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Eating the weeds in My Garden and inedible things?

 
Thelma McGowan
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Location: western Washington, Snohomish county--zone 8b
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So here I am thinking that I am so Clever eating The weeds out Of My Garden! I finally got soo tired of waiting for my planted crops to be ready for eating that I got brave enough to Try the weeds for the first time. I always thought that a couple of the greens might have been edible, But as I researched I was shocked at how much of the random stuff growing around My yard was wonderful to eat. And Now I will not have to wait next year to eat out Of My Garden as the "weeds" pop up very early.
The tipping point was when My Dad noticed a couple weeks ago.."Oh Pig Weed" like I was supposed to know what he was talking about. He never shared this bit of Knowledge.....He apparently is a stingy old So-an-so......as just this year he showed me Wild licorice root growing on the Maples. That was so awesome! as it does taste great in tea.
I told My Mom that I was eating the Amaranth  "weed"out of my garden...She Says" oh Red Root Grandma used to cook that up for us out of her Garden when I was a kid"......Apparently also My Mom is holding out On me too.

I always knew that My Family had foraged a lot when My Parents were Young. That was definetly the way to do it as they lived very close to the Land. I guess I will have to drag out of them all of these little gems of info. Sooo... I feel a litlle silly about My excitement for how yummy the weeds are....since apparently it is old news

I live in the North West and have identified several delicious "weeds". So far the only inedible thing I have identified is NightShade. I am not ready to forage for mushrooms as I can only possitively ID Morrels and Puff Balls ( 2 items My Mom DID show me when I was young) Are there Any other unedible greens that I should watch out for? Please Do Share!
 
ronie dee
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Check out the threads here about stinging nettles...also dandy lions, lambs quarter, purslane, dock, chickory..that ends my favorite wild edible greens.

I also like the wild licorice for tea flavoring..
 
gani et se
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Make sure you know the difference between water hemlock and anything else. It can be confused with wild carrot, I hear.
Miner's lettuce is tasty in the early spring. Fern fiddleheads too, if you cook them.
 
Chris MacCarlson
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I would stay away from members of the Carrot family in general....

Ronie, I much agree with that list of the best edible greens...  though I would add chickweed, sorrel, and Miners lettuce.  Watercress is great, but i never trust the water that it grows in...

Good luck foraging Aunty Thelma!
 
ronie dee
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I agree with everything you say, chcarlson, I eat chickweed in the winter and wood sorrel in the spring (both raw). I have not identified miners lettuce in my area.

I fear the contamination in the water too and seldom eat any cat tail and never have i trusted the water cress. I am guessing that it is very good flavor, but who knows what contaminants are there. I hope someday to try to transplant some watercress to an isolated area on my place, but no time for such things right now.

I read that the wild carrot is poison and the seeds are not poison. I used to save the seeds for a spice, but have stopped doing that as I am not positive that the seeds are poison free. Wild carrot and hemlock do look similar, but don't eat either.

 
Franklin Stone
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I read that the wild carrot is poison


Wild carrot is NOT poisonous. The various related hemlocks ARE poisonous, but don't really resemble carrot that much. Obviously, if one is unsure of identification, one should not eat the plant.

So far the only inedible thing I have identified is NightShade


Nightshade can refer to many different plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, ground cherries, eggplant, etc. There are many, many edible nightshades out there - depending on which part of the plant you are eating, of course - but some like Black Nightshade even have edible leaves, as well as fruit.

Belladonna, Jimsonweed and tobacco, on the other hand, are all nightshades, and are all quite deadly.

Always be careful when foraging.


 
ronie dee
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frankenstoen wrote:
Wild carrot is NOT poisonous. The various related hemlocks ARE poisonous, but don't really resemble carrot that much. Obviously, if one is unsure of identification, one should not eat the plant.

Nightshade can refer to many different plants, including tomatoes, potatoes, ground cherries, eggplant, etc. There are many, many edible nightshades out there - depending on which part of the plant you are eating, of course - but some like Black Nightshade even have edible leaves, as well as fruit.

Belladonna, Jimsonweed and tobacco, on the other hand, are all nightshades, and are all quite deadly.

Always be careful when foraging.





The wild carrot, also known as Queen Anne's Lace, looks a lot like poison hemlock in my area.

Here's the Wiki link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daucus_carota

And quotes:  "As with all herbal remedies and wild food gathering, extra caution should be used, especially since the wild carrot bears close resemblance to a dangerous species, poison hemlock. The leaves of the wild carrot can cause phytophotodermatitis, so caution should also be used when handling the plant...

Very similar in appearance to the deadly poison hemlock, Daucus carota is distinguished by a mix of bi-pinnate and tri-pinnate leaves, fine hairs on its stems and leaves, a root that smells like carrots, and occasionally a single dark red flower in its center."

I can tell them apart fairly easily, but some folks might confuse them.

Wiki says that the leaves of wild carrot may cause a type of dermatitis,, but doesn't mention that it is poison. I used to save the seeds for soup flavoring and have tasted the leaves, but one source i read, said the leaves are poison, so I haven't used the plant in a long time.

The Wiki info seems to agree with you that the wild carrot isn't poison.

 
Thelma McGowan
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I am not sure about The night shade in my garden...as to what kind it is.......all I am certain is it does get green berries if left to grow too long. I have always pulled it out before the berries have ripened. May be this year I will let a couple go to see if they have the Black berries?

Thanks for the advise every one!
 
Leila Rich
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Be careful with bringing wild carrot seed to your place (or any ancestors of our domesticated veggies, especially brassicas): they often cross easily with garden veggies.
People keep trying to give me queen Anne's lace seed because "the beneficial's love it". Beneficials also love my carrot flowers and I don't feel the need to undo centuries of selective breeding right now!
 
Jeanine Gurley
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Hubby just told me tonights quiche was wonderful - he doesn't know it is full of dandelion and purslane 
 
Thelma McGowan
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Awsome!
 
Suzy Bean
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Lambsquarters is my favorite!
 
Thelma McGowan
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Eating weeds out of a garden? Outside of the vitamin and mineral value there is little else but flavor to be had eating leafy greens. Like eating celery you will starve to death it takes more claories to chew and digest the celery then you get out of the celery its self it a negative caloric food. Outside of going in and out it does nothing to the stored energy saved in the body.

Other than "bragging rights" to say I grazed on clover the exercize seems rather pointless and counter productive


Oh My Goodness! you must not be as lucky as I am. since I really do have a diverse selection of "weeds" in my garden. as a side dish these leafy greens are superior in flavour and hardiness to many of my  commonly cultivated plants that I have grown from seeds. 
vitamin and mineral content alone is a noble reason for eating any food

I do not recomend eating clover....it does not taste yummy...I did give it a try too ;0)

So far what I recomend as being super good to eat as a side dish to any meal are......

Lambsquarters or goose foot(way better than spinach),
amaranth or pig weed (baby plants in a salad exceed flavor and texture of any lettuce),
Sheep sorrell or wood sorrell (surprisingly bright in a salad),
dandelion flower petals ( slightly sweet )
Chickweed ( enjoyable salad green)
Shepards purse (the young flower tips taste a bit like raw broccoli)

The only wild food that I consider for bragging rights after eating is raw stinging nettle. It tastes very pleasant and it does tingle a bit when you chew it. I will brag all day about eating raw nettle, as you do have to be a bit brave to try it :0)

 
Kirk Hutchison
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Lots of vitamins, minerals, and flavor is the best part of wild greens! I get plenty of calories from my diet already.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Many weeds have more nutrition than domesticated vegetables.  If one grows any vegetables besides those for calories (roots,tubers, beans, corn, etc) it makes sense to grow those with the most nutrition.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Foraging is not particularly risky as many perfectly safe and nutritious wild greens are as easy to identify as vegetables you plant in your garden. 

Lots of people on the board here have been foraging for years, some for decades.

But if you're worried about the safety of it, you had best avoid foraging yourself. 
 
Thelma McGowan
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So...Anyways.........

I have never personally heard or known of anyone being poisoned from eating wild growing plants. If any one has any other suggestions or cautions regarding wildplants in the Northwest Please do report.

other than wild carrot/hemlock ,I do not know about other dangerous look a likes.
 
Franklin Stone
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A great book for beginners is John Kallas' Edible Wild Plants. It focuses on harvesting and preparing simple wild greens that are available throughout most of the U.S. (If you are not a fan of salad or cooked greens, this book is not for you.) A sample tip I got from this book: immediately soak all harvested greens in cold water for 15 minutes to crisp them up. (This applies to farmed greens like lettuce as well.) Greens crisped this way will last many days longer when stored in the refrigerator.

Sam Thayer's books, Nature's Garden and The Forager's Harvest, are the best books on foraging that I have found so far. See this thread for reviews:

http://www.permies.com/permaculture-forums/8194_0/wild-harvesting-and-ancestral-skills/natures-garden

I was able to order all of these books from my local library system, and I plan on purchasing them all and adding them to my home library as soon as finances permit.
 
ronie dee
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auntythelma wrote:

I do not recomend eating clover....it does not taste yummy...I did give it a try too ;0)




Try the clover leaves in the late fall after a frost. They are better, but I don't harvest as it's not 'better enough' to be worthwhile to spend a lot of time gathering.
 
Amber Westfall
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I adore Queen Anne's Lace(QAL)!  AKA wild carrot, AKA Daucus carota.  The yummy carrot we all know and love today? AKA Daucus carota.  The domesticated carrot is the not very distant ancestor of the wild carrot. (So yes, it will cross with your carrot plants.  Left unchecked, our garden carrot will revert back to wild, in no time at all.)  QAL is as poisonous as a carrot.  But you definitely don't want to confuse it with poison hemlock, or water hemlock (two of the most deadly plants in North America).  Once you know what to look for, it's actually fairly simple to tell them apart.  One key identifier is that the stems of QAL is covered in fine hairs.  Hemlock has smooth stems.  So, remember, Queen Anne has hairy legs!  She also smells distinctly carroty.  Many of the flowers have a red to maroon flower in the centre of the umbel. So, if you're really in doubt, never eat anything without the red flower in the centre.

Once you know what to look for, the young leaves are nice in a pesto, soups and as a seasoning.  I use the flowers in soups too.  I fry them up like a fritter in a bit of oil.  Yum!  I've only just nibbled on the root.  It's small, tough and chewy, but there are ways of preparing it, in the right season, to make it palatable.  Just don't expect a big ole' juicy carrot.  The seeds make a lovely seasoning/salt substitute.

Medicinally, it has important uses, including natural contraception (I've been using it this way for over two years now).

Apologies for the self-promotion, but it's easier for me to just link to <A href="http://unstuff.blogspot.com/2011/08/daucus-carota.html">my recent blog post on QAL</A> where I have useful links for more information.  The Linda Runyon PDF has an excellent article on using QAL.

Once you have a 100% positive ID of this plant, enjoy getting to know her.  Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot is wonderful!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Here's a pic of some sheep sorrel I harvested in 30 seconds (yeah, that's probably about right) to brighten my leftover chicken stew with its lemony goodness.

Our summer here in the NW is off to a late start, unlike the rest of the country. Which means quite a bit of the sheep sorrel is still in great shape.

sheepsorrelcropped.jpg
[Thumbnail for sheepsorrelcropped.jpg]
 
Lana White
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Not all wild carrot flowers have the dark tiny flower near the center, but it is definitely a wild carrot if it has one. One thing that DOES identify it as a wild carrot is the "birds nest" as the drying flowers fold up to form a cup. No other plant does that.
The roots are not orange but white and woody in the center...a cultivated carrot is much preferable to the wild ones! But in a wild stew, it does add the carrot taste.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I found this thread when looking to see if phytophotdermatitis was discussed on permies any where. Besides wild carrot and cow parsnip, it can happen from the cultivated varieties of parsnip and carrot, too! More about that in another thread.

Thelma McGowan wrote:The tipping point was when My Dad noticed a couple weeks ago.."Oh Pig Weed" like I was supposed to know what he was talking about. He never shared this bit of Knowledge.....He apparently is a stingy old So-an-so......as just this year he showed me Wild licorice root growing on the Maples. That was so awesome! as it does taste great in tea.
I told My Mom that I was eating the Amaranth  "weed"out of my garden...She Says "oh Red Root Grandma used to cook that up for us out of her Garden when I was a kid"......Apparently also My Mom is holding out On me too.

Paul and I were discussing what is lambsquarters and what is pigweed just the other day and I told him I thought some folks use these two common names interchangeably for the weed we call lambsquarters. He didn't think that was the case.

I did a Google search and found this, Lamb’s Quarters? Pigweed? Scientific Names, Please!.

In this picture from that blog post,



‘Chenopodium album’ is in hand, on the left (which we usually call lambsquarters, though some call it pigweed! or goosefoot) and ‘Amaranthus retroflexus’ is on the right, (which we usually call pigweed around here).

I just thought that was a brief, helpful article and a most excellent picture. Great thread!

 
John Weiland
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Although the photo below is stock footage from the internet, we now have some of this Chenopodium amaranticolor emerging annually with our regular lambsquarter in the garden....the latter of which can be seen in the lower right quadrant of the photo. Since these Chenopods arrive in young, succulent form at about the time the chickens are cranking out eggs, it's a great combination to mix sauteed lambsquarter/amaranticolor or chard or other similar greens with eggs as a scramble or omelette. If I ever develop a palate for quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa), I'm hoping it will grow as well as its weedy cousin. The pigweed (A. retroflexus) has close, but distinct, relatives in water hemp (A. rudis) and Palmer amaranth (A. palmeri) that have become the bane of much of big ag due to the natural development of glyphosate resistance. Although I've not tried to eat the pigweed in the garden, the pigs go crazy over it when we throw it over the fence to them. (...go figure! )
Camaraticolor.jpg
[Thumbnail for Camaraticolor.jpg]
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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How funny, I just (within the hour) transplanted some lambsquarters into my BTE garden. I found some in front of the dog pen. Not a good place to leave it (heavy traffic).
Great wild edible. Great Dynamic Accumulator.
 
Lana White
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gani et se wrote:Make sure you know the difference between water hemlock and anything else. It can be confused with wild carrot, I hear.
Miner's lettuce is tasty in the early spring. Fern fiddleheads too, if you cook them.


Not really...the hemlocks and wild carrot are quite different. You just have to make sure that you NOTICE the differences.
Get a good foraging book or two for your area. Don't just identify the plant from the picture, although that's a good start. You have to read the description carefully and make sure the plant you are considering meets the description in every way. Hemlock has a smooth stem and often the stem is splotched with purple and smells rather foul. The wild carrot has a hairy stem and SMELLS like a carrot. There are other differences, but please don't try to make the plant fit the description you want because that could very well get you poisoned. If it has a smooth stem, it isn't a wild carrot, no matter how it looks otherwise. All foraging books have a good description of the plant for a reason.

You don't have to know all the plants there are to know...there are too many for most of us amateurs to know. You just have to absolutely know the one you hope to eat! That's easy...you already know more than you think. You know dandelions, mints, day lilies, sunflowers, clover, cattails, stinging nettle maybe, chicory maybe, maybe wild onions, acorns and other nuts, many fruits...a whole lot of foods already familiar to you. Start with them and learn how to prepare them so they taste good...some are truly delicious, others good but not so special, and others you won't want to eat except in a time of real emergency. But emergencies do happen, and it would be helpful if you've already prepared them once before the emergency so you don't have to try to remember what you've read. Then spread out from there, learning first of all the plants in your own yard and garden, and later take more far ranging field trips. Observe these plants through all the seasons so you can recognize them as they grow. Then you will be able to find them from then on. Plants don't move like animals do, if they are perennials they will be in about the same place every year. Look for those same plants later in a similar environment...most have definite preferences.

I go to amazon.com to read the descriptions of wild plant books and what the customers say about them. Often you can take a look at the pictures inside and table of contents. You might also want to see if the local library has them or can order them for you before you buy them. My favorite authors are Samuel Thayer, Linda Runyon, Euell Gibbons (for his humor and inspiration as well as good recipes but he has no field guides to identify plants), John Kallas, Darcy Williamson, and Linda Kershaw. There are many, many more, and some might be better for your area. If you live in New Mexico, no sense buying a book for the Eastern US., but many plants are fairly universal throughout the nation. Get a book with the best detailed pictures, preferably more than one photo each.

Wild plants may never make up your entire diet, but they can help fill it in. (One thing I like about the author, Linda Runyon, is that she does indeed live entirely on wild plants, and she lists far more plants than others do. You will still need a field guide though with better photos.) The economic picture is not encouraging at the national level, and we all see what is happening in Venezuela and other places. Food here may also be in short supply. You cannot rely on wild game to be available, as they would be quickly harvested. Learn the edible plants and you at least might survive!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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John Weiland wrote:Although the photo below is stock footage from the internet, we now have some of this Chenopodium amaranticolor emerging annually with our regular lambsquarter in the garden....the latter of which can be seen in the lower right quadrant of the photo. Since these Chenopods arrive in young, succulent form at about the time the chickens are cranking out eggs, it's a great combination to mix sauteed lambsquarter/amaranticolor or chard or other similar greens with eggs as a scramble or omelette.

That Chenopodium amaranticolor is gorgeous! I would love some of that in the garden!!
 
jeff bankes
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I have been enjoying learning about wild edibles
 
jeff bankes
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I did a taste test of Lady's thumb last night .
 
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