew up both gardening and eating weeds. But in her work as a consulting gardener, she found people were asking her to help them get rid of plants that she knew were useful. That’s why she wrote Working with Weeds: A Practical Guide to Understanding, Managing & Using Weeds.

Experts say eating a variety of food is important for our health. Kate says weeds can be a way to get more variety into our diets. There are cautions though in eating wild food. Kate says, always find out what the plant is. Don’t just dive into a patch of plants you don’t know and start gobbling!
Check Kate’s website to identify edible weeds*. And know where you are taking the plant from. Generally, your own backyard is safest.

Weeds can also tell a gardener about the quality of soil. For example, Kate’s favourite weed is Sida Retusa (also known as Paddy’s lucerne). Many gardeners don’t like it because it has long taproots. But Sida Retusa grows in heavy soil and breaks it up (like a clay breaker). If you find it growing in your garden, Kate suggests cutting off the top, compost it, and let the plant grow under the surface. Kate also uses its leaves as an anti-inflammatory for mucus membranes.

Kate Wall is inspiring people to consider weeds not as enemies but friends in the art of creating and maintaining beautiful and healthy gardens.

By Susan Alexander (Inspirational Writer & Team Reporter)