Disclaimer: Don’t eat ANY plant unless you are sure you know what it is! This goes double for mushrooms, which can, seriously, kill you.
Edible weeds for fun and profit
Never pull a plant you don’t recognize.
When we’re having fun in the garden, it can be all too easy to get super enthusiastic and start a-yankin’ and a-murdering every plant that isn’t something we planted.
BUT HOLD ON, WOULDYA?!?
Get to know every single plant that grows in your garden. Learn the common and botanical names, and learn what they’re good for.
Then, when you do the weeding, you know which plants to dry for the kitchen, which to put in the salad, which to make into compost tea, and which to leave in the ground!
Four reasons why this is SO important:
1. They could be dynamic accumulators.
As we touched on in our soils class, way back in week 15, so-called weeds can be telling you stuff about your soil, and they can also be working to improve it. Here’s a downloadable compilation of dynamic accumulators and what they do.
2. They could be poisonous.
Some weeds can cause skin rashes or worse. Learn what you’re working with to avoid problems!
3. They could be edible.
All of our garden vegetables once were weeds! They were selected, bred, and intentionally crafted, by many generations of farmers, to be so big and yummy as we know them now. And many of them have delicious, nutritious cousins that grow all by themselves in our gardens. This article will get you started on the Top 12 Yummiest Weeds, and don’t miss this recipe for Purslane Relish.
4. They could be worth money.
The wild edibles market is no joke, and if you’ve got fresh organic purslane, watercress, or morels, you could actually get a fair bit of cash for it. Here’s an article with some fun examples.
The common weed Hypericum perforatum, aka St. John’s Wort, is one of the most powerful medicinals on the planet.
This video explores some of my favorite edible weeds, most of which can be found even in the city!
The Mighty Dandelion
It’s probably indicative of the illness of our culture that dandelions have such a bad rap, because they are truly one of the most useful, nutritious, delicious, and soil-building plants in the garden! Here are some awesome resources for how and why to use them:
- How to harvest and prepare dandelion root.
- A collection of recipes for dandelions and other yummy weeds.
- Get out there and learn the names and uses for every. single. plant. in. your. yard.
- Eat your weeds! Use the recipes linked on this page, or make up your own! Try them dried, roasted, fried, battered, in smoothies…if they taste yucky, try a different recipe!
- How will you incorporate edible weeds and dynamic accumulators into your whole system design? Think it through, and work it into your plans. These plants are important!
Relevant Links and Resources
This topic is HUGE and this class is really just a teaser, to get you inspired and send you on your lifelong journey of weed-eating. Here are some directions you could go:
The Trillium Wild Edibles project is excellent.
If this topic interests you, you’re for sure gonna want to watch every single video on this channel. Start with this video:
Mushrooms! If you’re interested in mushrooms, Paul Stamets is the place to start. Here’s an excellent interview about his work, biodiversity, and fungi.
The Eat the Weeds youtube channel is loads of fun! Here’s a video about the commonly misidentified “Deadly” Nightshade:
Fruit of the Oak Tree:
How to gather and process acorns.