My garden is barely a postage stamp.
Right now, it’s mostly a barren swath of soil, home to a clematis that keeps hitting the snooze button and some early rising rhubarb that’s up but barely at ’em.
I love it, though, for the gifts that it provides. Sure, I feel grateful when the herbs and vegetables I plant each year grow and thrive and reward me weeks and months later for what little effort I put into their upkeep.
It’s the surprise gifts that I love more, though. The ones I don’t plant.
Yes, what other gardeners despise and work out the day’s frustrations by pulling, I take delight in letting grow. I don’t fret about these herbaceous squatters competing for sunlight and nutrients with those perennials who have seniority in my plot or any annuals who lease prime real estate for a season. The reason is simple. Most of the weeds in my tiny plot are edible, packing a health kick and more flavour than some of those invited guests we go to great lengths to make comfortable. I’m looking at you green leaf lettuce.
Ever since the province imposed a cosmetic pesticide ban in 2008, lawns and gardens everywhere have become virtual salad bars. They’re filled with roots, leaves and blooms that had been all but banished from existence by those poison-carting tanker trucks that homeowners once hired to spray them into oblivion. And for that we should be grateful.
As some food security advocates lobby for insect farming to feed the world, I say we should eat more weeds. Looking outside my back door, they’re plentiful and effortless to grow, so why not take advantage of what’s on offer? Here are five common garden weeds that we should be putting on our plates instead of the compost heap: