Grindrod-based business owner, Afke Zonderland is nominated for a Small Business BC award. Her home-based business, Okanagan Rawsome has been in operation in the North Okanagan for ten years. (Promise Photography)

Column: Weeds that feed

Green fields and vibrant reds and yellows from tulips and daffodils are a feast for the eye every spring.

Perhaps not so welcome is the proliferous spread of yellow dandelions in your lawn or stinging nettles in a field.

Dandelions are especially abundant in the early spring to provide many bee varieties their first real fresh pollen and nectar. Us mere humans who can, thanks to modern shipping, have access to fresh food year-round might give these bright yellow beauties a second look as an important and timely addition to our salad greens or smoothies.

Both dandelions and stinging nettles are considered spring’s super foods. They purify the blood and give our organs a wash and rinse to activate a scrub down from the inside out. You can find me snipping choice leafy greens around our yard early in the morning to add to last years’ blend of frozen berries and cucumbers. I like to add a slice of lemon with peel and half an avocado to the blender for a delicious nutrition packed start to the day.

You can substitute nettles in favour of spinach in most recipes if you pick just the mild and tender tips. Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves!

Benefits of sipping dandelion root juice or tea made from the whole plant.

• Protects your bones. High in calcium and Vitamin K. There is increasing evidence that Vitamin K is a grand soldier that mineralizes our bones and is needed for proper blood clotting. It also helps maintain brain function.

• The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions help cleanse our livers and keep them working properly.

• Helps people with diabetes by stimulating the production of insulin by the pancreas and keeping blood sugars low.

• The milky white substance from the inside of the stem works dandy to relieve itchiness from eczema, ringworms and psoriasis.

• Just one cup of tea will provide you with 100 per cent of your daily value of Vitamin A. Good food for your eyes and respiratory infections.

Be sure to pick your dandelions in an area that has not been sprayed with an herbicide or is a favorite pee spot for your pets!

I tend to leave a few mature dandelion roots behind the house and on the edge of the raspberry row.

It is an atrocious practice to contract out for a weed and feed application, but what does one do if after years of neglect your lawn has gone wild with dandelions, yarrow, broadleaf plantain and white clover?

The bees loving a feast of pollen from the summer flowering white clover are getting under bare feet with painful cries from the little ones.

I caved last year and put a manicured green lawn ahead of principled bee friendly permaculture practices. Ouch, feeling a bit droopy on that one.

Wild Herbs Salad

• 2 handful stinging nettles leaves (the leaves of the top 5cm of the plant)

• 2 handful dandelion greens the younger leaves

• 3 – 4 large Romain lettuce leaves

• 1 tbsp. crumbled goat feta

• 1 small handful of cranberries

• 4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

• 4 tbsp. quality olive oil

• 1 pinch salt

• 1 tbsp. honey

• Wash nettles, wrap in a dishtowel and knead, so that they no longer burn. Chop small the nettles.

• Wash and chop dandelion leaves.

• Wash Romaine lettuce leaves and tear in bite size pieces

• In the salad bowl, mix the vinegar with about 0.4cup {100 ml} of water, add salt and honey and mix until both have dissolved.

• Add the wild herbs to the vinegar mix in the bowl and mix well with the olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste

• Top with cranberries and feta.

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