Eat Your Weeds

You've probably heard that some weeds are edible—even the oft-despised dandelion. The young foliage can be eaten in salads or cooked. If you hand-pull dandelions, you'll effectively remove these perennial weeds and have a meal to spare. (Don't harvest from areas treated with chemicals.) Use a flathead screwdriver or specialized garden tool to extract the entire taproot. Then remove the green tops. Dandelion greens should be harvested when the leaves are young and tender, before flowering. Add leaves to salads or cook them by steaming or boiling. To remove any bitterness, soak them in cold water for several hours before cooking or change the cooking water once. Other weeds suitable for the table include watercress (often called creasy greens), purslane and lamb's quarters.

Hort Shorts

  • Plant seeds of beets, carrots, lettuce, radishes, onions, chard, kale, spinach and turnips this month.
  • If you lack enough light or space indoors to start seeds, try winter sowing. Sow seeds in milk jugs or other food containers outdoors in a sheltered location, cover and keep watered. Select plants whose seedlings are cold-hardy, such as the kind that volunteer in your garden.
  • Use newspaper (4- to 6-sheets thick) to suppress tough weeds in beds. Top with mulch.
  • Do not prune or remove leaves of daffodils or other bulbs until they are brown or withered. The leaves produce food that is stored in the bulbs, essential for next year's flowers.

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