Herb Chickweed was considered a weed at one time, and there are still many variations of Chickweed, some better than others, so to make certain you are harvesting the right variety, sow your Chickweed from purchased seed.
Because Chickweed grows like a weed, you should harvest the plant before it flowers and then goes to seed. Chickweed earned its name because birds are so crazy about it.
They not only like the tops, but they also love the seeds. Apparently other animals like it as well.
According to A
Modern Herbal (Volume 1, A-H): The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and
Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-Lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi,
Shrubs & Trees with Their Modern Scientific Uses
"Pigs like Chickweed, and also rabbits; cows and horses will eat it;
sheep are indifferent to it, but goats refuse to touch it."¹
The entire plant of the herb can be used for healing. Harvest it during the summer. Unfortunately, Chickweed does not dry well, so use it fresh.
And what can it be used for? Chickweed is called a demulcent, a word derived from Latin meaning "to caress". In other words, it forms a soothing film over a wound and can relieve minor pain and irritation. Make an infusion of chickweed by placing a handful of the herbs in a cup, covering it with boiling water, and then allowing it to steep for ten minutes. Drink the infusion/tea with a little honey, and it will help ease the pain of an irritated bowl system. Or cool the infusion and use it to bathe a wound.
Bathing with a cooled infusion of chickweed will help sores to heal more quickly.
It also helps heal bruises, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids.
Chickweed has both vitamin C and A, cancer-fighting agents, and essential fatty acids, niacin, potassium, and rutin that are excellent for your heart, so you can't do much better than to have this wonderful, former weed in your daily diet. The young leaves of Chickweed can be boiled and look and taste much like boiled spinach. Chickweed can also be used fresh in a salad.
Chickweed is known for being a weed, so naturally, it is easy to grow. The trick with this plant is to keep it from taking over. Keep this herb picked, and make sure it doesn't flower out - unless you want your garden to be overrun with chickweed, that is. ;-)