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 on the growing season 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 with perennials who have seniority in my plot or annuals who lease prime real estate for a season. The reason is simple. Most of the weeds in my tiny plot are edible. They pack 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 homeowners once hired to spray weeds into oblivion. And for that we should be grateful.
Some food security advocates lobby for insect farming to feed the world. I say we should eat more weeds. They’re plentiful and effortless to grow, so why not take advantage of what’s on offer? Just forage for edible weeds where you know the ground isn’t contaminated (your backyard is a safe bet) and refer to a field guide to help you identify plants.
Here are five common garden weeds that we should be putting on our plates instead of the compost heap: