I am standing at my French Windows and looking out at my present garden. I am in the process of getting the place looking neat and tidy for the people who are going to stampede through my door to look at the house. Yes. Those mythical house buyers out there. They are supposed to be out there. I haven’t seen them yet. I hope they are more like badgers (ubiquitous but shy) and less like unicorns (only alive in legend and fable).
However… as I said, getting the garden looking smart inevitably requires weeding. And it got me thinking, can we use the weeds for anything other than ballast in the cars while being hauled to the rubbish tip? According to http://www.treehugger.com, yes. We can eat them!
Dandelions are ubiquitous in the garden and I can’t seem to the shift them. Just as well, they are tasty both raw and cooked from to the bloom. The leaves are quite bitter, but add a lovely note to salads and can be stir fried or added to soups. The flowers are sweet and crunchy and can be eaten raw or breaded and fried or used to make dandelion wine. The root can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute or added to any recipe that calls for root vegetables. Medicinally, the root helps with hormone regulation, works as a liver and digestion tonic and it is a natural diuretic or even gentle laxative.
Then there is purslane. It occurs in moist garden beds, lawns and shady areas. It certainly packs a punch nutritionally. It has more omega 3 oils in it that an other leafy vegetables. It is a great addition to a salad or a stir fry used to thicken soups or stews. It is a succulent with a crispy texture and the leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked to add a peppery flavour to any dish.
Do you have a lot of clover in your lawn? Clover is a good thing! Not only is it great food for honeybees and bumblebees. There are leaves and flowers that can be used in a variety of meals, chopped into salads or sauteed and added for a green accent. Flowers can be eaten raw or cooked or dried for tea. Actually red clover is a great tonic for females of any age. It contains isofavones which are potent phytoestogens. Useful at any age but particularly for those going through the menopause.
I’ll bet you have plantain somewhere in your garden. I know we do. Apparently it is a great medicinal plant, usually used to soothe burns, stings, rashes and wounds. It is a great edible green for the table. Obviously, the young leaves are the best to use and can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled or sauteed. Older leaves can still be used by may be a bit tough. The seeds of the plantain, which are produced on a flowering spike can be cooked like a grain or ground into a flower but you need to harvest loads of it to make that worthwhile!
And finally, chickweed. Rather unassuming to look at but it can be harvested for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Chickweed leaves, stems and flowers can all be eaten either raw or cooked. Plant can also be used as a topical poultice for minor cuts, burns or rashes and it can be made into a tea for use as a mild diuretic.
Well, I am amazed, and I shall be looking at the weeds in a different light. May all your weeds be so useful!