This is the sixth in a series of blogs, shared with permission, about weeds in the garden. Each blog will discuss a common and specific weed found in Maine, its history, uses, what story it tells about the soil it grows in, and how to get rid of it. The original blogs, along with other gardening related blogs, can be found here.
Clover is another self-spreading perennial, and though some hate it – I would say if you have clover in your garden, leave it. It’d have to be an exceptional reason to remove it or want it gone. Clover pulls nitrogen from the atmosphere and shares it with nearby plants and soil – thus it will do a great job at constantly fertilizing your tomatoes. In lawns, clover remains green because it is exceptionally drought tolerant, and makes a better choice for turf than grass. Plus local pollinators love it, as do both bees and bee-keepers.
What does it mean?
A great amount of it may indicate low phosphorus, low nitrogen, calcium, high magnesium. One of its primary benefits is that it helps restore low levels of nitrogen. To get rid of it try aerating the soil and fertilizing with nitrogen and gypsum/calcium lime. Alternately, plant additional nitrogen fixing annuals such as legumes which will help balance out the missing nitrogen in the soil.
If you are alright with leaving it in your garden, plant nitrogen-loving plants such as corn or tomatoes near it. The clover will complement the annuals and help reduce the number of times you need to fertilize during the growing season.
Want to learn more?
If you would like to learn more about weeds, why they grow, and what that means about your garden, consider the following texts:
Weeds and Why they Grow, by Jay L. McCaman
Weeds and What They Tell Us, by Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer