One of the great shames of modern landscaping is chickweed’s relegation to the category of unwanted plants. Almost as many people try to figure out how to eradicate chickweed (Stellaria media) as do those who enthusiastically grow, cook and utilize it. A hardy flowering annual that self-sows freely, chickweed makes a beautiful, low-growing groundcover where few others would flourish. In addition to those virtues, Stellaria media is a tasty, nutritious herb that also boasts a “stellar” reputation for treating stubborn skin conditions.
Pick a spot where the chickweed can really spread its wings. One of Stellaria media’s many charms is its ability to grow in shady and normal to moist places, including under trees and shrubs or at the base of taller perennials.
In late spring or early summer, prepare your chickweed plot by tilling in compost or manure. Although chickweed grows in poor soils, it’s always best to get herbs off to the best possible start.
With a metal rake, remove any weeds, stones or other debris that might interfere with the chickweed seedlings’ growth.
Make furrows about a half-inch deep with a garden hoe tilted at an angle. Don’t worry if the rows look too regular now; Stellaria media has a way of self-seeding haphazardly in succeeding years.
Turn a hose onto its lowest setting and soak the furrows. Once the water has drained, sow chickweed seeds thinly along the rows, no more than three seeds per inch.
Cover the furrows with a thin layer of topsoil and lightly moisten the soil with a hose set to fine spray. Leave the area undisturbed while seedlings establish themselves.
Begin thinning when the chickweed reaches two to four inches tall. Aim for an ultimate spacing of about 4 to 6 inches between plants.
Things You Will Need
- Chickweed seeds
- Compost or manure
- Topsoil (optional)
- Chickweed contains vitamin C, vitamins B6 and B12, vitamin D, beta carotene, magnesium, iron and calcium.
- Use chickweed raw in salads, steam it like spinach or cook and puree as an addition to cream soups.
- A carrier oil infused with chopped chickweed reportedly does wonders for eczema and other dry, irritated skin conditions.
- Tincture of chickweed or chickweed tea can be used to treat bloating, bladder and liver problems, and upset stomach.
- If harvesting chickweed from an area other than your own garden, make sure it hasn't been sprayed with pesticide.
- Harvest chickweed by snipping the top several inches of stems, leaves and flowers (all are edible) rather than pulling up by the roots, which would prevent the plant from coming back in future years.
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