Does this look like salad to you?

I look outside and see food all around my house this time of year.

My friend Patty posted that on my Facebook wall recently. Then, she gave me this pot of plants:

potted wild edibles

Hungry for a wild salad?

The crow’s foot plants and daylilies that Patty dug up from her own Missouri property grow wild all over this area. Many people would consider the crow’s foot a weed and the daylily, which has an awesome orange bloom, purely ornamental.

But Patty, a wild edibles expert who once brought a lovely dish of nettle stew to a meeting of the Thomas Hart Benton Group of the Sierra Club, knows better. She doesn’t mind if dandelion, lamb’s quarter or other “weedy” things sprout in her garden. They are hardy, nutritious and prolific for a reason — they are species accustomed to growing in our climate.

Of course, before nibbling on any wild plant, you must be 100% certain it’s edible. It’s good practice to consult a field guide to edible wild plants.

Once you are sure — eat away. And encourage these plants to grow around you. Why not? It’s free food!

Patty offers the following advice about growing and eating crow’s foot and daylilies:

 These are all edible plants, parts of them anyway, and do well once established. The crow’s foot like a somewhat moist spot and the daylilies do better in sun, to grow and bloom.  They will all spread toward the sun.  The crow’s foot grows 6 feet tall with a sunflower looking blossom  if you don’t repeatedly cut it, so it’s better toward the back of the garden not shading out others.  If you do keep it cut less than a foot tall you can keep eating it longer until it gets old and tough.

You can take a little taste of the smallest sprout of crow’s foot to judge if you like it. I like the light green colored little baby sprout better for taste, but the big green leaves are easier to pick. I mix them with iceberg lettuce in a salad for a milder taste. I like the white part of the daylilly just at ground level and below, 1-2 inches, like celery, but you can also eat a little of the light green part above that, the buds and flowers. None of these have to be cooked, so you can actually sit out in your yard and start grazing. I think my rabbits and other critters like them too.

Would you ever consider foraging for wild edible plants or eat something that sprung up unexpectedly in your yard?


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on April 3, 2012, in Food, Gardening and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Love this post! I’ve just started discovering the wild foods in my yard, and I’m amazed how many there are. This winter, when there was nothing to eat from the garden (mostly because of my poor planning), I discovered that the weeds covering my garden beds were chickweed and hairy bittercress, both delicious! And then, as spring approached, mouse-ear chickweed appeared, which when cooked tastes like a cross between asparagus and spinach. But I’ve never heard of crow’s foot. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled! Thanks for this great post!

    • Your wild winter greens sound delicious! We had lots of lamb’s quarter growing wild on our property last summer, and we harvested quite a lot of that. I also cooked up some dandelion greens last spring. Spinach-y!

  2. The thought had never crossed my mind before, but after watching the documentary “Ingredients” last night and your post this morning, maybe I’ll give wild plants a try!

    • That’s great! Here’s some more advice from Patty on starting out with wild edibles: “One thing we try to remember to tell people is that once you’ve identified the plant and know the right part to eat, you have to clean it and then only try a small portion if you’ve never eaten it before. That’s in case you have an allergy. Anyone can be allergic to anything. You also have to be careful to pick where it’s legal to and where there haven’t been any chemicals sprayed.”

  1. Pingback: What To Do with Dandelions | Wayward Dogs

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