Dandelion, ground ivy, sweet violets, garlic mustard, wild garlic, broadleaf plantain, purple dead nettle…I just harvested some delicious additions to my lunch salad from my lawn. Those who value perfectly smooth, green lawns might look askance at our lawn, but I’ll bet they can’t eat their lawn. No chemical treatments to kill off weeds here; those weeds are a salad garden I don’t have to tend! What could be better than an organic garden that grows itself despite my neglect?
Most of these “weeds” are high in nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, & K, as well as calcium and other minerals, and some of them also have medicinal qualities. As this is early in the season and the plants are small, today’s salad was partly lettuce, radishes, and blueberries, with a just handful or two of my lawn additions. Even that small amount, though, was enough to add a range of flavors that made for an especially delicious lunch.
Some of these and other plants in my lawn apparently make good drinks, though I haven’t tried them yet. Mullein, dead nettle, and plantain are tea candidates, and of course, dandelions can be made into wine. I remember picking many quarts of dandelion flowers for my father to make into wine. It was a delicious, sweet wine that packed a stronger punch than one might have expected.
There is one tiny plant blooming all over in my lawn that I wasn’t able to identify, so didn’t know if it was edible, despite consulting an app on my phone. I was frustrated; aren’t apps and phones supposed to hold all the wisdom of this age?
My mother happened to call after lunch and was telling me about a paper she’s writing for her Herb Society meeting about a plant so tiny she had to use a jeweler’s loop to study its blossoms. That got my attention, and I asked what it’s called. “Hairy bittercress,” she said.
I looked up hairy bittercress, and saw the tiny plant I had been unable to identify, which turns out to be edible! Tomorrow hairy bittercress will join the other weeds in my lawn lunch salad. And perhaps next time I have a plant ID question, I will consult my mother’s 91 years of wisdom instead of my phone and its apps.
I wrote this slightly later in the season a few years ago:
My lawn is not a proper lawn
It has more other plants than grass.
Some people call them weeds, I know
But here I welcome them as friends.
Dandelions, Buttercups, Speedwell, Violets
dot the earth and add bright color.
Clover grows rich and dark,
feels cool and soft beneath my toes.
Ground Ivy spreads her purple robe
under trees, throughout the shade;
Blackseed Plantain and other “weeds”
Are lush and green through summer’s heat.
My lawn has life and shape and color
Always changing, ever bright.
I like it just the way it is
And never want a proper lawn.
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