I often find little patches of Chickweed (Stellaria media - little star in the mist) cheekily tucking itself in amongst my vegetables and perennials, both in sunny and shady spots. Here's a dozen reasons I embrace the simple abundance this little 'weed' brings to my garden.
|Chickweed (Stellaria media) has been used for thousands of years as a medicine and food. Originally from Europe/Central Asia, it is now found around the world, even in the arctic circle and Greenland.|
Why do I love Chickweed...
- It grows easily, abundantly, is so versatile and it is free.
- It is easy to harvest - just snip with scissors - flowers and stems too.
- It is very nutritious - it has twice the iron of spinach, is high in protein, vitamin A and C. It also has good amounts of calcium, magnesium, zinc and other minerals.
- It's great raw in salads.
- It is an excellent green for omelettes, quiches, stir-fries, soups (best finely chopped)
- It makes a good pesto.
- It gently covers the soil like a living mulch.
- It’s presence decreases insect damage to other plants.
- It can be used to make chickweed oil, and from this, a lovely healing skin salve - good for bites, itches, eczema, psoriasis, scratches, minor cuts, warts, acne and rashes.
- As a tea, chickweed is a cleansing tonic, a natural diuretic, it can help soothe dry coughs, asthma, and as an anti-inflammatory, relieve pain from stiff joints.
- It is food for the guinea pigs and chickens.
- It indicates moist, rich, fertile soil with a ph between 6.2 - 7 - so it tells me I am doing something right.
Other interesting information about chickweed
- its leaves fold up when it’s going to rain (your own forecaster)
- structurally it is quite a weak plant, but it is resilient in other ways. It’s an annual that can mature and reseed in around 6 weeks and its seed can last up to forty years in the soil waiting for the right conditions to germinate.
I’m finding myself relishing many so-called weeds in my garden as great companions and providers. I value them as part of the system and they add so much. Trying to get rid of them simply creates angst, but embracing them opens a world of possibility.
I've actually started relocating weeds into my garden from down the road. Recently I transplanted some dandelion and radium weed (petty spurge).