Gardening

Free Food in Your Yard: Edible Weeds

Edible Weeds

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By , About.com Guide

Got weeds? Then, you’ve got dinner. Take a closer look at the weeds growing in your yard, and you’ll find that many of them are edible, delicious and nutritious. Here are 12 edible weeds to locate and try:

Blackberries

Blackberries

Edible Parts: Fruit, leaves and roots

When to Harvest: Late summer

Uses: Eat fruit fresh or use in jams, syrups and baked goods. Use leaves or root bark to make tea.

Recipes:

Burdock

Burdock
Photo © Flickr user isamiga76

Edible Parts: Roots and stalks

When to Harvest: Spring through fall

Uses: Use young stalks in place of artichoke hearts. Use cooked roots in soups and casseroles.

Recipes:

Cattails

Cattails
Photo © Flickr user Paul_L_Nettles

Edible Parts: Shoots, flower heads and pollen

When to Harvest: Late spring

Uses: Eat peeled shoots raw and in salads; add them to stir-fry; or enjoy them cooked. Boil young female flowerheads, and eat them like corn. Use pollen in place of flour.

Recipes:

Chicory

Chicory
Photo © Flickr user dmott9

Edible Parts: Flowers, leaves and roots

When to Harvest: Spring through fall, but leaves and blossoms are best when harvested young

Uses: Use in the same manner that you would use dandelions.

Recipes:

Dandelions

Dandelions
Photo © Flickr user bdesham

Edible Parts: Flowers, leaves and roots

When to Harvest: Spring through fall, but leaves and blossoms are best when harvested young

Uses: Add leaves and flowers raw to salads. Sautee the leaves; make dandelion wine or jelly out of the blossoms; or use the roots to make a coffee substititute.

Recipes:

Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed
Photo © Flickr user foodistablog

Edible Part: Young shoots

When to Harvest: Early spring before the plant gets woody.

Uses: Use shoots in place of rhubarb. Steam it. Add it to soups; use it to make jam; or try it in baked desserts.

Recipes:

Lamb’s Quarters

Edible Parts: Leaves and stems

When to Harvest: Mid-spring to late fall

Uses: Add raw to salads. Sautee and serve as a vegetable. Use in place of spinach.

Recipes:

Plantain

Plantain
Photo © Flickr user brewbooks

Edible Parts: Leaves and seeds

When to Harvest: Spring through fall

Uses: Add young leaves to salads. Sautee older leaves. Eat seeds raw or roasted.

Recipes:

Purslane

Purslane
Photo © Flickr user pellaea

Edible Parts: Leaves, stem, flowers and seeds

When to Harvest: Summer

Uses: Add raw to salads; toss in soups; boil it; or sautee it.

Recipes:

More About Purslane

Red Clover

Red Clover
Photo © Flickr user John_Poulakis

Edible Parts: flowers

When to Harvest: Late spring through summer

Uses: Add raw to salads. Steep for tea. Toss in soups.

Recipes:

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle
Photo © Flickr user pawpaw67

Edible Parts: Young stems and leaves (after boiling)

When to Harvest: Spring

Uses: Leaves must be boiled to destroy stinging hairs. Use in soups, pasta dishes or other cooked dishes. Steep for tea.

Recipes:

More About Stinging Nettles

Wild Violet

Wild Violets
Photo © Flickr user Retromoderns

Edible Parts: Flowers and leaves

When to Harvest: Spring

Uses: Add to salads. Use atop baked goods as decoration.

Recipes:

Weed Harvesting Guidelines

1. Only harvest weeds that you can positively identify and know to be edible. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by the Department of the Army is a good reference, if you aren’t sure.

2. Avoid picking weeds close to roadways. They’ll have absorbed exhaust fumes and road run off.

3. Avoid harvesting weeds in areas that may have been contaminated by animal feces.

4. Do not pick weeds from yards that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides.

5. Only eat the parts of plants that you know to be edible. Many edible plants have non-edible – and sometimes poisonous – parts.

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About Kim Martindale

Mother of two, wife of one, home manager, gardener, student of health and wellness, world traveler, nature lover, researcher, Jesus follower, community builder. I'm seeking to become resilient and to live sustainably. I desire to give back and share what I'm learning with others.

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