March 4, 2016

Weeding and Gathering: Chickweed

This time of year there isn't much growing, but one thing that I see everywhere is chickweed.


Chickweed (Stellaria media) is a pretty little plant, I think. It makes a lovely dense green ground cover with tiny white flowers. In my part of the world it thrives during the mild days of winter. The pigs like fresh handfuls.

Waldo chowing down on a big handful of chickweed.

The chickens like it too.

The Speckled Sussex were on hand to jump right in. The
Australorps were late comers but soon helped themselves.

The goats aren't very enthusiastic about it, but I dry it and mix it in with their herbal vitamin and mineral mix because it's a source of vitamin A and copper.

Chickweed is a good vegetable for humans too, although I grow enough garden greens that I never think to harvest it for that. It can be steamed like any other cooked green, or the young leaves can be harvested for salads. For us, I harvest it for its medicinal value.

According to Penelope Ody's The Complete Medicinal Herbal, it can be taken internally as a cleansing tonic and diuretic, useful for urinary tract inflammations. Externally it is used in creams, poultices, and compresses for skin conditions such as rashes and eczema, for painful joints, wound healing, and to draw boils.

We've got it growing all over the place and I love the pretty carpet of green it makes.

Thriving in the garden under the shelter of the old Egyptian wheat stalks.

This is a good time of year to gather and dry it, not only for the goats' mineral mix, but also to have a supply for salve making later this year.


23 comments:

PioneerPreppy said...

Hmmm I don't know if we have any of that around here. I need to check.

Dawn McHugh said...

missed your bog being off line since January but back on now, we have chick weed although it will be another month before its around

Leigh said...

I'm not sure of its growing range, but I would be surprised if it didn't grow in your area, although maybe a little more toward spring for you.

Leigh said...

Well, Dawn, welcome back! In some ways it's hard being offline, but I confess I always get a whole lot more done around the homestead when we are. :)

Quinn said...

Wish there was something like that here right now. I'm sprouting lentils to give the poultry a bit of greenery at this time of year .

Fiona said...

I will have to look for it here, I know we had it in Virginia. I didn't know it was so useful although I have picked it for Rabbits and chickens. It is good to learn new things.

DFW said...

I'm sure we have it. Just need to identify it along with the other 40 'weeds' we have.

Leigh said...

Sprouts are an excellent addition to a winter diet for chickens. I've sprouted wheat, oats, corn, and sunflower seeds for mine. They do love their fresh foods.

Leigh said...

I forgot about rabbits (it's been a long time since I had rabbits). Yes, they'd love it too!

Leigh said...

Identifying wild plants is an ongoing learning process! I try to learn at least a few new ones every year.

Henny Penny said...

We had chickweed growing everywhere but now, not so much. Maybe I've pulled too much up for the chickens over the years. It still comes up in patches in my garden...of course.

Erika Keller said...

Thanks for the reminder, must go pick some for the chickens today. The chickweed is loving the mild winter we've been having.

Sandy said...

Leigh,

Thank you for the insight regarding chickweed. We have some growing out this way. I will harvest some and keep it for making salve.
I love the pictures of your pig, and chickens.

FAST SOS said...

can't say i've noticed it creeping around here, will have to keep my eyes peeled when the land starts to come back to life

Leigh said...

I forgot to mention that it's an annual. So I suppose as long as you still have some coming up it will reseed itself and eventually spread.

Leigh said...

It really thrives in mild weather, doesn't it?

Leigh said...

So common, so pretty, and such a good plant to have around.

Leigh said...

Hopefully you'll find a patch. :)

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

Not sure if we have it growing in our area or not. Will have to keep my eyes open. Nancy

Howard said...

Chickweed is a summer and fall weed in our part of Alaska. We pull five gallon buckets of the stuff for the pigs and chickens in the fall. It is a real problem in the garden. We must have just the right soil conditions and we just can't stay ahead when we get our cool damp August and September weather. We can usually keep feeding it until snow covers the ground in late September or October.

Mountain Mama said...

I'm not sure if I have that or not...now I'm curious and I'm going to have to look up more about it!

Jackie P Neal said...

Geesh,call me curious now too! I'll be looking around to see if this is something we have growing as well!
Jackie

Sue G. said...

I'm not sure if we have chickweed or not. Will be taking a closer look! Sue G.