Eat the Weeds

garden-with-weeds

Weeds. We hate them. They compete with our fruit and vegetable crops for nutrients, water, and light. They are overachievers when it comes to growth. Removing them mechanically is hot, dirty, tiring, backbreaking work, and removing them chemically is poisonous to our environment and hazardous to our health. Of course, you can lay down mulch, which is a less labor intensive and more environmentally friendly way of controlling the weeds. But I’m going to offer you a fourth option. To paraphrase a passage from the bible, open your mouth wide, and I will fill it – with weeds. In other words – eat them!

 
“This time, he’s gone too far,” you mutter to yourself while shaking your head, “Is he actually suggesting that I should put those horrible things in my mouth? Chew them and swallow them? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. But before you call the men in white coats to have me fitted for an arms-binding overcoat and permanently relocated to a padded mansion, please hear me out. No, I’m not suggesting that you should eat thistle or ground ivy. But believe it or not, there are many plants that grow with impunity in our gardens that are actually fit for human consumption.

 
Dandelion – They are the scourge of those who want a sea of uninterrupted green grass. But dandelions are a nutritional powerhouse! They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and carotene. The greens are loaded with calcium, iron, and antioxidants, and contain more protein than spinach. The flowers can be used in salads and breads and can also be used to make wine. The roots can be dried and ground and brewed to make a coffee substitute.

dandelion
Red clover – Red clover is chock full of protein and is also an excellent source of beta-carotene, many of the B vitamins, vitamin C and bioflavonoids. The flowers can be used in teas and salads and can also be pan roasted into a crispy treat.

red-clover
Chickweed – This low growing succulent is overflowing with nutritional goodness — vitamins, minerals, and omega-6 fatty acid derivatives to mention a few. Leaves and stems can be added to salads or prepared as a cooked green. Use it sparingly, however; consuming too much at one sitting can cause diarrhea.

chickweed
Purslane – Purslane, with its thick, fleshy stems and leaves is another nutritional powerhouse containing generous amounts of iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and C. Purslane is often used as a spinach substitute, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

purslane
And that’s just a small sample of the many edible weeds out there.
Remember that as long as there are gardens, there will always be weeds. But don’t let them get you down. If you can’t beat ‘em – eat ‘em!

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Here Comes Summer!

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In the good old summertime
In the good old summertime
Strolling through the shady lanes
With your baby mine
You hold her hand and she holds yours
And that’s a very good sign
That she’s your tootsie-wootsie
In the good old summertime

― In the Good Old Summertime, by George Evans and Ren Shields

 
Summer officially begins on June 21st at 11:24 PM CDT. Soon, there will be picnics, barbecues, farmers markets, and festivals galore. Carefree days and nights with a million different ways to spend our time. Once again, it’s summertime, and, as the Gershwin tune states, the living is truly easy.

 
Former Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene once described the days of summer as pebbles in a jar. Each day that passed represented another pebble that was taken out of the jar. Eventually, the jar would be empty and summer gone. Greene emphasized that the pebbles should be taken carefully one by one, savored and not rushed. If we get greedy and take too many pebbles at once, then the summer flies by and is gone before we know it. Yet how often do we do just that. We allow the mundane drudgery of life — jobs, projects, and other things to dominate our lives. We take those summer days and nights for granted. Then one day we look up and realize that its September, and we have allowed another summer to pass us by and we’ve barely accomplished half of the things we said we were going to do.

 

Those wonderful days of summer should be enjoyed and cherished and not allowed to pass us by in a blur. Because if we allow that to happen, the next thing we know, we’ll be waist deep in cold white stuff wondering where in the world summer went.

 
So get out there and enjoy each glorious warm summer day and night. Make each day count. They’ll be gone sooner than you think!