Category Archives: Foraging
A great article about using the herbs in your yard by Tina Sams – owner and editor of The Essential Herbal Magazine.
By Tina Sams for elephantjournal.com
There have always been the mountain herbalists, the grannies and the people who have used weeds and plants as medicine.
For a couple of decades, we were encouraged to look to exotic plants from far-off lands to use as medicines, ignoring those that grow all around us. Perhaps, because of the locavore movement, we are now looking to the medicinal weeds and herbs that grow right outside our doors.
It is not uncommon for people to tell me that they’ve sent off for seeds for plants like chickweed, dandelion and burdock—it can be difficult to convince people that the dandelions in their yard are the exact same thing that they are wishing to grow.
This is not unlike our tendency to drive past vast wild raspberry patches in order to plunk down $3 for a pint of cultivated berries at the store; we have become so distanced from our food sources that we’ve learned not to trust ourselves when it comes to things like foods or first aid.
Sometimes, people are completely overwhelmed at the thought of learning all about medicinal herbs—that’s easy to understand. There are thousands of plants with properties that we can use; there are very few that we cannot, as a matter of fact and it is a lot of information to learn.
Some herbs growing in your yard you may think of as weeds. Many of these plants are high in essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins and the growing and harvesting are free. Be sure these plants are correctly identified and not growing in a contaminated location (near roads or where there is pesticide or other chemical exposure). Ask permission before harvesting on private property. You can sometimes purchase seeds if they are not already growing on your property. I planted Miner’s Lettuce at my current home when I moved in 5 years ago and then found it already growing on the property.
Plants mentioned in this article include purslane, dandelion, stinging nettle, and plantain. Some other highlights:
- Many varieties of wild plants offer great nutritional benefits.
- Purslane might be the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fats, as well as being loaded with vitamins A, C, and E.
- Even a high-quality, nutritious wild plant or herb can cause an unexpected reaction in some people. Try them one at a time and in SMALL amounts to see how your body is going to react.
- It’s a good idea to compile a library of books and field guides about wild edibles, as well as familiarizing yourself with toxic look-alikes to avoid. There is even a wild edible iPhone application to help you on your quest.
Read more: The Hidden Food In Your Yard
Today, 5 November, I harvested vegetables and herbs from my garden for a salad. That is pretty remarkable in my zone 6 garden.
My salad contained home grown kale, beet greens, chard, lovage, green onions, miner’s lettuce, dandelion leaves, and most amazing – currant tomatoes.
This is the first year I have grown currant tomatoes. The flavor was fine though not spectacular. Due to their small size you have to pick many for them to be usable so I had not planned to grow them again. The weather has been cool enough that larger tomatoes struggle to ripen. The currants have continued to ripen though more slowly. I lost some squash to a freeze a couple weeks ago but everything else – including peppers and tomatoes – are still alive.
The cool season plants are doing great. It will be interesting to see how long I will be able to harvest this year. Maybe I will contribute a homegrown green salad to Thanksgiving dinner at my brother’s house.