Plantain and soil

I know already that my soil is low on nutrients and organic matter. I know already the effects this is having on my attempts to grow food. I know how frustrated I am in my attempts to grow the soil and then food.

However, I was both dismayed and relieved to read about plantain (Plantago major) in the garden. Dismayed because it is a sign of poor soil and relieved because I can compost the leaves to add nutrients to this poor soil.

This is the biggest patch of plantain

and it seems to be growing very well, possibly gaining from the water for the newest apple tree. The plastic sheeting round the tree was supposed to stop other vegetation from doing this but if anything is stopping the tree from growing as fast as it could, it must surely be the weather rather than the nearby bed of Plantago major.

Anyway, as I am planning a round of landscaping this autumn/winter, I might forego the vegetables next year and instead concentrate on cultivating biomass. This wouldn’t be a long term solution if I wanted an annual vegetable garden, as the nutrients will keep leaching out of the sandy loam, but with more perennials, I might just get the garden of my dreams.

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
This entry was posted in Gardening, Permaculture and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Plantain and soil

  1. thegreanbean says:

    Good luck with the soil improvement Helen, it will be interesting to follow. I can learn from this

  2. We had a number of plantains in the lawn at Newark. They always ended up in the compost

  3. gaiainaction says:

    I love the Plantain plants Helen and yes they come to grow in poor soil. I once had a very large one on one of my raised bed. I like them because they make a great oil for insect bites. A lovely idea you have got there to create biomass….a great tip too. Anyway after your advice re my soil i have added urine this morning in an effort to increase nitrogen….

  4. Sharon says:

    It’s frustrating when the healthiest plants are the ‘weeds’!

  5. ionut barbu says:

    Hello to all .

    Plantain is one of my favourite ‘weeds’ .
    With nettles growing in many parts of the allotments , crushing some leaves and rubbings it on the skin takes the itch away ( quite instantly ) .
    Also sometimes I make tea with them for cough , in Romania they use to have cough syrop for kids with plantain .
    Young leaves can also go in salad 🙂 .

    I noticed that plantain grows in compacted soil ? Have you noticed the very dense roots ? Maybe it’s trying to decompact the ground .

    Best wishes to all .

    • Helen says:

      Hi Ionut, nice to hear from you. I have nettles in the garden, so will try rubbing plantain on the stings next time 😊.
      I’ve got quite compacted soil, particularly at the moment because of it being so dry. And yes, this is where the plantain is.
      On a forum I read and (sometimes contribute to), I’ve learned that alfalfa is excellent for breaking up compaction and it has such long roots. That therefore seems worthwhile trying…..

  6. You deserve the garden of your dreams, Helen. You’ve worked tirelessly to get your garden to grow.

  7. It took me ages to grow our soil. But loads of compost, organic material, horse doo, coffee grounds, hay, seaweed, topsoil, weeds you name it! You’ll do it .. oh an don’t forget mulch! 😃

    • Helen says:

      One of the fundamental issues for me is the subject of buying stuff in. There are always seeds in my compost, which complicate mulching with it. Then I really can’t afford to buy sufficient manure, topsoil etc. and am concerned about the ethics of the former, chemical residues in the latter and the plastic they come in. Plus, as the soil is sandy loam it will be running hard to stand still I think. Hence, my leaning towards perennials.

      What kind of soil is yours, Julie?

      • We have a clay soil which means adding loads of organic material. But we are so lucky as you know Helen, as we live on 10 acres and we can make loads of compost .. A friend of mine told me of a gardener that never added anything to his garden but mulch. Apparently his soil was amazing. Best of luck with yours ..

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.