Gardener's Grapevine 2012.08.22

Written by David Green.

Have you ever noticed how as we age so do other things? I’ve heard “the more things change the more they stay the same.” Or how about “what comes around goes around”? On Sunday mornings Art and I love to watch a show called Sunday Morning. We watch it while getting ready for church and tape (DVR) the rest to watch later. Twice this summer I have talked about weeds and the program did a segment on it.

The definition of weeds is “a plant considered undesirable, unattractive, or troublesome, esp. one growing where not wanted.” Basically, the segment talked about a lot of different weeds. Like the kudzu brought to our country 100 years ago to control one problem and it became an enormous problem that is now very out of control and taking over the south. My Aunt Pat had a plant she planted in abundance once that she called Michigan Kudzu. That would be a topic for another article I think.

They also spoke about weeds that are making a comeback as food. I wrote an article some weeks back on this, as a friend had fascinated me with talk of where our weeds originated from and why we had them. Usually as I get ready for church, this program is on and I pause to catch segments that grab my attention. Today however, I felt awful and had decided no one at church would appreciate my grumpy uncomfortable self so we stayed home and I watched the whole program.

This segment on weeds talked about a woman who is a lawyer in New Jersey who harvests edible weeds not only for her own dinner table, but also for posh restaurants along the east coast. She spoke about eating lambsquarter, creeping jenny, pigweed leaves, onion grass bulbetts and many more. She wrote a book called “Foraged Flavor” and it sounds absolutely fascinating. I want to purchase a copy. The premise of the entire segment was just to showcase a new look and differing looks on an old problem/crop.

As I said before in the past article many of our “weeds” started out as crops that people brought from their home countries as root stock to make sure they had something to eat in an unknown new place. In this TV segment a weed/crop researcher spoke about how southern farmers used seeds that had been genetically engineered to resist Round Up so that Round Up could be sprayed across their land to control weeds including pig weed. Now the pigweed has naturally altered itself to resist the Round Up also. They showed weeds growing in the cracks of asphalt in a city and thriving. The point is that for some reason weeds live without much water, food or even sun and thrive.

With more and more people crowding our world, our climate changing constantly, years like our present one where we deal with a drought and have a concern for rising food costs, maybe weeds are our future. They persevere where others can’t. Our ancestors knew something we did not or have forgotten. I guess what goes around really does come around.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2014