Sunday, March 18, 2018

Salad Garden!

The recent rains have been wonderful!  As a result, my garden is growing well.  Especially the various volunteer plants!  They always seem to thrive, as they make the most of the opportunities they find.  Nobody planted them and, in fact, some people may call them weeds.  My side yard is a case in point:

Volunteer Plants - Side Yard

And the parkway in the front:

Volunteer Plants - Parkway

At first glance, one might think, "Oh, it's being taken over by the weeds!"

But, a closer look reveals: a veritable salad, or, at least, a stir-fry!  For a lot of the volunteer plants are edible plants that maybe eaten raw in salads or cooked as greens!

Tender young dandelion greens and assorted others that belong to the dandelion family, such as catsear, hawksbeard, and sow thistle:


The bees are enjoying the dandelion flowers:

Bee on a Dandelion Flower


Hawksbeard with flower stalk

Cat's Ear

Sow thistle with flower in front, hawksbeard in the back

Sow thistle close up, with buds

Redstem filaree or Stork's bill or Crane's bill, which have purple flowers and seed heads that look like the bill of a stork or crane:

Filaree/Stork's Bill/Crane's Bill (the flowers are barely visible)

Filaree/Stork's Bill (showing the seed heads)

Close up of the seed heads

And, amaranths:


Common names include pigweed, although that name is also applied to lambs quarters, which are also known as goosefoot!  That's the problem with common names!  Fortunately, both amaranth and lambs quarters are edible, although lambs quarters should be cooked because the waxy coating on the leaves tend to be indigestible if eaten raw.


Then, there's henbit:


Which has tiny purple flowers, too:

Henbit Flowers

The shape of the henbit flowers reveal that they belong to the same family as mint, sage, rosemary, etc.

This is rocket:


Which has yellow flowers and seed pods that look a little like mustard:

Rocket with flowers

More rocket

Mallow or common mallow - which is also known as cheeseweed:


And day flower, which is actually something I planted, but it also grows as a "weed" and it is edible:

Day Flower

Later, there will be shepherd's purse and purslane.

If I didn't worry about the stray cats and their "fertilizing", I wouldn't hesitate to pick them and eat them (either raw or cooked).  However, there is a clump of amaranth growing inside the enclosure where I had planted my green beans and okra (which, by the way, is a member of the mallow plant family!), last year, that the cats can't get into - I might pick them, once they are a little bit bigger!

Amaranth in the enclosure

There is also some wild garlic, which grows in one area of my "lawn"

Wild garlic 
Other plants will make their appearance in the next few weeks.  As I said, before, I don't generally harvest and eat these plants because of the cats and so forth.  And, there is always the caution that everyone should heed - unless one is very confident of what one is looking at and knows that it is edible, DO NOT eat it!  But, for the person who knows, there's a salad growing in my garden! 

Does anyone else recognize any edible weeds growing in their gardens or along the roadsides?


  1. Wow! If weeds are edible we could feed an army here. Lol. So much time is devoted to trying to eradicate them from our lawn. But in a climate like yours, they certainly are a blessing to see, I’m sure. The green looks lovely in your lawn after so much drought you’ve experienced.

    1. Carolyn, a number of our so-called weeds were actually brought over by settlers as food crops! It's just that they spread out and people stopped eating them and so, they became known as being weeds! I go to the Armenian market and find dandelion greens for sale and I go to the Hispanic market and see purlane - admittedly, they have been cultivated for the market, but they are the same plants as the ones that grow in my side yard or lawn, just a bit bigger and better looking because they've been fertilized and so forth.

  2. Your gardens are looking green and nice! And I like the tutorial on those greens! I'm glad you have been getting good rain, finally! During the Depression my mom said they ate dandelion salad! Andrea

    1. Yes, the garden is greening nicely with all this rain! More rain is in the forecast for next week! I think more people used to know what could be picked and eaten, in the olden days. These days, unless you grow a vegetable garden, a lot of people recognize only what they see in the grocery store.

  3. I hope you soon get that hot water tank fixed. We do get used to the luxury of hot water on tap, don't we?
    I enjoy your plant photos so much. I've always loved plants, even as a little child, when we would visit my grandmother who had a pretty back yard (in the north we had a small square of concrete and a little flower bed beside the wall with a few calendulas!) I have several books on wild flowers and plants, including edible plants. It's too bad when good edible plant foods have to be avoided because of animals or pollution from traffic. At least you can guard your amaranth plant in the enclosure and keep those cats away.

    1. Bushlady, I am hoping the water heater will get fixed, soon! Boiling kettles of water to wash in gets old, very soon!

      I enjoy learning about plants. I can't always grow them in my garden, but I enjoy being able to identify them and know their uses, and so forth.

  4. I see them along the roadside, particularly at the lake but I don't eat them. Lots of critters live there and I never know whose dropping have been where.

    1. Yes, that's the problem with wild edibles - one never knows what they have come into contact with!

  5. I haven't eaten any of those edible weeds, although we used to have people ask for the huge pigweed from our garden at one of our houses, so they could eat them. They looked a little different from yours, but boy were they prolific.

    It is nice to know I could if I wanted or needed to!

    1. Becky, yes, there are several varieties and the leaf shapes differ a little from species to species and as the plants mature, etc. Yes, that's how I feel too - it's nice to know what I can eat if I needed to! :)

  6. Very interesting post. I could recognise dandelions, daisies and buttercups and I doubt you can eat the latter 2 but that's probably my limit lol. I wouldn't mind if they were weeds or not if they brought some green to the garden. When Mum had let the weeds take over for a couple of weeks to make herself feel better she used to say "they're all God's flowers" :) xx

    1. Suzanne, your Mum is right! :)

      By the way, daisies (scientific name: Bellis perennis), usually known as common daisies, lawn daisies, English daisies, typically with white petals and yellow centers, are edible. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, flower buds and petals can be eaten, too. Also, a tea can be made from the plant.

      But, don't try to eat buttercups! They tend to be toxic!

  7. I recognize several of those plants as edibles, but don't eat them. I worry about the chemicals more than the cats but that's only because my mind hadn't gone there. I used to be good at identifying "weeds", but I've lost my touch. BTW, you can also tell if something is in the mint family because it has a square stem.

    1. Yes, chemicals are another factor. But, these plants are growing in my garden, where I don't generally spray any chemicals (no weed killers, no pesticides, very little commercial fertilizers, etc.) It's the cats and their entirely organic sprayings and such that I worry about!

      And you are right - mint family plants have square stems. :)

      I am not a serious forager, as such. But I have tried cat tail stalks, raw (had a faint cucumber taste, to me) and milk weed pods, cooked. Milk weed is poisonous, BUT the pods, before they open, aren't! They resembled okra pods. Obviously, I have lived to tell the tale! :D

  8. I think it's so great that you can recognize all those plants from your years at college!

    My mom used to take us to the soccer fields and collect dandelions to eat. We were pretty poor and she'd read it was a good source of vitamin A (I think?) and could make salads out of it. So she did. It was pretty good but now I have to wonder what had fallen on those (sweat, spit? Yuck!). In an urban environment, I think I'd be worried about the pollution from the passing cars, herbicides from nearby neighbors, etc.

    I have a book called "Eat Your Yard!" and another one called "Florida's Incredible Wild Edibles" but that one only has drawings and I don't trust myself to recognize the real plants from just a drawing. So I've read through them, fantasized about foraging, but never did anything about it! There is a blog I used to read "Penniless Parenting" where the author forages a lot. I think she's in Israel, though, although she never discloses where she lives. She's written a book and at one time gave classes on foraging. I always admired her knowledge, much like I admire yours!

    I think I've mentioned before that my dad makes wine and also jelly from dandelions that he gathers from the field across from his house that is fertilized with cow manure every year.

    1. Nathalie, your mom is right - a lot of these edible weeds have very high vitamin contents. And I remember you mentioning your dad's dandelion jelly.

      Something you could do is look up the plants identified in your books online and see the photographs. I am still trying to positively identified a few plants that I've read are edible, but, so far, I haven't seen them in my garden.

  9. Wow, I did not know that some of those plants were edible. I have lots of dandelions and purslane in the Spring but have never tried eating them. Thank you for the education on these.

    1. You are welcome, Debbie. Maybe you might try some dandelion petals on a salad, one day! Wash them well, though, just in case!

  10. I recognised two of those plants! I love the idea of 'volunteer' plants. It sounds so much nicer than what I'm calling the goosegrass (aka cleavers) that is currently taking over my garden, quite unaffected by the snow. Your garden looks great, lovely and refreshing. LM x

  11. Lyssa, I looked up goosegrass/cleavers and, apparently, it is also edible. Maybe you can use that information in one some of your writing. :)

    1. There has to be some use for the dratted stuff - it clings to everything! It really does, it clings to any cloth, any animal's fur, hair, anything and it trails everywhere and grows like wildfire. And if you pull it up but don't pull it away it will just re-root. Foul stuff! Your volunteer plants look a lot nicer! LM x

    2. Cleavers (Galium aparine), also known as goosegrass is apparently used in herbal medicine for improved kidney function.

      There is also another plant called "goosegrass", that is a type of grass, which is probably not the plant you are talking about. The seeds of one of the species of that grass are supposed to be edible, too.

  12. Oops, just realised I had a rant there, sorry. I'm envious of your lovely garden and overwhelmed with mine, and the goosegrass is the bane of my life!. Thank you for the kind words. Sorry. LM x

    1. LOL, Lyssa, you may rant as much as you like! Well, I am envious of your lavender plants and the fuschia plant that you cut back! A classic case of the grass being greener. :)

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