Each morning for the past few weeks I've been harvesting a giant bowl of this tender wild green vegetable, right from my backyard. We use it in our green smoothies instead of spinach or kale (click here for my green smoothie recipe) and in salads instead of buying the mix of salad greens that I would normally get. It has a really mild flavor, which makes it suitable in anything you'd use raw spinach or lettuce for. I've never tried cooking it, but it would probably cook up like spinach as well.
Nearly two years ago, when we bought our house, the only thing I was sad about was losing my rich abundant garden full of wild edible weeds and plants, which I had cultivated over the years that we'd been at our first house. I had to trade all that flora and fauna for a yard that consisted of evergreen trees, shade, landscape fabric, and woodchips. I knew not much would grow in the new, dark yard, but I brought a tub with some miner's lettuce that I dug from my old place, and just laid it down over the wood chips and pine needles that covered my new yard. I watered it pretty regularly that first summer. Here we are two years later and it's taken off like wildfire.
This perfect edible weed now thrives deliciously on my poor, unamended soil, with no watering beyond what the clouds provide, and only an hour or two of sunlight at the end of each day. I haven't really managed to grow much else in the deep shade of my yard, but fortunately the miner's lettuce loves it!
Besides that first summer of watering it in, it took absolutely no work (or expense!) to grow this healthy and abundant food crop. I love it! Whenever I want some greens, I simply go outside with a big bowl and a large pair of scissors. Holding the tops of a handful of greens with one hand, I clip them off near the base with the scissors. They will quickly grow back. The entire plant is edible, though the leaves get a bit tougher once they start flowering in summer.
After cutting all I need, I bring the bowl inside and fill it with cool water and a dollop of white vinegar. We have pets, and washing our miner's lettuce with a bit of dilute vinegar makes me feel better about food safety, since who can say where the pets are doing their business. The taste or smell of vinegar does not linger on the greens. I drain the greens and refrigerate any portion that I'm not using right away. They last a few days in the fridge, but I tend to use what I pick each day. Fresh greens are such a delicious and healthy luxury!
For more of my articles on edible foraging, check out Wild Foraging in April, Identifying and Harvesting Edible Weeds in the Garden, and How to Find Edible Weeds.
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Miner's Lettuce: Growing and Harvesting the Most Delectable Wild Greens
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