Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Yard Walk In the First Week of April

Happy Spring!

It's April now and I took a few minutes to tour the lawn around my house looking for growing things I can identify and create a kind of seasonal record for myself to look over in future years, anticipate the next coming season.

Garlic mustard greens- They're green, but not actually garlic. The youngest spring greens are the most delicious! It adds a spicy green to salads (similar spicy greens farmed are expensive!) and some people blend it and freeze it for pesto all year! I'm curious if it would make a good powdered green. I'll have to try.

Wild Garlic- These are actually in the garlic family (Alliums, right along with onions and leeks. I think you've met them before. They're a good family). The bulbs are multitudinous and difficult to peal and wash, but the tops are easy to trim and grow back. Can be used just like green onions, only they're more slender.

Dead Nettle- Sound dangerous, but the name actually indicates safety. A similar plant, nettles, has stinging hairs (although dried or cooked, the leaves of nettle are super good for you!) so the name dead nettle denotes a lack of sting. This plant has a couple look a likes, Henbit and Ground Ivy, but those are also edible, making them a pretty easy forage.

Cress- It's an edible in the mustard greens family.

Sheep's sorrel- tiny leaves with a strong, bright coppery flavor. I love to nibble these.

??? - This is something like dandelion. Might be chicory or wild lettuce. It's edible, but the saw tooth leaf is much deeper. I'm not really certain about this one. It's easier to identify when they flower, but by then, the leaves are not as tasty and tender and get more bitter.

Day lily shoots- Edible! All the parts of this plant are edible and it reproduces like crazy and makes a lovely landscaping plant. Not a true lily (never ever eat lilies!) but much better in my opinion.

Plantain- There are several varieties of this one- it's good for food when tender and medicine all the time. abundant and easy to recognize- grows under even tough conditions where nothing else will.

 A slightly broader leaf plantain

Potentilla or Ciniquefoil- Pretends to be like the cultivated or wild strawberries, having similarly shaped flowers, but it will flower yellow while the cultivated ones flower white. These leaves are supposedly okay in small amounts, like a little mixed into a tea blend, but not really a food source. High in tannins which are supposed to be good for you but are strong (in a tea, will make your mouth pucker with the sour flavor). (notice the plantain leaves around it!)

Violet- young violet leaves popping up in there little groupings! Leaves are good for tea and soup, and the flowers are edible. NOT THE ROOTS.

Cleavers, aka Lady's Bedstraw- edible but 'grippy' hairy texture in the mouth. not sure the best way to consume this. Cleaver is named for the circle of separated leaves, but they have a velcro texture that clings to you, making me wonder if this plant is the reason cleave can mean both to cling to and to divide! I don't know if it has had any effect on that confusing etymology, but it wouldn't surprise me if it did.

Mint! We used to garden this, now we weed wack it when it escapes the perimeters. Really resilient and sends out runners everywhere. Makes the best weed ever! We use a lot of mint.

??? I don't know what this is or if it's edible, but it has tiny hairy leaves and is tightly packed and close to the ground.

Clover. Edible! A common look alike is Oxalis or wood sorrel, which are also tri-leaved shapes, but the look-a-likes are more heart shaped. Wood Sorrel is also edible. I've been nibbling it since I was a kid. It may be the first edible weed I've known.  Notice the unknown weed with the hairy tiny leaves is popping up in the clover too.

??? This is NOT edible. I looked it up once but I've forgotten what it's called. It has an orange resinous root. The chickens go nuts eating this stuff, but it's NOT for people, as far as I can tell. It has some medicinal uses, like removing warts with it's toxic resin.

Moss. I liked how it looked.

Another mossy close up!

 Intentional Garlic- Hardneck variety. Planted this last fall and it's coming up nicely!

green onions. I saved the white ends with the roots from our groceries and planted them out. They stayed green all winter, even through the snow! Never completely died off. Amazing stuff.

How are your weeds growing?

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