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Spring is knocking on the door and since dandelion season is in full swing, I decided to make a list of a few "weeds" that are highly nutritious. This is mostly comprised of plants that I can find in my vicinity, so it's made of plants that grow in Central and North Europe. Before we start off, if you do decide to pick these plants, be mindful of the surroundings they're growing in. You'll not want to pick off a field that has lots of four-legged visitors, be sure that traffic and roads are not too near and avoid chemically treated fields. Now, let's start with one of my favourites: Disclaimer: I do not claim to be an expert on plants, I'm merely interested in edible plants that common folk has classified as weeds. Dandelion (Taraxacum): This plant is edible from tip to toe. It is high in vitamins A and C as well as Calcium (Ca) and Iron (Fe). Leaves can be harvested throughout the year, although young leaves harvested in March and April will have a less bitter taste and are more suitable for salads. The shape of the leaves can vary from very pointy to almost smooth. The roots can be ground and dried to make tea or additionally roasted to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The root can also be used just like a root vegetable would. The flower buds are perfect for salads or to make special wine. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica): The stinging nettle is no ordinary plant. It is quickly becoming recognised as one of the super foods of the world. And they grow just about anywhere. The stinging nettle has one of the best protein count of any plant, ranging up to 25% of its dry weight in peak season. It's also rich in Calcium (Ca), Potassium (K), Magnesium (Mg) and also in vitamins A and B6. The plant has a downside, though. If you eat too much of it, it works as a powerful diuretic. When harvesting, be sure the wear gloves and long sleeves. It is best to harvest young plants before flowering, because the plant does not develop as many stingers and will have less of a hairy feel. It also tastes better. Stinging nettle shoots are especially yummy and can be eaten raw. A popular dish is the stinging nettle potatoe soup, just cook and blend and you're done. Easy. You can also substitue it for spinach. You can also dry the leaves, at which point the stingers will drop from them and use the leaves in herbal teas. Common Purslane (Portulaca oleracea): This plant is awesome. It has more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant as well as potent antioxidants. Besides that, it is high in vitamins E and C, as well as Magnesium (Mg), Manganese (Mn), Iron (Fe) and Potassium (K). It grows most in the summer, and can be recognised by its fat leaves and red stems both of which are edible, BUT should not be confused with pigweed as they can be similar in appearance. You can distinguish them by height and leaf thickness. Purslane is lower and has fatter leaves than pigweed. You can use it in salads or just steam it. Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major): Besides being very useful as a poultice (just smash it up and put it on wound, it helps with regeneration), the leaves are also edible. It is rich in Calcium (Ca) as well as vitamins K, A and C. The leaves themselves get tough very quickly, so be sure to harvest only the youngest leaves. It can be harvested throughout the year. Substitute it for spinach or just throw it in a salad. Lamb's quarters (Chenopodium album): Also known as goosefoot, due to the shape of the leaves, it is easily identified due to its milky colour. It used to be common in people's diets, but has been displaced by spinach. Similarly to spinach, it is high in oxalic acids and should be eaten in moderation. It is high in Calcium (Ca), Manganese (Mn), Phosphorous (PO4) and Potassium (K) as well as vitamins C, A, B2 and B6. You can harvest the leaves throughout the growing season, and can cook or steam them in place of spinach. Sheep's Sorel (Rumex acetosella): Also known as sour weed, this member of the buckwheat family, like the name suggests, is sour in taste. It is rich in vitamins C and A as well as Magnesium (Mg), Iron (Fe) and Calcium (Ca). It can be harvested throughout its growing season (spring, summer, fall), with leaves going great in salads and the stems can be used as a refreshing snack on the spot. Just bite down and suck. If you have any weeds you know of that are highly edible, please feel free to add!
From your window(s)*! Check this out (a few years old, but recently thought about it and thought I'd share): http://www.ted.com/talks/britta_riley_a_garden_in_my_apartment.html Their website is here (check their d-i-y and our. section): http://www.windowfarms.com/ I'd also like to add, have some flowers around for the bees that are so busy pollinating our greens. *No, I don't mean the operating system.