Sunday, May 30, 2010

Edible Weeds

Edible weed quiche and salad

You read correctly: edible weeds. Green stuff that's good for you. Plus the lovely flowers that may come along with them.

I did a course at CERES today on edible weeds, mainly out of curiosity. What in my yard or permaculture plot can I eat for free? Apparently, a lot.

I have two previous experiences of edible weeds: one in East Brunswick the other at Lake Atitlán in Guatemala.

When I lived in East Brunswick, a lady walked past my terrace house, then backtracked and knocked on the door. She pointed at my small front yard and asked if she could pick something. What? The very underdeveloped capsicum I'd planted? No, something which I'd assumed was a weed and was doing very well in my front yard.

She called the plant baqla, perhaps a Lebanese word? It wasn't until I spoke with my workmates I learnt what the Greek word for it was (because the Aussie Greeks still use it), and then what the English word was: purslane.

I fetched a plastic bag for the lady to fill with the baqla, and took down her recipe for how to use it. Similar to tabouli.

In Guatemala, I became accustomed to seeing the local women foraging around the centre and along the track for greens. The greens often ended up in soups or stirred through frijoles. For some of the weeds at today's class, I only knew the Spanish name! Or their medicinal properties.

Today's course was very useful. We were taught some theory behind weeds and why they are good (they are great at collecting nutrients in degraded land by either tapping into a deep layer of soil or absorbing nutrients from the air). Then to the practical: finding and picking weeds from around CERES and the Merri Creek. They're everywhere! This helped me to firm up what the difference between a milk thistle, dandelion and wild lettuce was. The best part was then enjoying the weeds as food.

I eagerly polished off a salad, quiche and smoothie. The salad had mallow, dandelion flowers and leaves, calendula flowers, wild lettuce, angle onion, wandering jew, chickweed, wild fennel and brassica flowers. The smoothie included mallow, nettles, plantain, milk thistle, dandelion and clivers (plus orange, banana and water, so it really just tasted of the fruit but was green). The quiche was a typical quiche using nettle, milk thistle, dandelion and angle onion. So not so typical.

All up, very yummy. I now have a bit more confidence to harvest free food from my yard and the paddock.

Angle Onion growing amongst other bulbs


  1. I am so thrilled to come across your blog.....I think you would be one amazing person to meet!!! Keep up your wonderful endeavours in everything permaculture...good on you...TK

  2. Thanks TK! I hope you enjoy my little journey

  3. Don't know whether you'll see this comment, given that the post is three years old, but I just did a class at CERES also, sounding similar to the one you did, and you've reminded me what that third plant is that looks like dandelion - wild lettuce. (I think. I'm off to do some backup research.)

  4. It was a great little weed course. I should make the quiche again. The teacher, Annie Raser-Rowland, now has a book published