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Here’s Why Weeds Are a Good Prep


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by Rowan O’Malley

Imagine that it’s the apocalypse everyone has been warning you about. You’re running for your life with nothing but the clothes on your back. You could say that the manure has hit the rotating ventilator, and you’re in the path of it. As you’re running, you notice an edible plant. You stop only long enough to shove a few handfuls of it into your pockets.

Please note: If you cannot identify at least four common edible wild plants in your area, STOP reading this article right now. Find a good plant identification guide online focused on the area where you live. (This series is very popular because each book is region-specific.) Order the book. Read this great article on urban foraging from The OP, which could give you a start while you wait for your book to arrive.

Are you getting me here? Plants could save your life.

Why weeds?

If the apocalypse comes and you have the resources to plant a garden, that will be great. But will you have the resources to DEFEND your garden? And what about if the apocalypse happens rather inconveniently, and you’re forced to be on the run and can’t keep a garden? Or what if your seeds are stolen at gunpoint? Or your entire harvest is stolen?

(My goodness, that would be quite a plan, wouldn’t it? Allow your neighbors to grow a great garden for you, and then grab it all at harvest time. If you don’t think stuff like that could happen, I recommend you read a few of Selco’s articles.)

Another huge apocalyptic factor would be whether the time and energy would even be available to keep a garden at all. You don’t want to be out weeding if you can be picked off by a shooter in that nearby stand of trees…do you? By this point, you might be sayin’ “Get to the point, you freakin’ eejit!” Well, say away.

Here’s my point: It may not matter how great your BOB is if you don’t have a few edible weeds packed away in that noggin’ of yours. As long as you are alive, those weeds could be helping you survive. There are many circumstances where you may end up without any seeds and/or harvest. I’ve tried to suggest a few. However, this I know: wherever you are (except maybe the desert and then good luck to you!) there are likely to be some weeds growing.

Is That a Garden?

From the roadside, my garden looks abandoned. Full of weeds, grass, and cardboard boxes lain flat here and there, it gives the appearance of being completely abandoned. Old plastic sheeting and a tarp lie on a couple of rows. Discarded manure bags collect in a corner. An old plastic owl on a stick has face down onto the ground.

Considering a number of apocalyptic scenarios, having a weedy garden that looks like this could be an enormous advantage. Run of the mill gangs out in search of food would walk right by it. However, take a closer look: in amongst the grass and garbage are several edible weeds, many of them also medicinal. What appears to be nothing useful is actually a stealth pharmacy.

It Might Benefit Your Soil

These days we are learning more and more about how soil works. It turns out that endlessly plowing and allowing our topsoil to blow away isn’t that good for it. As well, growing one crop intensively also can deplete the soil. Allowing for more biodiversity, even in a relatively small garden plot can help the soil stay healthy. There’s a lot more information out there these days about alternative methods and edible weeds. In my own garden, I have seen that edible weeds are the first up (food!) in spring, and they often do better than “traditional” garden vegetables in the severe heat we are getting in our local summers.

If you’re not sure where to start, why not reach out to your local Extension office? Here’s a great blog post on foraging for creasy greens: [LINK: https://extension.wvu.edu/lawn-gardening-pests/news/2024/03/01/creasy-greens]

One Example: Stinging Nettles

I did not have these in my garden, so I moved some in from my friend’s farm. I took and transplanted two bunches. One survived, and the other didn’t. They are now taking over the garden! I really don’t mind, as I drink nettle tea daily. I prefer small, tender plants, so I don’t want them to grow too big. While the leaves sting when fresh, gently cooking is one way to safely prepare them.

What are the benefits for me? I find that nettle tea seems to help me get a fresh start in the spring. My allergy symptoms are almost gone when I drink my daily nettle tea. I have shared my nettle plants with friends, and one experienced a big reduction in her tendonitis by stinging the area twice daily with her nettles.

I recently suffered a scratch that was bleeding profusely, even after applying pressure. A bit concerned, I ground up a couple of dried nettle leaves from last year and applied the powder on the scratch. It stopped bleeding almost immediately. Wondering what else nettles can do? Here’s a good article.

PLEASE NOTE: This article is for information purposes only. Make sure to consult your own doctor before you try anything stupid with weeds that might lead you to blame someone else for your misadventure and sue!

Weeds On the Move

With more and more geographic areas facing severe weather events, your perfect bug-out location could become uninhabitable at some point. What if your well runs dry, for example, and you can no longer order a water delivery? Or, you could be “ousted” from your perfect homestead by a powerful local gang. (If you’re confident that you can defend any number of hostile intruders, I simply tip my hat to you!). However, for someone like me and my hubby who has a mobility issue, it’s realistic to recognize that we may not have the resources to defend against all challengers…in which case….we will be on the run (slowly, too!).

Knowing how to recognize even four or five wild edibles could be a lifesaver in that case. Think it’s easy or that you could eat anything on the run without knowing much? One of the wild plants that grows in my garden is deadly Nightshade. Sure glad I checked my book to properly identify that one! A good plant identification book will also show you images of similar plants that are poisonous or potentially harmful. It’s especially good to memorize how to distinguish these, too.

Don’t Weed ‘em…Eat ‘em!

With some study and practice you can turn your local landscape into a lunchscape. Do you have your own list of edible weeds already PREPared? Do you allow any edible weeds to co-exist in your garden? Please tell us all about it in the comments section!

About Rowan

Rowan O’Malley is a fourth-generation Irish American who loves all things green: plants (especially shamrocks), trees, herbs, and weeds! She challenges herself daily to live her best life and to be as fit, healthy, and prepared as possible.



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