Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Free Superfood from Wild Greens: A Dozen Reasons to Love Chickweed

I often find little patches of Chickweed (Stellaria media - little star in the mist) cheekily tucking itself in amongst my vegetables and perennials, both in sunny and shady spots. Here's a dozen reasons I embrace the simple abundance this little 'weed' brings to my garden.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)  has been used for thousands of years as a medicine and food. Originally from Europe/Central Asia, it is now found around the world, even in the arctic circle and Greenland.

Why do I love Chickweed...

  1. It grows easily, abundantly, is so versatile and it is free.
  2. It is easy to harvest - just snip with scissors - flowers and stems too.
  3. It is very nutritious - it has twice the iron of spinach, is high in protein, vitamin A and C. It also has good amounts of calcium, magnesium, zinc and other minerals.
  4. It's great raw in salads.
  5. It is an excellent green for omelettes, quiches, stir-fries, soups (best finely chopped)
  6. It makes a good pesto.
  7. It gently covers the soil like a living mulch.
  8. It’s presence decreases insect damage to other plants.
  9. It can be used to make chickweed oil, and from this, a lovely healing skin salve - good for bites, itches, eczema, psoriasis, scratches, minor cuts, warts, acne and rashes.
  10. As a tea, chickweed is a cleansing tonic, a natural diuretic, it can help soothe dry coughs, asthma, and as an anti-inflammatory, relieve pain from stiff joints.
  11. It is food for the guinea pigs and chickens.
  12. It indicates moist, rich, fertile soil with a ph between 6.2 - 7 - so it tells me I am doing something right. 

Other interesting information about chickweed
  • its leaves fold up when it’s going to rain (your own forecaster)
  • structurally it is quite a weak plant, but it is resilient in other ways. It’s an annual that can mature and reseed in around 6 weeks and its seed can last up to forty years in the soil waiting for the right conditions to germinate.
I’m finding myself relishing many so-called weeds in my garden as great companions and providers. I value them as part of the system and they add so much. Trying to get rid of them simply creates angst, but embracing them opens a world of possibility.  

I've actually started relocating weeds into my garden from down the road. Recently I transplanted some dandelion and radium weed (petty spurge).




1 comment:

  1. Hi Morag, interesting post. I am also interested in learning more about radium weed, its uses and how to use it. I remember they had it at the yandina community gardens some time ago but i didn't take too much notice. There were so many other things to learn. Can you tell me more?

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