homestead hacks: weeds and what to do

As a born and raised urbanite, pesky weeds interfere with a carpet lush lawn.

Spray them, pull them, curse them, but there is no use to them: a bane on suburban perfection.

I still bend to pull weeds. I still swipe them with my heavy garden clogs. But now I’ve also found a new use for them.

flowers summer yellow plant

Here are some homestead hacks: weeds and what to do with them:

Dandelions, aka Taraxacum officinale.

Dandelions have pain-reducing abilities. And they make you feel homesteady when you find a use for them outside of serving them in green salads that kids won’t eat (& let’s be honest, you’re only putting them on the salads because you’re A. cheap, B. super granola-y or C. trying to feel homesteady (moi)).

Dandelion salve! Not my recipe, of course, cause back to the first paragraph: I was a raised urbanite.

Direct from, I bring you the following recipe:

Dandelion Salve:

  1. Make dandelion-infused oil…by cutting a bunch of dandelion flower heads and dry them for a day or two, then pack them into a canning jar and soak them with oil for four weeks, out of the sun.
  2. Melt 2 oz coconut oil and beeswax in a jar, sitting in a bain marie. Carefully stir in the infused dandelion oil.
  3. Add 10-15 drops of essential oil (for fragrance ie: lavender went into ours).
  4. Remove the jar from the bain-marie and allow to cool.

Naturally, I have more than a few weeds at my home. In fact, I have more weeds than grass. I pulled plantains this morning. Many, many plantains. The rain poured, me in slippery flip flops, scaling a mucky hill and chucking deeply rooted weeds to the hill bottom.

Can you see those wide plantain leaves nestled in the others? So many weeds, so little time.

Plantains, aka Plantago major.

Plantains can be used for mosquito bites. Good news! Because living beside the river means mosquito bites.

Plantain Poultice:

  1. Wash plantain leaves.
  2. Use mortar and pestle to mash leaves and add a few drops of hot water. (If you’re not at home, you can chew them and add saliva as they are also bitter salad greens).
  3. Apply directly to the problem area and use a strip of gauze as a barrier, then tape.
  4. When it’s dry, reapply.

Self-heal, aka prunella vulgaris.

Self-heal is an anti-inflammatory that can assist in stomach ailments and sore threats. A member of the mint family, it is a lovely, compact plant that reminds me of a store-bought perennial, but because I didn’t know what it was, I pulled it, like a good urbanite.


Self-heal Tea:

  1. Dry leaves or use freshly washed leaves in a mug with boiled water.
  2. Drink 2 – 3 cups per day.

Yarrow, aka achillea millefolum.

Yarrow stinks. Well, it’s useful. But rub it between your fingers and it stinks! This means, you can rub it around your face, ears and neck, fingers, and hands, before you climb into your sleeping bag this summer. Bugs don’t like the smell either.

Yarrow also can stop bleeding when used as a poultice. Even helps bleeding ulcers if consumed orally.


Yarrow Tea:

  1. Wash and dry the yarrow.
  2. Use freshly washed leaves and blossoms in a mug of boiled water.
  3. Yummy bitter tea. Ok, it’ll take some getting used to.

Annise hyssop, aka Agastache foeniculum.

Annise hyssop is a lovely licorice flavoured plant, when you pour hot water over it and serve it as a tea. A lovely perennial to attract pollinators too. If you dry the sprigs and tuck it under your pillow cases, you can reduce children’s nightmares. Not too often I have a child with a nightmare these days, but if you do, will you try it and let me know? Or add it to your jar of Epsom salts for a nerve calming bath.

Annise Hyssop Cordial:

You can add it to a bottle of vodka, let it sit for a month then combine an ounce of the infusion with a simple syrup, and you have delicious cordial. If anyone asks why you’re taking a nip, just tell them you’re trying to cure a cold. Cause it helps with that too.

And you just gotta try a cordial, because if Anne drinks it, you gotta drink it. “It isn’t good manners to tell your company what you are going to give them to eat, so I wont tell you what we could have to drink. Only it begins with an R and a C and it’s bright red colour. I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other colour.” Anne of Green Gables

We’ll call ours A and H and C…it might be purple instead. But I regret to tell you, it’s only half as good as Anne’s.

Happy Foraging!

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