Yesterday afternoon I made a weed inspection in my vegetable garden. Poor plants! We call them weed just because they grow on the place WE don't want them to! Isn't it actually very unjust from us?
Anyway, I am not so keen on having immaculate lawn or flower beds, I do leave some space for "accidents".
Plant we call weeds can tell us a lot, only if we know how to "read" them. Every plant has a certain needs for light, type of soil and moisture. So, if you know your weeds, you can learn something about the growing conditions in your garden. For example, if your vegetable beds are like mine covered with this plant on the picture below, you should be happy.
It is Stellaria media L. - Common Chickweed. It is an annual or overwintering native plant and one of the commonest weeds of cultivated land. Why is it good? Because it tells us that the soil is cool, moist, abundant and light and probably contains higher levels of potassium and nitrogen. That's what our vegetables prefer too.
I also have a sting nettle (Urtica dioica L.) patch behind the garden fence. It is a source of food for me in Spring (to me, it is much better than spinach!) and for my plants the whole season. No need to tell you how valuable manure can be produced from nettles. Nettles grow on high nitrogen soil.
Here and there I have Equisetum arvense L. - Field Horsetail, Sonchus oleraceus L. - Smooth Sow-Thistle, Lamium purpureum L. - Purple Deadnettle, and Veronica chamaedrys L. - Germander Speedwell. These are the most common weeds in my vegetable garden. Of course, a few species from the grass family appear too. All of these like rich, moist and loose lime soils which tells me that I cultivate it rather well.
If you have Tarxacum officinalis L. - Dandelion, or Plantago spp. - Plantains your soil is probably clay, heavy and compacted.
Rumex spp. - Dock, grows on waterlogged and poor drainage soils that may be acid.
Thistles (genera Cirsium and Carduus) are found on heavy, compacted soils.
Trifolium sp. - Clover indicate low fertility soil, low in nitrogen.