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 Following the lead of Shakespeare's Hamlet who said:  " for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so,"  I  wonder if perhaps the Garland Community Garden needs a weed garden added to our plots down at 4022 Naaman School Road to help promote Hamlet's noble concept.  Our spring 2015 plans include the additions of a medieval spiral herb garden, a Medicine Wheel Garden in tribute to the Amerian Indians, a prairie grass plot in tribute to our lost prairies, and a butterfly garden for the pollinators.  Perhaps we do need to add a weed garden to this list.  Of course we would not have just any weed in our weed garden.  Only weeds that are edible would be included, and that list is much longer than a lot of folks might think.  

In the Garden of Edible Weeds. . .

Attribution: By John Tann from Sydney, Australia (unbranched dandelion stem leaf)
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Dandelion

Most of us know today that dandelions are edible and the younger the leaves, the more tender and less bitter.  But, between you and me:  I would not eat a dandelion from most lawns because of all the chemicals that most lawns are doused with--from Roundup to fertilizers to pre-emergents and various other herbicides and pesticides.  

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By Ursus sapien (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons]

The Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed grows close to the ground with lush little leaves that you can put in your salads or eat right on the spot.  It is very nutritious and some say is very good for the lungs. Some chop up the leaves and make a salve with it to treat various types of rashes. Look closely at the chickweed flower.  It looks like it has ten petals, but it actually only has five.  Each one of the five petals are split into two.  Every part of this plant is edible.  The chickweed in our area is grows in the winter and early spring.  You can often find it growing along building foundations.  

Be forewarned, however, the Texas Invasives Database lists Chickweed as an ecological threat.  Perhaps we won't have this one in our garden after all.  But then again if we are careful--particularly when it goes to seed--perhaps we might.

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By Jason Hollinger (Common Purslane  Uploaded by Amada44) 
[CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

 Common Purslane  (Also known as "pigweed" and "little hogweed"

Purslane grows everywhere.  It loves the heat and doesn't need much water.  It even grows up between the cracks in the sidewalk.  I've eaten it before and it tastes to me a little like green beans with a little bit of lemon.  It is reported to have one of the highest sources for omega 3 fatty acids of any plant.  Purslane grows flat against the ground. and spreads out from one main root in a radial fashion.  Its small yellow flowers are only open in the morning.

WARNING:  There is a plant similar in appearance  to Purslane. It is called "Spurge".  Although it looks very similar to Purslane, you can quickly tell the difference.  Break the stem.  If a milky substance comes out, don't eat it because that's a Spurge.  If you break the stem of a Purslane, there is no milky substance.

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Photo from Merriweather's Foraging Texas--Visit site to see more photos of this weed.

Lamb's Quarters (Also known as "Goosefoot" and "Pig Weed")

HMMM  Pig weed seems to be a popular name for these edible weeds.  I have not tried this one yet, but I look forward to the experience.  Be sure to look at the Foraging Texas site.  Merriweather has some great photographs of Lamb's Quarters.  I"ve seen this "weed" many times--in fact I've pulled it up more than once. Next time I see it, I'll take bite.  It grows from early spring through early fall so there is lots of opportunity.  Some recommend cooking this leaf as it contains oxylic acid.  However the jury is still out on that one.  More on this topic.

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Photo of volunteer Pokeweed that came up in one of my neglected pots June 2014

Pokeweed

Regardless we will have at least one weed that we cultivate down at the Garland Community Garden this season and that's Pokeweed.  I'm counting on Charlie to bring one down in a pot as I'm sure his yard will once again produce plenty of them.  Pokeweed is such a famous weed that in 1970 Tony Joe White wrote a song titled Polk Salad Annie.  

From an article I wrote in June of 2014 on the topic:  

"Young pokeweed leaves boiled three times to reduce the toxin, discarding the water after each boiling, results in "poke salit" or "poke salad"  or "poke sallet" and is occasionally available commercially. Many authorities advise against eating pokeweed even after thrice boiling, as traces of the toxin may still remain. All agree pokeweed should never be eaten uncooked.

Since pioneer times pokeweed has been used as a folk remedy to treat many ailments. Dried berries were ingested whole as a treatment for boils, taken one berry per day for seven days Grated pokeroot was used by Native Americans as a poultice to treat inflammations and rashes of the breast  Independent researchers are investigating phytolacca's use in treating AIDS and cancer patients. . . ."

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