Welcome to the Weekly Weeder! Each week we’ll cover something “weed” related – foraging, identification, wildcrafting/uses (culinary, medicinal, companion plants aspects, habitat, etc.), wildcrafting books, tips and tools to get rid of them when they are problematic (as of yet, ragweed has no place in my garden – ugh!). Controls must be non-toxic and non-damaging to the environment. (NO ROUNDUP ALLOWED!) I’ll post some information here, and I invite you to link up weed related posts. How do you use our “plant allies“? Do you eat your weeds? Have you ever tried dandelion or chicory root “coffee”?
I feel like I’m a relative newcomer to the art of wildcrafting, but I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I wandered around my garden snapping photos and realized just how many “weeds” I could name and use. Daisy, white campion, red clover, white clover, bull thistle, Canadian thistle, yarrow, plantain, ragweed, yellow dock, burdock, Shepard’s purse, wild carrot, pineapple weed, ground ivy, catnip, wild grapes, milkweed, wild raspberry, wild lettuce, goldenrod, dandelion, chicory, nettle, mullein, bird’s-foot trefoil…and so many more. They are my gardening companions, and I know some of them as old friends. (And a few as bad neighbors – why are so blessed with ragweed?)
Best Wildcrafting Books and Resources
If you’re just getting started with weed identification, I’d like to recommend a few resources. Some of the best wildcrafting books (and one game) I’ve found include:
The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman. This book covers wildcrafted as well as cultivated plants. Each plant has an individual entry in the front of the book, while the back of the book is sorted by ailment/health issue that you may wish to address. There is a photo of every herb, which I really like. I find photos much easier to use for identification than drawings.
Healing Wise by Susun Weed. Susun has a very eclectic style that may be off-putting to some, but I found her descriptions to be intuitive and memorable. She focuses on working in harmony with nature, and listening to our bodies and our plant allies. In this book, she specifically discusses burdock, chickweed, dandelion, nettle, oatstraw, seaweeds and violets, but she also gives general recommendations and recipes.
The Forager’s Harvest by Samuel Thayer. If you’re looking for a hardcore lesson on how to “eat wild”, look no further. Mr. Thayer presents his many years of experience in wildcrafting to help you identify what’s safe to eat and exactly how to eat it. I’ll be honest, the work involved in harvesting some of these plants make me think, “I’m not that hungry”, but I’m glad to have a copy of it in my preparedness library. Lots of photos in this one.
The Gardener’s Weed Book by Barbara Pleasant – The one is primarily focused on how to identify weeds and remove them from the garden most effectively. Instead of photos, it uses line drawings, which are very detailed, but I still find photos easier to use. Still, there’s a LOT of information here, and her methods for controlling weeds are all earth-friendly.
Wildcraft! – An Herbal Adventure Game We have this, and my youngest loves it. He’s played it with everyone from our elderly neighbor to a preschool age boy from the next booth over at last year’s farmer’s market (the back of our van was quite the social hotspot). It’s a cooperative game, and can be used for readers and non-readers to teach basic plant identification and uses. It’s a keeper.
Need more inspiration to get acquainted with your weeds? Watch this video.