"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
This book is a practical and attractive guide to the many edible varieties of weed. It will appeal to gardeners, botanists, cooks and foragers, and to anyone who wants to control weeds in eco-friendly ways. Weeds have many virtues: They are often valuable to wildlife, including beneficial insects. They can be good for the soil - helping the accumulation of trace elements and acting as hosts for mycorrhizal fungi.
Many weeds make interesting and unusual culinary ingredients. The main part of the book provides full details of over 50 edible species, with valuable nutritional information, advice on how to cook them and numerous recipe suggestions, as well as some fascinating historical facts and tips for non-culinary uses. It covers both native and non-native species, including some tiresome invasives, and lists both common weeds, such as nettle, dandelion, chickweed and ground elder, and less common ones, such as brooklime and wintercress.
Advice is also given on controlling weeds and identifying those that are harmful if eaten. With The Weeder's Digest on your bookshelf you can put your troublesome weeds to good use, and welcome some plentiful edibles into your kitchen.
It includes attractive colour photographs throughout.
PART 1: Know your weeds
1 The good, the bad and the ugly: Characteristics of weeds
2 Achievable weed control: A question of balance
3 A case of mistaken identity: Poisonous plants
PART 2: A bouquet of weeds (An A-Z of over 50 edible weed species)
Gail Harland was born in Aldridge in 1963 and grew up in Sutton Coldfield. She gained a BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics from The University of Wales and currently works as a Community Dietitian in West Essex. She started writing articles for the horticultural press in 1993. She was awarded The Royal Horticultural Society's Diploma in Horticulture in 1999. Gail writes articles on gardening and avian topics, and has had work published by a number of magazines including The Lady, Amateur Gardening, Country Smallholding and Parrots. She writes a regular poultry column for the Cage and Aviary Birds magazine. Her books include Photographing Your Garden; The Tomato Book, written with food writer Sofia Larrinua-Craxton and published in 2009; Grow-it Yourself, a guide to growing vegetables, published in 2010; and Designing and Creating a Cottage Garden, due out in 2012.
She supplies photographs to several picture libraries, including Garden World Images. Gail is an active member of many horticultural societies, including the Royal Horticultural Society, The Alpine Garden Society, The Hardy Plant Society and The Cottage Garden Society. She is the newsletter editor for The Peony Society and Secretary for The Peony Group of The Hardy Plant Society. Gail lives in Suffolk where she has a cottage garden of about one acre, which she shares with her husband, her two sons and a variety of ducks and chickens. Gail has been eating the weeds from her garden and feeding them to her husband and children for nearly 20 years. She first wrote about edible weeds for Country Smallholding magazine in 1999. Her book The Weeder's Digest is due out in 2012.
"The Weeder's Digest is a delightful read, well organised, informative and easy to use, successfully filling the hungry gap between books on gardening and those on foraging with inspiring recipes, cooking tips and relevant words of caution for each plant profiled. A welcome and valuable addition to the library of any new or more experienced foragers, gardeners, cooks and weeders. Highly recommended."
- Fergus Drennan, professional forager and writer
"The Weeders Digest is a very well written and enjoyable book. Gail Harland is quite obviously passionate about her subject and clearly lives it. Small tit bits such as how Himalayan balsam can be used as an "Indian preserve known as gulqand, which literally means sweet flowers" indicate she has really done her research. This book would be a welcome addition to the shelf of any forager."
- Dave Hamilton - forager and author of Grow Your Food for Free: Well, Almost