|Viola tricolor or heartsease, a common "weed" in my garden.|
It's definitely time to switch up my chore routine. In winter, I do outdoor work in the afternoon. In summer, I do outdoor work in the morning. It all has to do with the coldest and hottest parts of the day!
The other day, my morning chore was weeding my lettuce and multiplier onion bed. My fall planted lettuce (mesclun, actually) was well established, but the spring planted lettuce was just beginning to sprout. It was being shaded out by violets and heartsease, so I needed to get a little light to it.
|Multiplier onions, lettuce, violets, and heartsease|
I confess my definition of "weeds" has narrowed considerably over the years. Besides companion group planting, I find myself leaving volunteers and any other plant I learn is beneficial in any sort of way. The result is rather hodge-podge, messy looking beds, but oh well.
When the lettuce needed sunlight and room to grow, I pulled and saved the heartsease to dry for my herb cabinet. These common little flowers (also called johnny jump up or wild pansy) have both medicinal as well as culinary value and so are worth collecting.
The whole plant can be used and is collected while in bloom. It can be used in infusions (tea), tinctures, poultices, and creams. It acts as an expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmatic, diuretic, and anti-rheumatic and has a laxative effect. Common medicinal uses include treatment for respiratory problems (cough, asthma, bronchitis, and whooping cough), joint complaints (rheumatism, inflammation), urinary problems (cystitis, bedwetting, bladder stones, kidney weakness), as a spring tonic to strengthen circulation and metabolism, and topically for skin complaints (rash, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and cradle cap). For more complete lists:
Heartsease at Remedial Herbs
Heartsease at Botanical.com
The flowers are the focus of it's culinary use: salads, garnishes, frozen in ice cubes.
Violets (Viola odorata) are in abundance at the moment as well! We have them all over the place. I reckon they should be next on my list for foraging and gathering.
Weeding and Gathering: Heartsease © April 2014