Weed Lover: Unintentional Medicine from Evolution’s Winners
Back in the late ’90s and early aughts, a small but information-dense ’zine circulated in the Eugene area called “weed lover.” The premise was that weeds offend gardeners by growing where they’re not wanted, but that they nevertheless offer great value by way of food, medicine and pulling nutrients up from the subsoil to feed neighboring plants. They also may be physically useful: one gardener tied her tomatoes to their cages using bindweed.
One of the very best things about using weeds for medicine is that you rarely have to entertain the usual worries about overharvesting. It’s an interesting exercise for an ethical wildcrafter to try: Find a field full of an unkillable weed and keep picking it for a while after you feel like you’ve done too much. (Don’t worry, you can always find an herbalist who can use some, or mulch your garden with the extra.)
I’ve tried this exactly twice. The first time was picking blooming yarrow on a friend’s land in the Columbia Gorge. The second was picking St. John’s Wort on an Okanogan land trust. In that case, the plant wasn’t even native, but rather a European invasive. It techinically wasn’t even overharvesting, but arguably just a feeble attempt at restoration.
Weeds are survivors in the game of evolution for many reasons. Here let’s consider a few that help humans be survivors, too. Continue reading “weed lover”
Today I found out that GardenMedicine.com made it onto Best Green Blogs! It will help spread that word about what you already know — that we’ve got lots of resources to help people sustain their land and their health.
Thanks for checking in here, and commenting when you’ve got something to say. There are lots of exciting projects in the works, including upcoming talks and workshops, articles on WellWire.com and programs through Celilo Natural Health Center!
There are two ways to start your first garden. The long way is to go to every garden center in walking, biking, driving distance, order and pore over every seed and plant catalog in existence, and spend a lot of time reading in the library or at the bookstore before getting a smidge of dirt on your hands.
The short way is to just get outside and get dirt on your hands.
I’m a long-time gardener and avid reader and noodler, so I took the long way. Then one day two friends dug a big oregano and some strawberries out of their garden for me and said “these need to be in the ground by tomorrow.” And that’s what got me out of my books and into the dirt.
By all means, order and read every catalog, and borrow or buy lots of books. Each contains a ton of information that will otherwise take you a long time to learn. But in the end you can’t garden from a book — you have to garden with your knees in the soil.