Here piggy piggy piggy…..here Pigweed!
We have been ripping up a storm in the fields lately, just like a pig rooting around, and although it will never be weed less, we are working really hard at striving towards it, and imagining a life without an overwhelming amount of weeds. The problem with weeds, is that most of them have an amazing amount of seeds stored in each plant and drop in the soil, which can last for years, creating a massive weed seed bank in the place we try to grow food. It’s a very frustrating process, because one false move, or lack of removal, and you will pay the price for years to come. This is why I am trying to shine light on weeds, and make it known that most are wild edibles and have nutrients that are both beneficial for the soil and consumption.
One wild edible that has a very strong presence at Wicklow Way is the Pigweed, which belongs to the amaranth family, a healthy source of protein and predominate around the world. Amaranth is a well-recognized and documented plant because it is such a healthy food; known as being an elixir of life, treating respiratory disorders, controls cholesterol, prevents premature aging |(here that girls?), and is a remedy for anemia. The health benefits of pigweed does not stop there, it is the top if its class, neck and neck with lambs quarters for being the best wild edible. It has been used for many years by the Native Americans to alleviate stomach problems, relive profuse menstrual symptoms, stop sore throats, intestinal parasites, eczema, and burns and swellings. Pigweed supports the lings and liver, and is best consumed as a tea, hot or cold, or by eating the leaves fresh.
The young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, like spinach, and has a mild flavour. As I already mentioned, a tea can be made from the dry leaves and added to your other wild edibles. The seeds are very small, but mighty, and can be roasted to improve it taste and grinded into a power for a cereal substitute, or sprouted and added to salads to sandwiches.
The pigweed plant is mainly identified by the stem which can grow up to 2 metres high and has a furry green cone sticking out the top, the leaves are flat and broad, similar to a basil leaf, and there is sometimes a reddish colour near the bottom of the plant. The pigweed plant can be hated by gardeners because of its rigorous growing habits, however if the proper information is provided and observation takes place, a gardener will realize that this weed is great at deterring pests from their gardens. It is considered a companion plant because it acts as a trap for leaf miners and other pests, and tends to shelter ground for beetles, which prey upon pests. Additionally, pigweed breaks up the hard soil for its more delicate neighbouring plants.
The one terrible thing about pigweed is its uninvited presence in most places and indestructible nature, which is due to the increasing usage of Monsanto’s Roundup. The chemical has created a super weed, and pigweed is not the only one. Currently there are 12 super weeds, with great resilience residing in North America. Pigweed is growing at higher heights, withstanding blistering heat, prolonged droughts, produces thousands of weeds and has a roots system that strips nutrients away from crops. The issue with the use of Roundup, is that these weeds are smarter than humans and chemicals and evolve to be stronger, therefore leading to a vicious cycle with a persistent man who wants a perfect garden, whether it be home or farm!
It’s important to pay attention to your surroundings, observe what the plants are telling you, and to be conscious of your actions. Instead of spraying with harm chemicals, people should realize their gardens potential to feed them the most nutritious food they can get, simply by foraging in their own backyard.