In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
April, 2001
Regional Report

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Dandelions aren't weeds--they're dinner in my house!

Eat Your Weeds

Being asked to weed the vegetable garden seemed like punishment when I was a child. I remember thinking I was getting back at my mother by pretending to eat the weeds I was pulling. Little did I suspect that when I grew up, I would be eating weeds and loving them by choice.

Sneaking the Weeds

Okay, I admit that I sneak weeds into the basket with other greens from the garden. Eating weeds is not always applauded in polite society. Why would someone eat and actually relish those plants that are often nuisances and sometimes even noxious? When caught, I refer to them as "wild plants" instead of weeds to defend myself. Try mentioning that you like to eat your weeds, and disdain is only the mildest of the reactions. However, if you talk about eating wild plants, people nod and say how clever you are.

Free Weeds

Pampered spinach and snooty mesclun are tasty, but weeds are free and don't take any care. They keep growing no matter how hard we try to stop them. I have a lot of respect for something that has learned to thumb its nose at the gardener and take advantage of any free spot of soil, regardless of the growing conditions.

Tasty Weeds

One of the best spring tonics for cleansing your palate and body is a gently sauteed mix of curly dock, dandelion, horseradish, and mustard greens. It's tangy and a touch bitter but packed with vitamins C, A, and B1, protein, calcium, iron, riboflavin, and niacin, and it tastes of pure spring.

Eating dandelion, lamb's quarters, chicory, purslane, stinging nettle, and shepherd's purse right out of the garden seems a lot more wholesome, down to earth, and, frankly, tastier than trying to cultivate bland-tasting greens. Besides, pulling weeds from the garden accomplishes two feats--it feeds you and prevents troublesome self-seeding. Plus, there's an evil satisfaction in pulling a weed and dispatching it in your mouth instead of the compost pile.

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