I've been working on my program for the Madison, Wisconsin Herb Society, April 24, "Eat Your Landscape." For that program I'll focus on some of the surprising landscape plants useful for food, as well as a few native plants. I'll also put in a pitch for not using chemicals on the lawn. What good is an entire lawn of just boring, green grass, when all it does is cost you money for chemicals, and time mowing?
To the pot of greens, you can add some dock, seen below with the long, narrow leaves. Add that along with violet leaves. The flavor just gets better, the more you add. Dock should be picked when young, before it gets tough. The smaller, younger leaves are the best to use.
Then the dandelion, which isn't native to the U.S., but escaped here 2 or more centuries ago. An incredible wine can be made from the flowers, and I've described it as, "liquid sunshine." I gather the young leaves and add them to the greens pot, or to any of several dishes.
Here's a recipe.
Then there are violets, the source for violet freezer jam I wrote about in the previous post. Whether it's the one pictured here, called, "Freckles" or the regular wild purple violets, the leaves are good enough to eat, too. Same uses as the plants above, greens, omelettes, quiches, pick the tenderest leaves and flowers for adding fresh to salads.
So there you have it, all the food from my lawn, all of which would not exist if I sprayed the lawn with chemicals that kill everything that isn't grass. I'll gather enough for several dishes before these helpful wildflowers are gone for the year. They justify their existence quite nicely, require no maintenance, and cost nothing to tend. All I have to do is look out the breakfast window at the lawn and be grateful for a non-perfect, wonderfully edible yard.
In my opinion, the very best field guide to edible wild plants, and the recipes for using them, is still Billy Joe Tatum's Wild Foods Field Guide and Cookbook. You can still find copies here.
Save money and chemicals, let your lawn go native this year and you will be rewarded with something other than boring, green grass. Free meals and a beautiful, natural lawn. Happy gardening!