Today I planted about 50 Ditch Lilies, also known as wild daylilies. They aren’t really wild, but have naturalized here in the US.
The photo shows both the roots and tubers on the plant. The tubers are food and water storehouses for the plant and are very nutritious and tasty. This shipped in a box and the leaves are a bit blanched. I ate one as I was planting and it was sweet and delicate, perfection. I will remember to blanch a few in mid summer.
After shallowly planting all the daylilies, I tossed out two packets of heirloom Alaska garden peas. At this time, there is plenty of room, and the peas will enrich the soil all around the daylilies. I will have a second crop from this space, and as the peas die back, I will bury them in place for further nutrition. I brought another bucket of soil and buried both the peas and the daylilies.
Tomorrow morning I will clip all the delicately blanched daylily leaves for lunch.
This photo is taken after the peas were lightly covered. I expect rain (or is that New Mexico wishful thinking) tonight and will be delighted if it falls down free to me. Once moist, I will mix radish and carrot seeds and sprinkle over the top. Last, I will sprinkle a bit more fine dirt on top of those seeds.
Ditch Lily greens are best in the spring, and cutting them doesn’t seem to hurt the plant. They are best under 6 inches before they get fibrous. The tubers are best before blooming starts. These have already started new shoots as well. I planted them pretty close together, too close for a flower bed, but just right for harvesting as an edible. I will transfer to other spots and hope for a good colony. When Ditch Lilies start blooming, I harvest the flower buds. I eat them as a snack raw, but they are fantastic in a vegetable stir fry. The open flowers taste good floating in a soup broth, and can be chopped and scrampled with eggs. If you let the flower wilt before you harvest, dry it and use as a thickener.
The common daylily is called Ditch Lily rather disrespectfully, but I find its big orange blooms gorgeous and its flavor better than the “improved” varieties. I am guessing that the old common variety was prized as both food and a medicinal, and the new varieties for bloom only, and like overbred roses losing scent, overbred daylilies have lost taste.
Ditch Lilies taste a bit like garden peas, although they are not related.
Although I grow radishes, carrots, peas, and so on, I especially love my edible perennials. No muss, no fuss. Beauty, ease, and nutrition. They keep multiplying, so share with friends. I kept a few out for my friend in Albuquerque who always donates compost to my garden. She is quite adventurous and may have a new addition to her vegetable garden, the humblest of daylilies, Ditch Lily.