Gardeners like sunny days, gentle rain, and bountiful harvests; they hate drought, hungry critters, and weeds, right? Not so fast on that last one. It's time to give weeds a chance. Some of those edible weeds that are growing in your garden many not only be delicious but also nutritious.
photo of chickweed via Shutterstock
Apparently, chickweed got its name because baby chicks love to eat it. I can understand why because I also enjoy this edible weed's fresh, grassy taste (some say it reminds them of corn silk). Aside from being tasty, it's also high in vitamin C, beta carotene, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, and more.
All parts of chickweed are edible--its stem, leaves, flowers and seeds. Use it in salads, wilted aside a pasta dish, in soup, or steep to make tea.
One caution: If you are allergic to nitrates avoid chickweed.
photo of dandelion via Shutterstock
Slowly, but surely, dandelion's reputation as a nasty weed is changing (I hope). This early harbinger of spring is rich in calcium, iron, vitamin C, vitamin A (especially the leaves), vitamin K, potassium, magnesium, and folic acid.
Harvest dandelions while they're young because the leaves will become increasingly bitter as they age. The crowns are usually the sweetest part, whereas the yellow flowers can be bitter.
Put dandelions in sandwiches or salads. Interestingly, its roots can be roasted and used as a replacement for coffee.
3. Lamb's quarters
photo of lamb's quarters via Shutterstock
Lamb's quarters has many aliases: pigweed, goosefoot, wild spinach, dungweed, baconweed, and fat hen. That last name is well-earned as it is sometimes used to fatten hens.
High in vitamins a and C, lamb's quarters was widely eaten during the Great Depression when other fresh greens were rare.
Don't be alarmed if the leaves look as if they're covered in a white powder; it's all edible. That's salt from the soil and indicates its mineral-rich value.
photo of purslane via Shutterstock
According to the University of Illinois, "Purslane is an annual reproducing from seeds and from stem pieces. Seeds of purslane have been known to stay viable for 40 years in the soil." Does that fact make you happy or sad? It depends on how you view edible weeds.
The taste is rather tart and similar to watercress or spinach. Use purslane in salads or on sandwiches instead of lettuce or pickles. Purslane can also be steamed, stir-fried or pureed. It tends to get a bit slimy if overcooked. It can be substituted for spinach in many recipes.
5. Red clover
photo of red clover via Shutterstock
This edible weeds is called red clover, but some would argue that the plant's flowers are more purple than red.
Try blending the plant's leaves in with another loose leaf tea that you're steeping. Ready for a bigger challenge? According to Brandeis University, red clover can be ground into a high protein flour.
This herb has some major health creds. According to the University of Maryland, it can protect against heart disease, help reduce symptoms of menopause, and help with osteoperosis.
lead image of gardener weeding via Shutterstock