Have you ever thought about letting your weeds tell you where to plant your vegetables, herbs, or flowers? There are weeds that quickly adopt to different soil type such as dandelion. Should you find stinging nettle, oxeye daisy, dock, and broadleaf plantain going in the same spot, you probably have acidic soil with a pH below 7. Consider growing tomatoes, azalea, blueberries, shallots, or endives adding only organic matter to improve soil tilth. Most of our garden vegetables prefer slightly acidic soil, about 6 to 7.

Have you ever thought about letting your weeds tell you where to plant your vegetables, herbs, or flowers? There are weeds that quickly adopt to different soil type such as dandelion. Should you find stinging nettle, oxeye daisy, dock, and broadleaf plantain going in the same spot, you probably have acidic soil with a pH below 7. Consider growing tomatoes, azalea, blueberries, shallots, or endives adding only organic matter to improve soil tilth. Most of our garden vegetables prefer slightly acidic soil, about 6 to 7.
Is there Queen Anne’s Lace, lambsquarters, pigweed, or pennycress claiming your garden plot? Spinach, asparagus, okra, parsley, zucchini, or peppers will grow there. I’ve found the lambsquarters usually indicates a fertile soil amongst my rocks. I spread wood ash around the asparagus bed, okra, zucchini, and parsley plants to raise the pH slightly.
Almost all of my soil was compacted subsoil. One of the first plants to grow, sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), became a ‘nurse crop’ for several years. I used daikon radishes to help break up compacted soil and control the sorrel. Adding clover and field peas improved soil fertility making it possible to grow beans, squash, and corn the next season.
One part of my garden was covered thickly in wild onions, buttercups, daisies, dog fennel. They seemed to be fine with the clay holding the rocks from washing away. Most cultivated plants have a difficult time growing in the low fertility heavy soil. Wild asters and onion still hinders the growing of vegetables. Daylilies, dandelions, comfrey, stinging nettle, and Echinacea are slowly overcoming the poor soil.
Among the beautiful violet growing in my garden; one section had the very pretty Lady’s Thumb (aka Virginia knotweed) so thick it was killing out the violets. Bordering the knotweed was lush chickweed. The soil was always damp to wet; not wet enough to grow cattails, but too wet to grow any cultivated crop. I added old hay, pieces of old wood, grass cuttings, newspaper, and leaves. In time, I planted elderberry, redbuds, cardinal flower, and valerian. I’m still controlling the knotweed, but I have something I want growing there, too.
A section at the front of the garden started out with carpetweed (Mollugo verticillate) and hop clover (Medicago lupulina). It’s easy to mistake carpetweed for chickweed, but carpetweed has whorled leaves, five-petal flowers, and handles dry condition while chickweed has five deeply lobed petals appearing to be ten petals, fertile soil, and prefers moist conditions. Hop clover grow well in dry soil while improving it.
That area became home to lavender, lamb’s ears, Oswego tea (Monarda didyma), sage, thyme, savory, and chives. The first six plants are member of the mint family. Unfortunately, the Oswego tea didn’t survive its placement. It’s one of the mints that likes moist soil.
After you become friends with your weeds, keep in mind that they enjoy rich fertile soil with the right pH and just enough moisture, too. Weeds are misplaced plants that become opportunists.  Our love hate relationship with them will always be tenuous.
April 15th is Open House Volunteer Day at George Washington Carver National Monument and April 21 is Art in the Park. Come out and enjoy both days with us.
Happy Gardening!

Linda Simmons writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.