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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chickweed Tincture among other things

by Throwback at Trapper Creek

It seems I am always writing about weeds, and for sure, my view of weeds has changed over the years. Now very few receive the all out assault that I used to dish out, as I have learned more about "reading" weeds and trying to learn what their presence means.

Chickweed, Stellaria media is one of those weeds that people love to hate, but I find that it is so useful in the garden that I don't mind it's company, especially since it really only shows it's face during cool spring and fall weather, taking leave during the summer.

In my garden chickweed is a sign of my most fertile ground, in the weaker parts of my garden I do not find chickweed. And if you can stand to let nature be a little, it makes a valuable and inexpensive cover crop full of minerals when returned to the soil at planting time. However be warned, it is tenacious in cool weather and will defy tillage, enough to drive market gardeners mad in a cool wet spring. Luckily I am just a gardener and can afford to wait.

Besides excelling in the cover crop department, chickweed is a powerful weed to add to your spring and fall salads, or in any greens dish. Full of vitamins and minerals, it augments any dish. It's bright, fresh taste goes well in soups, egg dishes, casseroles, and many times I use it as substitute for lettuce or spinach, or even in place of basil in pesto. And the best part? I didn't have to plant it, tend it, or spend all day foraging for it, it is just there for the picking right in my garden, nonchalantly protecting my garden soil from heavy spring and fall rains.

Besides agrarian and culinary uses, chickweed is a popular old time folk remedy too. Old, young, and the anemic or probably just about anybody can benefit from some chickweed in the diet.

Besides incorporating chickweed in meals, a less subtle approach would be an infusion made from dried chickweed if you're so inclined. Drinking several cups per day of chickweed infusion is said to helpful in weight loss and ridding the body of toxins and increasing overall energy.

Herbal tinctures are easy to make too, and helpful to have around, so while we are eating chickweed daily pending our first hard frost, I decided to make a chickweed tincture to have around for the dark days of winter. Especially since retail price for 1 ounce of tincture is around $10.00.

All you need to make a tincture is pure grain alcohol, preferably 100 proof (Everclear is a good one) and no less than 80 proof or your tincture may not be thoroughly preserved. Next you need the herbs of course. I just harvested a colander of chickweed with scissors on a sunny day.

After checking to make sure you have only chickweed and not other weeds mixed in, finely mince with a sharp knife.

Loosely pack into clean jars, fill with grain alcohol, and cap. It will be ready for decanting in 6 weeks. The tincture can be helpful for swollen glands and to dissolve ovarian tumors in addition to adding to your overall well being if taken daily.

These are just a few of the uses for chickweed, healing salves and oils can be made too, making this one of the most useful, easy to grow "weeds" in my garden. Hopefully, chickweed can become your friend!


Jenny said...

Great article. I have just started to learn about weeds and their many uses. Hoping to find alittle chickweed in my gardens now. Thanks!

Amy said...

Huh. Never seen it in my garden. Maybe my soil is infertile. Boo.

Amy said...

Apologies for posting this question in the incorrect place, but I don't see a contact or e-mail place. Are you guys open to having new writers? Is there a way to join?

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Jenny, there may still be some, and if not now maybe in the spring!

Amy, maybe your spot is too new yet, but I am guessing as your soil builds chickweed will make an appearance :)

There is an email link in the right hand sidebar near the top.

Sense of Home said...

I found this post very interesting and timely. This week at storyhours one of the books I read kept mentioning the "chickweed tea" that the little red hen was drinking. I knew nothing about chickweed, now I do and I will watch for it in my garden next summer.


Hayden said...

none in my garden yet, alas. I'll keep watch in hopes that I soon see chickweed as a "congratulations, job well done" fertility message!

Lorna Jean said...

Interesting. I'd love to learn more about herbal (and weed) medicine and food uses--can you recommend a book or reliable website? Thanks!

Marianne said...

and chickweed is *the* best thing for itchy skin if used externally. In emergencies, just bruise it and slap it on. otherwise use a strong infusion as a wash or add to the bath water. you can also make creams and ointments.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Brenda, isn't it interesting how that works, good luck on your chickweed tea quest next summer :)

Hayden, once you start adding animals to the equation, I'm pretty confident chickweed will appear.

Lorna Jean, I personally like Making Plant Medicine by Richo Cech, any thing writen by Michael Moore (the herbalist) and Susun Weed. There are many more sources out there, hopefully others will chime in and add their favorites too.

Marianne, thanks for the additions!

God's Little Cow Girl said...

Forgive this stupid question...but how do you actually use a tincture? Is it something you dress wounds with, like a salve or something? See how little I know? ;-0

Peggy said...

Chickweed is nourishing for your animals as well. Rabbits, guinea pigs and other herbivores benefit from a little chickweed among their fresh vegetables.

God's Little Cow Girl said...

LOL.....I just figured out you drink it.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

GLCG, not in a drink of course ;) Just a dropper full at a time. And depending on the tincture, many times just a few drops.

Peggy, good point, and ironically my chickens do not care for it! They will eventually eat it but not until they have given me the begrudging eye.

Chiot's Run said...

Great idea. I have terrible soil so I have no chickweed growing on my property, I must find some somewhere as I'm always happy to find uses for "weeds". We eat just about all other weeds that we find around, garlic mustard, bittercrest, plantain, wild violets, lambs quarters, etc.

Thanks for the info.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

In case anyone is interested here is a link for a seed company that carries Chickweed: