Trees

weed lover

Weed Lover: Unintentional Medicine from Evolution’s Winners

 

Back in the late ’90s and early aughts, a small but information-dense ’zine circulated in the Eugene area called “weed lover.” The premise was that weeds offend gardeners by growing where they’re not wanted, but that they nevertheless offer great value by way of food, medicine and pulling nutrients up from the subsoil to feed neighboring plants. They also may be physically useful: one gardener tied her tomatoes to their cages using bindweed.

 

One of the very best things about using weeds for medicine is that you rarely have to entertain the usual worries about overharvesting. It’s an interesting exercise for an ethical wildcrafter to try: Find a field full of an unkillable weed and keep picking it for a while after you feel like you’ve done too much. (Don’t worry, you can always find an herbalist who can use some, or mulch your garden with the extra.)

 

I’ve tried this exactly twice. The first time was picking blooming yarrow on a friend’s land in the Columbia Gorge. The second was picking St. John’s Wort on an Okanogan land trust. In that case, the plant wasn’t even native, but rather a European invasive. It technically wasn’t even overharvesting, but arguably just a feeble attempt at restoration.

 

Weeds are survivors in the game of evolution for many reasons. Here let’s consider a few that help humans be survivors, too. (more…)

top 10 garden medicines

A spring planting guide while you’re planning what to plant

 

Gardeners have a big advantage during deep darkness of a northwest winter: We get to pore over garden books and catalogs that offer shards of sunlight and whiffs of spring. Dreaming about striped tomatoes, salivating over the prospect of a fresh melon, imagining the thrum of a snapping pea, gardeners know that their dreams and will be rewarded with a well-stocked kitchen when the sun returns.

 

While curled up by the fire or the space heater with your summer hopes this winter, consider adding the flowerful, textural and healing world of growing medicine along with your food. The results will improve your garden — many medicinal plants also support beneficial bugs while confusing problematic pests — and improve your health.

 

It is absolutely irresponsibly unfair to ask any herbalist to narrow their favorite herbs down to a measly ten, and reasonable people will disagree heatedly about how to go about trying. This particular list is intended as a general top 10 list of medicinals that are easy to grow from seed or starts. This article is not intended to substitute for medical advice, as each person has a specific history and specific needs. (more…)

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