Posted by: hightides | April 13, 2010

Greens

Finally we can leave the windows open at night and the pepper plants sitting outside. Yes, there’s a chance for one more frost, but it’s not likely.

Yesterday, Dom brought a load of compost from Norman and we were spreading it on this year’s pepper patch (we practice rotation of crops). There were some garlic plants left over from a previous tilling (they’re kind of weed-like) so I grabbed the fork to save them. Then I noticed some volunteer kale and collards so I grabbed a couple of bags and started filling them with greens just ahead of the compost throwers (Dom and Kip). When I got to the second patch of collards (Reminder to self– plant some collards in the fall and don’t till them under. They will come back.) I saw the first Lamb’s Quarters. Also called Goosefoot or Wild Spinach, this annual “weed” is usually one of the first edible greens and lasts well into the heat of summer.

Lamb's Quarters

Kip and I love this little weed and harvest it just as readily as any of the cultivated greens in our gardens. If you don’t harvest it, it goes to seed and becomes a terrible nuisance, so being able to eat it is a lovely bonus. We put a small amount of water in the bottom of a saucepan and pile the greens in. They “wilt” almost immediately and are ready to eat after just a minute. Drain away the water, add a little butter, splash a little lemon juice, and you have a really tasty side dish. Harvest only the young plants or the tender tops of more mature plants. When the plants are all starting to go to seed, use your favorite weeding technique and be done with them for the year. Note: they come back because you’ve missed a seed head or two and they have thousands of seeds each. The flavor is very similar to spinach and they rate high on the nutrition charts:

“This food is … a good source of Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.”

Where do you find them besides our garden? Along roadsides, construction sites, parking lots– anywhere there’s disturbed soil where the seeds can nestle in and grow. Do a Google for more photos. Notice that the leaves have a silvery look to them and are easy to spot once you start looking. I don’t know of anything poisonous that they resemble, so you should be safe enough eating what you harvest. If it tastes like wild spinach, you’ve found the right plant!

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Responses

  1. I tried them once and decided it was better to use them to boost the nutrition the chickens were getting and let them eat the lambs quarters. They’ve done a good job at eliminating them from all the areas where they can roam. Best little weeders in the world unless they get loose in your REAL garden. I’m not fond of cooked spinach either, so I’m sure that has something to do with my decision to let the chickens have them.

  2. Jo,
    At least they’re not going to waste! Do you eat collards and kale, or do you have the same issues as with spinach? Could be you have a “greens thang”? Maybe try them chopped fresh in salads?

  3. You’re lucky you have them! The sheep and Muscovy ducks have pretty much eradicated the few plants we had here. I once saw a half dozen Muscovies take down a 3 foot tall bush of lambs’ quarters in about 5 minutes… wonder why they don’t call them duck quarters?

    • Well, they’re also called Goosefoot. The last time I looked, geese and ducks had pretty much the same footprint. I’ll post it here and someone will quote it in future articles. “Lamb’s Quarters, also called Goosefoot, Duckfoot, pigweed, poor man’s spinach, wild spinach, and quelites de ceniza, grows in poor, disturbed soil. A member of the amaranth family, it produces thousands of tiny seeds per plant and is considered a noxious weed by many gardeners. Those in the know are happy to see them in the spring as they are one of the first greens of the year.”
      Let the quoting begin!


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