In line with an earlier blog post, I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences around the so called weeds that as a society we so commonly like to rip out of the garden to allow our propagated seeds to grow.
I am a big fan of growing my own food, there is no better feeling than sitting down to dinner and seeing that your plate is covered in produce from the garden – something that is so satisfyingly achievable at this time of year in Scotland if you have the space to grow. As I have learnt more about the nutritional value of the ‘weeds’ that pop up everywhere, the more I am becoming what could be classed as a lazy gardener. Simply allowing the soil to produce what it naturally wants to from self seeded plants from last year to plants such as chickweed and fat hen.
The result of this is that gardening has become far less pressured and way more exciting as I get to watch new plants form – initially with no clue what they are going to become – and more often than not they are edible, delicious AND nutritious. This year I have allowed this process more than I have so far in my gardening life and one of the biggest benefits I have seen is that my wee polytunnel is absolutely bursting with life, not only through a multitude of vibrant green plants but also through the variety of insects that are supported through this type of gardening.
As my passion for keeping a strong connection to the land I live on and the produce that I have access to in my locality grows, making use of the plants that grow wildly is increasingly important to me. We have such a short growing season in Scotland that finding ways to utilise as much as we can feels absolutely vital – plus the ‘weeds’ often hold such a high nutritional value that it seems mad to either pull them out or simply ignore them.
I am no expert forager and as not all the plants that grow around us are safe to eat I would advise taking a course or getting yourself a good book to get you started. I am constantly double checking if my ID is correct for new plants before I scoff them! I highly recommend Dan Puplett as a foraging (and all things wild) guide, he is a wealth of knowledge and hosts a wide variety of courses. Plus, my favourite wee edible weeds guide is written by Robin Harford, it is such a handy and beautiful book to support your wild food adventures.
I feel I am only just scratching the surface right now with ways in which I can make the most of the food that grows naturally around me. My deep passion for preservation is totally ignited alongside this growing knowledge, I am excited for what delicious discoveries and recipes can be formed to allow these edible weeds to be a part of my Winter diet too. A recent, extremely simple and absolutely delicious soup that I made when chickweed and fat hen were in flourish can be found here.