Commelina cyanea
Know your weeds better !
Oct 13, 2020.

Commelina top, and Tradescantia bottom, compared.Commelina top, and Tradescantia bottom, compared.

Regenerative gardening activity

Commelina cyanea is a weed I've been pulling out for years. I did not know what it was. I called it wandering jew, when its common name is scurvy weed, for a reason. 

Part of having a regenerative garden is to be curious about your weeds and use Google. I didn't.

Last season it was rampant in my top bed and I pulled it all out on one day, and learned a terrible lesson. The soil was naked for months and I did not have enough other plants to go in there instead to cover the ground. I mulched heavily but the few plants that were there suffered and were thirsty and sad. The year before, this bed was my most fertile bed.

Only last week I took my own advice, I set out to identify the 'weed' and googled its uses. I found out that it is not what I thought it was. It is not Tradescantia, also known as wandering jew, but scurvy weed, so called because it is so high in anti-oxidants like vitamin C that it kept Captain Cooke's crews alive, according to legend. It is enjoyed by foragers in Australia where it is a native.

What a discovery ! Till last week it was my worst enemy and now I find I've been ripping out my most prolific vegetable for years. I have not eaten it yet, but I will.

Why is knowing your weeds soil-regenerative ? Because you are less likely to rip them out if you know they are useful. Removal disturbs the soil microbiome and in addition this one is a ground cover that protects the soil, and there are few ground covers in many vegetable gardens. Furthermore many weeds have a soil regenerative purpose. They are often there because something is needed in the soil and they are doing repair work.

Commelina flowerCommelina flower
massed Commelinamassed Commelina
Tradescantia flowerTradescantia flower
massed Tradescantiamassed Tradescantia



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other weeds: Little Robert

I've been writing for four years now and I would love to hear from you

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or stories to share on gardening, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests, natural gardening, do nothing gardening, observations about pests and diseases, foraging, dealing with and using weeds constructively, composting and going offgrid.

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