Free Food

     Here in mid-April, warming weather is providing us with free food in our own yards   For lunch, you can pick an excellent salad of young Dandelion greens—full of vitamins and minerals—and garden chives and/or other safe-to-eat wild greens.  Or just young Dandelion Greens alone.            

I’m always a bit amazed to see supermarkets sell Dandelion Greens, when people could easily pick their own for zero money.        

 This free salad goes well with a dressing of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mixed with a clove of smashed-up garlic.  All organic, of course, and really tasty. 

 You can’t eat all the dandelions in your yard, but please don’t kill them.  Dandelion flowers (more salad fare) contain lots of pollen, which is an early food for bees after a long winter in the bee hive. 

 We need to encourage bees all we can, since agricultural and “lawn care” pesticides have decimated them terribly.

                                                More Free Food

 A week or so from now, the shoots of Japanese Knotweed (aka False Bamboo) will be popping up; they seem to grow a foot a day, although I’m sure it’s not that much. 

 Knotweed is a very healthy food, and it’s all over the place.  Look for a tall plant with heart-shaped leaves and beautiful clusters of white flowers in late summer.   For now, you can just ask your neighbors, and one of them will surely be able to tell you where to find a stand of it.   

 Neighbor may speak disparagingly of this “False Bamboo,” because its reputation for taking over a yard is not unwarranted.  But you get to tell them it’s Free Food!      

 Once located and you’ve asked permission,  just break off the shoots  (harvest until they’re 3-4 feet high), cut into manageable pieces, then steam as you would asparagus.  Tastes like lemony asparagus – good over warm rice.

 Knotweed contains Resveratol, which is the ingredient good for you in grapes and wine.   No need to drink alcohol to stay healthy!  I freeze lots of this “False Bamboo” for winter soups.

 Knotweed grows to 8’-12’ high each summer and leaves tall, hollow stalks over winter.  Must be some use for them.  Whistles?  Fifes?  Native bee houses? 

 More on Free Food as the plants awaken from their winter sleep.   

 Birds, bees, other wildlife – your children, pets, neighborhood children and pets – and you – are all easily sickened, even direly, by pesticides and herbicides.  These poisons are never safe to use.  It’s against federal law for anyone to claim they’re safe, even when used as directed.      

 Whatever substances you put on the ground seep into the soil and down into the water table.  No one wants poisons in our drinking water.

 If you let your grass to grow to about 6”, you may find more good, free, edible, healthy green foods.    

 If Red Clover grows in your yard, you can snack on some of its blossoms; they’re said by herbal books to help prevent cancer.  But you won’t get them unless you let your lawn grow taller than usual.    

 If you mow, it’s best to mow down to only 3”, not 1” as some do.  There needs to be enough green grass to photosynthesize food for the grasses’ roots. 

 I don’t mow.  I just clip paths around my house, thus wild flowers bloom all season.   However, people living in town usually prefer, or are forced by law to have, a neater yard than mine. 

 If you keep your grass relatively tall, your lawn will be lush and beautiful all season, while others will brown up and look ugly in late summer and fall.    

Clean, natural food from your raised-bed garden, and a thick, soft, natural lawn – all with no pesticides or other poisons – will save you lots of money, add beauty, and help you lead a long, healthy life.