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Quick Reads

Beneficial Weeds. From the Soil to the Plate

Beneficial Weeds. From the Soil to the Plate

Weeds, the bane of every gardener’s life. It’s the activity that takes up the most time, but it certainly is not the most pleasurable one. While weeding can be therapeutic, as it is a repetitive activity with results at the end, it is not therapeutic when you go away for 3 weeks and return to an allotment that is covered with unwanted flora.

However, weeds have existed for a very, very long time. And while, yes, this probably means they will always come back to haunt us (I’m looking at you, horsetail) it also means that human beings have lived with them for hundreds of years; to the extent that some weeds actually have a use.

We have put together some edible and medicinal weeds that have been used time and time again. Before running into the garden and gathering all the weeds, you should make 100% sure that the weed you are picking is the correct one. You should also avoid foraging for weeds on the side of the road as car pollutants and other elements can adhere to the plants. Preloved also wants to make you aware that these plants are used in traditional and holistic medicine, therefore we recommend you talk to a professional should you have any questions or want clarification on any of the weeds mentioned.


Beneficial weeds: dandelions


  • Red clover. The flowers of this small plant can be eaten fresh or in tea form.
  • Sorrel. Use young leaves in salads for some citrus flavour, whereas older leaves can be used in soups, omelettes or stir-fries; the texture is similar to spinach.
  • Chickweed. To be eaten sparingly, add it to salads. It is supercharged with vitamins, minerals and omega-6.
  • Dandelion. Mix young leaves and flowers in salad. Older greens are better used in stir-fries.


  • Dandelion. It is packed with vitamin A and C and is a very effective detox tea.
  • Dock. The first survival thing you learn when in the wilderness. When you get stung by a nettle, look for docks as they will calm the pain.
  • Horsetail. It contains a high percentage of silica. Horsetail itself stops external bleeding. A brew also may be used as a healing agent for abscesses, burns, cuts and scratches – in both animal and humans.
  • Nettle. High in vitamins and iron, it is a good remedy for anaemia while aiding blood circulation and acting as a stimulant. Handle with gloves while fresh as the sting is uncomfortable.
  • Buttercup. Used in traditional medicine to combat rheumatism. Do not eat fresh as it is toxic.
  • Couch grass. The roots are very useful in the treatment of a wide range of kidney, liver and urinary disorders.
  • Cleavers. According to herbalists, it is used to aid with the lymphatic system. It is also diuretic and aids with skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis.

Beneficial Weeds: Horsetail

The soil

  • Dandelion. It is a natural humus producer, and so it attracts earthworms. Their deep roots take nutrients from further down and bring up minerals nearer to the surface. The bright yellow and compact flowers also attract honeybees.
  • Clover. Clover can be used as a companion plant to brassicas and cucurbits. It also brings nitrogen to soil, and many people use it on paths.
  • Nettle . Companion plant with broccoli, tomato, mint, fennel. It attracts bees and makes neighbouring plants more resistant to insects.
  • Thistle. This weed is rich in potassium and so is useful on the compost heap as it helps to break down matter quicker.
  • Horsetail. One of the hardest weeds to get rid of, it can be used as a spray on fruit trees, grapevines and veg; it is also effective against mildew and other fungi. Because of its high content in silica, it was used in the past as a scouring brush to clean pots.

Natalie Reynolds

Natalie Reynolds

Creative Writer

Natalie is a creative writer for Preloved. She is a granny at heart and, as such, enjoys gardening, sewing, vintage and literature. You will either find her pottering around in the allotment or scouring for antiques.