Summer is in full swing and, no doubt, everything in your garden is flourishing… yes, that’s right, everything – weeds included.
While our initial reaction is to wage a full-on attack on every weed within a ten mile radius of our garden, we think it’s important to pause here for just a second and really (really) look at weeds as potential resources and not always as the much-maligned soil-nutrient-thieves and pests that we believe them to be.
I’m sure it’s striking you as odd that we’re playing devil’s advocate here, but weeds definitely deserve a tip of the cap for being the hardy growers that they are. Think about it, they can flourish in some of the most inhospitable soils and with little or erratic water supply, they can endure heat and cold just the same, and maybe, just maybe, they can offer us a few gifts and gems that we’ve never considered before.
In fact, the very presence of weeds should not be regarded as a negative – the types of weeds you find in your garden are often an indication of the nutrients that your soil is lacking as weeds have a tendency to seek out the things that your soil is lacking and can alert you to imbalances. Also, weeds are more likely to attract pests – which ensures that your precious plants dodge the proverbial bullet.
Interestingly, as an organic alternative to getting rid of weeds, one can collect them and make a weed tea from them and pour this back into the area where they are growing. Essentially, by pouring the weeds back into the same area in the form of a weed tea, you alleviate the soil of its deficiency, which caused them to grow there in the first place.
Granted, a lot of weeds out there are poisonous, so we don’t encourage you to experiment too much here, but we’re going to give the blog equivalent of a high 5 to two very underrated weeds that we think you should be paying more attention to and that are edible!
Found abundantly, stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) are seriously underrated and are a powerhouse of nutrients. In fact, eating nettles as a substitute for spinach offers ten times the iron and calcium than that available in store-bought spinach.
The young shoots and leaves of the nettle plant are fantastic added to dishes for a healthy boost, used as a tea to treat a range of ailments, and as a detoxifier.
Nettles don’t only detoxify and cleans the body, but they’re also great at cleaning up contaminated soil and gardens that may have been exposed to chemicals, while offering trace minerals and nutrients to the soil.
Ah dandelions …we can all admit to making a wish and blowing with all our might on the seed head of these. Maybe your wishes weren’t always granted, but if you look past the fluffy seed head, this plant can grant a whole bunch of wishes you never knew it could.
Commonly found across South Africa, primarily on lawns and grassy fields, the entire dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) plant can be used in a number of useful ways.
The leaves, buds and flowers of the dandelion can be used as a detoxifier, general wellness tonic and anti-inflammatory.
The leaves work well added to salads and stir fry – the less you cook them, the more you can benefit from them. Offering a boost of Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, potassium and all B vitamins, dandelions are a potent addition to the diet and support and aid a number of digestive functions.
We’ll continue to explore the value and uses of some incredible weeds in our coming blogs – so stay tuned!
As with all natural remedies, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional before self-treating. Always do a small test to ensure no adverse reactions, and if any occur, avoid continuing treatment.