Weed control is probably the biggest challenge for organic growers, and getting the timing right when establishing a new crop can make a big difference to yields, as well as ease of harvesting. But, that said, we don’t mind an understory of weeds on our over-wintered crops; they help protect the soil from the winter weather, and provide food and shelter for wildlife.
Our flat parsley, planted last spring, and now putting on a last flush of growth before going to seed, looks beautiful at the moment amongst the red dead-nettle (not done justice by my photography!).
The red dead nettle seems particularly abundant this year, and is being frequently visited by bees, I couldn’t identify the one below (any ideas, anyone?). According to wiki, red dead-nettle is a prominent source of pollen for bees in March/April (in UK), when bees need the pollen as protein to build up their nest. And, according to Miles Irving ‘the leaves and young stems, prior to flowering, are tender and juicy’.