Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stalking Wild Greens

When talking about weeds, I find the least accusitory definition is "any plant not wanted in the location it grows".  Often in gardening, and definitely in the Pacific Northwest, our most common garden-variety weeds are wild-grown native plants, edible or otherwise useful.  One has only to decide to put them to their use.  If, in your own garden, you're not content with the natural invasions of inconspicuous foliage bearing unpretentious blooms, consider tasting them...if only once.  It's possible you'll enjoy the sweet flavor and juiciness of Miner's Lettuce, and be tempted to further harvest them for salads, smoothies, and fresh eating.

Miner's Lettuce (Montia perfoliata), is a Pacific Northwest wild native that got its name from history's gold miners who sought its freshness in late winter through early spring.  Take a look around your own yard and you may find some.  Gastronomes are rediscovering the consumable value of this and other garden-variety weeds.  These days, it is increasingly found at farmers' markets.  For some, it's always held value.  During the winter and spring that I worked the landscape crew in Laurelhurst Park, I saw the same petite grandmother harvest a large patch on the park's grounds several times.

So how do you go about harvesting this diminutive lilypad-looking green?  This simple instructional video shows how to make the most of one of our early spring "weeds".

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