Fresh greens are a favorite of mine, I like them fresh as in immediately after cutting. More than any other food, greens are something I am more likely to eat wild than domestic. No need to worry about Monsanto here, folks, because wild greens are not on their radar… yet.
I have a local wild mustard that I tasted my first year here. It is clean and mild with a tiny mustard bite. Really first rate on sandwiches. My first winter I brought herb pots into the kitchen window and they were soon sprouting the same little mustard plants I had eaten during the spring. These are not cultivated mustard, so no GMO or landrace species. They are wild.
Every place I have lived had wild mustards that I ate as greens, these are the first that moved into the house with me. They are welcome in my home. As they sprout up in the warmth of my sputh facing kitchen window, I don’t weed them out of my pots so much as eat the thinnings. I pull most out when they get about 4 inches tall. I leave one per pot that matures, flowers, and sets seed. I make sure the seeds drop back into the pot. They just keep coming up all winter.
The plants themselves are no more than 12 inches tall, lacy, with sweet white blooms. They are endless microgreens with no work or expense. Taste test your local varieties and see which you prefer.
Amaranth is another wild seed that I collected my first year and have used all winter to grow microgreens. Between me collecting a 5 gallon bucket of seed heads and the Juniper berries not showing, the birds were on the ground eating Amaranth seeds all winter, and Amaranth were thin on the ground last summer. I ate leaves from them but gave seed collection a rest. I hope this year is prolific.
The best tasting greens are wild violets. The kind that are considered a lawn weed in the United States. I can’t imagine why Americans do endless chemical battle against these little flowers. I transplant mine to shady flower beds and let them make a thick green ground cover under shrubs where nothing grows. Then I eat them. Although I have always eaten wild greens, wild violets are the ones that had me finally give up trying to grow lettuce in Texas heat. Violets are year round greens in Dallas, with no expense and no work.
Another tasty wild green is Lamb’s Quarters. A friend donated them to me from her garden. I barely got them home before a deer walked by and ate them to the ground. They managed to recover enough to scatter seeds. I had enough for greens last summer, but let all the seeds scatter again. This summer will give an abundance. I eat Lamb’s Quarters in salads, but it is my favorite green for stir fry. It comes out perfect when briefly sautéed with green onions and served with meat. Of all my wild greens, it is the most versatile.
Instead of recommending you eat the wild greens I do, I suggest you identify those pesky weeds that grow around your own home. Go to Plants for a Future and check edibility. Taste test. All the Chenopodiums are excellent, but you may be collecting dandelion greens before long. Wish I had them here, I could make dandelion wine as well. Dandelion greens are a late winter delight, but get bitter tasting later in the year. My favorites are good anytime. Not that I haven’t eaten dandelions, who can resist the early ones?
I ordered Quinoa seeds this week. They are a Chenopodium species like Amaranth. Quinoa is from the Andes mountains and both seeds and greens have been eaten for millenia. I will treat them as a landrace seed and plant right before monsoons start.
Of garden seeds, I find Cherry Bell radishes quick and easy for microgreens inside. I have a 10 inch pot and grow radish greens. Instead of eating at the sprout stage, I let them get about 4 inches tall. Never eat radish greens from the store, they are nasty. I reseed the radishes every week and have them all winter. Come spring I will plant outside and let them go to seed instead of buying seed from Monsanto.
Any plant that has edible greens is easy to sprout and grow into microgreens. I have grown many of them but now mostly grow wild greens inside and outside. They require no care in the garden. I have mine growing in my wildflower beds, which are extensive. Amaranth makes a lovely structural plant behind a flush of Mexican Hats. The greens on Mexican Hats are edible. So far I just nibble them in the garden.