Dandelions, Purslane, Wild Spinach are easy to grow
Dandelions, Purslane, Wild Spinach are easy to grow and just as healthy or even healthier than store-bought greens.
What can be fresher than greens you just brought in from the back yard?
Dandelions are best known and very healthy
Purslane is very healthy, but needs a moist environment
Wild Spinach aka Goosefoot aka Lambs Quarters
Wild Spinach, also known as Lambs Quarters and Goosefoot, is probably the easiest green to grow and is very healthy. It literally grows on its own and is the hardiest “weed” around.
Watch this video to understand the importance of Goosefoot:
The earliest Indians cultivated Goosefoot, and Quinoa is a Goosefoot that is grown at high elevations in the Andes, in South America.
“Chenopodium Album” is the latin term for this Goosefoot, other Goosefoot plants are spread throughout the world. Goosefoot is widely cultivated in Africa, India and Asia, because its deep roots gather minerals for high nutrition. It is easier to grow than its cousin Spinach and just as nutritious.
To quote from www.Susunweed.com:
Whatever you call it, Chenopodium album and its edible sisters — there are dozens of useful species — is a versatile weed that offers incredible amounts of nourishment to those who harvest it instead of cursing it. It is one of the most widely distributed plants in the world, tolerant of poor soils, high altitudes, and
minimal rainfall. Global warming is just fine with lamb’s quarters. In higher concentrations of carbon dioxide, it grows almost double in size. And that’s good news for those who are in the know about
its benefits. The young, tender leaves of lamb’s quarter are tasty in salads. The older leaves, stripped from their stalks and cooked in a small amount of water for thirty minutes or more, are a rich and
tasty bone-building green. Left to mature, lamb’s quarter plants produce copious amount of protein-rich seeds which are easy to harvest and use. The roots are used as medicine.
T h e goosefoot family (cheno is goose, pod is foot) includes lamb’s quarters, quinoa, spinach, red beets, sugar beets, and Swiss chard (silver beet). Indigenous peoples all over the world have made
use of wild goosefoots and cultivated them, too. Chenopodium seed stores have been found in many European neolithic ruins. They were in the ritual meal feed to the Tollund Man 2000 years ago in Denmark.
In North America, Blackfoot Indians used the seeds as early as 1500CE. While both lamb’s quarter greens and the seeds are firmly embedded in the cultures and meals of the Navajo, the Pueblo, all the tribes of Arizona, the Diggers of California, and the Iroquois. In South America several tamed-wild goosefoots have been created: Chenopodium quinoa and canahua for their nutritious seeds; huauzoutte for its delicious greens.
To quote from www.Mofga.org:
They contain more iron and protein than raw cabbage or spinach, more calcium and vitamin B1 than raw cabbage, and more vitamin B2 than cabbage or spinach. According to Joan Richardson’s Wild Edible Plants of New England, lambsquarters “even outclasses spinach as a
storehouse of protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C, and great amounts of vitamin A, not to mention all the minerals pulled out of the earth by its strong taproot.” It also lacks the puckishness of spinach, although lambsquarters, too, contains oxalic acid. Ancient people revered it. English writer Audrey Wynne Hatfield in How to Enjoy Your Weeds says that lambsquarters
were “once the most valued vegetable for human beings and fodder for their animals… It lost favour only after its relative, the novel spinach, was introduced [to England] from Southwest Asia in the sixteenth century,” and lambsquarters even grew so profusely in some areas that settlements were named for it. Hatfield adds that in Britain, “We find this plant … growing … in the Late-glacial and the Post-glacial periods. It was in the accustomed diet of the Neolithic, Bronze Age and early Iron Age people; and … was much used by the Romans and later diners.”
Angrily thrown out by most gardeners today, lambsquarters was introduced to America by settlers from Europe. Both have since run rampant – and no wonder. By puberty the human female has some 400,000 eggs in place waiting to be fertilized, while a single lambsquarters plant can produce at least 75,000 seeds a season.
Of course, gardeners who don’t view a weed as an enemy are apt to cheer: They don’t have to purchase seeds, plant them, or coddle seedlings to get a healthy crop. Not all reproduction is this easygoing!
Identifying lambsquarters is straightforward. Euell Gibbons’ amusing Stalking the Wild Asparagus is fine, but Richardson, in Wild Edible Plants of New England, gives, I think, the clearest clues: “The shape of its leaves and, especially, the talcum-powdered appearance of the young growing leaves gives it away. This mealy powder, most noticeable on the undersides of the leaves as the plant gets older, repels water, but disappears upon cooking. The leaves themselves are bluish-green, delicate to the touch. The stem is fleshy, tender when young.”
Richardson notes that the upright, branched, mature plants (growing to 3 or more feet tall) have alternate leaves; and that the top leaves may be smooth-margined, but lower leaves are somewhat triangular and toothed. She warns that people should forage only in uncontaminated soils and that if crushed leaves smell like turpentine, you’ve found “an inedible relative. Leave it alone.”
Such caution is true for any foraging. Warnings from www.kingdomPlantae.net suggest avoiding lambsquarters if it grows in artificially fertilized or treated soils, because it absorbs pesticides and “is prone to accumulate high levels of nitrates.” Likewise, don’t harvest it from manure piles, where it commonly grows, because of possible pathogen contamination.