Lately, I have been fascinated by the idea that many of the most pesky and prolific plants, commonly known as weeds, are edible and medicinal. I have been known to frequent one seat in my local library day after day (because I moved recently I do not yet have a library card) reading books about edible wild plants. This post will not be an exhaustive one, I will not delve into the depths of gathering until later, but I will give what insight I have foraged so far.
All you need to do is walk into your backyard, or the abandoned lot across from your work, or take a walk through the park to see what I am talking about. If you change the way that you look at things, instead of seeing an old abandoned lot you might see the perfect seasoning to your next meal, a fresh salad filled to the brim with Vitamin A and other hard to find vitamins, or even a natural remedy to that cold you have been fighting off for days now.
A few days ago I looked out my window and found that only a week after mowing my lawn, there was a veritable forest of Dandelions in my lawn. At first I was upset with the idea that those weeds would degrade the aesthetics of my lawn, but then I realized just how useful this blunder could be. You see, Dandelions are known to be useful from their buds to their bottoms (…roots). One can make a nutritious salad out of a half cup of Dandelion leaves, or harvest tap roots as a side dish, and those adventurous ones can make a sweet wine with the flower of a Dandelion. I am sure to write more about my own Dandelion dishes and drinks later on, but like I said, this is just a touch on the topic.
I have yet to personally experience eating Bull Thistles, but I have recently found that they too are edible. Only two days after realizing this, I took a hike up a mountain and found that much of the trail was surrounded by Bull Thistles. Needless to say, this peaked my interest. After doing more research, I have found that virtually the entire plant is edible, but it is also said to be quite bland. Nonetheless, I have taken it upon myself to experience the different uses for the Bull Thistle first hand.
Mushrooms among some circles are the most commonly gathered wild plant, but among other circles they are the most feared. This is because there are so many different species of mushrooms, so of which can be very poisonous. It is my opinion that armed with a field guide-book, and maybe a trusty companion like a dog, friend or brother (I look back fondly on memories of searching for mushrooms with my mom) this can be a very safe and fun adventure. You simply need to be careful and thorough in your investigation of which mushrooms you are harvesting.
I believe that this post is the start of many to come. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or stories of your own gathering experiences! I may even repost them (with your permission and with you getting the credit for your stories).