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Published on Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cooking Greens

Perennial Vegetables

  Amaranth--Amaranthus gangeticus viridus-- [tampala]  also known in flower catalogs as Love-Lies-Bleeding and Prince's Feather.  It is a larger relative of the weed known as red-root pigweed; it is a black seeded annual, is drought- resistant, brings up nutrients from the subsoil, and reseeds readily.  Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer will make the leaves more succulent and contain more protein.  It is best grown like spinach, not being allowed to flower.  The leaves taste of spinach with a touch of horseradish; they must be cooked, because they contain oxyilic acid.  They are a good source of vitamin  A & C,  calcium, iron and the amino acid lysine; the leaves have more protein than cow's milk.  Amaranth is not as wild tasting as stinging nettle greens.  It can be used to make a protein powder.  Burgess and Burpee both carry it.  Thompson & Morgan, as well as Chinese seed catalogs, call it  Hinn Choy.

Borage--Borago officinalis-- is another self-seeding annual.  This is a blueflowered bee plant.  The leaves can be cooked like spinach.  This herb has a distinctive flavor; you will either love it or hate it.  Chickens love it....

Chickweed--Stellaria media-- another ''spinach'' plant.  steam it.

Chicory--Cichorium intybus-- Radicchio or wild endive.  ''Sugar Hat'' is a summer & fall green.  Boil it and discard the water to make it less bitter.  Then sautee with garlic and butter.  White beans and sauteed chicory go well together, especially with parmesan cheese on top!

Creeping Charlie--Glechoma hederacea-- Ground Ivy has a distinctive, mild, peppery flavor.

Dames Rocket--Hesperis matronalis-- This is a night-fragrant flower that is edible; the early leaves, which taste of horseradish, can be steamed.  The flowers have 4 petals; do not confuse it with Phlox, which has 5. 

Dandelion--Taraxacum officinale--  Boil the leaves with sorrel leaves.  Add leaves or flowerbuds to omelet.  I like to saute the flowerbuds in butter!

Fragrant Springtree--Cedrela orToona sinensis ''Flamingo''  the Chinese Cedar-- This tree can be pruned into a bush, or cut down in the fall to re-sprout in the early spring.  The leaves are used like garlic in Chinese dishes.  Raintree used to carry it.

French Sorrel--Rumex acetosa ''Profusion''--  Traditionally boiled or sauteed and served with fish.  Cook with lentils for pease porridge.

Garlic Mustard--Alliaria petiolata-- prefers to grow in damp shady places.  Smells like and tastes of garlic.

Good King Henry--Chenopodium bonus-henricus-- will grow in partial shade or full sun, but is not drought-tolerant.  The leaves, which are even better after the flowers appear, are somewhat bitter; boil and discard the cooking water.  Harvest the second year and divide when they are five years old.

India Mustard--Brassica juncea-- ''Fordhook Fancy'' and ''Ostrich Plume'' are the mildest tasting.  The less the rain or the hotter the weather or the older the plant, the hotter the taste! Down South, it is boiled with salt pork and eaten with corn bread.  You can also dip the leaves in tempura batter and french-fry them.  This plant's seeds can be made into wet mustard for hotdogs.  Chickens also like the leaves, which make good compost too.

Kale--Brassica oleracea acephala--''Western Front'' Perennial Kale sometimes overwinters, but it self-sows very nicely.  It resembles ''Red Russian Kale'' and is mild flavored.  Grown in the shade, cut it back to about 8''; mulch,  and allow the stalk to re-sprout the following spring.

Lambsquarters--Chenopodium album--  Steam it.

Little Leaf Linden, or  basswood--Tillia cordata--another hardy tree with edible juicy leaves; put them in sandwiches like lettuce.  To be able to harvest the leaves, cut the tree down to 8'' every couple of years; this will make it sucker up.  A company in Vermont, sells seeds for $3.  802.324.4527  The trick to growing them is to soak seeds for 24 hours and then stratify in a cold place for 8 or 9 months so they will sprout !

Lovage--Levisticum officinale-- is a six foot tall perennial celery plant.  It has a very strong flavor, and is best cooked with sorrel, winter squash, and potatoes in an early spring soup.  It grows in full sun or part shade.

Milk Thistle--Silybum marianum--  This is a medicinal herb.  For a potherb, cut the spiny edges off the leaves with scissors; saute in oil with garlic; serve with a dash of lemon or apple-cider vinegar.

Mugwort--Artemisia vulgaris-- wild wormwood is an ingredient in Korean cooking.

Musk Mallow--Malva moschata-- is a juicy plant; ''Gumbo Leaf'' is the best.  Musk mallow is a short-lived, clump-formning species that self-sows  a LOT.  It is very easy to grow in full sun or part shade.

Mountain Sorrel--Oxyria digyna-- This plant makes a clump about 2'x2' and has rounded leaves, which are bigger when grown in light shade.  They taste delicious.

Redroot Pigweed--Amaranthus retroflexus-- I do not like this;  it is way too stringy.  I suppose it could be boiled in stews.

Broadleaf Plantain--Plantago major-- another one to put in survival stew if you don't need it for a bandage...

Purslane--Portulaca oleracea--  ''Indian Cress''  This is a short, fleshy plant which is impossible to get rid of, so you may as well eat it!  It tastes somewhat acidic because it is full of vitamin C.  Stir-fry, boil, pickle, or scallop this vegetable.  Use like Okra.

Rhubarb--Rheum--  of course everyone knows that the leaves are not edible and that the stalks are good in pies, but those stalks can also be cut up and put in venison stew!

Sea Kale--Crambe maritima-- the leaves of these wild silvery grey perennial cabbages can be cooked like--and taste like--collards.   Crambe is a clump-forming perennial about 3' tall and wide.  Let it grow for three years before harvesting any of it.

Selfheal--prunella vulgaris-- this is actually a medicinal herb which contains triterpenes; altho it is not listed in Rasch's Encyclopedia, or in Santillo's herbal, there is information on the www.  The leaves are edible and can be steamed like spinach. 

Sheep Sorrel--Rumex acetosella-- This is that little tiny weed that tastes sour but good.  It is impossible to eradicate.

Shepards Purse--Capsella bursa-pastoris--  it is a mild-flavored mustard green.

Stinging Nettle--Urtica dioica-- is my favorite potherb!  It has a strange taste because it is full of minerals.  Pick it with care!  before it is about 3'' tall, it is practically stingfree, but I wear gloves and collect it with scissors.  It grows in sun or part shade.  Boil and enjoy.  The cooking water makes a good drink, also.  It can be sauteed, made into patties, or turned into Irish Soup.  You can save nettle for winter by drying the leaves--they do not sting if dried.  Nettles make excellent chicken feed or hay due to their high protein content; it also makes a good hot compost. 

Turkish Rocket --Bunias orientalis-- is a very strongly mustard-flavored potherb with large bumpy seeds.  It is a clumping plant which grows in full sun or light shade, somewhat drought-tolerant, and is VERY difficult to get rid of.

Watercress--Nasturtium officinalae-- this can be found year-round in many streams.  It has a bite!  I have never cooked it, but it is supposed to be a good pot-herb.

Wolfberry-- Lycium bararum or L. chinense-- Goji is grows in full sun to part shade which has edible leaves and small red fruit.   The leaves taste musky and a little sharp.  They can be stir-fried. The berries are sort of bitter and taste of tomato and licorice;.  This shrub is one of the few hardy woody leaf crops.  It grows rampantly into a suckering, thorny, viney, tip-layering, huge bush.  In China, they have one with sweet yellow fruit--''Yellow Acute Head'' as well as another variety with large red fruit named ''Hemp Leaf.'' 

Wood Nettle--Laportaea canadensis--  Native to eastern and central North America, it grows in part to full shade and spreads slower than urtica does, as well as having a less intense sting and better flavor than stinging nettle.  Especially good in Quiche.

Yellow Rocket--Barbarea vulgaris-- this is wintercress.  It tastes like watercress, but grows on land..







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Author: Earthchild

Categories: Plant and Tree Profiles, Vegetables




Since childhood, I have been interested in creating my very own Garden of Eden. This used to be called ''homesteading'' and I have a roomful of books and magazines on the subject, [as well as a subscription to] which includes natural medicine and preparedness.

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4 comments on article "Cooking Greens"



5/2/2013 4:54 PM

Great article. Besides introducing me to new perennials, it reminds me to use what's already growing rather than fighting it (dandelion & lambs quarters come immediately to mind). Thank you!



9/7/2013 3:10 AM

Useful information shared..Iam very happy to read this article..thanks for giving us nice info.Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

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9/7/2013 3:10 AM

Thanks a lot for your valuable sharing,right from the beginning till end it was really very informative.I can witness the experience and steps you have taken to accomplish this wonderful work.

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Annie M

3/11/2014 12:35 PM

Earthchild this was a great article. So many valuable plants right under our feet. Thanks.

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