I have been reading Violet's incredibly detailed and information-rich herbal blog. Her most recent post is about the virtues of the common garden weed. I had never heard of chickweed, but on looking it up, discovered it has grown in just about every garden I have lived in. Lo and behold, there is a patch, flowering madly, just outside my front door.
This week I have been adding chickweed and dandelion greens, and violet and nasturtium leaves to my salads. I feel virtuous, de-toxed and bursting with green goodness.
If you are growing broad beans right now, which I will be this time next year, the new leaves are also a very good and tasty addition to salads, or just for chewing on thoughtfully as you stand in the sunshine, planning your Spring garden. Also delicious are the new leaves on pea vines. I love to discover new ways to eat the food I grow, and to discover that I can eat weeds as well is just a wonderful gift. Free food! Of course, weeds have a venerable tradition in both food and medicine. I remember reading a French travel book where the author turned up to the town market expecting stalls full of delicious vegetables, only to find piles of wilting green leaves - it was the weekly weed market. Spring is prime time for harvesting weeds. Because they have not been extensively bred they are often quite bitter, and they bolt to seed quickly, so picking their tender new Spring leaves and flowers gives the most delicate flavour, and will keep them producing new leaves for longer. But also, because they haven't been bred for sweetness like much modern fruit and veg, they are much better for us - that slight bitterness will detox our over-burdened livers like nobody's business.
I will need to weed the plot right outside my front door soon. It is being choked with some kind of virulent and inedible large-leafed decorative garden plant which I plan to destroy without mercy. However I will keep that patch of rather tasty chickweed..
Maybe I can start a weed garden..
I already have a weed garden, of course, but maybe if I locate all the weeds together in one place it will look intentional:)