Chickweed: Friend, foe or food? | Kodiak

Q: How do I get rid of chickweed?

A: Don’t try to beat it, eat it!

On Tuesday I teach an online course called Compost Academy. Students, mostly women, from Alabama to Alberta meet in lively Zoom meetings. It’s not just about composting either, especially on Fridays, which have become “Souchons Marion!” Question and answer sessions.

Last week, the subject of weeding emerged. As in, how can you make weeding a not-so-horrible chore?

Someone mentioned chickweed. We could measure collective moans on the Richter scale.

Google “chickweed” and on the same page you will find polar opposing views, from “chickweed is an edible and delicious weed” to “how do I kill chickweed in my lawn?”

Here’s the deal: Blindly tossing chickweed as a plague in the garden that must be eradicated immediately is to miss out on one of nature’s finest herbs and foods.

“I use chickweed as a super food,” says Laurisa Rich of Martha’s Vineyard, adding that Michael Pollan, author of many bestsellers including “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “In Defense of Food”, considers chickweed. birds as one of the most nourishing green vegetables on the planet. .

What Makes Chickweed a Super Food? It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B complex, calcium, magnesium and zinc.

How does she eat chickweed? “I stuff it into my smoothies and cut it into salads. I blanch it and also freeze it in cubes for the winter.

Maybe it’s time to rethink the chickweed …

Stellaria media, chickweed, is an annual and perennial flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family. Originally from Eurasia, he naturalized all over the world.

According to Penelope Ody’s wonderful reference, “The Complete Medicinal Herbal”, chickweed has medicinal properties and is used in traditional medicine as a remedy to treat itchy skin and lung disease (related to the lungs).

In addition to its medicinal properties, it is cultivated as a vegetable crop and ground cover for human and poultry consumption.

Chickweed is also known for its high iron content, and modern herbalists prescribe it for iron deficiency anemia as well as for skin diseases, bronchitis, rheumatic pain, arthritis, and menstrual pain.

Now I am not an herbalist or a doctor. So beyond this article, you are on your own.

And if you still want to get rid of chickweed, read on …

There are two species of chickweed. There is the perennial species, known as the mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum), which forms dense, low spots in lawns and gardens. (He somehow manages to escape the whirling lawn mower blades.)

The other species, the chickweed (Stellaria media), which I mentioned above, is an annual and is much easier to control. The best way to get rid of (sounds better than “killing”) chickweed is to remove as much as possible from the ground by hand.

This is a relatively easy task, as both species have shallow roots, which means they can be quickly removed by hoeing or pulling by hand. Try to remove the whole plant.

Back to class. … After discussing chickweed, one of the ladies asked:

Q: So how do you deter weeds?

Weeding is part of gardening, I say. And they’re a part of life, just like colds, horns, and people we’d rather not be with. More on that later …

I followed up with this list of tips to prevent more weeds from sprouting.

Participate in your garden. Don’t be an absent owner hoping things will work out on their own.

Do daily weed patrols. Mornings are the best. Take your coffee if needed.

Pull out all the weeds you can in a set amount of time, say 15 or 30 minutes. Set a timer. Gradually made the difference.

Make weeds EASIER to pull or dig up by adding compost to your soil.

Don’t let weeds go to seed: one year of seeds equals seven years of weeds.

DO NOT use a weedkiller unless it is an absolute last resort. Our laziness does not justify the use of lethal solutions. Plus, they don’t get to the root of the problem.

Do not dig deep or use a tiller: weed seeds are everywhere, but it is in the first few inches of the soil that they receive enough light to germinate.

As the old saying goes: pull when wet, hoe when dry When the soil is wet, pull weeds. An old table fork twists little tendrils. Go get bigger plants with a fishtail weed killer or stirrup hoe.

Be a grateful one-on-one! If you can’t get them off, at least cut off their heads.

What’s a weed, anyway? Rather than seeing them as the enemy, get to know them. Remember that some weeds are edible. And dandelions might be the first real meal a bumblebee enjoys after hibernating through the winter.

As for people, you prefer not to be there. … It’s not just about them. Set healthy limits. Be direct. We feel safe with direct and honest people, don’t we? They say what they think and we know where we are with them. Dead flowers and peas train.

To end today’s treatise on chickweed and weeding, I leave you with this recipe:

Chickweed pesto

This pesto is very “shiny”, just like summer. It’s great mixed into cooked pasta or dabbed on a pizza. And it freezes well for later use.

1/2 cup walnuts, cashews or pine nuts

2-3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 cups chickweed, loosely packed

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or water

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or nutritional yeast

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. A blender can be used instead, but it helps chop chickweed first. If it’s too thick, slowly drizzle with a little more olive oil or water.

Gardening calendar:

Volunteers needed for the community project:

Kodiak Harvest Food Cooperative, Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center (KWRCC) and Kodiak 4-H are teaming up to create flower beds at KWRCC Refuge.

This community project will rehabilitate some garden boxes at the front of the KWRCC shelter and establish three new garden boxes for growing vegetables and herbs in the backyard of the property. If you would like to lend a hand or make an in-kind donation, please contact Emily at eaiacobucci@gmail.com.

A question about gardening? Send it to: mygarden@alaska.net or visit my blog at: MarionOwenAlaska.com.


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