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Chickweed Weed Walk

Tuesday, April 24, 2018 1:37 PM | Wise Woman (Administrator)

Chickweed Weed Walk

by Susun Weed




Put on your warm coat, and boots, and your hat, and come out with me to pick some chickweed. Yes, it is the middle of January! No, I'm not crazy. The sky has cleared and we'll have some good foraging down where the river widens and seeps toward the sea.

I have the basket and some scissors. There's no dirt to wash off if we carefully cut an inch away from the ground, like giving the plants a haircut. Come on, already; you won't need gloves. It's warm out today.


I love chickweed. It's my favorite salad green. And not just because I can harvest it fresh all winter long. The taste is exceptional: clean, bright green without a trace of bitterness, but just a little salty , Umm !


Umm...smell the fresh sea air. There's our supper. Ready to be cut. Snip, snip. We'll be like the hairdresser for the little star lady. Our haircut will encourage the chickweed to branch many times and provide that many more tender shoots for our next cutting.

And our cutting keeps the leaves large. Well, large for chickweed. I see your point, but, look, some of these are nearly as big as your thumbnail. In a, harsher habitat, the leaves don't get any bigger than your tiny toenail.


But large or small, all the leaves are an even, bright, clear green, absolutely smooth, and growing in opposed pairs. See how the leaf stalks get longer and longer as they get farther and farther from the growing tip?


Old chickweed is mostly stalk and not as edible as the tender leafy parts. Snip the growing leafy tops off, like this. And leave behind the soiled, stalky stuff. Lay it in the basket in a neat bundle, with all the stalks parallel. That makes it easier to chop for salad when we get back to the kitchen, No fuss, no mess, no dirt, no tedious washing.


Look at this line of hairs that runs up the stem. Just one tiny line of hairs on an otherwise totally smooth plant. That's not a second line of hairs; this one merely jumped to the other side there at the leaf node. It goes around to each of the four directions, as in a prayer to the four elements: fire, water, earth, and air.


You almost need a magnifying glass to see the hairs, unless you hold the stem to catch the light, just so, making the hairs visible.


Take another look at the stem. See how it barely rises from the ground? Not that it exactly creeps or lies on the ground, but chickweed can be said to grow out instead of up. There are so many branches to the stalk, and more here than usual, since my cutting increases the branching, that a single plant seems to grow like a super-nova, radiating out and up.


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