5 Reasons I Want Weeds in My Garden

Buzz off, Monsanto! 5 Reasons I Want Weeds in My Garden. From free food and medicine to wildlife habitat, weeds are a natural part of a healthy garden.

I know this is going to sound crazy to many of you, but I let some weeds grow in my garden on purpose.  This wasn’t always the case.  When I was growing up on the farm, we had a huge garden for fresh eating and preserving.  With long, straight rows of veggies and paths in between each row, weeding was a never ending chore.  My stepdad used to run the tiller up and down the paths, while the rows themselves were tediously weeded by hand.  Inevitably by the end of the season, weeds that escaped the hoe would be overgrown and seeding out, to be tilled into the soil and start the whole cycle again.  I dreamed of a garden without weeds.

Fast forward to the 90’s, and my very own garden beds to arrange any way I wanted. I discovered the magic of mulch and planting in blocks instead of rows with nekked empty space between.  Instead of dirt paths that turned to dust when things got dry and mud when it got wet, I had raised beds with tidy paths between, perfect for a suburban yard.  Then things changed again.  Attached to the end of another article a friend had copied off for me was a page of another manuscript – “Weeds:  Guardians of the Soil“.  It caught my eye, but I had no idea where to read more as the book was no longer in print, and the friend passed away.  [Read more…]

Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris – Weekly Weeder #45

After a long winter, the Weekly Weeder series has finally thawed out. I’ve caught up with enough of my gardening to make time to snap photos of some more of the wild plants around my area (northeast Wisconsin), and would like to share them with you!

Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris - Weekly Weeder #45 - range and identification, role as a wildlife habitat, uses for food and medicine.

Today’s featured plant is Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris.

Marsh marigold is also known as yellow marsh marigold and cowslip.  It is a member of the Family Ranunculaceae or Buttercup Family. It should not be confused with Primula veris, which is also commonly known as cowslip, which is a member of the primrose family, Primulaceae. [Read more…]

Cooking Weeds – Goosefoot Pie and Sauteed Milkweed Pods

Cooking Weeds - Goosefoot Pie @ Common Sense Homesteading

I decided this summer to move beyond using wild edibles in salad and medicine to experiment with cooking weeds.  Goosefoot, also known as lamb’s quarters, was a taste and texture very similar to spinach, so I decided to use it in a version of a a Greek spinach pie (Spanakopita).  Our vast colonies of milkweed plants are loaded with blooms and milkweed seed pods, so I decided to give those a try as well.  My sister was visiting, so I knew she would be brave enough to eat some with me. [Read more…]

Common Plantain – Weekly Weeder #14

Common plantain - Range and identification of plantain. Plantain as food and habitat for wildlife. Medicinal uses of common plantain. Plantain folklore.

Today’s featured plant is Common Plantain, Plantago major.

Common Plantain is also known as broadleaf plantain, plantain, dooryard plantain, Ripple Grass, Waybread, Slan-lus, Waybroad, Snakeweed, Cuckoo’s Bread, soldier’s herb, Englishman’s Foot and white man’s foot. [Read more…]

Common Mullein – Weekly Weeder #13

Common Mullein - Weekly Weeder #13 - Verbascum thapsus, range and identification, Food and Habitat for Wildlife, Medicinal Uses of Common Mullein

Today’s featured plant is Common Mullein, Verbascum thapsus.

Common Mullein is also known as Great Mullein, Aaron’s Rod, candlewick plant, flannel plant, flannel leaf, lungwort, feltwort, cowboy toilet paper, shepherd’s staff, velvet dock, woolly mullein, torch plant, torches, miner’s candle, big taper, blanket mullein, “Hig candlewick”, “Bullicks lungwort”, “Hare’s-beard”, “Ice-leaf”.”Beggar’s blanket”, “Moses’ blanket”, “Poor Man’s blanket”, “Our Lady’s blanket” or “Old Man’s Blanket”.

(There are more names, but this list is getting pretty long already.  Do you get the impression this thing is pretty widespread?)  Note:  This is not the same plant as Lambs Ears (Stachys byzantina), which also has fuzzy leaves and grows low to the ground.) [Read more…]