Identifying & Using WEEDS

It’s day 145 in the Edible forest garden, and I have yet to harvest much in the form of veggies or fruit. I’ve been crazy about herbs ever since I watched Grow Your Own Drugs. Then I listened to this episode and this episode on the survival podcast, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Wanting to grow a few medicinals and more edibles, I had to know what’s already growing in the garden. 
I’ve had volunteer plants such as Cilantro, tomatoes, and melons. Many edible and medicinal plants grow just about everywhere. I even found wild strawberries growing at Marsh Lane and Brookhaven, so the ugly definition for weeds is not the same as it used to be for me. The worst weed I have in the garden is GRASS. 

1 – DANDELION. This plant is really good at mining minerals, air rating the soil, a medicinal, edible root to flower, so it’s here to stay in the garden. So far, I’ve made dandelion flower tea, dandelion flower syrup, and sampled some greens. Harvesting the flowers will help keep this plant in check. I could also make wine or coffee, but I would need to harvest much more than what’s growing in the garden.

This video shows a man that sold his dandelion greens for $900 just from weeding between his rows. This video shows a good history of the plant, and here’s a good video where you can see a 2 foot long dandelion leaf. Get rid of this plant? no way!

2 – PINK or MEXICAN EVENING PRIMROSE. This is also known as buttercup. I’ve had this in my yard every year, and wasn’t sure what it was until now. It is a wildflower perennial that doesn’t seem to have many uses other than a ground cover. At least it’s pretty. 

3 – PLANTAIN. I’ve come close to buying these seeds without knowing what it looked like. Good thing, because it’s already here in the garden. This plant is a medicinal. Here’s a good video about it. 

This is a new plant for me to experiment with. Maybe I’ll try the seeds with oatmeal. 

4 – QUEEN ANNE’S LACE? I don’t think this is Queen Anne’s lace but maybe a hybrid with something else. Besides its deadly look-a-like, Hemlock, I couldn’t find what else it could be. It doesn’t have as many flower heads, it doesn’t close up when it goes to seed, and it doesn’t smell like carrot. It doesn’t smell bad like hemlock, either.

I don’t know exactly what it is, so I don’t plan to use it. 

5 – YELLOW DOCK. I know this is a dock and just assumed it’s yellow dock. As a tap rooted plant, that is useful on its own. This video says that the seeds can be used as a grain, and it’s closely related to buckwheat.
Maybe I’ll use the seeds with a little more research on what’s growing in my garden. 
6 – HENBIT. It’s hard for me to realize this one is edible. This video can tell you more about the plant. I thought I got this confused with ground ivy, but when I double checked it again, it’s confirmed henbit. I identified its hairy and opposite leaves. It doesn’t taste too bad either. 
I’m going to try adding it to salads. 
I also have oxalis, which is high in vitamin C that can be added to salads sparingly. Chickweed is another edible weed I have. I have many others, but they don’t seem to be edible. A few edible weeds I wished I had: real queen ann’s lace, stinging nettles, lambs quarters, pigweed, red and white clover, and mallow. You can find many of these edible plants and their uses in permaculture books.

I think we have it backwards. Grass is the real weed over anything edible. 

credits & resources: photo credits by Jamie at A CITY GIRL // // Susan Weed on YouTube: // // Paul Wheaton on YouTube: // // Gaia’s Garden, second edition by Toby Kemenway

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