think of all weeds as uninvited
and unsightly nuisances that Must go!
there are Bad weeds and
Good weeds, and some Very Good Weeds.
weeds" grow among the
roots of choice Plants
and rob them of nutrients. Then they tower over our Plantings and rob
of sunshine, resulting in a meager crop of Flowers or
like Poison Ivy,
even exude harmful Toxins.
have short, shallow roots which absorb few nutrients. They shade the
with their foliage which helps to preserve moisture and keep
soil cool for those Plants that prefer it. And when the growing season
ends, their remains decompose (Compost),
contribute to the fertility and structure of the soil.
In addition, some weeds have
properties which are attractive to destructive insects. Allowed near
Plants, some of the insects will visit these weeds instead of your
making it less necessary to use poisons on your produce. Still other
have properties that repel destructive insects, making them great
So next time you pass a neighbor
exercising his porch swing while the garden "needs" weeding, think
this page and learn how to separate the good from the bad.
Good Weeds" are in a
class of their own; They
are EDIBLE !
don't need to buy the seeds;
or till, sow, water, fertilize, mulch, spray, and cultivate the soil.
don't even need to pull the weeds. Common Milkweed is an example of one
of these Very Good Weeds.
Milkweed gets its name from the copious bitter, white, sticky liquid
flows readily from a wounded Plant. It may be found in fields and
or any fallow area that is open to full sunshine. You can also grow it
from seeds planted on the North side of your sunny Garden
where it will not
In nature it grows in irregular
patches to 5 feet tall, with leaves approaching a foot in length and 4
inches in width. Patch and Plant size are determined by location and
conditions. The leaves are horizontally opposed on a round hollow stem
the diameter of your thumb. Each pair of leaves grow at right angles to
the next of about 12 pairs. A flower cluster contains upwards of 100
shows a Pod which has split open to expose its fluffy parachute to the
wind. It will be blown away to its new home many feet or miles away,
it will germinate and start a new plant to perpetuate its species.
2, 3 - Its
fragrant Blossoms attract many nectar-seeking insects, Bees,
Butterflies, including the Monarch
which also selects it for depositing eggs, and raising Caterpillars.
4 - Its
fluffy seed parachutes attract birds that use it for nesting material.
Baltimore Orioles are especially fond of it. Butterfly
Weed is a member of the Milkweed family.
your Songbirds by gathering
Milkweed Seed Pods in late Autumn when they are just beginning to split
open. Put them in our Nesting Material Dispenser in the
to provide nesting materials. Lint from your Laundry Dryer will also be
Gather Flower Bud Heads (similar to Broccoli and Cauliflower) just
the blossoms open. This stage is signaled by the green Buds taking on a
hint of pink, indicating that the pink Blossoms are about to open.
young leaves and stems may be included in your cuttings as shown in the
photo. Handle them so as to avoid the sticky, white secretion.
As you gather them, examine each
cutting for insects and spiders. Insects are not numerous at this stage
of blossom development, but are attracted later when the opened
offer their sweet nectar.
After the flowers have bloomed, Pods are produced that will contain the
seeds for future generations. Pods are also edible; with a different
and texture. Pick them when they are about 2-1/2 inches long.
Don't remove ALL the Bud Heads
or seed pods from the plants, unless you want to stop the crop. These
are the basis of future plants. You may prefer to harvest only the
top leaves, leaving the Blossoms and Pods to produce more plants.
As with most vegetables, the
less time between picking and eating; the better. Put them in a sink or
bucket and cover them with cold salt-water for a half hour. Any insects
you missed should float to the top. Then vigorously swish each cutting
under the water several times and shake off the excess.
into bite-sized pieces; a kitchen shears works well for this. Cook them
in lots of boiling water, stirring occasionally. When you are able to
a toothpick through a thick stem; they are done. They will lose some of
the green color which will be taken on by the boiling water. If the
is too pronounced for you, boil them again in a second water.
The flavor may be reminiscent
of Green Beans. But if you prefer, you can change the flavor to
Asparagus, Broccoli, or Cheese by adding undiluted Cream Soup for a
Butter, Salt, and Pepper are also good flavor enhancers. Or you might
Leftovers can be put in Freezer
Bags or other containers much as Green Beans are. A Soda Straw inserted
into the mostly-zipped bag will allow you to suck out the air. A
bucket of Milkweed will equal about 10 pounds in the freezer. They make
a welcome addition to Vegetable Soup.