Foraging for Food

Boise chefs discuss finding and using wild plants in an interesting article in the Idaho Statesman this week. “Start with your yard,” one advises.

I hate to sound smug, but nobody will starve in my yard.

I figure if you’re going to have land, even a little bit of it, you might as well put it to work. I do have some lawn, but it seems like such wasted space. I’m always thinking of ways to convert more of it to useful, edible plants and flowers.

One plant touted in the article is lambs quarter, seen at left. It’s considered a weed here, but in Greece, I learned how to pick it wild and steam it like spinach or toss it raw into salads. On menus there, it is called Vlita or Horta.

I had to buy a few seeds from a grower in the southeastern U.S., but today, lambs quarter pops up in random patches around the yard.

“It makes spinach look like a Twinkie as far as nutrition,” according to local forager Randy King.

I add fresh lavender and mint to a carafe of water in the fridge for a refreshing summer alternative to soda, and pick a few raspberries or strawberries to pop into the glass.

The Greek oregano is jumping out of its garden box and rooting all over the place. The sage is also going nuts this year.

I have yarrow and wild roses in abundance and am researching ways to use them.

I’m just now picking the white currants. Tomatoes are starting to ripen. Elderberries should be ready to pick by September. The hauls from the apple tree and hops plants this year should be amazing.

I didn’t plan on being a farmer or a forager, and it takes some time to harvest and work with anything homegrown. But it’s been fun and, for the most part, delicious!

And not just for me. I also consider which plants will attract bees and butterflies, as we need all the pollinators we can get.