Consider the common dandelion. Despised as an invasive weed in lawns and fields throughout America, it was originally brought here by Italian immigrants who cooked its leaves for greens or potherb.
The average suburban lawn has eleven wild edible "weeds" growing amidst the grass. The photos on this page show a few of the more common, palatable ones. Note: If you have these plants on your lawn, but have been using herbicides, do not eat them. They may have accumulated toxins that will make you ill!
Sheep Sorrel, Rumex acetosella, easily recognized by its sheep's head shaped leaves and tart flavor adds a zesty tang to salads. Caution! Use only in small quantities. Too much can interfere with B vitamin absorption.
Violets,(Viola papilionacea,) both blue and white, are edible raw or cooked. The leaves may be eaten as greens, and the flowers add color to any salad.
Great burdock, Arctium lappa, shown left, that pesky invasive with large rhubarb-like leaves and sticky, brown burrs that adhere to your clothing and inspired the invention of Velcro, is known as "gobo," in Japan. The root of this bienniel, is packed with nutrients, and can be stir fried with other vegetables for a delicious, healthy meal.
Chickweed is another pervasive, but nutritious lawn weed that can be eaten raw or cooked as greens, although it takes quite a lot to make one serving.
Warning! While searching your lawn for edible weeds you may find small brown mushrooms growing in the grass. NEVER eat any of these mushrooms. Many of them are poisonous!
All photos are copyrighted and may only be used with permission.
Take a look outside your door... What do you see? Houses? Cars? Roads? Sidewalks?
Now look more carefully... How many plants can you see? Trees? Shrubs? Bushes? Grass?
Can you see any weeds?
Interesting plants, weeds...
Despite our ongoing attempts to pull them up, poison them, and burn them out, they persist.
Good thing, too! Weeds have many admirable qualities. Many are edible, packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients not found in the limited selection of vegetables available in grocery stores. Many others possess medicinal properties as effective as pharmaceutical drugs prescribed by physicians. In fact, many drugs are nothing more than synthesized copies of medicinal herbs; 'pseudo-ephedra ' for example.
The phrase, "Homestead Ecology" might make you think of recycling newspapers and soda cans, but it is much more than that. There is an incredibly diverse natural world around us, with great power in that diversity; healing power. Nature is contantly striving to reach equilibrium, to heal itself. We humans can tap into that regenerative force by becoming more deeply aware of nature as it manifests itself around us, allowing it to flourish, and immersing ourselves in it.
Healing the earth seems like an immense task, but there is power in numbers, and we can work together practicing "homestead ecology" to naturalize and diversify our own individual backyards and gardens...