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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

In Defense of Weeds

For those that garden weeds are not friends. Weeds can be incredibly annoying always sprouting up and never really being gone. Even those good looking dandelions, you know those little yellow flowers that dot your yard, yes they are weeds as well.

Weeds are just plants growing where you do not want it to grow. Blackberries are fantastic when you find them growing wild in the forest, but are perhaps less desirable when you find them growing in the middle of your rhododendron bushes. There are a great number of weeds that are important to health, science, and culinary uses. Chickweed is a weed that is quite tasty and packed with vitamins, chicory often considered a weed is a pretty little plant with bright blue flowers which is made into a hugely popular drink in the south.

Do you remember as a child picking dandelions and these little weeds that we would blow and the seeds would scatter every where. Dandelions are weeds with useful purposes. A food source for insects and birds, humans eat young dandelion leaves and enjoy dandelion tea and dandelion wine. Native Americans used dandelions to treat certain ailments. as they contain source of vitamin A and C, calcium, iron and fiber.
Yellow Dock and Burdock

Yellow Dock and Burdock the taproot  young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring before flowers appear. The young stalk taste resembles that of an artichoke A good source of dietary fiber and certain minerals, including calcium and potassium. 

Lambs quarter leaves of lamb's quarter are excellent added to lettuce salads or cooked and used as  replacement for spinach Lambs quarter seeds are also edible. Great source of protein and vitamin A

Pigweed appears along road sides often between August to October. Plant goes by several names including red root Amaranth, Redroot Pigweed, Red Rooted Pigweed, Rough Pigweed, common amaranth and common tumble weed. These plants are not known to be poisonous but the leaves may contain nitrates if the soil has nitrate in it. This plant may be enjoyed as a vegetable. Pigweed is also valued as food and medicinal purposes. The seeds of this plant can be harvested and cooked the same as quinoa. The root of this plant may be used as well as it is high in vitamins and minerals, calcium and iron 

One last important note before using any weed as a food source, make sure it is correctly identified. The plant should be free of herbicides and pesticides. Do a bit of research to find safe edible part of each weed and find useful cooking and prep tips. 

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