Chickweed has a problem. Despite the fact it’s a wonderful plant -- and is almost certainly growing wildly in your yard or neighborhood -- chickweed has “weed” in its name. That means it’s no good, right? Wrong.
How we define weeds is really nonsensical. Weeds are basically any plant that you don’t want in your yard. That’s right, there’s actually no specific taxonomy for weeds. So when I say chickweed is full of vitamins A, D, B complex, C, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and iron, I understand why it might raise an eyebrow. Weed is in its name, and if weeds are something we don’t want in our yard, how could chickweed be beneficial?
Well, the real question is, who defines what’s beneficial? You do! Unfortunately, many weeds are defined by companies who sell weed killer. For example, you can make salad and wine from dandelions. Plus, pollinators love dandelions. Sounds pretty beneficial to me! But companies who sell weed killer have all kinds of blogs, infographics, techniques, and sprays to kill dandelion as if it was a nuisance. If I were trying to sell weed killer, it’d be in my best interest to convince you that everything but grass was bad too.
Which brings me back to chickweed. Now listen, I don’t expect anyone to walk into their yard and start inhaling chickweed, although you certainly could! Instead, I invite you to try one of my favorite foraged dishes, chickweed pesto. All you have to do is grab a handful of chickweed, throw it in a blender with salt, pepper, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts or sunflower seeds, and a little parmesan cheese. Blend it up and you’re done. Now you’ve got a delicious, healthy sauce you can add to pasta dishes, sandwiches, or potatoes.
Don’t allow chemical companies to define what’s considered a weed in your garden. While convincing you to spray your yard every six months is beneficial for their business, it’s probably not beneficial to your health and it’s definitely not beneficial for the environment.