I often get asked, what the easiest fruit and veg is to grow. Perhaps you have less than ideal soil, little time to garden or are just starting out on your food growing journey. Whatever the reason, you may want to consider the vast array of edible weeds that can be found all around us.
Weeds are those really tough plants that you can’t get rid of (despite best efforts). Weeds get a bad rap when you consider what they do. They can populate areas where nothing else will grow, pulling nutrients up from deep in the soil then returning those nutrients back to the soil when they die back and decompose. Nonetheless, I understand that having them taking up valuable space in your garden beds is less than ideal. Instead, make the most of the weeds growing in your yard and add them to your dinner plate.
Many of the common weeds found in our yards are not only safe to eat, but are highly nutritious and delicious. Just remember, not all weeds are edible so take the time to do some research so you know what you are eating is safe. Invest in a good book or use a good online resource and of course don’t eat anything unless you’re sure it hasn’t been sprayed with chemicals first.
Common, high-value edible weeds
- Dandelions: use the yellow petals and young leaves in salads.
- Chickweed: cook like spinach or use raw as a salad green.
- Clover: leaves taste of spinach with a spicy finish. Stalks taste like mild asparagus. Eat fresh or cooked.
- Mallow: best cooked and eaten like spinach but can also be eaten as a salad green. Becomes gelatinous if overcooked.
- Onion Weed: Eat like chives
- Plantain: Various varieties
- Native violets: violet leaves and their flowers are edible.
- Oxalis: mild non-sour lemon flavour. Add leaves & flowers to salads, distinct heart-shaped leaves. Avoid high amounts.
- Purlsane: crunchy, slightly tart, lemony, semi-succulent. Use cooked or in salads. AKA: pigweed. Avoid high amounts.
- Wild brassica: eat the young leaves and flowers fresh. Older leaves are best cooked.
- Fat Hen: Leaves and seeds edible cooked (looks like wild amaranth but with more rounded, lighter green leaves.
- Native pigface: Succulent
Edible but not very tasty
The following weeds are edible but not particularly tasty.
Cobbler’s Pegs, Potato Vine/Turkey Rhubarb, Cleavers, Catsears