Make the most of your weeds
There are two types of garden and lawn plants – the ones we want and the ones we don’t want.
Usually, we call the unwanted plants weeds, but the saying, ‘‘one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure’’ also applies.
Julia Sich of Julia’s Edible Weeds (see juliasedibleweeds.com) not only cultivates numerous weeds, she teaches people to do likewise, and how to turn them into smoothies for great health benefits.
I have an old book called A Modern Herbal by Mrs M. Grieve. First published in 1931, the 912-page book is now out of print, but copies are available through Amazon ranging in price from $US32 to $US300.
Of the more than 800 plants in the book, a large percentage are ‘‘weeds’’.
It gives the history of the plants, their medical properties and uses, along with most other information known at that time.
One discovery from it is rose-petal sandwiches: Put a layer of rose petals in the bottom of a covered dish. Wrap 4oz (110gms) of fresh butter in wax paper, place on top of the petal layer cover with another layer of rose petals. Seal and put somewhere cool overnight (fridge)
Next day, cut thin slices of bread, spread the now perfumed butter and place several petals from fresh red roses between the slices, allowing the edges to show. The more fragrant the roses the finer the flavour.
It lists the health benefits for red roses – considered to be more astringent than others: ‘‘it strengtheneth the heart, the stomach, the liver and the retentive facility; is good against all kinds of fluxes, prevents vomiting, stops tickling coughs and is of service in constipation’’. Interesting stuff.
Violets or clover blossoms could be used as well as roses.
My preferred classification of a weed is a plant growing where you do not want it to grow. Beneficial plants such as mint or comfrey should therefore be planted in a sizeable container so they cannot spread.
Before weed-killing herbicides such as the controversial glyphosate, were invented, there were a number of weed control methods, many of which were based around inexpensive everyday domestic products and kitchen condiments.
Try spraying vinegar and cooking oil over weeds on a sunny day when the soil is dry.
Salt can be used to keep growth away from cobbled areas, driveways and for keeping waste areas weed-free.
Weed eaters with a pro-privot attachment, the traditional dutch hoe, a sharp carving knife, and the weed hook, are all handy weed controllers.
How about the good ol’ getting down on hands and knees weeding. It’s a stress relieving practice which permits contemplation, and is reputed to be excellent for heart and general health.
As we roll into winter and pruning time, here’s a tip for the week: Don’t throw away your pruned branches. They make good free kindling for open fires and wood-burners. Tie the cuttings into bundles and store them until they’re dry.
To prevent any useful and flavoursome plant such as mint from becoming a weed, plant it in a container, or in a contained space.