By Lizette Salmon, Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health (WATCH)
With Spring here, many of us will be contemplating our vegie patches and planning summer crops … unless we’re too busy battling weeds. But what if we turned weed warfare into a nutritional harvest? These wild plants are generally richer in a range of vitamins, anti-oxidants and omega-3s than cultivated plants. They’re the ultimate convenience food, yet largely ignored by most of us.
I’m sure you’ve noticed cleavers, also known as stickyweed or velcro plant, running riot recently. They have a mischievious ability to stick to clothing but also a gentle, pleasant taste which is great in a green smoothie or a fine blended soup.
Then there’s mallow, a weed which loves our clay soils and grows all year round. Ancient Romans considered them a culinary delicacy and even now they’re widely eaten in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Northern Africa and China. They can be substituted for spinach in any recipe, but it’s best to use the young leaves.
These are just two of many local weeds that can be used in dips, salads, frittatas, gnocchis, stir-fries and stews. To sort out the safe ‘n’ tasty from the others, I recommend the Weed Forager’s Handbook. But for first-hand, local know-how, come along to Emma Street’s lunch-time presentation at Wodonga Library.
The library is hosting five Sustainability in Spring talks that will have you ready, set and motivated to get out into your garden. They follow the highly popular first series, with lots of practical information from experienced local gardening enthusiasts. Each session costs $15, with tickets available through The Cube.
Topics as follows:
• Companion planting (8 October): Who are the friends and foes in your vegie patch? We’ll help you maximise your harvest by explaining what grows best where.
• Fruit fly (22 October): Sick of seeing your home-grown fruit destroyed by fruit fly? Learn about the fruit fly life cycle and how to prevent it destroying your precious crops.
• Growing seedlings (5 November): How to successfully grow vegetables from seed, including optimal seed selection, timing, sowing, soil mediums, containers and transplanting techniques.
• Seed saving (19 November): Practical seed-saving for beginners – how to select, collect and save seeds from your vegie patch in this time-honoured tradition.
• Edible weeds (3 December): They’re uninvited but amazingly healthy. Get to know, use and feast on the edible weeds in your garden.
For bookings visit thecubewodonga.com.au/tickets or phone 6022 9311.