Next Saturday, June 23rd, there is a walk to look at and gather some edible neighborhood plants. We will meet in the backyard of People House, 3035 25th Ave at 9 am. There is a parking lot behind the building as on street parking is not always available. Come find out what you can eat and enjoy in most neighborhoods throughout Denver! $15.00 suggested donation and children are free if they bring a grown-up!
Last night I was invited to speak about edible weeds at a community garden potluck at Ellis Elementary School. As you most often find with gardeners, the food was outstanding, and there was a very special dish exactly to my liking! As soon as I saw it, I knew it was made with the wild vegetables commonly called weeds. The woman who made it is originally from Afghanistan and her seasonings were just delicious! Just the right combinations of savory and spicy with a nice level of heat!
As our discussion of weeds moved through sour grass, purslane, dandelions, pigweed, lambs quarters, chickweed and dock, this woman kept nodding her head and saying “Oh, yes, we eat this.” I could not begin to tell you the names she used! However these little friends of mine are found in countries around the world, that is perfectly clear!
[Another woman commented that she had gone on a trip to Iceland and points north where dandelions still grew! These plants are so good for you, and found everywhere. Doesn’t that tell you something?]
Finally I stopped talking and asked my new friend to show me what she picked and cooked for the supper. Spreading her hands over a place that was not anyone’s garden plot, she told me she just pulled out the grass (unwanted it turns out) and cut off everything else with scissors and cooked it! There in a 3’x3’ plot was a wonderful combination of pigweed, lambs quarters, purslane, and some mustard – all tiny and all so tasty! Simple and delicious greens for dinner? A big YES in my Urban Forager book!
So next time you are weeding your garden, set aside the edible weeds for dinner while your other greens grow. You’ll have twice the amount of produce from your beds and lots more nutrition! You also know exactly what’s been done to the ground and don’t have to guess if they are safe! Ahhhhh! That’s the good life!
This morning the light is so wonderful outside, I just had to go out and take some pictures of the greens available for our lunch and/or dinner! Keeping it simple is the ideal way to start, so I will only introduce you to two more of our green friends today.
The first one is Chickweed. This little low growing plant is very tender and doesn’t last long here on the Front Range unless it gets regular moisture. So look for it where it is relatively sheltered and damp still during the Spring. If you were back East, it is sometimes considered a pest plant because it is so prolific. Not here, except in tiny moist eco-niches. It is too dry and in many places the soil is too sandy. Chickweed is a delicious little addition to a salad and some think it has a taste similar to beet greens. If there is a ‘bite’ to the plant, it is more on the lemony side, not bitter. All the aerial parts are edible after careful washing. It is also an amazing addition to salves for rashes and scrapes and you can just chew it a bit and put it right on a rash if you are outside and it is available.
My other yummy plant today is curly or yellow Dock. It is a fast growing plant that in some places has already put up a flower stalk. The leaves are quite spinach like and can be used as a quick cooking green. The ribs can be removed on the larger leaves or left on. They are a bit chewy but good. The leaves can also be used for roll-ups or wraps if you steam them for a minute to make them a little more flexible. Just cover one side of the leaf with filling and roll up! Delicious! Many people used to pick Dock on the way home from work to have fresh greens for supper. That’s still a good idea.