Good Weeds

I’ve heard of “good cholesterol” and I almost get that concept, but I never thought I’d believe in good weeds. For the duration of my gardening life, weeds have fallen into 3 categories:

  1. Hateful things that I battle to the death with.
  2. Tedious things that I sometimes pull up and sometimes walk past.
  3. Mildly irritating things that I live with.


wandering jew


Dandelions, wandering jew and clover landed squarely in the first category. I’ve pulled them out, root (or bulb) and all and thrown them into the council green bin rather than my compost because I didn’t want them popping up all over my garden.

Of course that has slowed them but not stopped them. I present these photos as evidence! I didn’t have to look too hard to find samples to take pictures of.


Chickweed fell into the second category. It comes up in every fresh bed – especially where my compost has been used. It grows quickly and obviously self-seeds like a house on fire. But it’s easy to pull out and doesn’t seem to strangle or smother other plants so it hasn’t bothered me over-much.

The third category was for grasses, native violets, and a million other weeds that I tried to tame in my veggie beds but left alone almost everywhere else.

That was how I saw things in my pre-chicken days. Now that I’m the proud owner of 3 Isa Brown hens, weeds fall into 2 categories:

  1. Weeds that the chickens will eat which includes dandelions, wandering jew, clover and chickweed.
  2. Mildly irritating things that I live with. 

I’ve made a few lifestyle changes based on my new-found appreciation of weeds:

  1. While weeding around my veggies, I carefully pull out the tender shoots and save them for my chooks. All except the ever-present tomato sprouts which I compost because chickens and tomato leaves don’t mix.
  2. As I walk in the neighbourhood, I spot and pluck great big dandelions, clumps of chickweed or strings of wandering jew to bring home. No walk to the shops is complete until I have a handful.
  3. When I see weeds in category 1 in my lawn or peeping through my flower beds, I note them and fondly watch them grow. When I want a treat for my girls, I carefully harvest the weed without disturbing the rootstock so that it will regrow and make more treats over time.

Dandelions used to tremble when I walked past, now they spread their broad juicy leaves and giggle at me behind their flower stalk. Oh how the mighty have fallen.



About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
This entry was posted in Chickens, Garden, Nature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Good Weeds

  1. reading this made me think of this woman i saw on you tube,interesting use for one of your weeds!

  2. Nice post.

    I’ve recently done a lot of research on weeds–and associates insect and fungal problems for my garden.

    I considered only one solution for my garden weed and insect problem: to cook and personally eat the weeds. I protected my garden and didn’t waste food.

    But I just never realized I could hire chickens to do the dirty work for me.

    Great idea!

    I thought

    • Interesting idea to eat weeds. I should ask my brother what he used to eat because I remember him once having a house with a rambling yard and going down to harvest weeds for dinner.

      And yes, chickens love to be asked to work as weeders. I’ve heard of people dreaming wistfully about herding chickens through nature reserves to help wipe out the wandering jew infestations. Getting them into a park is the easy part, explaining what we think is a weed and what we’d like them to leave alone is more problematic!

  3. karensperspective says:

    May I send you some weeds?

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