So how is it that I've been busy working out there the last few weeks?
First I made the mistake of peeking under a few melting blocks of snow, and found that the ground ivy, or "creeping Charlie", and dandelions had wasted no time; they were already making stealth moves in my strawberry patch and herb garden.
Each year I vow to learn more about both of these weeds, herbs in their own right, brought over by Europeans long ago for their many virtues. I bought "The Dandelion Celebration" cookbook a few years ago, but April gardening always lures me away from extra projects in the kitchen. I adore roasted dandelion mixed with chicory as a coffee substitute. Why not make it at home? And someday I'll make those delicious dandelion fritters finally that everyone keeps talking about.
One weed I never have any trouble incorporating into meals in spring is nettle. Yum! It's incredibly easy to toss the young leaves in your soup, stew, pasta, or omlette, and is outrageously nutritious. If you've never done this and feel daunted at the thought, know that the stinging leaves are neutralized by the heat of cooking. This happens very quickly- you barely need to wilt them.
My goal for the ground ivy is to tincture some for head colds and ear issues, try it in Gill Tea, and surrender to it in the outskirts of my garden areas, but be assertive about where I won't let it its oh so fragrant and tenatious tentacles wander.
The other task that's been keeping me busy in my snow boots is cutting down all the shrubs and perennials I left for winter interest and for the birds to perch on and snack from. It's amazing how much is there once you start snipping, and what a grand mound the dried stalks become.
For those of you who like to eat your edible pesky weeds, or want to give it a try, early spring when they're young and at their tastiest before flowering is the best time. Here are a few fun and informative links:
Weeds in Your Garden? Bite Back!
Eat Those Invasives!
Eat the Weeds (Enter any weed in the search box for ideas):
Ground Ivy Tea Recipe and use in Botanical Medicine: