If You Can’t Beat Them – Eat Them!

Weeding. A never ending story but there are other ways to weed while getting a snack. CREDIT SUEANN RAMELLA / NORTHWEST PUBLIC RADIO

It was a little too hot to weed in the garden this week which may have you frustrated because you know how fast they can grow. Believe it or not, some serve a purpose besides breaking your back. Have you ever noticed that weeds take over bare spots? This is Mother Nature’s way of saving the valuable topsoil from eroding or blowing away. Weeds with deep taproots break up hard soil so other plants can reach water. But let’s face it, some weeds need to go and you have lots of herbicides to choose from. 

However, you can try another form of battle; mastication. Even my gardening nemesis, the thistle, is edible – though appropriately enough the roots can give you gas.

Let’s start with the ever recognizable dandelion. You’ve heard it is edible but where does one begin? Chef Kirsten Helle’s dandelion frittata is a good start! Worth a try since dandelions are packed with vitamins A, C, K and folate.

How about that crabgrass? What an eyesore it is on your manicured lawn! Let’s eat it. But to do that you have to let it go to seed, then harvest the seed, husk the grain and grind into flour. West Africa does it and calls it a ‘new quinoa.” 

If this sounds more labor intensive than yanking the plant out, try juicing it with other fruits and veggies. Don’t have a Vitamix 2000? Then boil crabgrass to make a tea. It has a very earthy, healthy flavor (kinda gross) that I’m sure will increase valuable gut microbes. 

Broadleaf plantain leaves can be eaten in salad. The author confirms a seaweed-like texture when boiled. The plants pictured grow under the author’s hoses and have been used to relieve sunburn.


I first noticed the broadleaf plantain by my backdoor. There they were, taking a beating every time I coiled up the hose. I wondered what the funny plants were and discovered how they are “anti” everything: antiseptic, antibacterial, antitussive, anti-inflammatory. 

But this is about eating so on to the recipe. Boil this weed for 3-4 minutes and rinse quickly with cold water it will take on a seaweed texture that goes well with Asian sauces. Urban Outdoor Skills has a recipe. 

Now, for the piece de resistance – thistles. I hate them so much then this happened! 

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