The Plantain and the Dandelion

Hello All! My name is Jon, and the Permaculture Garden here at GCC is my first introduction to the new and exciting world of Permaculture. So if you don’t know much about Permaculture then don’t worry, because this is all new to me too.

A view of the Permaculture Garden from the South Side. Photo: Jon Shina

One of the first things that I’ve learned from my internship here at the Garden is that in Permaculture, there are no such things as “Weeds.” We say this because in Permaculture, the way of thinking is that every plant can have a positive place in our garden design.

On the Left: A Plantain Leaf, On the Right: A Dandelion Leaf. Photo: Jon Shina

The two most common “Weeds” in our Permaculture Garden (and most of North America) are the Plantain and the Dandelion plants.  Both of these “Weeds” are actually very beneficial to the soil. The Plantain and the Dandelion are both “Pioneer Plants,” and when soil is overturned or harsh, both of them are the first living organisms to thrive. You might find these guys poking out of asphalt or graveled roads! They are able to do this because they both have a long taproot, which enables them to grow in the harsher soil. This is also beneficial because their long taproots help break up the soil, and that will make it better for other more desirable plants to grow in the future. Both plants are edible, but they taste very bitter and are not fun to eat. Instead of eating them, you can make tinctures and herbal teas out of them. I especially like the Plantain, because the Plantain plant can also be used to soothe mosquito and other bug bites, as well as helping out with sunburns. I personally have been using the power of the Plantain all summer long with my own mosquito bites, and I must say that it really helps out!

Plantain Plant. Photo:

Dandelion Plant. Photo:

 So now that you know more about the Plantain and the Dandelion, you will start to see them everywhere, because they are everywhere! I hope you start to have more affection for these “Weeds,” and don’t just pull them out of the ground the next time you see them, because they might just be helping you out and you don’t even know it.

Before "Weeding." Photo: Jon Shina

After "Weeding." Photo: Jon Shina

Unfortunately, twice a week at the Permaculture Garden, we spend the first 20-30 minutes weeding the garden. So, some of my new friends do get weeded out… but we do leave the rest of them alone that are not bothering any other of our plants.


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