We love weeds!

A lovely mixed patch of weeds
A lovely mixed patch of weeds

Weeds, or understorey plants as we prefer to call them, provide lots of environmental benefits:

  • they shade the ground,
  • provide habitat and food for the bees and soil microbes that are so important for fertility for our trees, and
  • take carbon out of the air and pump it into the soil.

And that’s just the beginning of the list of wonderful things about them!

However, there’s also a downside to having weeds under your fruit trees. They use water and nutrients, and they provide habitat and ‘ladders’ into the trees for earwigs and garden weevils.

Some weeds are definitely preferable to others, so it pays to make sure you’ve got the right ones. Like most things in gardening and farming, deciding what to do is usually a matter of weighing up the pros and cons.

We reckon the pros of weeds by far outweigh the cons, but to get maximum benefit from them we like to not let them get too long, and try not to let them go to seed.

As long as your weeds stay in the actively growing, this means they stay active in terms of pumping carbon into the soil, it reduces the amount of water they use, and it’s much more pleasant to work around the trees.

Ant slashing weeds in the orchard
Ant slashing weeds in the orchard

But it also means that one of the ongoing jobs around your fruit trees in spring and summer is keeping up with the slashing or mowing!

At our place, we don’t like to to cut the grass too short because that helps the plants stay in their growing phase.

On a home garden scale, it’s probably easier to use a whipper-snipper or brush cutter.

Daniel mowing the grass under a peach tree with the whipper snipper
Daniel mowing the grass under a peach tree with the whipper snipper

The best plan of all is to use some animals to eat the grass, and then you get the extra benefit of them turning all that lovely juicy grass into lovely juicy natural fertiliser!

Sheep and alpacas make perfect lawn mowers
Sheep and alpacas make perfect lawn mowers

Read more about how to create Natural Fertility for Fruit Trees (within your budget!)

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