Growing weeds in your garden

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Yes, I do, and that on purpose and no, I am not mad.

Wild Spinach (Chenopodium album)_web I do grow a number of “weeds” in pots (no, I do not grow pot, I grow them in pots) and in my garden, where they are also grown in containers of sorts and planting bags so as to control their spread.

Explaining this to people, however, is the funniest experience you can ever have if you follow my example, and I am not the only one doing it. The confused looks that come over people's faces when you explain to them why and the fact that this or that plant that they exterminate on a regular basis in their gardens is actually edible and a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements.

I have the greatest of fun with the expression that people give me when they ask me as a professional gardener as to what I would suggest they'd do with the dandelions growing in their gardens or lawns and I tell them “eat them”.

I grow “weeds” for food, such as Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), and currently are looking to get some seeds for Common Purslane and some other “weeds” that are good eating.

In addition I grow others for medicinal uses such as Ribwort, aka Narrow Leaved Plantain (Plantago lanceolata), though the ordinary Plantain, aka Broad Leaves Plantain or Greater Plantain (Plantago major) can also be used for the same purpose, namely that of would dressing. Plantain leaves are also edible and can be made into herbal teas. This is not a relation to the “banana” plantain of the Caribbeans.

So next time someone looks at you strangely and ask why you grow weeds in pots, just smile and give them a taste of your “weeds” and enjoy the reactions.

Anyone who is interested in learning more about this subject I recommend they get the book “The Weeder's Digest” by Gail Harland. A 192 pages paperback costing £12.95 and published end of June 2012 by Green Books.

© 2012