“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”
I still remember the joy of picking dandelion puffballs and blowing their soft seeds into the air. While those that dream of a weed-free lawn or garden might shudder at the idea, dandelions have much more to offer than amusement to a child.
Companion plant for: Various grains and tomato plants. Dandelion tap roots break up hardened soil and bring up nutrients from deep down, benefiting plants with weaker or shallower roots without competing with them.
Edibility: Young leaves and flowers are edible and delicious fresh in a salad, while older greens are better steamed or stir-fried. Dandelions are high in iron, potassium, beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and D. Both the leaves and root can also be made into a wonderful detox tea. If you happen to live with a rescued rabbit, they will also love this nutritious addition to their usual diet.
The plantain family is an important group of weeds for anyone interested in natural medicine to know about.
Companion plant for: Unknown.
Edibility: Remove the ribs and eat leaves steamed or fresh in a salad (the seeds are also edible.) Plantain leaves have been used medicinally both internally and externally for thousands of years. Internal usage: cholesterol, constipation, diabetes, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, indigestion, irritable bowel, kidney/bladder inflammation, liver problems, mouth ulcers/canker sores, liver problems, uterine tonic. External usage: bites/stings, eczema/psoriasis, cuts/bleeding wounds, leucorrhea/yeast, rashes/contact dermatitis, toothaches, ulcers/cold sores, varicose veins.
Advisory: Do to plantain’s medicinal nature and edibility it is worth growing somewhere in your garden whether it volunteers itself or not.
Common Chickweed [Stellaria media]:
Companion plant for: I have found that chickweed is best pulled out of the garden or grown in a patch of its own (see “Advisory” section).
Edibility: Chickweed is nutritious and a wonderful addition to a fresh salad. This creeping annual is high in vitamins A, D and B, as well as minerals like iron, calcium and potassium. Chickweed is used as a diuretic, an appetite suppressant and to help treat asthma, allergies and bronchitis.
Advisory: Chickweed can overtake other plants very quickly, so keep on top of harvesting this fast growing plant.
Next: Purslane, Sheep shorrel and more!