I find my garden struggling this year. Nothing seems to want to grow and some plants have just kicked off quicker than I can get them in. It’s very discouraging to walk by the garden and see the weeds thriving and the veggies struggling. I have decided that if you can’t beat them, eat them.
Many of our common garden and lawn weeds are not only edible but tasty. Anyone who has a yard will have known the frustration of plantain fruit jumping up over the grass. Kids love to shoot the fruit by twisting the stalk into a knot and popping the end off. In researching them, I have discovered that they not only are edible (my goats and horses love them) but also have been used as a medicinal herb for centuries.
Externally, plantain can be used for insect bites, poison ivy, bee stings and any other kind of dermatitis. It is said to draw the poison out and has antiseptic properties. Simple to use, just bruise or crush the leaves and apply to skin or better yet, chew the leaves and apply as a poultice. It can also be made into an oil and salve.
Internally, plantain is high in riboflavin and B1. The seeds contain psyllium which is the major ingredient in Metamucil. The leaves brewed into a tea have medical evidence to confirm uses as an alternative medicien for asthma, emphysema, bladder problems, bronchitis, fever, hypertension, rheumatism and blood sugar control.
A decoction of the roots is used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, dysentery, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, hemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, coughs, asthma and hay fever. It also causes a natural aversion to tobacco and is currently being used in stop smoking preparations.
If You Can’t Beat Them, Eat Them
If you are at a loss for a dinner vegetable, you can go out and pluck some plantain leaves right out of your yard. The young, tender leaves are recommended as the older leaves can be tough and a bit bitter. You can toss them in a salad with other weeds like lambs quarter or you can boil or steam them as you would spinach.
I did find a recipe for Creamed Plantain Leaves which just sounds yummy. You can also use them for pesto. It is recommended that you add plantain slowly to your diet as parts of it can have a laxative effect.
I am still searching out recipes and will update with the results as I try them out. I love pesto so I believe it will be the first to try.