Wildflowers, weeds and plants that grow in the wild can be put to good use, finds Hannah Stephenson.
Besides being good for biodiversity, rewilding a patch of your garden can also provide a wealth of bounty, including valuable fertilizer and delicious tea.
Wildflowers, weeds, and plants that could once be considered an invasive pest can be harvested and used to enrich your plot – and your life.
Make comfrey fertilizer
Growing a plot of comfrey as part of your rewilding program could save you a lot of money in store-bought fertilizer and do the same job.
The plant sucks up nutrients from the soil and it’s easy to make a liquid food by filling a bucket with leaves, adding water, and then letting it steep for a week or two before pouring the (very smelly) liquid over it. cultures. What is left can be added to the compost pile to enrich it and help break it down.
Stabilize your soil with color
You can scatter wildflower seeds over your rewilding plot to add color to the area and encourage pollinators in your garden. But planting wildflowers can also keep the soil healthy, and once established, their roots will help stabilize your soil, according to Grow Wild (kew.org), the Royal Botanic Gardens’ National Awareness Learning Initiative. by Kew.
This means that during extreme weather conditions such as persistent torrential rains, the roots will help secure soil particles and nutrients, which might otherwise be washed away. Strong root systems are especially important on sloping plots, where the soil can easily be washed away without stabilizing the root systems.
Have a cup of nettle tea
Nettles seem to appear all over the ground that has been left to do their own thing, so put on a pair of gloves and pluck some leaves to make an infusion.
The Woodland Trust (woodlandtrust.org.uk) suggests choosing the ends of the leaves for best flavor. Then you can put them in a pot with plenty of water, adding honey for sweetness, and boil them for about 15 minutes, before straining and serving. You can even make iced tea if you pour the mixture into a pot and put it in the fridge, before serving with ice cubes.
Eat your weeds
Some weeds such as chickweed and goosegrass are edible and can be cooked and eaten like spinach. Dandelion and field sow thistle leaves can also be added to salads.
Enjoy a “berry” treasure
You may find the brambles unsightly and the prickly stems painful, but leave a few in the wild and they will give you delicious blackberries starting in August. Their white flowers, which appear in early summer, are also a great food source for bees.
Be an elder glutton on the ground
Ground elderberry, one of our most pernicious weeds, was first brought to Britain by the Romans as a vegetable – until it was found to be invasive. It will quickly invade flower beds and borders if allowed to roam freely.
It is likely to appear at some point if you re-remove an area, and is nearly impossible to eradicate because you have to remove every little piece of white root – if you leave any fragments in the soil, they will grow back.
So try to control it by digging up at least part of it to eat. It was used in the Middle Ages to cure gout and tastes much like parsley, so add a few leaves to your salad to spice it up.
The leaves are best picked young in the spring, with as much stem as possible, before the leaf is fully open, and taste best fried in olive oil. Avoid ripe leaves as they can leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Repel mosquitoes with cow parsley
You often find it in hedges and woods – and cow parsley just might show up in your rewilding patch. You can add it to indoor flowers for a touch of white foam, just like you would with baby’s breath, or follow an old tradition of keeping mosquitoes away by applying it directly to your skin.
But a word of warning, make sure it is cow parsley and don’t confuse it with giant hogweed, which looks like huge cow parsley and can burn the skin.