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PostHeaderIcon A Wild Spring Salad Harvested From The Back Yard

The other day I was out browsing the yard for fresh, wild spring foods and thought about making a salad with everything I found. It is nice to have fresh, free food, especially when they are purely organic and totally free of pesticides.

A lot of the things we now treat as weeds were once used heavily as a food crop and for medicinal purposes. Now people spend money to try and eliminate these herbs from their lawns. I think that the best way to clean up the yard is to eat it all. I save money while cleaning out the “weeds”. That is much better than buying chemicals and poisons to do the job.

This wild back yard salad has dandelion leaves and flowers, garlic mustard leaves and flowers, wild onion, wild mint and violet flowers. Each one of these herbs is packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients. And, again, these are all organic.
A fresh wild spring salad

 

Later I will dedicate a page to each one of these herbs, but for now, let’s get on with the salad.

 

Find some young, smaller dandelion plants. I pulled them out fully at the base, root and all. This makes it so much faster to harvest them (and eliminate them from your lawn). Then I cut off the root just above the base of the leaves. You can save the root for use as a coffee substitute or tea, if you want. The young dandelion leaves are not bitter like the older ones. Clip off some flowers as well. The fresh, fully blooming ones. A few ants might be feasting on them, so a puff of breath will dislodge them easily.

 

Garlic mustard is also growing all over this time of year. It is already blooming with tiny white flowers and stands about a foot to 18 inches high right now.. The leaves have a tasty combination of mild mustard flavor and a mild garlic flavor. You can eat the flowers too. The roots of this plant can be kept and used in a horseradish recipe.

 

Mint can be found almost anywhere. Here, it is growing in the lawn as a weed. Clip a few inches off a couple plants to add a nice refreshing flavor to your salad.

Clip off a bunch of violet flowers to add for color and vitamins.

 

Wild onions grow all over the lawn here in New York. They are very common all over here. They grow fast and tall and are easily found towering above the grass. Pull them out at the base with a rocking, circular motion. This will get the nice round onion bulb out of the ground.

 

Wild Salad Ingredients

Above you can see all of the wild salad ingredients, ready to be prepared. Rinse the garlic mustard plants and shake dry. Simply pull off or cut the leaves from the  garlic mustard. The flowers of the garlic mustard can also be saved and added to the salad. Pluck off the individual little flowers and save for later.

 

Garlic Mustard Plants

Garlic Mustard Flowers

Rinse off the mint plants and then cut or pull the leaves off the mint stems.

 

Wild Mint Leaves

Sort out your dandelion leaves. Remove any browned or damaged leaves. Keep only the smaller young leaves for best taste. Older leaves get a bitter taste. Some people do not mind the taste, but I do not like older leaves at all. The young ones are very good. Wash them in a bowl of water. Separate the flowers for later.

 

Wash the dandelion leaves

Wash your wild onions under running water. Make sure to remove all the dirt from the onion bulbs. Then cut the roots off the bulbs and slip off the first outer layer of skin to reveal the fresh, clean onion underneath. Then dice up the onion bulb. You can use the first part of the stem to add a nice sweet flavor. You can actually use the whole onion, leaves, and all. The wild onion leaves can be quite powerful flavored and have a bite to them.

 

Wild Onions

 

Chop up the wild onions

Now you can add all of the green, leafy ingredients to your salad bowl and toss them up well. Add the onions and mix them in. Top off the salad with your dandelion flowers, violets and garlic mustard flowers to make a pretty, edible salad. If you want, use your favorite salad dressing and enjoy an organic, all natural wild salad.

 

Finished organic wild spring salad

by Troy Reid

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2 Responses to “A Wild Spring Salad Harvested From The Back Yard”

  • Daniel says:

    Troy,

    Where can I find your clone that lives in Florida? In all seriousness thanks for what you’re doing.

    Daniel

  • Vicky says:

    Troy,
    another spring salad, I just got this and copied to share with you. there are photos on his website (address below):

    Arthur Haines shared Delta Institute of Natural History’s photo.

    They say knowledge is power … It also puts real food on the table.

    Spring Abundance The plant foods shown in the picture were gathered with an investment of about 30 minutes of work (not too bad, right?). These three plants (left to right)—Japanese knotweed, stinging nettle, and dame’s rocket—will comprise the bulk of our vegetables for nearly a week. Learning to gather wild foods efficiently is an important skill set that involves knowledge of several fields. Most people realize that identification is important, but knowing the ecology (where) and the phenology (when) are also critically important. These allow the aspiring forager to direct their efforts to the place and time when wild foods are ready for harvest. Without this knowledge, foragers wander over the landscape without direction. Wandering is enjoyable and allows people to survey the resources they have around them, but many times we need to visit specific habitats at specific times in order to fill our baskets with food. In the center is stinging nettle (Urtica dioca). Though this plant has a formidable defense (the stinging hairs), it is easily overcome by careful collecting early in the season (before the stinging hairs become rigid enough to puncture the skin) or using a gloved hand. Once cooked (or dried) the hairs lose the ability to create the painful irritation. Why go after this plant? It is a powerhouse of nutrition. It has 50 times the pro-vitamin A of cabbage and 1.5 times the vitamin C of oranges (for the same mass). This is how indigenous people lived without vitamins and supplements—they consumed wild foods that are more nutrient dense than what we purchase in the supermarket. Stinging nettle is also over 40% protein by dry weight. It is true superfood that can be found near you. I encourage you to get there and enjoy the spring abundance. It is your gift for enduring the long winter. It will require an investment in learning about our world, but you will be rewarded for this with vibrant health and self-reliance. Ksipkawsuwelomolpa (I wish you all long life). Arthur Haines (www.arthurhaines.com).

    Spring Abundance

    The plant foods shown in the picture were gathered with an investment of about 30 minutes of work (not too bad, right?). These three plants (left to right)—Japanese knotweed, stinging nettle, and dame’s rocket—will comprise the bulk of our vegetables for nearly a week. Learning to gather wild foods efficiently is an important skill set that involves knowledge of several fields.

    Most people realize that identification is important, but knowing the ecology (where) and the phenology (when) are also critically important. These allow the aspiring forager to direct their efforts to the place and time when wild foods are ready for harvest. Without this knowledge, foragers wander over the landscape without direction. Wandering is enjoyable and allows people to survey the resources they have around them, but many times we need to visit specific habitats at specific times in order to fill our baskets with food.

    In the center is stinging nettle (Urtica dioca). Though this plant has a formidable defense (the stinging hairs), it is easily overcome by careful collecting early in the season (before the stinging hairs become rigid enough to puncture the skin) or using a gloved hand. Once cooked (or dried) the hairs lose the ability to create the painful irritation. Why go after this plant? It is a powerhouse of nutrition. It has 50 times the pro-vitamin A of cabbage and 1.5 times the vitamin C of oranges (for the same mass). This is how indigenous people lived without vitamins and supplements—they consumed wild foods that are more nutrient dense than what we purchase in the supermarket. Stinging nettle is also over 40% protein by dry weight. It is true superfood that can be found near you.

    I encourage you to get there and enjoy the spring abundance. It is your gift for enduring the long winter. It will require an investment in learning about our world, but you will be rewarded for this with vibrant health and self-reliance. Ksipkawsuwelomolpa (I wish you all long life).

    Arthur Haines (www.arthurhaines.com)

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