Common Chickweed — My Favorite Spring Wild Edible Green

Jan has an indoor winter garden that supplies us with salad greens all through the cold weather months. We have fresh salads on a regular basis.

Jan’s winter garden. (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)

We also add freshly dug carrots (overwintered in the ground), last year’s onions or kohlrabi, and sometimes frozen peas and pickled beets from last year’s harvest. Some store bought vegetables are occasionally added.

Jan digging carrots that we let “winter over”. (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)

Some wild plants that we harvest from our property also find their way into our salads.

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) is the most abundant “weed” in some of our gardens. And it is wonderfully edible and highly nutritious with a good compliment of Vitamin C. In the days of the tall sailing ships, sailors foraged for chickweeds whenever they made landfall. They had learned that somehow these plants helped prevent scurvy (a very debilitating disease caused by a lack of Vitamin C) and they knew that chickweeds can be found on most continents in most ecosystems.

Common Chickweed (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)

On our property Common Chickweed can be collected by the handsful. The entire plant is edible and that is how we add it to our salads — flowers, leaves and stems. Even the roots can be eaten, but we usually pull them off.

A handful of Common Chickweed. (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)
Common Chickweed added to a salad. (Photo (c) Jan Runyan)

This year from January through March, the garden bed destined for this summer’s potatoes was loaded with Common Chickweed and we made good use of it, harvesting it on a regular basis.

Common Chickweed in what will become our potato garden. (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)

I usually do my first planting of potatoes in early April. This year my gas-powered tiller wasn’t working and I haven’t been able to have it fixed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. So I decided to go “back to my roots” and use my 40+ year old, person-powered cultivator to turn the the weeds back into the soil.

Cultivating the garden bed. (Photos (c) Jan Runyan)

The cultivator still worked beautifully and I appreciated the good physical workout. The abundance of great nutrition found in Common Chickweed is now decomposing underground where it will be easily available for the potatoes. Our volunteer Common Chickweed garden has transformed into our 2020 potato garden with 100 hills of potatoes planted already. Another 40 hills will be planted in mid-April, about the time those first potato plants begin to emerge.

Our 2020 potato garden has five of seven rows already planted. (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)

Our gardens serve a dual purpose – we plant them with our favorite domestic “grocery store” vegetables and then the nutritious volunteer weeds that invade after harvest find their way into our mid-winter/spring salads. It’s a win, win situation.

But don’t worry that we might get scurvy because all the chickweed is now gone from the potato patch! There is plenty more of it all around the property! Jan just has to ask and I can easily find and harvest a big handful for our dinnertime salad….like I did just last night!

Common Chickweed (Photo (c) Bill Beatty)

7 thoughts on “Common Chickweed — My Favorite Spring Wild Edible Green

  1. Great to have greens, especially during the Winters. We will at times grow some stuff indoors but have not had much space in the homes we have lived in more recently.

    While living in Jackson, Wyoming we had a Vertical Garden so even with 500 inches of snow a year we could go over and get fresh greens all Winter. The whole facility also hires handicapped individuals to work with the plants, sales, giving tours, etc.
    https://www.verticalharvestjackson.com/

    We are expecting a Winter Storm this weekend with 6-8 inches of snow, along with 12 degree nights, so no plants here anytime soon!

    Take care and be safe!
    Bo

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    • Hi Bo… It’s always nice to hear from you. I just checked out your link about Vertical Harvest. I love the way you are helping others who are helping others. Today it is snowing off-and-on. Two days ago it was in the 70s. Jan and I do not “need” to eat wild, but like knowing about it and having the ability to do so when we want to. Nature is wonderful! This pandemic stuff hasn’t really changed our lifestyle, but I have several friends who are really “freaking out”. I hope you and your family are doing well! Bill

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  2. Never knew chickweed was edible! I’ll try it! Loved your cultivator. We have the same still languishing at the homeplace. It’s a little wobbly, but fixable, I’m sure. Loved the entire story and photos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Martha, The cultivator is a great tool. I use it regularly to cultivate the weeds between the rows of corn and potatoes. Never did I expect to use it in place of my tiller. We have great soil here and it worked well. Try the chickweed. Mixed in with your other salad ingredients and with your favorite dressing the taste changes little, but the added nutrition is quite beneficial. Bill

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