The inner world of a Goats-beard

The inner world of a Goats-beard

Let’s talk about weeds. Just because I’ve been here in the woods most of the day and nothing else comes to mind.  We could talk about wood splitting and stacking, but that’s old news here on this blog.  We could discuss a cloudy rainy drizzly afternoon in the upper 60’s in June, but no.  The subject shall be weeds and why folks vilify them so brutally.  Especially when some of them are darn-right beautiful, appealing and tasty.

OK, here’s the scoop. (Said in a whisper.)  I like weeds. I especially like some of ’em for dinner steamed and buttered with salt and pepper.  Some of them even taste really delicious in salads (like wood sorrel which tastes sour but adds pizazz to tossed salads).  Many of the ones that aren’t appetizing still look enchanting growing in the ditches. 

Yesterday I had to run ahead of the garden rototiller to pluck all the lambs-quarters from the garden.  It’s our annual treat in late June and early July.  The lambs-quarters grows in weed-like frenzy in between the nicely planted rows of onions, peas and lettuce.  It wants to take over the garden.  But we won’t let it.  We refuse to even allow the tiller to turn it under.  We think it tastes like the best greens on the planet.  Much better than spinach, kale and collards.  Better even than dandelion greens, which tend to taste bitter if not harvested when young.

Lamb's Quarters (or, yes, you can call it Pigweed)

Lamb's Quarters

We’ve tried to convince our friends of its merits.  “You must harvest your lambs-quarters!” we’ve enthused.  One of our friends almost snarled, “I’m noteating any weeds!” Other friends have been known to make fun of us.  Especially my husband,  as he has called attention to himself by munching some garden leaves one evening after band practice.  I believed they likened him to a cow munching grass after that event and bought him a t-shirt which said, “I like grass”.  Of course we had to donate the shirt to the local resale shop.  Passer-bys simply wouldn’t understand.

Fill your colander for dinner:  it shrinks down greatly after cooking

Fill your colander for dinner: it shrinks down greatly after cooking

The young lambs-quarters only need to be steamed or boiled for 3-5 minutes.  You might want to pick off some of the larger stems.  Oh just think of the nutrition you’ll be getting in your meal!   2.9 grams of protein, 8,730 (IU) of Vitamin A, 33 mg. of Vitamin C and .63 mg. of iron.  I’m sure there’s lots of other jam-packed nutrients, as well.  For more information about wild edible greens check out this website.  Even though it’s based in Maine, it probably applies here as well.   http://www.umext.maine.edu/onlinepubs/htmpubs/4060.htm

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil

I liked this photo of Birdsfoot Trefoil and decided to discover if it is edible for humans. The Peterson Field Guides “Edible Wild Plants” doesn’t list it.  I wouldn’t try it.  In fact, don’t try any weeds or wild plants unless you’re 100% sure they are safe.  Study your field guides carefully.  Even then, eat a few nibbles cautiously and wait to determine how the plant affects you.

Back to my original complaint.  Why do some people vilify weeds?  Make them lowlier than the planted variety?  I suggest we all begin standing up for weeds. When people classify plants dismissively as “just weeds” let’s get on our soapbox and start sharing all the positive values of these “ordinary” plants.

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