Here’s Why Weeds Are a Good Prep

(Psst: The FTC wants me to remind you that this website contains affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase from a link you click on, I might receive a small commission. This does not increase the price you'll pay for that item nor does it decrease the awesomeness of the item. ~ Daisy)

by Rowan O’Malley

Imagine that it’s the apocalypse everyone has been warning you about. You’re running for your life with nothing but the clothes on your back. You could say that the manure has hit the rotating ventilator, and you’re in the path of it. As you’re running, you notice an edible plant. You stop only long enough to shove a few handfuls of it into your pockets.

Please note: If you cannot identify at least four common edible wild plants in your area, STOP reading this article right now. Find a good plant identification guide online focused on the area where you live. (This series is very popular because each book is region-specific.) Order the book. Read this great article on urban foraging from The OP, which could give you a start while you wait for your book to arrive.

Are you getting me here? Plants could save your life.

Why weeds?

If the apocalypse comes and you have the resources to plant a garden, that will be great. But will you have the resources to DEFEND your garden? And what about if the apocalypse happens rather inconveniently, and you’re forced to be on the run and can’t keep a garden? Or what if your seeds are stolen at gunpoint? Or your entire harvest is stolen?

(My goodness, that would be quite a plan, wouldn’t it? Allow your neighbors to grow a great garden for you, and then grab it all at harvest time. If you don’t think stuff like that could happen, I recommend you read a few of Selco’s articles.)

Another huge apocalyptic factor would be whether the time and energy would even be available to keep a garden at all. You don’t want to be out weeding if you can be picked off by a shooter in that nearby stand of trees…do you? By this point, you might be sayin’ “Get to the point, you freakin’ eejit!” Well, say away.

Here’s my point: It may not matter how great your BOB is if you don’t have a few edible weeds packed away in that noggin’ of yours. As long as you are alive, those weeds could be helping you survive. There are many circumstances where you may end up without any seeds and/or harvest. I’ve tried to suggest a few. However, this I know: wherever you are (except maybe the desert and then good luck to you!) there are likely to be some weeds growing.

Is That a Garden?

From the roadside, my garden looks abandoned. Full of weeds, grass, and cardboard boxes lain flat here and there, it gives the appearance of being completely abandoned. Old plastic sheeting and a tarp lie on a couple of rows. Discarded manure bags collect in a corner. An old plastic owl on a stick has face down onto the ground.

Considering a number of apocalyptic scenarios, having a weedy garden that looks like this could be an enormous advantage. Run of the mill gangs out in search of food would walk right by it. However, take a closer look: in amongst the grass and garbage are several edible weeds, many of them also medicinal. What appears to be nothing useful is actually a stealth pharmacy.

It Might Benefit Your Soil

These days we are learning more and more about how soil works. It turns out that endlessly plowing and allowing our topsoil to blow away isn’t that good for it. As well, growing one crop intensively also can deplete the soil. Allowing for more biodiversity, even in a relatively small garden plot can help the soil stay healthy. There’s a lot more information out there these days about alternative methods and edible weeds. In my own garden, I have seen that edible weeds are the first up (food!) in spring, and they often do better than “traditional” garden vegetables in the severe heat we are getting in our local summers.

If you’re not sure where to start, why not reach out to your local Extension office? Here’s a great blog post on foraging for creasy greens: [LINK:]

One Example: Stinging Nettles

I did not have these in my garden, so I moved some in from my friend’s farm. I took and transplanted two bunches. One survived, and the other didn’t. They are now taking over the garden! I really don’t mind, as I drink nettle tea daily. I prefer small, tender plants, so I don’t want them to grow too big. While the leaves sting when fresh, gently cooking is one way to safely prepare them.

What are the benefits for me? I find that nettle tea seems to help me get a fresh start in the spring. My allergy symptoms are almost gone when I drink my daily nettle tea. I have shared my nettle plants with friends, and one experienced a big reduction in her tendonitis by stinging the area twice daily with her nettles.

I recently suffered a scratch that was bleeding profusely, even after applying pressure. A bit concerned, I ground up a couple of dried nettle leaves from last year and applied the powder on the scratch. It stopped bleeding almost immediately. Wondering what else nettles can do? Here’s a good article.

PLEASE NOTE: This article is for information purposes only. Make sure to consult your own doctor before you try anything stupid with weeds that might lead you to blame someone else for your misadventure and sue!

Weeds On the Move

With more and more geographic areas facing severe weather events, your perfect bug-out location could become uninhabitable at some point. What if your well runs dry, for example, and you can no longer order a water delivery? Or, you could be “ousted” from your perfect homestead by a powerful local gang. (If you’re confident that you can defend any number of hostile intruders, I simply tip my hat to you!). However, for someone like me and my hubby who has a mobility issue, it’s realistic to recognize that we may not have the resources to defend against all challengers…in which case….we will be on the run (slowly, too!).

Knowing how to recognize even four or five wild edibles could be a lifesaver in that case. Think it’s easy or that you could eat anything on the run without knowing much? One of the wild plants that grows in my garden is deadly Nightshade. Sure glad I checked my book to properly identify that one! A good plant identification book will also show you images of similar plants that are poisonous or potentially harmful. It’s especially good to memorize how to distinguish these, too.

Don’t Weed ‘em…Eat ‘em!

With some study and practice you can turn your local landscape into a lunchscape. Do you have your own list of edible weeds already PREPared? Do you allow any edible weeds to co-exist in your garden? Please tell us all about it in the comments section!

About Rowan

Rowan O’Malley is a fourth-generation Irish American who loves all things green: plants (especially shamrocks), trees, herbs, and weeds! She challenges herself daily to live her best life and to be as fit, healthy, and prepared as possible.

Picture of Guest Contributor

Guest Contributor

Leave a Reply

  • Great article! I also am a fan of the common weed. DH jokes that I know 1000 ways to cook tree bark, and even though they all taste like tree bark, we won’t die of starvation! LOL Nettles are a favorite of mine too! I did make the mistake of drying it without first blanching in boiling water, and it stings when dried if you don’t. So, crumble with caution if you didn’t blanch it. I intend to go pick mine tonight. It is also Morel season, so those with access to an oak woodlot, go hunting, you might find a treat. Purslane is also one of those unsung heroes of disturbed ground. My Grandmother used to call it “pustly”, but it is great food. Goosefoot, amaranth, and nutsedge come along later too. I have ordered some Saffron Crocus from Eden Brothers, and the bulbs should be arriving soon. Day lily is another good option that people think are poison, but aren’t. I suggest that you pick up a foraging book, because it is important to know what grows where you are. I learn something new all the time.

  • My tiny, dark inner city yard grows far more dandelion and purple dead nettle than grass. For most people, this would be an endless source of dismay. For me, it’s free food for several months a year! I just picked a big ol mess of dandelion greens and flowers and dead nettle leaves. They are soaking in cold water as I write. They will be chopped up and sauteed with garlic, onion, cooked potatoes, and chopped tomatoes for lunch and supper. I’m so much healthier at this time of year.

    • Do you grab straight from your garden? Are you concerned about neighbors pesticide strayings?

      I live in the country and don’t want to dig the ones up from our yard since the farmer just sprayed a nearby field.

      What do ya all do about this? Dandelion weed is so good for the liver (but not too much) & great for gut bacteria & ridding you of toxins.

  • Weeds are a very important prep after you have a month or two of food and water. Ordinary events like loss of job can be prepped for with obvious cans and gardens, but a state or national SHTF sending hordes of lazy unprepped folks out searching will require stealth preps like knowing your local weeds.
    It can also provide a way to help the desperate. Show them stuff they can harvest and you have made a real difference without becoming known as the grocery of the neighborhood.
    We aren’t going to survive current insanities without the Creator’s help. He said “Love they neighbor as thyself.”

  • There is a website called ” Eat Your Weeds ” that is exactly what is being discussed .
    Annnnd there are plants in the desert but you really need to know about them fully before trying because many have alkyloids that can kill if not prepared properly.
    Look up Adam Herrington , really good with info.

  • A few years ago I was able to stiff-arm my town’s Code Enforcement money grubbers when they tried to claim that my two giant asparagus plants by my front walk way were weeds and if I didn’t destroy them within 10 days they could fine me up to $2,000 PER DAY until I complied. I researched the city ordinance and learned that garden plants were excluded from their jurisdiction — with one exception. No greenery of any kind was allowed to grow up through my chain link fence.

    So the question today is whether there is any way to exclude Code Enforcement from threatening me regarding highly useful plants like dandelions, stinging nettles, etc plus a long list of other plants regarded as weeds today but have well known nutritional and/or medicinal value.


    • Grow the nettles in a garden looking spot. You can buy the seeds for planting so as long as they look gardeny and you can show that they can be purchased for growing I think they would be hard pressed to say they are weeds. Not sure how to sell them on the dandelions though.

  • I planted 2 1/2 lbs of Jerusalem Artichokes on the property line to my neighbor, and around my raised bed garden. My neighbor’s automatic sprinklers and drip line waters them and they grow 6′ – 8′ tall that ensures another layer of privacy. They require no work what-so-ever, are not recognized by many in my area as anything other than a sunflower without seeds, but they reliably give a harvest 100 fold+. Additionally in my climate I only harvest what I will eat that week and whatever I leave in the ground will be available to eat throughout winter. Whatever is left next spring ensures the following years harvest.

    • Another plant that does well on my property with little to no water or work is “pigweed.” In my part of the country it’s considered a scourge, but to most of the world it’s known as Amaranth and is very nutritious. Those that know, know.

    • Potatoes aren’t an obvious food source to folks who think that you dig potatoes out of gravy, but it would be wise to plant them amongst other, non-food plants.

      Any mono crop planting will obviously look more like a food garden, so planting things like root crops among decorative flowering plants can be good stealth gardening.

      Carrots look like a pretty fern, turnips look like an interesting clump of foliage, sweet potatoes appear to be a decorative vine.

      Root crop are pretty easy to store, have lots of carbs for energy, can be eaten raw or diced into small bits to cook quickly and have vitamins and minerals.

      Might think about keeping pigeons as a protein source, too.
      They can be kept more stealthily than chickens but provide meat, eggs and manure.

  • I don’t have any weeds, all I have is goat food! Joking aside, I recently learned from my sister that I can eat purple dead nettle and it’s all over my pasture right now. My regular nettles are 4 feet tall already, kinda missed the boat on those. I have marshmallow, hedge bindweed, plantain, chickweed, and of course, massive amounts of dandelions although I do have to fight the chickens and the goats for those! Great article!

    • I have a bumper crop of red dead nettle this spring. Tis removed from the edible beds but if it crowds out garlic mustard elsewhere, I’m all for it.

  • I like poke greens. I let them grow wild in one corner of my garden. Put a little dandelion, plantain and bacon grease in and they are great.

  • High mountain desert so not too many happen to grow but introduced to the hillsides they will grow without being too invasive. What I couldn’t find, I’ve ordered from eBay or other sites and planted here. They look like just weeds. But in fact it’s a a pretty good pharmacy and green grocery. I use a bit of rabbit droppings on the ground where I planted the local wild amaranth and now it grows higher than my head and the little leaves are the size of my hand and tasty and tender. My late husband who was a picky eater, liked them steamed far better than spinach. I love lamb quarters, I used to go foraging for it with Mom when I was about 4 years old. It was the first wild green I knew by name. I’ll be adding stinging nettles this year. My seeds just arrived. I grow lots of wildflowers and plants that are medicinal and or edible. At a lake last year I gathered mullen seed that was ripe in the Fall. On a camping trip I gather wild onion and wild garlic that happen to be attractive wildflowers as well. I have collected gooseberry plants from flowerbeds where birds have dropped seeds. I now have a dozen plants. I ordered cuttings from several kinds of wild berries. I recut the cut ends and dipped them in my homemade rooting liquid and put them in small buckets to root. I’m already growing blackberries, raspberries, elderberries, huckleberries, and both tame and wild strawberries. I’m getting ready to plant wild violets and evening primroses this week. More things coming next week.
    Good article. Would you believe plantain doesn’t grow here? Seeds are due here next week. Many things I foraged in other places I’ve lived will get their chance on my new hillsides. Blueberries and other things that take more acid soil will have their chance under the 30-year-old evergreens on two of the hillsides. Last year I started working in sulfur and other additives. Preparing places for special needs. A few things I’ll be growing in pots as even my 6b climate won’t let me grow some things I wanted. those of course I can’t take along if we ever had to leave but it adds to the “unseen” garden. I have seeds for cattails and wild rice to grow in my ponds and two water lily bulbs for the beauty of the foliage and flowers. Many of the wildflower mixes are beautiful and medicinal perenials. I’ve ordered red and white Jerusalem artichokes. I lost my last ones 4 years ago. I love the herrful sunflowers and the tasty, knobby tubers.

  • You Need More Than Food to Survive

    In the event of a long-term disaster, there are non-food essentials that can be vital to your survival and well-being. Make certain you have these 50 non-food stockpile essentials. Sign up for your FREE report and get prepared.

    We respect your privacy.
    Malcare WordPress Security