This Week’s Woodland Grocery Specials

This Week’s Woodland Grocery Specials
Marsh marigold grows in mucky soils in seeps and wetlands, commonly near small streams.
Marsh marigold grows in mucky soils in seeps and wetlands, commonly near small streams.


Marsh Marigold is in peak season right now. In the sunniest locations, the plants are in full flower, making them easy to spot. Plants in more shaded stretches of the streams are prime for harvest, and in some of the really shaded locations the plants are just starting to sprout. Boil the leaves twice to remove bitterness, then chop it up and use it in dips and casseroles, just like you would use chopped spinach.


Watercress is a perfect addition to spring salads, soups, and sandwiches



Watercress has a distinctly mustard flavor. You can use it fresh in any dish to add a little kick. It is especially good on grilled ham and cheese. But it doesn’t keep very long and doesn’t dry well. If you like watercress, find yourself a nice patch. Then visit it frequently in the spring, harvesting only a few handfuls each time.


Leeks, also known as ramps, are beautifully big and bushy right now.


There is a lot of discussion about sustainable harvest of leeks. Picking only a couple of leaves per plant, without disturbing the roots, will not harm them. The plants take several years to mature, and can not tolerate intense harvest of the bulbs. However, thick patches of leeks can benefit from selective thinning, just like any other bulb producing plant. Probably the best way to ensure that you are harvesting leek bulbs sustainably is to “farmage” them. After they have gone dormant, transplant a small clump to a location where you can monitor the size of the patch each year and harvest accordingly.


Hosta shoots look like clusters of little horns with red bases


Hostas may be one of the most under appreciated landscape edibles. But because they only grow in landscaped areas, it is important to be familiar with the location and aware of any herbicides, pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizers that are used. If you have a good source of hostas, you will be able to harvest shoots and leaves for the next several weeks. Try the shoots in stir fry, use the young leaves as wraps, and stuff larger leaves and steam them like cabbage.


Daylily bulbs are great in stir fry, soups, stews, or anyplace else you would use chopped potatoes.


Daylily is an excellent plant to get to know. The whole thing is edible, you can use different parts of the plant in different seasons. The plant parts are substantial enough to be worth the effort of harvesting and preparing them. And it’s nearly impossible to over harvest it. The only flaw seems to be that it causes a reaction in some people. So try it with caution the first few times. Right now, daylily bulbs and shoots are in season.


Violets aren’t blooming quite yet, but the leaves are ready for picking.



Violets are just starting to make their beautiful spring carpets in our woodlands. Violet leaves are very mild. Even people who think iceberg lettuce is too “green” usually find them inoffensive, making them a great way to introduce friends and family to the idea of eating foraged foods. A mix of romaine, spinach, and violet leaves is an excellent base for any salad.



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