The Garden Weeds Revolution: Let Them Grow!

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Garden weeds have a bad rap. I?ll be the first to admit that the odd weed gets on my nerves, but I know it?s growing for a reason. They?re not always the villain! Today, I want you to rethink the weed and how it could very well be the best thing to happen to your soil.

garden weeds growing in a lush lawn

Plants can tell us so much about the world. When I first sent in my manuscript for , one of my editors questioned if it was really true that humans learned about plants by watching animals.

I said absolutely!

Animals know what plants to eat, which are medicinal, and what to use as building materials. My friend, (and ) Lori, shared how her ancestors would watch a bear while she foraged and looked at plants she used to soothe an upset stomach. Likewise, they watched bees and saw what they used in order to build a better hive and survive the winter.

When it comes to garden weeds, our first thought is to remove them. Yet, we are ignoring the incredible benefits they bring to the garden and why they exist in the first place. The animals love weeds and so does the soil. Garden weeds play an important role in a regenerative garden!

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beneficial weeds

Why Does Your Garden Grow Weeds?

If you have lots of weeds, take this as a sign that your garden soil needs some help! Weeds are natural soil fixers. They?re the first plants to move into bare soil as they can thrive in the worst conditions. And they do their work fast!

Wild plants are so smart. Their seeds can sit dormant in the soil for up to 20 years. Weeds don?t sprout until they have the right conditions, or the soil requests their presence. When you see weeds, the soil is asking for the plants to come in.

Their long taproots can help to draw water and nutrients back up into the soil. These same roots help to loosen compacted soil. As they grow, the leaves and the roots help to add organic material back to the soil. When they decompose, they turn into nutrients other plants can feast on.

These same weeds also have incredible edible and medicinal uses. We often forget how delicious and beneficial some of these hardy, native plants can be (see , for example!). And the wildlife thinks so too! Most insects, birds, and larger animals will happily eat these weeds as if they were caviar.

When we cultivate our soil, we invite these wild plants to come in. Resist stirring up the soil and opening the weed seed bank as much as possible. Once we clear these weeds from our soil and replace it with edible and ornamental plants, we deplete the soil once again. The wild plant seeds begin once again to help restore soil health.

red clover and dock

How to Identify Beneficial Weeds

When looking at the unexpected plants in your garden, it?s important to stop and take a moment to identify their uses. Many plants are medicinal, soil fixers, or can be eaten.

A recent reader on the blog mentioned that they pulled all the stinging nettle in the garden because they were tired of stings on their hands. But I also learned in a recent discussion that stinging nettle was being used to treat arthritis the same way as bee stings. It goes to show you can?t think of plants as black or white.

To know if a plant is a weed in your garden, let these garden weeds grow for a while to help with identification and research. Plants that are more mature will be easier to identify by their leaves. As you get to know it, see if it has some value in your garden. If not, redirect it to another space where wildlife may be able to benefit from it.

Weeds that grow outside of your organized pattern or are not growing at the same time as cultivated seeds, it?s likely a weed. But I always encourage you to let it grow. Who knows, it could be a lovely or other pollinator favourite!

Learn more about in this helpful post!

comfrey

How to Lessen Garden Weeds

When you?re overrun with invasive plants, try to look at the benefits of the weeds and redirect them. For instance, horsetail is both delicious and. The shoots in the spring taste like wild asparagus! You can manage it by letting it grow in one place to enjoy and not somewhere else.

You can also employ certain practices in the garden that keep weeds down. A polyculture garden involves you planting densely with native plants and allowing plants to compete with spaces. Plant strong plants that you want to grow and get big.

You can also try sheet mulching to prevent weeds. The thick layers of cardboard or newspaper smother out the plants underneath and prevent airflow.

Of course, pick weeds before they get too big if possible. Picking after rainfall or watering makes them easier to remove. Get as much of the root out as possible to prevent them from growing back. Be sure to fill the hole with and mulch to cover it to prevent more seeds from sprouting inside the hole.

weeds in vegetable garden

Garden Weeds and Green Lawns

When people tell me they want a green lawn, I always wonder if they want it green in colour or to make it more sustainable. I hope it?s the latter! When it comes to the idea of a green lawn, it?s more about changing perspectives.

I have a lovely green lawn full of clover, dandelions, and buttercup. Not only is it sustainable, but it?s green because it?s not a monoculture. More than grass, it?s full of wild plants that thrive and grow well since they?re in their natural habitat. It?s treadable, mowable, and stands up well for lawn activities.

Many people are scared of letting dandelions take root in their lawns. I like to before they go to seed for my beauty recipes and to munch on. Others, I let grow for the bees.

But clover is my absolute favourite for the lawn! You can buy seeds mixed with micro clover in it. It?s truly a wonderful nitrogen-fixing plant that grows well on its own, provides flowers for pollinators, and is easier to manage than other clovers. If you let it grow tall, it even goes to seed and plants itself rather than needing to plant more seeds later.

If you want a thick, beautiful lawn that requires little watering, let some of the native plants come in and fill up the spaces.

green lawn

The Regenerative Garden

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding garden weeds in the soil and how to embrace native plants in your garden. My upcoming book, , tackles the idea of how we can make our gardens more resilient and self-sustaining. With more than 80 projects included, I show you how you can slowly change your garden with regenerative practices.

Available for , The Regenerative Garden is coming in spring 2022!

THE REGENERATIVE GARDEN 80 PRACTICAL PROJECTS FOR CREATING A SELF-SUSTAINING GARDEN ECOSYSTEM

Frequently Asked Questions About Garden Weeds

Why Are Weeds Bad?

Weeds are bad only if you think they are! Weeds in the vegetable garden or other more cultivated areas can be a nuisance, but they are actually doing a host of benefits. A weed is simply a plant growing where you don?t want it to be.

Instead, try to research the weeds and see if they have any medicinal, edible, or benefits to other plants in your garden. If you won?t want them, try to redirect them to grow somewhere else in your garden that works better instead.

What Do Weeds Do?

Weeds help to regenerate soil that has become depleted from nutrients and organic matter. They are the first plants to grow and quickly cover bare soil. Their roots help to bring water and nutrients back up to the surface and as they decompose, they bring nutrients back to the soil.

weeds in the garden

Do you have more questions about garden weeds? Leave them in the comments down below!

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Everyone?s talking about monsteras! These houseplants have some of the most impressive-looking leaves, coated in slits and holes to make them especially unique. The star of the room, learn how to care for your prized monstera plant.

swiss cheese plant

The plant world had no idea what was in store for them the second interior designers started posting photos of monstera plants on Instagram. Arguably the most popular houseplant of the decade, everyone and their cousin seems to have a monstera plant somewhere in their home.

And for good reason! These plants sure know how to draw the eye and become the focal point of the room. Their dramatic leaves add a tropical flair that has inspired prints from bedsheets to wallpaper. You know exactly what I?m talking about!

Join in on the monstera craze and learn how to care for these tropical beauties.

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monstera leaf

Meet the Monstera Plant

Native to the rainforests of Central America, monstera plants come from the Araceae family. They?re known for their dramatic leaves with slits in them. Leathery and glossy, they make a statement in whatever room they?re in.

Their signature slits or holes are known as fenestrations. Outdoors, the slits allow rain and sunlight to go through and reach the roots and leaves below. Due to its holes, the monstera has also earned its alternative name of swiss cheese plant.

Out in the wild, you might see the monstera plant flowering. Tan or cream in colour, they?re popular with the bees and butterflies and turn into a fruit with rich and delicious taste. However, monstera houseplants won?t flower or fruit!

Monstera can grow fast, up to 1-2 ft a year. They can get 2-3 ft wide and up to 3 ft tall. Natural climbers, they sprout many aerial roots in addition to their leaves.

monstera aerial root

Types of Monstera Plants

With over 48 species of monstera plants, there?s an incredible variety of monstera types out there. In fact, many are often mislabelled because they change so much in appearance as they grow. Here are some popular varieties that you

Monstera deliciosa
  • Monstera deliciosa. The most popular type out there and the one you?re most likely to find at your local garden centre. They have the classic large, glossy green leaves with slits in them.
  • Monstera borsigniana. A variation of deliciosa. At first, it?s hard to tell the difference between the two types when young. However, borsigniana are smaller and grow faster. The slits tend to be in rows rather than at random like the deliciosa.
  • Monstera variegata. These monsteras are very popular and can be difficult to find and therefore more expensive. They?re known for a distinct colour variation of white and cream that almost looks painted on.
  • Monstera adansonii. Smaller than most of the others, the adansonii appears more vine-like. The holes stills take up about 50% of the leaf, with some appearing round and others more narrow.
  • Monstera dubia. Also known as the shingle plant, the dubia has smaller leaves with light and dark green veining. This is also a rarer variety; their leaves appear almost variegated.
Monstera adansonii

Monstera Plant Care

Monsteras aren?t finicky plants so luckily their care is pretty straightforward! That being said, every plant has its ideal lifestyle so here are some tips on proper monstera plant care.

Location

Swiss cheese plants add a dramatic flair wherever you place them, be it your living room or office. When placing it, keep in mind that they don?t like cold drafts and heaters. Their optimal temperature is 60-80?F (15-27?C). They don?t like to go below 55?F (12.8?C).

In the wild, they like to climb upwards. To encourage this growth, give them a moss pole. Otherwise, they will grow outwards and take up quite a bit of room.

climbing monstera plant

Light

Monster plants will happily sit in a not-so-sunny corner. They?re fairly tolerant of which makes them great for the areas of your home that need a little brightening up with some greenery.

If you really want your monstera to thrive, place it in bright indirect light. Careful not to place it in direct sun as this can burn the leaves.

Water

Monster plants should be watered when the top 2-3 inches of the soil are dry. Use your finger and stick it in the soil to test for dryness. When it?s time to water, water thoroughly until you see water draining through the bottom holes. Toss out any excess water from the saucer.

You want your monstera to dry out completely between waterings. In the summer you will need to water fairly regularly and only occasionally during the cool season.

Coming from rainforests, monstera plants like a fair amount of humidity. You can mist your plant once a week in the morning for extra humidity. You can make a to help.

swiss cheese plant

Soil

Use well-draining in mind. You should keep the soil somewhat moist, but it should be in a pot with drainage holes to avoid any wet feet (which can lead to root rot).

Fill your soil in a deep pot to accommodate the roots. The pot should be a few inches wider and deeper than the pot it came in.

Fertilizer

During the growth season, from spring to summer, fertilize your swiss cheese plant once a month or every other week. Use a water-soluble and always apply it to wet soil.

monstera plant

Common Issues

Yellow leaves are a sign of improper watering. Only water your swiss cheese plant when the top is dry and water thoroughly in one go. Yellowing leaves may also indicate it?s not getting enough light.

Leaves with brown edges mean the plant needs more humidity. If left unresolved, they will also turn yellow before falling off.

Limp leaves mean the plant is likely not getting enough water. Give it a good soaking in the bathtub and let all the excess water drain out.

The aerial roots can also get unruly. While you can trim them, it?s best to try and tuck them back down into the pot.

Because of their large leaves, they can get dusty. To remove dust, wipe them down with a damp sponge or paper towel.

If the leaves on your monster aren?t splitting, it likely means it?s not getting enough light. Try moving it to another location and also pay attention to your watering schedule.

how to propagate monstera

Propagating Your Monstera Plant

The easiest way to is by taking stem cuttings and placing them in water. Here?s how to propagate them:

  1. Take your cutting using sanitized pruners. The cutting could be cut below the node (where a leaf has or will emerge), have an aerial root, and at least 2 leaves.
  2. Place your cutting in a vase or glass of water.
  3. Change the water every 2-3 days. After a couple of months, the cutting should have roots long enough to plant.
  4. Plant your monstera in new potting soil. Add in a moss pole for support and future climbing.

You can also propagate by air layering, but this method is more difficult for beginners.

monstera propagation

Frequently Asked Questions About Monstera Plants

Are Monstera Plants Toxic?

Monstera plants are mildly toxic for humans and pets. If consumed, it can cause irritation of the mouth and stomach.

Are Monstera Plants Easy to Care For?

As far as houseplants go, the monstera is fairly hardy. If you give them the right light and water, they?ll be happy as a clam.

How Do I Know if My Monstera Plant is Happy?

A monstera that is happy and thriving will have lots of new growth and split leaves. Unhappy monsteras will have yellow leaves, brown tips, no split leaves, slow growth, and might sprawl to try and reach sunlight.

climbing swiss cheese plant

Do you have any more questions about monstera plants? Leave them in the comments down below and I?ll do my best to answer!

More Houseplant Care Guides

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Making your own beauty products is not only incredibly satisfying but great for your skin as well. Homemade lotion is one of the best things you can do to moisturize and revitalize dull, dry skin. It feels amazing on your skin and you can feel safe knowing you?re using 100% natural ingredients. Here are the foundations of how to make lotion for yourself and some of my tried-and-true recipes.

Pump bottle of homemade lotion next to chamomile flowers

At this point, I have been making homemade lotion for quite a while. I keep a bottle at my bedside table, by my desk, in the bathroom, and even have a few bottles on the go. I?m using it constantly and not just because it smells and feels amazing, but it really works.

I won?t lie and say that making lotion is easy. It?s one of the more complicated natural beauty recipes I make and share here on the blog. But once you?ve mastered the technique, it?s so worthwhile.

When you make the lotion yourself, you know that only quality and natural ingredients are going on your skin. We should care just as much about what?s going on the outside of our bodies as what?s going in them!

Since I now have quite a few lotion recipes on the blog, I wanted to include them all in one place for easy reference and tackle the basics of how to make homemade lotion for those just getting started.

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What Ingredient Makes Lotion?

When it comes to homemade lotion, things get a little more complicated than simply mixing together a bunch of ingredients. The main components for making lotion are an emulsifier, thickener, and a preservative. While you may not recognize all the names, I promise you these ingredients are all 100% natural.

Emulsifier

Emulsifiers hold together water and oil. You?ve probably noticed that water and oil do not want to mix together. To keep them joined in the lotion, you can use either an (emulsifying wax) or (BTMS).

eWax comes from naturally occurring fats and esters while BTMS is a vegetable-based conditioning emulsifier. I prefer to use BTMS as it absorbs quickly and is lighter. eWax is better suited for body lotion or foot creams when you want a heavier and thicker formula.

Thickeners

Thickeners also help to keep the water and oil bound but they also thicken things up. and are the most common thickeners you can use for homemade lotion. Cetyl is fattier and lighter feeling while stearic acid is heavy and adds fluffiness.

homemade face lotion made with rose water

Preservatives

When learning how to make lotion, you cannot skip out on the preservatives. They stop mold, yeast, and bacteria from growing. Anytime you are adding water to a natural product, you will need a preservative.

In my recipes, I use . Using a peptide from fermenting radish root in kimchi, it has antimicrobial properties to keep away bacteria. Easy to find, it?s also eco-certified.

Besides Leucidal, you can also use potassium sorbate, sodium levulinate combined with sodium anisate, and Geogard ECT.

Some people believe that grapefruit seed extract, Vitamin E oil, and rosemary seed extract are natural preservatives, but they are not effective when it comes to stopping bacteria growth.

Essential Oils and Hydrosols

To scent my lotion, I like to use . Similar to essential oils, hydrosols are less concentrated as they?re made from distilling fresh plant materials. When essential oils are too expensive, these are a great alternative. You can still get the scent and beneficial properties of the plants.

In soap making, you can?t use hydrosols as any kind of infused oils lose most of their properties and scents after saponification. This is what makes them so great to use in lotion!

Instead of hydrosols, you can also use essential oils. I find the hydrosols are more lightly scented than essential oils so it comes down to preference.

I like my lotion to be scented, but you don?t have to. Hydrosols and essential oils are completely optional.

Lime and lavender essential oil bottles

How to Make Lotion

Now that you understand all the ingredients that go into lotion making, how exactly do you put it all together? I did hint earlier that the process is a little tricky but when done right, the lotion is a worthwhile reward.

First and foremost, avoid any kind of contamination. Before you start, you will want to sterilize all your equipment and general area with alcohol. This is an important step that should not be skipped. This prevents any bacteria or growth in your DIY lotion.

weighing lotion ingredients in a beaker

Next, you?ll weigh all your ingredients. Lotion making is separated into three categories:

  • aqueous phase: includes liquids such as hydrosols and water
  • oil phase: oil, butter, thickeners, and emulsifiers
  • cool phase: essential oils, preservatives, and other ingredients that can get damaged from heat
keeping the water ingredients and oil ingredients hot

In a double boiler, you?ll then heat your oil and water ingredients separately to 160?F.  You?ll want to hold them at this temperature for 20 minutes to help kill off any bacteria.

Combining ingredients with an electric mixer

In a bowl, add your oil then water ingredients. Using an electric mixer, you?ll combine them together and they should thicken relatively quickly.

At 80?F, you can then add in your cool phase ingredients. Blend until it?s reached that fluffy and lovely consistency we all love!

Packaging Your Homemade Lotion

Once you?ve made your lotion, you?ll then put it into a sterilized container. If the opening is small, you can use a or a zipped top bag with the corner cut to feed it into the container.

I prefer using a to not only easily use my lotion but also avoid contaminating it with my hands.

empty bottle ready to have lotion added

Homemade Lotion Recipes

Over the years, I?ve made quite a few different DIY lotion recipes. From conditioner (yes it?s a lotion!) to lotion bars, here are some of the recipes I use frequently.

This lotion is lightly scented with floral hydrosols including chamomile, calendula, rose, or lavender. This lotion is super moisturizing and absorbs quickly. Since I have sensitive skin, it doesn?t clog pores and isn?t too heavy. This is my go-to, basic lotion recipe.

basic lotion in a pump bottle

Infused with rose, this lotion hydrates and replenishes dull, dry skin. While I use it primarily as a face cream, you can apply it all over the body for a heavier lotion in the winter. Roses have been used in skincare for thousands of years and your skin will adore its health benefits.

homemade face cream made with rose water

When absorbed through the skin, magnesium can help to ease aches and pains and even counteract restless leg syndrome. I use this recipe to help calm my pain at night before bed for a restful sleep. It?s made a world of a difference.

magnesium lotion in a mason jar pump bottle

The skin on our hands is surprisingly delicate for all that we put them through! Using a hand cream keeps them soft and moisturized, making them feel more comfortable and youthful in appearance. Compared to more commercial lotions, this hand cream is richer and not at all greasy.

Amber jars filled with homemade hand cream

Lotion and conditioner are pretty well the same thing, following the same 3 phases and requiring emulsifiers and thickening agents. For this recipe, I use marshmallow root which is a natural hair conditioner on its own. It?s best for super dry hair that needs some repairing.

DIY marshmallow root conditioner with lavender

When your hair is nice and repaired, you will want to use this conditioner featuring rosemary, peppermint, and rosehip seed oil. One of the best herbs for hair, rosemary helps with scalp issues by relieving flakes, stimulating hair growth, and increasing circulation. And it smells oh so good!

Rosemary Peppermint Conditioner Recipe

Looking for a beginner?s project? Try this! Lotion bars do not need any water so they require no emulsifiers or preservatives. Therefore, they?re much easier to make.

This recipe is nice and light, perfect for the summer months. Calendula is a powerful herb for the skin that helps to heal tissue gently.

diy lotion bars with calendula

This lotion bar recipe is made with winter in mind. Pocket-sized and ready for easy use, it contains cocoa butter and coconut oil, both of which are heavier oils that will keep skin well moisturized during the drier months.

Vanilla bean winter lotion bar for dry skin

This recipe only requires three ingredients: coconut oil, lavender essential oil, and grapefruit essential oil. Like the lotion bars, it?s much simpler to make as you whip up the coconut oil until is it?s fluffy and luxurious. Perfect for pampering!

Frequently Asked Questions About How to Make Lotion

How Long Does Homemade Lotion Last?

Without preservatives, the shelf life for lotion is very short. In the refrigerator, it will only like about a week. This is why we add preservatives!

I use my homemade lotion within six months, but often I find I use it all up before then and need to make another batch.

How Do You Make Lotion for Dry Skin?

Everyone has different skin types, so what might work for one person is not best for someone else. Typically, you want to use heavier oils and butter for dry skin such as cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, and shea butter. In the winter, I use this as my skin gets much drier.

In the summer, I prefer this . It uses lighter oils, grapeseed and sunflower oil, that will moisturize the skin without feeling too heavy.

Scooping diy hand cream into a glass jar

More DIYs to Try

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