Friday, October 3, 2014

Giant ragweed for high calorie gardening.

Giant ragweed for high calorie gardening.

Now you must think I am crazy, growing giant ragweed. Well not all the calories in high calorie gardening are to be consumed by humans. I have chickens that love to eat the seeds.
The seeds of giant ragweed are 47% crude protein and 38% crude fat.
Quail or pheasants, in a good stand of giant ragweed will double and triple in population!
A good stand of giant ragweed will drop seed over the fall and early winter months feeding poultry that are foraging. Seed pods are not hard to harvest by hand since seeds grow in clusters next to the main stem.
Humans have raise giant ragweed in the distance past in North America as a food crop.
It seems to have been abandoned hundreds of years ago in favor of corn.
Now giant ragweed gives allergy suffers a very hard time for a few weeks in late summer. Fortunately, I am not allergic to it. I harvesting this year has been delayed due to a broken ankle. I broke in right after testing a new tool to harvest giant rag weed. I stepped into of mole hole walking into the house L But I was able to perfect my harvest. I just grab the stalk in my left hand and hack it with the sickle stick in my right hand. I can then strip the seed pods and toss the stem into a pile for use as sheet mulch.
Now sheet mulching is another area where giant ragweed really stands out. It is an annual plant if you cut it just before it produces pollen you can get a ton of mulch. I lay coffee bags down and add some chicken manure. Then I just start lying down a solid mulch of giant ragweed stalks. By spring the bags and giant ragweed will be broken down.
Get Rid of Ragweed and Grow Your Garden!

Another use I have for giant ragweed is to shade my plants. I was hybridizing hosta and shading is a real problem. What I found is that giant rag weed can grow well with hosta. The giant ragweed does not really get it height till the heat of summer. This is the time when hosta need shading. So I have allowed giant rag weed to shade my hosta plots for over a decade. I tried it with potatoes this year and had good result by using a percentage of giant rag weed for shading the potatoes from the heat of summer.
Finally, it appears that sheep and goat love to eat young giant rag weed. 

“In nutrient-poor soils, the roots of pasture plants, such as grasses and weeds, have some ability to selectively absorb and concentrate essential minerals. One interesting example from crop science is ragweed, which can have Zn concentrations seven times greater than those of corn leaves at tassel! In other words, as most gardeners know, weeds can rob soils of nutrients. Goats are great ‘weedeaters’, so why not use organized plots of certain pasture weeds to supplement minerals in their diet? The trick is to find the right weeds. You want the nutritive value but you don’t want to propagate a host of noxious weeds that will upset your neighbors and the local extension agent!”

The Nutritive Value of Common Pasture Weeds and Their Relation to Livestock Nutrient Requirements

So give some thought to giant rage weed. If nothing else think about using it in an area where nothing else will grow. However, do remember that this is an aggressive plant so be careful to keep it out of your established garden areas. 

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