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Don't Kill The Weeds! An Intro To Foraging and Medicinal Plants

By Vicki Patterson

Spending time in the garden, making my herbal loose leaf teas blends while studying and watching plants, I learned something new. I learned how medicinal weeds are.

As you see in the picture above we had a really nice volunteer crop of chamomile come up, so that inspired me to not pull anything else that came up until I identified and researched the benefits. What I found out was so inspiring!

As you’ve been following my posts, you know I’ve been an avid gardener for 30 years but lately I’ve been opening my eyes to all the medicines from plants the people call "pesky weeds." Simply taking a walk on a nature trail and you’ll see so much medicine growing wildly. (If you know what to look for!

I'm going to help!

Take Dandelion

The leaves are used to stimulate the appetite, help digestion and kidney function. Dandelion flower has antioxidant properties (add both to your salad. Use the root to detoxify the liver and gallbladder. Very immune system building. The spelling should be, dandylion!

How about Lamb's Quarters

Also known as wild spinach, it’s a nutritional powerhouse high in calcium, iron, zinc and potassium. Hopefully, this will start being known for the superfood it is meant to be.

lamb's Quarters recipe at the end.

Plantain (Not the banana)

Plantain is all over my garden.

First aid remedy providing cool relief to skin inflammation, scrapes and bites with anti-microbio qualities.


A spring cleaning herb, nutritious food and a remedy for irritating conditions such as diaper rash, blisters and dry cough.


Purslane: Add this edible succulent high in omega-3 fatty acids to salads, sandwiches, and ferments such as kimchi. A health bomb, it contains more omega-3 fatty acids than almost any other green, not to mention vitamins A, B, and C and beta carotene. Purslane is one of the most nutritious plants on Earth and is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, etc.

Red Clover

This just popped up this year in my garden!!

A nitrogen fixing legume important for soil health and a versatile, nourishing food medicine. It’s a classic herbal phytoestrogen. Also helps with bone health, skin and hair and heart health.

Next Spring, please don’t kill your weeds, especially with soil destroying chemicals!

Nature is proving us with gifts for relief of common ailments, not to mention how beautiful their flowers are!

Comment below your foraging journey!

Lamb's Quarters Gratin

If you like creamed spinach you'll LOVE this even more!!

For Filling:

1 1/2 pounds lambs-quarters 1 bunch scallions, chopped (1 1/2 cups) 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt Freshly ground black pepper 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup milk, plus additional, if necessary 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (preferably freshly grated) 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For Topping: 1 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs (coarsely ground from a baguette; see Cooks' Notes) 1/2 cup packaged pre-grated mozzarella 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan 4 teaspoons olive oil

  1. Make Filling: Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350° F with the rack in the middle. Butter a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Step 2 Bring 1-inch salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile, wash lamb's-quarters in a large bowl of cold water and drain well. Trim any coarse, woody stems at bottom (don't go crazy with trimming; young lamb's-quarter stems cook up tender and delicious). Step 3 Add lamb's-quarters to pot and cook over medium heat, covered, until leaves are wilted and stems are tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the greens in a large sieve or colander and rinse well under cold running water. Drain again, pressing out excess liquid with the back of a large spoon. Coarsely chop greens and transfer to a bowl. Dry saucepan and reserve. Step 4 Cook scallions in olive oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt in reserved saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Combine scallion mixture with greens in bowl. Reserve saucepan again. Step 5 Melt butter in reserved saucepan over medium-low heat and stir in flour. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes, then whisk in milk and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer sauce, whisking, 2 minutes (it will be thick). Remove from heat and whisk in nutmeg, zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Step 6 Mix sauce into greens mixture. If the mixture is too thick, thin with a little additional milk; season with salt and pepper. Spread out mixture in baking dish.

  2. Make Topping: Step 7 Toss together crumbs, cheeses, and oil until combined well. Sprinkle topping evenly over greens mixture and bake in oven until crumbs are golden and mixture is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

  3. Notes: Step 8 The best way to make coarse fresh breadcrumbs is to cube fresh bread, then grind it in small batches in a blender (a food processor is not as good at grinding crusty bread into breadcrumbs because the crusts get stuck in the blade). Step 9 Creamy lamb's-quarters mixture and crumb mixture can be made 1 day ahead and kept separately in airtight containers, chilled.

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