Garden Helpers, Herb, Soil, Vegetable

What Weeds Can Tell You About Your Soil

Weeds can be both informative and beneficial. Geologists use weeds as indicators of soil conditions and so can gardeners.

Dock, Horsetail, Foxtail and Goldenrod are all indicators that the soil is prone to wet conditions at some time of the year. During rainy periods this is self evident but if you’re landscaping an unfamiliar area during a dry spell these weeds and native flowers serve as markers that moisture loving plants will thrive in these spots. However, this wouldn’t be a good spot for a vegetable garden.


Chicory and bee

Chicory or Bindweed means you have compacted soil. Sweet clover thrives in compacted conditions and conversely breaks up the soil as it grows making an ideal cover crop for these trouble spots.



Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle thrives in acidic soils. Garden plants that share this love for acidic conditions include hydrangeas, blueberries, endive, rhubarb, potatoes and shallots.


Field Pennycress plant
Thlaspi arvense also known as Stinkweed or Field Pennycress

Stinkweed grows best in alkaline soil. So does asparagus, broccoli, beets, muskmelons, lettuce, onions and spinach.



Daisies, Wild Carrot, Wild Parsnip and Common Mullein all grow in poor soil. If you have an abundance of these plants it probably means the soil needs copious amounts of compost added to boost its nutrients and friability.


Lambs Quarter and Chickweed indicate rich fertile soil and also make lovely salad greens that contain even more nutritional benefits than their domesticated relatives spinach, lettuce and kale.

Clover or trefoil flower medicinal herbs isolated on white backg
Red Clover

Red Clover indicates an excess of potassium. Corn, melons, squash, tomatoes and peppers are all heavy potassium feeders and will thrive wherever red clover is found.

So there you have it. Weeds can help you read your landscape just like a treasure map and even provide you with salad greens. However, left unchecked they will choke the living daylights out of your vegetables. Garden hoe!

Cute little boy weeding the vegetable garden

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