I just read an article from a fellow gardener in France about the love-hate relationship we gardeners have with self-sowing weeds. The ones that come up every year or so it seems. I had to chuckle-in Provence they have many ‘weeds’ that pop up everywhere. So it got me started to thinking about my ‘weeds’ that come up in the garden every season.
What’s the definition of a weed? Answer: Any plant growing in the wrong location for us. And what’s this love-hate thing?
For example here are some edible weeds:
Purslane-Last year I let wild purslane grow wherever it wanted and even ate a bit of it in my salads as it has higher Omega-3 acids than salmon does! And a gardener friend of mine named Poki from Gaia gardens here in Santa Fe even has a great purslane pesto he brought to the Farmer’s Market and it was yummy. (I’m going to have to get the recipe.) So there was the love thing but then it started growing everywhere (everywhere I didn’t want it) and soon was flowering. I thought oh-oh I better pull it before it sets seeds and so I did. Way to much for me to eat but luckily my goats and chickens love it as a treat.
White Horehound-I finally ID a plant that is growing all over-both at my place and in Santa Fe. It is White Horehound which is actually a herb that suppose to have beneficial aspects for lung and bronchial problems by loosening phlegm. Some people make cough drops out of them and some use the dried leaves to make a tea. They actually sell the seeds in Baker Heirloom Seeds but around my place it grows like a weed. I use to pull it out because it is not a particularly attractive plant but since I became a beekeeper, I noticed the all bees are wild about it with its small white flowers so now I leave it bee for them.
I do control it somewhat by pulling the plant right after the bees are done with it but before it sets the big seed heads. Interesting the US Drug Administration won’t allow the American cough drop manufacturers to use horehound in their cough drops but Europe has used it in their cough drops forever and successfully. Seems it isn’t a ‘proven’ herb for the US but you can still buy European cough drops with it in them at the store-they’re called Riccola and they’re from Switzerland and ya know what? When I had pneumonia a few years ago and was coughing my brains out, it was the ONLY cough drop that stopped the horrible coughing and I didn’t even know about horehound then. Wake up America!
Borage-Next ‘weed’ was my borage. It’s not really a weed but a edible flower. I started 2 plants and put them in my strawberry patch as I read it is a great companion plant for strawberries-and so it is-there’s the love thing. The strawberries are thriving but the borage has reseeded so much I have to pull some of them out or they would take over the patch. You can also eat the borage flowers. They go well on salads and have a cucumber taste and the flower is really, really beautiful and the honeybees love them too. I think I’m going to move them to an outside garden area where I don’t care if it reseeds.
Dandelions are always considered a weed and yet I read many people put the leaves in salads and that they are super healthy for us. I just keep cutting the leaves off (my goats love these too) and make sure I don’t let it reseed.
Cow Pen Daisy-Now this next one isn’t edible for us but for the bees. Ever see that sunflower/daisy type of plant with grey-green leaves? It grows here in the summer. It’s actually called Cowpen Daisy or Golden Crownbeard and has great yellow flowers that look like small sunflowers. It’s name comes from it growing in a lot of cow pens or corrals where the soil has been disturbed. I like the flowers but the only problem for me is its stinky when you disturb it. I let grow if it wants to as I discovered it is a wonderful bee plant. I went to pull them out of our corral a few years ago (before Koko the horse came) and discovered the bees all over them so I left them (great, one less weed to pull!). Then later I found out that the flowers provide bees food in the late summer/fall so now I happily co-exist with them.
And then there’s Kochia-Kochia scoparia. So rampant this year and out of control for many of us living in the country. Again I wouldn’t eat it but I hear we can-its suppose to taste like a salty green. Imported from Eurasia eons ago-opps! Imagine if I could sell it at the Farmer’s Market! I’d be a millionaire! But I’ll tell you who does love it-my horse Koko and my goats! I read it was used for food for livestock as it is high in protein for them so I let the horse and goats out and mow (eat) it down periodically. I also have to literally mow or pull it as well before it reseeds. I have smothered it on my paths under about 3 inches of horse manure when it has just germinated or better yet before it germinates in early summer. This ‘smothering’ keeps the light out and it needs light to germinate and grow. But right now it has grown too big, so let those goats out, if you got any!
I like to let plants grow and reseed if possible as not much else can grow here without extraordinary effort although this year with all this fabulous rain we’ve got, everything is growing-especially ‘weeds’.