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Why plant vegetables when weeds are more nutritious?

 
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Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:[...

I used to HATE HATE HATE plantain but now I kinda like it. I guess it's cause it tastes like mushrooms, and I used to HATE HTATE HATE mushrooms but now I kinda like them. I dunno.



OK so that is the THIRD flavor for plantain.

Yours tastes like mushrooms.
I just went out and re-tasted ours while weeding the beans, and the older leaves are distinctly bitter, the young leaves nothing special (slightly less bitter). Like a greener version of dandelion, maybe if you did a spinach-and-dandelion salad with really old, bitter dandelion or something.

The ones I tasted in Ontario had a mild, pleasant flavor, with a hint of something complex like vanilla or cinnamon. At the time I had a spider-bite I was treating and maybe needing the medicine made my body like the taste better - but that's a wide range of flavors from one plant.

I guess it's a whole family, not just one plant, but still, I'd love some detail on what varieties of plantain people are actually eating that taste good.

(And for the record, I would definitely say mushrooms would be in the "good" category compared with the bitter one I just tasted.)

-Erica
 
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I blended Lamb's Quarters and strained out the major fibrous materials, and it just tasted like a green drink. I felt energetic all day.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3738
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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William James wrote:
I currently am growing lots of pokeweed. I don't plan to eat it just yet. It's just a mineral accumulator and a non-woody perennial that occupies space and keeps the grass away, and so it's useful to me for that.



I will remember that but probably still roll my eyes at the dozens (hundreds?) of pokeweed on my property. I chop & drop & say thanks for the free organic matter. I suppose I eat them after the turkeys & chickens convert it into more palatable food. So far the livestock avoid it, as they should.

I have to add the requisite pokeweed trivia - the US constitution was written in pokeweed ink.
 
Posts: 125
Location: Mansfield, Ohio Zone 5b percip 44"
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Dan, you mentioned tomatoes. My Pea tomatoes grow like weeds. I just let them self seed every year and thin what grows. I moved this spring and brought some of my garden soil with me and the seeds in the soil went wild. I am still weeding out all the tomato plants trying to come up. Pea tomatoes are much smaller than cherry tomatoes and are on the wild side but very tasty.

My favorite green is lambs quarters. I grow Lamb Quarter Magentaspreen because of the red coloring near the stem. It is pretty enough that I can grow it in the front yard and the neighbors think its an ornamental. I bought my seeds on Amazon.com. I also like Lady's thumb which I don't think anyone has mentioned yet? Both of these are not bitter at all. Very mild.

Something I discovered the benefit of at my new house was using wild strawberries for a ground cover. The landscaping is covered with it. The benefit is that I have been picking strawberries since before the beginning of June and some are still bearing. The berries are small but that means they don't weigh down the stems where the slugs can get them. Absolutely no maintenance like my regular strawberry's. No straw or hills needed. I still can't believe they are still bearing after two months.

One last thought is eating flowers like evening primrose. Evening primrose sure get big and grows like a weed. The flowers also looks nice in salads. Nasturtium grows wild in some places. I love the hot flavor of the leaves, flowers and seeds.
 
Posts: 89
Location: Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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Really enjoying this conversation. A few points to add:

1. My son had his first bee sting yesterday, so I immediately chewed up some plantain to use as a temporary poultice. By the time I was chewing the second leaf, he was totally over the sting - and I was really enjoying the plantain leaf, which I usually consider too fibrous to put in salads. Besides looking for fresh, vigorous looking leaves to eat, also chopping a plantain, and wild salad in general, really small (1/2-1/4 inch 'squares') helps with anything fibrous, or with some hairiness to it.

2. I quit growing spinach several years ago, since lambsquarters is so abundant on my land. This year, because foraging time is diminished, I will go out and harvest a whole bunch of leaves and put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. I am amazed at how long these last without any of the wilt or decay associated with typical mixed green salads. I don't wash them until about to use them, and rip them up a bit with my hands before sprinkling them as a component on the salad (taking out any large stems at that time). I also store wood sorrel and lady's thumb in this way with same effect.

3. One drawback to weed salads besides the stronger taste, mentioned briefly above, is texture. I don't have miner's lettuce in my area (yet), which I think has more texture, but most of my local wild greens are kind of flat, which makes for a more dense salad, not to everyone's taste. I think some minor lettuce plantings (as opposed to miner's lettuce plantings!) would help me to bulk up the salad, and add a bit more mildness to the mix, therefore making it more palatable to in-laws and the like. Since lettuces self-seed pretty well, soon they'll be part of the weed squad anyway. Also, adding small amounts of well-known herbs, like dill, mint, thyme, anise flavoured herbs (anise hyssop/sweet cicely) is sometimes helpful to people trying weed salad for the first time - though one super potent bite might put them off, I find that herbs are more tamed when eaten mixed with milder greens.

4. As mentioned above, some (wild/weedy) nightshades are edible. Check carefully for your region, but the one that Samuel Thayer writes about is Black Nightshade, normally considered poisonous in North America, Europe, and Australia, but eaten as not just a berry, but also a coooked green crop in the Caribbean, Africa, and I think other places as well. Thayer is really thorough in both testing the foods he recommends, and reviewing the toxicological records on plants. His books are my favorites in the realm of wild edibles - and there is some heavy competition! What sold it for me was when I grew a 'novelty' crop made famous by Luther Burbank called Wonderberries, which is either the same or very similar to Garden Huckleberry, and it looked and behaved pretty much identically to Black Nightshade that had come up as a weed.

5. A non-green weed that I let prosper is groundcherries. I never planted even one, but the wild ones for my region have made their case known, even coming up in the otherwise non-productive space of my gravel driveway. After tasting them, I can select which groups to allow to keep coming up year after year, and which ones to prune back for other plants to grow. (The ones in the drive way were not choice in taste, though I loved the idea of the first thing people see when driving in was a crop, growing in the driveway.)



 
pollinator
Posts: 1165
Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Thanksf or the posts guys, but I'm still confused. Wildman Steve Brill told us the same exact thing about the thing he was calling pokeweed--boil for 20" and pour off the water 20 times or three times or something, I forget how many times (and would look it up before I tried to eat that again, not that it tasted worth all the effot) and the plant he talked about will come up if you search for google images pokeweed wildman steve brill. It looks nothing like the jumbo "pokeweed". They don't look like they're at all related. Will the real pokeweed please stand up? What would you call the one he called pokweed then? is it just coincidence they both have the same preparation method for eating...and the same name? might suspicious... Thanks!


William James wrote:Pokeweed used to be a canned vegetable on the plates of many people in the southern united states. Farms grew this in mass. Fell out of fashion after the 50's.

The Song "Polk Salad Annie" by Tony Joe White and popularized by Elvis is about Polkweed.

The trick is harvesting before they have the red in the stems. And you change the water. Slight fiddle-factor there.

Green Deane of EatTheWeeds explains it all (ps, you might want to check out his other edible weeds):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwT2ssiUJXU

I currently am growing lots of pokeweed. I don't plan to eat it just yet. It's just a mineral accumulator and a non-woody perennial that occupies space and keeps the grass away, and so it's useful to me for that.

I thought the seed wouldn't germinate without passing through the stomach of a bird, but I was wrong. I piled a bunch of seeds into a big pot, threw some potting soil on it, and now I have lots of polkweed to plant out.

William

 
gardener
Posts: 787
Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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Rob Read wrote:
4. As mentioned above, some (wild/weedy) nightshades are edible. Check carefully for your region, but the one that Samuel Thayer writes about is Black Nightshade, normally considered poisonous in North America, Europe, and Australia, but eaten as not just a berry, but also a coooked green crop in the Caribbean, Africa, and I think other places as well. Thayer is really thorough in both testing the foods he recommends, and reviewing the toxicological records on plants. His books are my favorites in the realm of wild edibles - and there is some heavy competition! What sold it for me was when I grew a 'novelty' crop made famous by Luther Burbank called Wonderberries, which is either the same or very similar to Garden Huckleberry, and it looked and behaved pretty much identically to Black Nightshade that had come up as a weed.



After a lot of research I began eating my local black nightshade berries and leaves. The cooked greens taste good and tame like spinach. The berries are two stage, if I harvest the black berries that still are shiny then the taste is like a slightly sweet tomato, but if I wait until the berry ripens enough to lose the shine than it tastes mainly sweet without a tomato flavor. This is a plant that needs more control than encouragement or else it'll start spreading over other things. Good plant.

Thanksf or the posts guys, but I'm still confused. Wildman Steve Brill told us the same exact thing about the thing he was calling pokeweed--boil for 20" and pour off the water 20 times or three times or something, I forget how many times (and would look it up before I tried to eat that again, not that it tasted worth all the effot) and the plant he talked about will come up if you search for google images pokeweed wildman steve brill. It looks nothing like the jumbo "pokeweed". They don't look like they're at all related. Will the real pokeweed please stand up? What would you call the one he called pokweed then? is it just coincidence they both have the same preparation method for eating...and the same name? might suspicious... Thanks!



Hey Joshua, here is a link to wildmans page on the real poke phytolacca americana. If you check out those photos you can see they are of the same plant that you posted a picture of. It looks different before the flower stalks form, and actually resembles many young greens, which may be causing photo ID confusion. Good luck!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1877
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I have 2 plantains:
- The local great plantain
- An asian one (I bought the seeds) that LOOKS the same. It was supposed to be less bitter....

Local animals and I agree!
I do like even the big leaves of my asian plantain.

And BUGS also like them!
I know which is which just by looking... Whole leaves = bitter one
....................................................... Already half eaten leaves = nice leaves!!!

Plants do not "make" any antioxydent or whatever heathy stuff for us, but for THEMSELVES.
So the bitter stuff protects plantain from being too much eaten.

I eat wild lettuce here because it is as good as cultivated one, and I have chickweed, nettle, and more. I sew dendelion because it is not wild here.
Well it was not wild, because now it IS!

And sometimes I eat when weeding, because I cannot "throw" so good little stuff. So I have even been weeding with one hand, and a piece of meat in the other one! Real paleo!
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, 6b, urban, nearish coast, 39'x60' minus the house, mostly shady north side, + lead.
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Ahhhhhhhhh, thank you! Mystery solved! Yeah, the baby plant looks NOTHING like the grownup, that's astonishing! I mean, witness-protection-program different! they don't even feel the same, they're not even the same color or shape or anything! I would never in a million years think that that thing could grow into that other thing.

And the seeds' ink can enhance solar collectors' efficiency!!! wow!!!



Zach Muller wrote:

Rob Read wrote:
4. As mentioned above, some (wild/weedy) nightshades are edible. Check carefully for your region, but the one that Samuel Thayer writes about is Black Nightshade, normally considered poisonous in North America, Europe, and Australia, but eaten as not just a berry, but also a coooked green crop in the Caribbean, Africa, and I think other places as well. Thayer is really thorough in both testing the foods he recommends, and reviewing the toxicological records on plants. His books are my favorites in the realm of wild edibles - and there is some heavy competition! What sold it for me was when I grew a 'novelty' crop made famous by Luther Burbank called Wonderberries, which is either the same or very similar to Garden Huckleberry, and it looked and behaved pretty much identically to Black Nightshade that had come up as a weed.



After a lot of research I began eating my local black nightshade berries and leaves. The cooked greens taste good and tame like spinach. The berries are two stage, if I harvest the black berries that still are shiny then the taste is like a slightly sweet tomato, but if I wait until the berry ripens enough to lose the shine than it tastes mainly sweet without a tomato flavor. This is a plant that needs more control than encouragement or else it'll start spreading over other things. Good plant.

Thanksf or the posts guys, but I'm still confused. Wildman Steve Brill told us the same exact thing about the thing he was calling pokeweed--boil for 20" and pour off the water 20 times or three times or something, I forget how many times (and would look it up before I tried to eat that again, not that it tasted worth all the effot) and the plant he talked about will come up if you search for google images pokeweed wildman steve brill. It looks nothing like the jumbo "pokeweed". They don't look like they're at all related. Will the real pokeweed please stand up? What would you call the one he called pokweed then? is it just coincidence they both have the same preparation method for eating...and the same name? might suspicious... Thanks!



Hey Joshua, here is a link to wildmans page on the real poke phytolacca americana. If you check out those photos you can see they are of the same plant that you posted a picture of. It looks different before the flower stalks form, and actually resembles many young greens, which may be causing photo ID confusion. Good luck!

 
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Daniel Vitalis' conversation with Dave Asprey has some great input on this subject (as well as being a great conversation in whole). Watch the whole thing if you can but starting at minute 42 they directly address the domestication of veg and fruit and its affects.

http://www.bulletproofexec.com/rewild-yourself-with-daniel-vitalis-podcast-141/
 
gardener
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Great discussion. Some people have missed it when I said I take bitter greens, like dandelion in summer, and put it in the sauerkraut for just 3 days, then it is good tasting, because it's much less bitter and somewhat more sour. Sauer! Also many can be microwaved for 20 seconds, yes 20 seconds.Then like Erica said it retains the enzymes because you aren't cooking it (or not much), and it's a bit easier to digest. Yes, the Chinese have a medicinal chart about how sour and bitter foods lead to being thin and sweet and oily foods lead to being fat. Makes total sense when you think of the current physical shape of Americans and the Mediterraneans eating their bitter salads.

I have found that many indigenous cultures, including Greeks, Mexicans and Native AMericans, regularly eat the local greens and know the proportions of how much to eat and how to prepare. We need to adapt our culture to making the food be our medicine and the medicine our food. The healthiest (and happiest) people in the world do this: Hunza, Abkasians, Villabamba, Sardinia, tiny Greek island, peninsula of Costa Rica. I highly recommend the book "Healthy at 95" by John RObbins. In the Weston Price book about studying cultures around the world, he detailed how people eating indigenous foods were extremely healthy but once they got into processed foods, their health declined precipitously.
John S
PDX OR
 
steward
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In my Wisconsin garden, I gave up on growing spinach because the Lambsquarters tasted just as good and came up on its own. I would actually collect large quantities, blanch and freeze for omelets in the winter time (I had these little one cup containers--just enough for one omelet).

Here in Portland, I bought "tree spinach" seeds from Oikos Tree Products, which is an improved variety of lambs quarters, and they didn't grow!! Couldn't believe it. I need to try growing them again. . . I haven't seen lambs quarters in my wanderings around my NE Portland neighborhood.
 
John Suavecito
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Lambs quarters definitely grows here. I found a 2" one mysteriously growing in my yard and replanted it in the sun. It's about 4' tall now. The strain from Michigan perhaps was adapted to that climate. Thats' why seed savers and locally adapted plants, even from the same species, can do so well in one particular climate.
John S
PDX OR
 
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Location: west central Missouri
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Young leaves can e picked from most edible plants after a good rain ends a mini drougth. Not the next day but a few days later. Often my favorite wild edible Lambs quarter has grown tall and the leaves are all tough but a few days after a rain there is new growth with young tender leaves. Even with a blossom stalk they are fine to eat. I've tried Poke but even with the recommended water changes I don't care for the flavor. But I think young leaves could be used after a rain - I just went out and checked my yard - Poke has a few straggly new sprouts with green stems. Lambs Quarters are covered with new growth. I picked a plantain leaf for testing{I already know a tea made from its leaves with a little salt added and used cool. has cleared up an eye infection several times over the years. I also picked a Hosta leaf {aka Plantain Lily]. The two P. leaves taste about the same and about the same toughness. Day Lily buds (about two days from flowering are ok both raw and cooked. Spring salads of mixed greens are great.
 
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I think the attraction to eating poke has to do with almost a spring ritual......it is a good excuse for a wander in the edges of the woods and a challaenge to catch it at the right time........we try to time some of our spring walks around different foraging and polk is something we look forward to as a nice green thing after a winter of less........I think the treat isn't there for anyone able to acquire lots of green food other ways over the winter....we really do like the taste after three changes of water. It is usually a one time spring food and not a steady diet.

Granny, we love lambsquarters too......i am at the stage where I need to let more of it go to seed, but as you've observed, more rain and it sends out some more nice tasty green leaves that are hard to resist.
 
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What a great topic! We started using the purslane from the alley behind the house (not a very busy alley) and I now put it into everything, both raw and cooked. And cooked with dandelion greens and onion or whatever, it lessens the bitterness. So many recipes make things sound fiddly and difficult, so I'm just grateful to know what's not poisonous and I invent my own "messipes"; they're never the same twice but always interesting.
 
John Suavecito
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Purslane is also one of the few sources of omega 3 fats that come from plants (also flax seeds). I find that when I pull some up carefully from the sidewalk, I can get a big long root. Then I transferred them into my yard. Then I let them grow large, cut, eat and let them grow back. If they break off when I try to pull them from the sidewalk, I eat them and plant the others.
John S
PDX OR
 
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I like purslane too, and it is a great companion crop to corn, But the best "weed" I have found yet is Melothria scabra or mouse melon. Grows wild here and tastes great. I have even sold it at my stand. Think of a baby cucumber in taste. Immune to all the pests and diseases that infect the regular cucumbers in my area. No powdery mildew, no stink bugs, no cucumber beetles, no vine borers. Small but when mixed with cherry tomatoes and feta cheese and some fresh herbs and balsamic vinegar, makes a great salad. I here in some upscale farmer's markets people get as much as 5 dollars a pound for them.
 
Julia Winter
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? Where is "here?" Sounds like a cool thing to grow, but I don't think I've ever seen it volunteering.
 
Scott Strough
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Julia Winter wrote:? Where is "here?" Sounds like a cool thing to grow, but I don't think I've ever seen it volunteering.

I live in Oklahoma currently
 
John Suavecito
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There are people here in my local permaculture group who grow it, so it grows here too.
John S
PDX OR
 
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