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Monday, June 16, 2014

Spring: Edible Perennials Wild And Domestic

Spring is when the lawn turns green over night. The colony of aspen trees behind the house, has a new outfit of small circlular leaves that tremble every time the wind blows. The brassicas, beets and chard seeds, I planted two weeks ago, sprout and grow three inches high in a week. The peas put out tendrils and start climbing the fence. Even though the mercury drops into the low single digits every night, by noon the next day the species tulips that just broke bud a few hours ago, droop, shrivel and fade beneath the soaring hot subshine. Other early, cold loving spring flowers suffer the same fate.

#Lovage is a giant celery tasting #herb #gardenchat

Dependable Perennial Domestic Food
While the annual food plants are still in babyhood and nowhere near big enough to start eating my perennial rhubarb is entering middle age and the garlic, asparagus, arugula and sorrel are gangly adolescents. We've been eating the perennials daily for more than a month. Perennial vegetable plants grow quickly providing me with food before the annual seeds have even been planted. Once established these plants are an easy source of early spring food. I have a master list of perennial food plants, hardy in short season gardens over here. I've updated the list to include the perennial Arugula I wrote about in this post

Wild Food
The other day I found out, via a link on twitter, that the new shoots of spruce, pine and fir trees are edible. After reading the article I realized they are not consumed like a vegetable as I assumed but used as a flavouring like one would use herbs.

Other common native plants that I eat include fiddleheads AKA Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), saskatoon berries (Amelanchier alnifolia), wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana), blueberries (Vaccinium myrilloides) and huckleberries, (Vaccinium membranaceum).

Do you eat any native plants?

8 comments:

  1. I purchased three saskatoon berry starts at the DDBS plant sale, then found one large and one small bush growing along my road - I'm looking forward to picking those when they ripen!

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    1. Hey that's awesome that , A, you went to the DDBS plant sale and, B, you found free food growing all by itself in the hedgerow! :)

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  2. We love foraging over here. We've used dandelions in all sorts of ways, but a new favourite is fireweed. When it is just coming up, you can pick the whole shoot and eat it like asparagus. When the plant is older you can use the leaves in stir frys and what not.

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    1. I didn't know fireweed was edible, I have an enormous stand that attract bees. It's great to have another use for it. Sadly I'll have to wait till next year to taste the shoots but I already have plans for incorporating the leaves into my lunch menu tomorrow.

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  3. Sadly, my forays into native plants are extremely limited. My mother had us pick dandelion greens, saskatoon and huckleberries as kids but since then I don't think I've eaten a single wild plant. I purchased native serviceberry (saskatoon by another name) a couple years ago but haven't harvested any berries yet. One day I'd love to give fiddleheads a try.

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    1. Foraging for food especially in the spring when the garden isn't producing much adds extra flavour to my diet. Now if only I knew more about mushrooms, edible ones.

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  4. Hi Melanie,
    I'd like to make jelly out of the manzanita berries here. I hear it's wonderful. Also elderberry wine, but I wouldn't even know where to start there. Careful with those mushrooms!

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    1. Manzanita berries sound so exotic :) We have elderberries up here. I'm working on finding out about the mushrooms.

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