Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gotta be a pony in here somewhere...

Photo by Vossner of Davesgarden.com

Have you ever noticed that when something shows up, over and over, it's time to pay attention? Like Mother Nature is trying to tell us something?

I've had something showing up for 2+ months now... a new (to me) weed in my garden. I bet I have pulled up several bushels of it since the beginning of May. It seems to die back where I've weeded, then it rains and behold, there is an abundance of new growth, so I finally decided to find out what it is, and why I have so much of it. There's an old joke about twin boys, and their birthday gifts. The favored one got a pony, and the other got a pile of horse manure... which he started slinging about, thinking with all that horse manure there must be a pony in there somewhere.

Photo by Xenomorf of DavesGarden.com

I figured since I have an abundance (to put it mildly!) of this weed, there must be some good it it somewhere. So I researched my weed, and it turns out to be Chickweed, which is edible and very nutritious. It can be eaten raw in salads, and when cooked supposedly tastes like spinach. Chickweed also has some medicinal qualities, and used topically for irritated skin; I didn't research other applications.

I did find this: "CHICKWEED is a nourishing and strengthening food. Chickweed thins cellular membranes so nutrients are absorbed and utilized to their maximum; she weakens, consumes and dissolves bacteria. Chickweed is a superb metabolic balancer and her regulatory effect on the thyroid seems to help women who gain weight no matter what." (Source)

The big value about chickweed for me, though, is the nutritional value. Chickweed is an excellent source of vitamins A, D, B complex, C, and the flavonoid rutin, as well as the minerals iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica. Moreover, it is one of the very few plant sources of essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6), which our body cannot make.

One plan I have for chickweed is to make a liquid "vitamin tonic" for winter use when I have no greens growing in my garden. I know the human body utilizes natural vitamins from foods so much easier and better than OTC synthetic vitamins, so I'm going to make up several liquid vitamin concoctions. The first ones will be a chickweed tincture for vitamins, and a maybe a chickweed dressing or marinade/green sauce (depending on how chickweed tastes to me!), and both are easy processes.

Chickweed Chimichurri
(recipe from Fat of the Land)
1 packed cup chickweed, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp shallot, fine dice
3 tbsp sweet red pepper, fine dice
1 tbsp hot pepper, de-seeded, fine dice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

Added later: As it sometimes happens, most of the chickweed in my yard has either been pulled up, or is too nasty looking to eat right now (or to make tinctures) so it will be later, after some new growth before I can make liquid chickweed vitamins.

Meanwhile, this journey has taken me down several paths to other healthy and beneficial "weeds" growing in my yarden, and in a couple of days I will be posting about them. Stay Tuned!


  1. We toss it in salads.. but our chicks and keets looove chickweed (we used to also feed it to our cockatiels who would eat so much of it they would stain their beaks green. We gave them to a girl a few years ago that adored them.. and they still get chickweed. They are in their mid 20's now!)

    I'm trying to get some seeds from our patch to grow more. Lovely stuff.. but if you introduce chickens or keets to it.. they will devour the patch unless you protect it.

    Clear sap is a big indicator. Some confuse spotted spurge with chickweed.. and spotted spurge is poisonous (milky sap).

    Wood sorrel is another favorite. :)

  2. Thanks for the tip about the sap. I didn't pay any attention to it while I was pulling up bushels of it, but will before I eat any!


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