Garden Talk: Creative solutions for controlling weeds — like eating them

A propane torch burning unwanted chickweed sprouts in a lettuce bed. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

Taking a propane torch to the rows between crops is a quick, easy solution to controlling weeds in the garden. But many weeds can be harvested and eaten.

White goosefoot (aka Lambsquarters) is an edible and nutritious garden weed closely related to spinach (Photo courtesy of Ed Buyarski/Ed’s Edibles)

Master gardener Ed Buyarski carefully burned away hundreds of tiny sprouts threatening his lettuce rows.

“Like we see between two lettuce, there’s about 50 chickweed plants, and it will steal the nutrients from them,” he said.

The torch eliminated hundreds of weedlings in a matter of minutes, along with any pests that may be in its path.

“Slugs should beware,” Buyarski said.

Other weeds can end up on the dinner table. Lambsquarters, for example, is a close relative to spinach that can be tossed into salad or lightly sautéed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

“You can even layer it in something like a casserole.” Buyarski said. “It’s very tender, very mild, and it’s terribly good for you. Not to mention, we’re eating the weeds, so you get extra points for that.”

Chickweed (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Nu)

Chickweed, if it escapes the torch, is also edible. It has a mild taste as well and is nutritious when eaten fresh.

“We can eat a lot of these weeds, and I try to,” Buyarksi said. And he introduces other people to them when he can. “Certainly, I subject friends to it, put in their salad.”

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