Sunday, 31 October 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!