More winter weeds

After reading yesterday’s post, if you have not been a fan of weeds so far are you starting to look at them differently? I hope so. It would be a shame to ignore the value of these plants. They are everywhere, grow with no effort, have outstanding nutritional value, attract pollinators and beneficial insects. They can also act as ‘sacrificial plants’ for insect pests, keeping the latter away from your more conventional food sources. Oh, and they’re free; no need to buy seeds or seedlings, plant, nurture or transplant.

Here are a few more weeds which I have introduced in our garden on purpose because, although they are everywhere, I prefer my edible weeds to be pesticide and insecticide free. It is a good idea to always identify the plants before eating and avoid harvesting from areas which may have been sprayed.

weeds june 2014 027

Nettles are rich in protein (40%), iron, vitamin A and C; they make a healthy tea, soup or green vegetable. Tender, young shoots are best. When harvesting, gloves are a must and cooking eliminates the sting. Recently, I made nettle soup with sweet potato and served it with fresh cream; it is very good and I will give you the recipe.

weeds june 2014 028

Chickweed is loved by chickens and… people. It is high in protein, vitamins A and C, and has more than twice the iron levels of spinach. It can be used in salads, soups and sandwiches or made into pesto. Just clip the tops with scissors and it will keep growing back for many more harvests. It is such a pretty yellow-green colour, I have used it as the background for this blog.

weeds june 2014 024

Chicory is a bitter green with distinctive blue flowers. It is used sparingly in salads and in traditional medicine as a liver tonic. The roasted roots can be used as a coffee substitute. It is very ornamental with its reddish stems and it can grow to knee-high – a good background plant in our ‘weed garden’.

For more information and clear illustrations, making identification super easy, see The Weed Forager’s Handbook: A Guide to Edible and Medicinal Weeds in Australia by Adam Grubb and Annie Raser-Rowland. This little Aussie book is worth its weight in gold.

weed handbook

 

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