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10 Weeds Worth Growing

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“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”

~Doug Larson

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.

Dandelion [Taraxacum]:

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.

Attracts/hosts: Honeybees.

Repels: Armyworms.

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.

Plantain [Plantaginaceae]:

Companion plant for: Unknown.

Attracts/hosts: 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).

Attracts/hosts: Unknown.

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!

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Alisa Rutherford-Fortunati

Gentle World is a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization, whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition. For more information about vegan food and other aspects of a vegan lifestyle, visit the Gentle World website and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.


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12:53AM PST on Nov 30, 2014

Thank you!

3:12AM PDT on Sep 19, 2014

Thank you :)

2:48AM PDT on Sep 3, 2014


5:13AM PDT on Sep 1, 2014

Just skimmed through all 368 comments and fascinated that only one (other) person called you on the uses of purslane.

What did you MEAN to write where the computer printed "gastrula intentional gastro-intestinal disorders"?

2:58AM PDT on Aug 26, 2014

This was a 'hit & miss' of an article, as only a few of these are tasty and common. The inclusion of vetch was really weird, as it's considered a cover crop only.

I LOVE purslane and the even better lamb's quarters, which wasn't mentioned, is widely dispersed, and very easy to distinguish. These are among Spring's earliest and most beneficial pot herbs.

Pull lamb's quarters when no more than 12" high, long before it sets flower buds. Rinse it well, chop into 2" to 3" long pieces, and STEAM it very gently. When it turns from greyish-green to a distinctly green hue, it's likely done. Lavish it w/unsalted butter w/a light sprinkle of sea salt and oink out! It's FAR better than spinach, and has NO oxalic acid!

Go to for a good overview w/photos.

5:46AM PDT on Sep 7, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

5:39AM PDT on Sep 7, 2013

Rabbits are not the only pet that enjoys dandelion, tortoises do too :) I've always known ground ivy as creeping Charlie, and I also did not know it had medicinal uses. Thanks!

1:42AM PDT on Aug 9, 2013

None of these weeds really grow in my suburb but I do have a lot of ground Ivy, native violets (also edible), dandelion and clover growing as weeds!

There are others, including cobbler's pegs/farmer's friends (their seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids), nasturtiums (leaves and flowers can be eaten), sowthistle (flowers look similar to dandelion), and wood sorrel. Try google images!

3:57PM PDT on Jun 22, 2013

Thanks for the info!

4:08AM PDT on Jun 9, 2013

Thank you Alisa, for Sharing this!

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