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    Hi all

    Yesterday I took a walk around the Kihikihi Domain, which is a marvellous place, having all sorts of sports available. In the past I’ve watched polo there, and there is a cross-country course for the 3-day event enthusiasts, as well as all sorts of other sports.

    Anyway… I digress… it was bright and sunny (though cool) and I observed some blue butterflies enjoying speedwell, a common enough weed. They were nectaring on the tiny blue flowers – a wonderful resource for our smaller butterflies as not too much is flowering at present.

    So if you have Speedwell in your garden, don’t eliminate it!

    I also found this website


    which identifies many of our weeds. One of my most valued books is one that was published many years ago, just a saddle-stitched government publicaiton wih a self cover, but invaluable pictures of every weed in NZ. I wouldn’t be without it.


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    Good to know about the docks but the common nettle isn’t that much bother just a bit of a nuiscance although occassionally seems more iritating ( maybe it’s sting is more potent at a different time?) I was hoping it might be good for the Ongaonga – I usually wear gloves for this one but it sometimes gets me and then I have a numb finger for about three days. That was interesting about the nettles Darren, but hope no one reads it. He he! Wouldn’t want them depriving those little admirals of there food source by doing something else with the nettles.



    Dock leaf neutralizes the sting of both introduced and native stinging nettles with the exception of Urtica ferox (Ongaonga) which I can personally vouch for, having been zapped a few times. Ferox has different chemical compounds to the others.



    Great stuff, Darren.

    Yvonne, I believe so although I haven’t tested that 🙂 and do not attend to try! 🙂 🙂




    Also weeds make useful indicator plants, so seeing what weeds grow where provide an indication of the soil conditions e.g.

    Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
    Likes low fertility acid soils. correct with compost and lime or instead plant potatoes and blueberries.

    Daisy (Bellis perennis)
    Likes shady, moist, low-fertility soil. correct with compost or save that spot for beans, carrots, and peas.

    There are a number of such lists floating around, often based on folklore rather than research, but that doesn’t mean the aren’t useful for the home gardener. If my livelihood depended on it I’d go with with a proper soil test though. Try searching for “indicator plants” There’s a good list at http://www.bhu.co.nz/workshops/Manuals/Soil%20Testing%20without%20Labs%20Notes.doc



    Rubbing a sting from Urtica dioica with a dock leaf is a very old piece of folklore.

    ‘One day he (Monsieur Madeleine) saw some peasants busy plucking out Nettles; he looked at the heap of plants uprooted and already withered, and said – “They are dead. Yet it would be well if people knew how to make use of them. When the nettle is young, its leaf forms an excellent vegetable; when it matures, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Nettle fabric is as good as canvas. Chopped, the nettle is good for poultry; pounded it is good for cattle. The seed of the nettle mingled with fodder imparts a gloss to the coats of animals; its root mixed with salt produces a beautiful yellow colour. It is besides excellent hay and can be cut twice. And what does the nettle require? Little earth, no attention, no cultivation. Only the seed falls as it ripens, and is difficult to gather. That is all. With a little trouble, the nettle would be useful; it is neglected, and becomes harmful.” ‘
    Victor Hugo, Les Mis?rables



    Hi Jacqui,
    So you are saying that dock is a great antidote for stinging nettle – does this mean I can rub a bit on the stings on my hands to alleviate stinging and does this work for both the common and native nettles?



    Another thought… I used to be part of a very active biodynamic farming group in Franklin area, and one thing I learned from the experienced farmers there was how we can learn so much from weeds. Dock (for example) was always common in pasture where the soil had been compacted – for instance in paddocks where horses are, they eat the grass very short and with their weight/hooves compact the soil. Dock in its turn with its long tap root would bring up vital nutrients/minerals from the subsoil, helping to alleviate the symptoms and rejuvenate the pasture.

    And of course dock is a great antidote to stinging nettle.

    What other specific “values” do people know of that they can attribute to weeds? I have written some of them into my Weeds book but it’s at home.

    Willow (trees, not the willow weed) was a great source of salicylic acid, which is used to make aspirin, a great pain reliever.

    Chickweed (Stellaria media) was another favourite. I used to get lots of goodies into my kids by making ‘cheese and chickweed scones’. I’d chop it fine – and I could always find it in my garden. Look at the value of chickweed here:


    I wonder if blues nectar on chickweed flowers?

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