Many weeds were plants brought from Europe with the early settlers as food but have become invasive and what we call weeds. So many weeds are edible, like dandelions or purslane. Some weeds are toxic, check out the link below, after the video on Queen Anne’s Lace and the second link on Queen Anne’s Lace lookalikes.

This is the Queen Anne’s Lace that some consider a weed but I love it.

There are some lookalike plants that are REALLY problematic like poison hemlock that you have to avoid – check out the next video. I tried to plant the seed of daraammi, not successfully, that is also in the carrot family but the flowers that look like Queen Anne’s Lace are purple.

Poison Hemlock usually does not grow in gardens. I have only seen it along hiking trails where I don’t see Queen Anne’s Lace. But I sent the link so you should know the difference.

This is the weed that I could not recall the name. The first year I think its leaves are pretty the first year. But this is a real nuisance in the garden- get rid of it.  However, it is edible.

Many weeds are being hybridized so that the flowers are larger and are now sold for gardens. Mullein used to be found in dry areas like along train beds and is now sold as garden seeds – I think the flower is larger in these seeds. However, what had been considered weeds a few years ago have now become garden plants because people are more sensitive to the needs of the environment- weeds are good for bees and birds as well as other beneficial insects.

Hope this is helpful.

The root of mustard garlic weed

Photo taken from website called Straight from the Farm

TheGardenLady received this question from Charna.

I think I have this little bugger in my flowerbeds and garden. I really really need to know what the roots look like. I keep pulling up these large carrot type roots that are very often doubled and remind me of what ginsing must look like, and can be rather large clumps. Do you have a picture ofthe root for a mustard garlic weed?

It is so much easier to identify a plant when it is growing above ground when you see the leaves than trying to identify a plant from its roots. And it helps the most for identifying purposes to look at the flower of the plant, if it has flowers.

Garlic mustard is an easy plant to identify when one sees the leaves the first year before it has flowers and also when it has flowers from both the sight and the smell. (see here)

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10 safe ways to eliminate weeds

If you consider a weed to be the wrong plant in the wrong spot and don’t want weeds in your garden and lawn, here are 10 safe ways to get rid of (most) of them.

1. Get a soil test for each area you want to plant are have planted. Some weed species are pioneers of degraded landscapes where the soil is worn-out or nearly destroyed. If you want to have a weed free lawn, test that area of the soil to see if your soil is healthy for the grass seed you want to plant. To help best grow flowers and/or vegetables, get the soil tested separately in those bed areas. You want your soil to be best it can be for the plants you want. (How often should a soil be tested? As a rule, test sandy-textured soils every 2 to 3 years and clay soils every 3 to 4 years. However, if  problems occur during the growing season, send in a soil sample for analysis. ) (see here)

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Edible Weed Online Resources

aka “Maypop” by rittyrats

Besides books and videos, there are some interesting sites on using edible weeds.

Remember that some weeds were brought here by people who wanted the plants in their gardens for food, medicine or dyes. Other plants grow as weeds in some parts of the country or another country and are so pretty some clever person realized those weeds could be sold to others as flowers. An example of a weed that this GardenLady wants in her yard is a plant called  or hardy passion vine that grows as a weed in the Midwest but is considered a pretty flower that few people have on the East Coast. Also, Passion vine has a seed pod that is edible, a treat really.This particular Passion Vine will grow in zones 6 till Zone 9 or 10, but it can become a weed in warmer zones.

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Ground Ivy – Another Edible Weed

Ground-Ivy by klm185

TheGardenLady has been writing about weeds in one’s gardens and lawns; but the weeds I have selected to write about are all edible. Some of these weeds are also medicinal and some are used as dyes for fabric or yarn. Many of the weeds were brought to North America by early settlers because they felt these were important plants that they wanted in their gardens.

Unfortunately these plants felt so happy here and have so few natural predators that they not only grew outside the garden but they have become invasive plants, pushing out the native plants. “An invasive plant has the ability to thrive and spread aggressively outside its natural range.” And some of our North American native plants have become invasive weeds in other countries. (When I visited Japan, I was told that goldenrod, Native to North America, has become an invasive weed in Japan.)

One plant that was brought to North America for medicinal and salad usage but mostly to flavor ale was known as ground ivy or creeping Charlie or ground over the gill, Glechoma hederacea. This plant which has attractive leaves and a pretty little purple flower and would make a lovely ground cover but it has become invasive in yards and lawns where it does not let grass grow. Ground ivy is very difficult to get rid of because it spreads in numerous ways, by seeds and by the vining stems which root at their nodes.

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More on Weeds – Garlic mustard

Garlic Mustard by archangelm

Another weed that plagues my garden and yard is yet another of the weeds that were introduced in North America. This one was introduced in the 1860s as a culinary herb and for medicinal purposes. However, once outside of Europe it became an invasive species. This weed has a number of common names, but the most common name where I live is garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata. Garlic mustard, in the mustard family, also became an invasive weed in Africa, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand. In Europe as many as 69 species of insects including the larve of some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth)species feast on garlic mustard, but in other areas of the world garlic mustard has no insect predator. So Garlic mustard, an edible plant for some, has become a noxious weed.

It is a biennial- which means that it takes two years to flower and set seed. Because the first year the leaf pattern is so pretty, when TheGardenLady first saw the plant she let it grow. Unfortunately it looks unattractive when it sends up the tiny flowers. And its leaves smell like garlic and the taproot smells like horseradish.

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Edible wild plants and weeds (Videos)

Wild Violet by Mr.Mac2009

TheGardenLady has been writing a series about weeds in your garden that are edible. There are many videos showing the edible weeds. Remember only eat weeds if you are with an expert- unless you are absolutely certain that you know what you are picking. In many cases the plant has poisonous lookalikes so one has to be positive about identifying plants. Remember that not all plant parts may be edible. And just because the weeds are edible does not mean they will agree with your digestive system.

This GardenLady knows it is fun to get something for nothing. But she never advocates doing anything that is unsafe. So always beware and err on the side of caution. Only when you know what you can eat safely, then you will have a way of enjoying Nature’s true bounty while saving money.

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Wild garlic

Allium vineale 3/4 by snappybex

Another weed that we have in North America that came from Europe did not seem to come here because early settlers brought it as food, but rather because the ships they came in brought soil as ballast and this weed stowed away in the soil. This is wild or field garlic, a cool season perennial that prefers drier areas. It grows in small grass-like clumps from late fall through early spring and is a nuisance in lawns, pastures and gardens. Wild garlic has an oniony smell. It can reproduce by seed, aerial bulblets, and underground bulbs. Wild garlic does not have a spreading root system and thus does not spread rapidly throughout fields. Dig up a clump of wild garlic foliage and you will find an assortment of bulbs and shallow roots.

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We insult Mother Nature by referring to common purslane as “weeds”

Common Purslane by pellaea

I have not seen it growing in my garden yet, because common purslane – Portulaca oleracea is a summer annual weed species that is abundant throughout the world invading vegetable gardens, bare areas, low-maintenance lawns, ornamental plantings, and agricultural areas. Though not a native, no one knows how common purslane arrived in North America. And though it is considered a weed here, it is used as a leaf vegetable in other parts of the world.

Common purslane is considered one of the most nutritious greens on the planet. It has more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant, more beta carotene than spinach as well as high levels of magnesium and potassium. (see here)

If you don’t want common purslane growing n your garden, it is not a difficult weed to eliminate- if you have a small garden. Hand pulling is very easy especially when the plant is young. And using mulch to smother weeds is always a good idea. Though TheGardenLady does not recommend chemicals, there are many herbicides on the market that will kill purslane. Read instructions carefully and be doubly careful using chemicals near or in your vegetable garden.

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The Dandelion (Part II)

Spring Salad by badlyricpolice

Dandelions are good in salads and sandwiches. You can cook with the leaves. The flowers can be used to make lemonade, beer or wine. The roots are made into a tea. For interesting dandelion recipes check out this blog.

If you consider the dandelion a weed and want to get rid of them, to do so is difficult because the dandelion seed can be windborne for several miles. Also, the dandelion has a long, strong taproot that is capable of penetrating the soil to a depth of 10 to 15 feet, though it is most commonly 6 to 18 inches deep. Solitary new dandelion plants along fence rows, roadsides, flower beds, and in turfgrass should be dug out. There are tools specifically for digging out dandelions- Amazon.com carries a number of these.

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