Weed­ing out the best in­gre­di­ents

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MATT BROWN

Com­mon gar­den weeds have been tempt­ing taste­buds as a key kitchen in­gre­di­ent.

Weed pesto, sal­ads and even weed smooth­ies have been on the menu in Marl­bor­ough.

Deemed by many as the bad­dies of the back­yard, weeds seemed to have no al­lur­ing qual­i­ties.

But the pesky plants have been mis­un­der­stood, said a Marl­bor­ough woman who turned the gar­den scourge into a sought-af­ter food.

Food and gar­den writer Kristina Jensen from the Marl­bor­ough Sounds said a weed was sim­ply a plant grow­ing where it shouldn’t.

Her goal was to change the per­cep­tion of weeds from a gar­dener’s foe to a re­source that can cre­ate a more healthy gar­den and de­li­cious del­i­ca­cies at the same time. She will hold a work­shop at Gar­den Marl­bor­ough in No­vem­ber to help change peo­ple’s mis­con­cep­tions.

‘‘Peo­ple have been eat­ing weeds for a very long time,’’ Jensen said.

‘‘A lot of plants we call weeds have been used as food and medicine for cen­turies.

‘‘Peo­ple think weeds are go­ing to be bit­ter; they’re sur­prised when they re­alise how good they taste,’’ she said.

Jensen at­trib­uted her love of edi­ble weeds to her mother who en­cour­aged her to try all the dif­fer­ent plants in their gar­den when she was ‘‘very lit­tle’’.

‘‘She would say, eat this, this is edi­ble, and some­times it tasted hor­ri­ble,’’ she said.

Jensen said there were many ben­e­fi­cial as­pects to weeds such as soil pro­tec­tion, food for bees and mulch.

‘‘If it’s an in­va­sive weed I re­move it. Oth­er­wise, I pull them and leave them in the gar­den. It pro­vides mulch and food for the mi­crobes in the soil. I’m re­ally into mulching, I don’t like to see the bare soil.

‘‘Some peo­ple shake their heads and say, oh my God, I’m not do­ing that. If you see them as an en­emy, you’re go­ing to want to de­stroy them.

‘‘But if you work with them as a part of the ecosys­tem you can have a great re­sult.’’

Jensen’s tips for find­ing the best of the bunch in­cluded pick­ing from a clean place, not the

‘‘Peo­ple think weeds are go­ing to be bit­ter; they're sur­prised when they re­alise how good they taste.’’ Food and gar­den writer Kristina Jensen.

road­side. She said iden­ti­fi­ca­tion was also very im­por­tant as for­ag­ing could be quite dan­ger­ous.

Jensen said the liq­uid in on­gaonga, a na­tive poi­sonous New Zea­land net­tle, was in­cred­i­bly pain­ful and it could be dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish be­tween it and other less dan­ger­ous net­tles.

Jensen’s Gar­den Marl­bor­ough work­shop will take place on No­vem­ber 10.

‘‘I’ll be lim­it­ing the weeds I talk about,’’ she said. ‘‘It won’t be a weed over­load.’’ For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion visit gar­den­marl­bor­ough.co.nz/weed­cui­sine-work­shop.


Kristina Jensen is de­ter­mined to help peo­ple make the most of all the plants in their gar­den.

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