Edible weed seeds

16 common edible weeds growing in your yard… with recipes!

Perhaps the simplest definition of a weed is a plant growing in a place where a human doesn’t want it.

Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

In practical terms, weeds are often non-grass species of plants growing in a lawn where grass is the only plant desired. What a shame!

Pickled wild garlic (Allium vineale). Wild garlic is a common weed found in lawns throughout the US.

Personally, we retract in horror when we see an all-grass lawn. Why?

We think grass lawns are one of the most absurd, ecologically rapacious landscape designs imaginable. Rather than use space in this article ranting about all-grass lawns, you can read our musings on this subject here: The new American lawn: monoculture grass farm or organic food farm.

Are weeds edible?

Many common weeds are edible. Other weeds are edible (and maybe even medicinal) but they don’t taste good. Still other weeds are poisonous.

Thus, learning is required before you start eating wild plants…

Before you become a weed eater (ha), a few warnings:

We strongly encourage you to read our article Beginner’s guide to foraging, 12 rules to follow. Perhaps the two most important rules to follow when it comes to eating weeds is:

  1. Always make 100% certain you’ve correctly ID’d the plant and you’re 100% certain it’s edible.
  2. Be 100% certain that the plant has not been sprayed by herbicides or other biocides.
Not all edible weeds are worth eating

In this article, we’re not going to outline all the edible plants that you’re likely to find in your yard. For instance, you can technically eat grass and clover, but they’re not very tasty. You can make and eat acorn flour, but oak trees aren’t a “weed.”

Instead, we’ll do our best to identify a list of the most common and useful edible weeds that you’re likely to have growing in your yard at some point during the year.

16 common edible weeds growing in your yard

The common edible weeds below are listed alphabetically:

Edible weed #1. Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

Hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is neither harry nor bitter. It’s texture is smooth and it has a pleasant, mustardy flavor.

Bittercress edible parts/uses:

The leaves, flowers, and seeds of bittercress are all edible.

Bittercress is a dainty, cold weather plant that tastes like a mustard green (it’s in the same plant family as mustard). We often use it as a garnish or in mixed green winter salads.

Bittercress recipes:
Bittercress range:

Bittercress is common in warm-mild states throughout the US. Bittercress is absent only in the coldest, northernmost states.

Bittercress harvest/growing season:

Bittercress grows from fall-spring, going to seed as soon as the weather warms in the spring.

Edible weed #2. Chickweed (Stellaria media)

A handful of late winter chickweed. Chickweed is also one of our ducks’ absolute favorite greens, yet another reason we love this edible weed.

Chickweed edible parts/uses:

The leaves, stems, flowers, and seeds of chickweed plants are edible. (See: How to identify and eat chickweed.)

Chickweed leaves taste like corn silk. Chickweed is one of our favorite edible weeds, because: 1) our ducks enjoy it even more than we do, 2) it grows in dense, lush patches which makes harvesting large quantities of chickweed easy.

Chickweed recipes:
Chickweed range:

Chickweed grows in every US state.

Chickweed harvest/growing season:

Chickweed thrives in cool-cold weather. It grows from fall – spring in our area (Zone 7b), seeding out and dying as the weather warms in late spring.

Edible weed #3. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale and Taraxacum erythrospermum)

A syrphid fly foraging a dandelion flower.

Dandelion edible parts/uses:

Every part of the dandelion plant is edible: leaves, flowers, and roots.

  • Leaves – Dandelion is a nutritional powerhouse, but many people object to its bitter-flavored leaves. For best taste, pick the leaves when the plant is still young and before it begins producing flowers. Rather than eating an entire dish of dandelion leaves, use them as an accent. For instance, add them to a soup. Or use the leaves in a mixed green salad with a honey-vinaigrette dressing.
  • Flowers – Dandelion flowers are used to make wines and jellies.
  • Roots – Dandelion roots are typically used to make a tea, due to its medicinal benefits.
Dandelion recipes:
    (we’re dying to making this)
Dandelion range:

Dandelion grows in every US state.

Dandelion harvest/growing season:

Dandelion greens/leaves are best harvested in late winter-early spring before the plant blooms. Flowers are harvested spring – summer. Roots can be harvested any time.

Edible weed #4. Dead-nettle (Lamium purpureum)

Young dead nettle in one of our rock walls. The leaves on young dead nettle plants are green. They don’t begin to blush purple until they mature.

Dead-nettle edible parts/uses:

The leaves, stems, and flowers of purple dead-nettle plants are edible.

Dead-nettle leaves and flowers have a grassy, slightly mushroomy taste, although the flowers’ nectaries add a bit of sweet. Use dead-nettle in mixed-green salads or in dishes that call for cooked greens.

Dead-nettle recipes:
Dead-nettle range:

Dead-nettle grows in all but a handful of US states. (Only the driest hottest southwestern and the driest coldest northwestern states are absent of dead-nettle.)

Dead-nettle harvest/growing season:

Dead-nettle is a cool weather plant that emerges and blooms as soon as the ground thaws in late winter through early spring. It’s a great source of food for early-emerging pollinators as well.

Edible weed #5. Dock (Rumex crispus – curly dock and Rumex obtusifolius – broad-leaved dock)

Curly-leafed dock (Rumex crispus).

Dock edible parts/uses:

The leaves of dock plants are edible.

Though dock’s large taproots look like they’d be edible, they’re unpleasantly bitter and fibrous. The roots are used medicinally, but not for culinary purposes.

In our area, dock can grow into an enormous plant. Above ground leaves stretch to 2′ tall and parsnip-like tap roots grow over 3′ deep, especially when growing in rich soil.

Dock recipes:
    (Greek-style stuffed leaves)
Dock range:

Dock can be found in nearly every US state.

Dock harvest/growing season:

Dock is best harvested in cool/cold weather. The leaves have a mild, tangy-spinach flavor when the weather is still cold. As the weather warms and the plant begins growing quickly/producing a flower stalk, the leaves become more bitter and fibrous.

Edible weed #6. Henbit (Lamium amplexicaule)

It’s late April, so the henbit in our area is pretty much gone when this photo was taken. This patch isn’t in great shape but you can still see the leaf shape, flower color/structure, and square stem.

Edible parts/uses:

Henbit leaves, stems, and flowers are edible. Henbit is in the mint family, but doesn’t taste at all like mint. It’s closely related to dead-nettle (#4 on this list).

Henbit offers a similar taste to dead-nettle: grassy and mushroomy. In other areas of the country, people describe henbit’s flavor as having notes of celery and pepper. Perhaps our henbit’s flavor is different due to our particular subspecies or terroir.

Henbit recipes:
  • substitute henbit in dead-nettle recipes from #4 on this list
  • add henbit leaves and flowers to mixed green salads
Range:

Henbit grows in every US state.

Harvest/growing season:

Henbit is one of the earliest plants to flower in late winter – early spring, depending on where you live. For us, henbit is at peak from February – March, and gone by April.

Edible weed #7. Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)

Japanese honeysuckle flowers. My mom lives on the coast in Mt. Pleasant, SC, a much warmer climate zone than where we live at the base of the mountains in Greenville, SC. Mom always makes sure to send me pictures of her garden and foraging hauls, which helps to rub in the fact that she gets earlier harvests than we do. She’s making our sparkling honeysuckle cordial recipe with these flowers (see recipe below).

Japanese honeysuckle edible parts/uses:

The flowers are the only edible part of Japanese honeysuckle plants. Honeysuckle nectar tastes every bit as good as the flowers smell.

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Hopefully, you have childhood memories of slurping drops of nectar off of the pulled stamens of honeysuckle flowers. If not, you should be angry at your parents for making you miss out on this essential childhood rite.

We’ve got good news: as an adult, you can now easily capture the exquisite flavor of honeysuckle with our honeysuckle flower cordial recipe below.

Recipe: Sparkling honeysuckle cordial
  • Honeysuckle flowers, organic cane sugar, water (preferably non-chlorinated), citric acid (or lemon juice)
  • Gather a bunch of honeysuckle flowers, doing your best to keep the whole flower intact.
  • Measure the quantity of lightly packed honeysuckle flowers (for instance 1 cup), then place flowers in glass jar/container.
  • For each cup of honeysuckle flowers, add 1 cup sugar, 3 cups water, and 1 teaspoon citric acid. (Substitute a couple tablespoons lemon juice if you don’t have citric acid.)
  • Cover the jar with a paper towel or cheese cloth, held in place with a rubber band or string.
  • Vigorously stir the concoction at least twice per day with a spoon.
  • After 5-7 days, the mixture will be bubbly/effervescent and the flowers will have released all their honeysuckle flavor. Strain off flowers.
  • It’s now up to you as to when to stop the fermentation process. For a sweeter honeysuckle cordial, store in bottles in fridge immediately after straining. For a “dryer” (less sweet) honeysuckle cordial, continue to stir daily for up to 10-14 days so more of the sugar will be consumed.
  • Once bottled and refrigerated, honeysuckle cordial can last for up to 1 year. Don’t store bottles out of the fridge or the bottles can explode (refrigeration keeps the cultures dormant which reduces CO2 production).
Japanese honeysuckle range:

Japanese honeysuckle is considered an invasive plant. It has now spread to all US states with the exception of some states in the northwest and midwest.

Japanese honeysuckle harvest/growing season:

Harvest honeysuckle flowers from spring through summer. Due to the plant’s invasive growth habit, consider removing honeysuckle from your yard to prevent its spread and forage the flowers elsewhere.

Edible weed #8. Lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album and Chenopodium berlandieri)

Lamb’s quarters about to be made into pesto. Lamb’s quarters may be my favorite edible weed since it’s a summer green that produces large quantities of leaves on giant plants.

Lamb’s quarters edible parts/uses:

All parts of the lamb’s quarter are edible: leaves, seeds, and flower shoots.

Closely related to quinoa, lamb’s quarters were one of the most important Native American crops. They’re highly nutrient-rich, offer flavorful greens in the middle of the summer when most leafy greens have long since disappeared, and produce a protein-rich seed/pseudocereal harvest as well.

Lamb’s quarter leaves taste like nutty spinach. Another great feature is the plant’s size: we’ve had lamb’s quarters plants grow over 6′ tall!

Lamb’s quarters recipes:
  • use lamb’s quarters leaves as a substitute in any spinach recipe
Lamb’s quarters range:

Lamb’s quarters grow in every US state except for Hawaii.

Lamb’s quarters harvest/growing season:

Lamb’s quarters grow in the warm months from spring – summer, before going to seed in late summer/early fall. Place a bag over the mature wind-pollinated seed heads if you want to harvest their seeds.

Edible weed #9. Pigweed Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.)

Pigweed amaranth edible parts/uses:

All parts of pigweed amaranth are edible: leaves, flower shoots, and seeds.

It seems only fitting that pigweed amaranth be next on the edible weed list after lamb’s quarters. Both plants are in the Amaranthaceae family, both were important Native American crops, and both are hated by modern US farmers.

In fact, farmers’ and pesticide companies’ attempts to eradicate pigweed has taken quite an environmental and economic toll. After decades of chemical and biological warfare, pigweed is now resistant to virtually every type and combination of herbicide that has been thrown at it, from dicamba to glyphosate to 2,4-D.

While we certainly empathize with farmers trying to make a profit, one has to scratch their heads at the wisdom of poisoning entire ecosystems in order to kill a traditional food crop that develops resistance to whatever poison you throw at it in order to plant a different food crop (or cotton).

In your home landscape, we’d encourage you to eat your pigweed amaranth weeds, rather than poisoning them (and yourself).

Pigweed amaranth recipes:
  • use young tender pigweed leaves as a salad green
  • use older pigweed leaves as substitute for spinach in cooked/baked recipes
Pigweed amaranth range:

There are dozens of species of pigweed amaranth, varying by region. Pigweed can be found in every US state.

Pigweed amaranth harvest/growing season:

Like lamb’s quarters, pigweed is a warm weather crop. Raw leaves are best eaten young and tender; older leaves are better cooked. Pigweed flower shoots can be sautéed or stir-fried. Pigweed seeds can be harvested by either cutting entire plant and hanging it upside down over a bucket or placing bags over the mature seed heads. 

Edible weed #10. Plantain (Plantago spp.)

A young narrowleaf plantain plant breaking dormancy in late winter.

Plantain edible parts/uses:

Plantain produces edible leaves and flower/seed heads. The leaves have a strong “greens” flavor and are best eaten young. The flower/seed heads have a pleasant mushroom-like flavor and should be eaten when they’re young for best flavor and texture.

The most common wild plantains are narrowleaf plantain (Plantago lanceolata) and broadleaf plantain (Plantago major). Both produce edible leaves and flower/seed heads. Both species grow wild in our yard.

The best plantain for culinary purposes is ‘Buck’s horn’ (Plantago coronopus), which we also grow in our garden.

Buckshorn plantain leaves and edible flower head.

Another great benefit of plantains: nothing works better to dull the pain of a fire ant or bee sting (at least for The Tyrant and me). We chew up a plantain leaf and plop it on the sting. The pain subsides almost instantly.

Plantain recipes:
Plantain range:

Plantain (Plantago spp) can be found in every US state.

Plantain harvest/growing season:

Plantain offers the best flavor in cool – cold weather from fall through spring. Our wild plantain usually dies back to the ground after heavy freezes, then re-emerges in the spring. Our domesticated ‘buckshorn’ plantain grows straight through our relatively mild winters, even without cover/low tunnels.

Seed shoots emerge as the weather warms in late winter through spring, and should be harvested while still firm and dense.

Edible weed #11. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Purslane edible parts/uses:

The leaves, flowers, and seeds of purslane are edible. Purslane doesn’t pack a ton of flavor, but the flavor is mild and pleasant, not unlike lettuce. Purslane is a succulent, so it adds wonderful texture to various raw dishes (our favorite way to eat purslane is raw).

Like grass-fed beef and eggs from truly free-range ducks/chickens, purslane packs a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane is also very high in Vitamins E and C.

Chickens purportedly love purslane. Our ducks, unfortunately, don’t seem to care for it. More for us.

Purslane recipes:
Purslane range:

Purslane can be found in every US state.

Purslane harvest/growing season:

Purslane thrives in poor soil. One of the unfortunate side effects of building our soil health over the years is that many edible weeds that grow in poor/degraded soil (like purslane) no longer grow in our yard, so we have to forage them.

Purslane seeds germinate in the spring and the leaves and flowers can be harvested vigorously throughout the summer.

Edible weed #12. Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

Sheep sorrel leaves have a distinctive arrowhead shape. Domesticated garden sorrel produces much larger leaves.

Sheep sorrel edible parts/uses:

Sheep sorrel leaves, stems, and flower shoots are edible. Sheep sorrel tastes like lemons and can even be used to make “lemon pies.” When I was a kid, I loved chewing on the young flower stems of sheep sorrel, which also impart a nice lemony flavor.

Like many other edible plants, sheep sorrel has high concentrations of oxalic acid, so people with kidney conditions should avoid eating large quantities of it at once.

As you may have noticed from its scientific name, sheep sorrel is closely related to dock (#5 on this edible weeds list) in the Rumex genus. We love sheep sorrel (and related garden sorrel) so much, that we have another article all about how to grow and use sorrel.

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Sheep sorrel recipes:
Sheep sorrel range:

Sheep sorrel grows in every US state.

Sheep sorrel harvest/growing season:

Sheep sorrel goes dormant in the winter and bounces to life in the spring, spreading rapidly via underground runners and seeds. The leaves are best harvested in the late winter – spring before the plants produce flower stalks.

Sheep sorrel stems are best eaten when they’re still young and tender and can be pinched off with your fingernails. Older stems are more fibrous and can’t easily be snapped off by hand – at this stage they’re not very good for eating.

Edible weed #13. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging nettle growing in late winter at Tyrant Farms, the perfect time to harvest.

Stinging nettle edible parts/uses:

The young leaves and growth shoots of stinging nettle are edible.

Stinging nettle is the bane of many hikers and outdoor enthusiasts’ existence. Yes, it packs a painful sting, but it’s also a delicious high protein superfood that’s loaded with nutrition.

Once cooked or fermented, stinging nettle loses its stinging ability and becomes a delicious vegetable. Pulverizing raw stinging nettle in a blender with citrus juice also neutralizes the sting (even without cooking it).

We love stinging nettle so much, we intentionally planted this fast-growing “weed” into a section of our garden where it can’t easily escape. Read: Why and how to grow stinging nettle in your garden.

Stinging nettle recipes:
Stinging nettle range:

Stinging nettle can be found in every state except for Hawaii.

Stinging nettle harvest/growing season:

Stinging nettle is one of the first plants to break dormancy once the ground thaws in winter/spring. You can harvest stinging nettle aggressively from the time it emerges until warm weather triggers the plant to go to seed.

Tender young leaves and growth tips (including tender new stems) are best.

Edible weed #14. Thistle (Cirsium horridulum and others)

Thistle edible parts/uses:

The roots, leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds of most thistle species are edible.

There are dozens of species of thistle, but farmers and ranchers tend to hate them all. Most homeowners with manicured lawns hate thistle too.

Did you know that artichokes (bred for their edible flower buds) and cardoons (bred for their edible stems) are types of thistle? Or that seeds from the milk thistle plant make a delicious tea that has been used to treat liver conditions?

A veterinary pharmacist we met told us, “I’ve seen animals on the brink of total liver failure come back after addition of supportive therapy and milk thistle.” Silymarin is the primary flavonoid in milk thistle seeds believed to offer medicinal benefits.

While some thistle species are better than others for eating, chances are the thistle growing in your yard has multiple edible parts — and potentially even medicinal benefits. Another thistle benefit: there are about 60 species native to the US and pollinators LOVE their gorgeous, nectar and pollen-rich flowers.

Thistle recipes:
  • Milk thistle seed tea: grind ~1 tablespoon of milk thistle seeds; let powdered seeds steep in near-boiling water for 5-10 minutes; strain, sweeten and serve.
  • Recipes for other parts of the milk thistle plant can be found here
Thistle range:

There are species of thistle found in every US state.

Thistle harvest/growing season:

Thistle emerges from seed as soon as the ground thaws and produces tall flower stalks with gorgeous showy pink flowers from spring – summer. Thistle plants are very spiny, so wear thick gloves when harvesting or processing the plant.

  • Thistle roots can be dug and roasted.
  • The midrib of younger thistle leaves is best; compost the spiny outer edges.
  • Thistle flowers make great sun teas and ferments.
  • The centers of young thistle stems taste like cardoons.
  • Thistle seeds are ground and made into delicious teas that taste creamy and nutty.

Edible weed #15. Wild garlic (Allium vineale)

Cleaned wild garlic ready for the kitchen.

Wild garlic edible parts/uses:

The bulbs, leaves, bulbils, and flowers of wild garlic are edible.

Wild garlic grows prolifically in the southeastern US where we live. It looks similar to wild onion, aka Canada onion (Allium canadense) which also grows in most of the US. Not surprisingly, wild garlic tastes more like garlic whereas wild onions taste more like… (you guessed it) onions.

We like pickled wild garlic bulbs and pickled wild garlic bulbils (the bulbils make an exotic and beautiful garnish). Wild garlic also makes an excellent addition to soups, stocks, stews, and other savory cooked dishes.

Wild garlic recipes:
  • Pickled wild garlic – Dig or pull wild garlic bulbs. Clean thoroughly and remove roots. Place in jar with your favorite brine recipe, then refrigerate. Let sit for at least one month before eating for best flavor/texture. (gnocchi-like dumplings)
  • Chop and add wild garlic bulbs and leaves with any wild mushrooms (like morels – yum!)
Wild garlic range:

Wild garlic grows in the eastern and western US. There’s a band of states in the middle of the country, from the Dakotas down to Texas, where wild garlic is seldom if ever found.

Wild garlic harvest/growing season:

Wild garlic grows year round in our area. The bulbs are best dug in either late winter (before the plant has started putting energy into leaf growth) or fall (after a full growing season). The leaves can be eaten any time. Wild garlic bulbils/flowers can be harvested in spring.

Edible weed #16. Wood sorrel (Oxalis spp.)

Wood sorrel shoot with flowers. A gorgeous edible weed that tastes like lemons!

Wood sorrel edible parts/uses:

The leaves and flowers of wood sorrel are edible.

Wood sorrel looks very similar to clover. It shares a common name with sheep sorrel and garden sorrel, and it even has the same lemony flavor. However, wood sorrel is not closely related to either of these plants.

There are innumerable species of wood sorrel in our bioregion alone, and they come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. We see wood sorrel with multicolored leaves. We see it with pink leaves and yellow leaves; small, dainty plant habits and mounding plant habits.

Regardless of how it grows, it makes a Vitamin-C packed edible plant with a distinctly citrusy flavor. It’s also a stunningly beautiful garnish that gourmet chefs should pay more attention to.

Wood sorrel recipes:
Wood sorrel range:

Wood sorrel grows in every US state.

Wood sorrel harvest/growing season:

Wood sorrel is dormant in the winter, but abundant in all other seasons.

Foraging books and more weed recipes

Want to take your foraging and weed-eating game to the next level? Get loads of great recipes and wild ideas about how to eat wild food?

Good recipe and foraging books if you want to make “eating the weeds” a regular part of your life.

Here are a few great books we recommend you add to your collection:

    by Mia Wasilevich; by Pascal Baudar; by Rob Connoley by Marie Viljoen

Lastly, we hope our list of 16 edible weeds will have you looking at your yard the same way you look at a produce section in the grocery store.

Even if you’re not an intentional gardener, chances are your yard is full of wild edible plants — assuming you don’t treat your landscape like a chemical warfare battlefield. Once you learn to identify your edible weeds, you’ll be able to incorporate loads of new veggies into your seasonal diet!

Edible Wild Plants

Wild vegetables are simply edible wild plants. These so-called wild vegetables often have an intense aroma and are rich in valuable ingredients. Many of these plants can be found growing as ‘weeds’ in the wild, in fields and wastelands.

Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum)
Milk thistle, cardus marianus (Silybum marianum) organic
Opposite-leaved saltwort ‘Barba Di Frate’ (Salsola soda)
Buck’s horn plantain, minutina (Plantago coronopus)
Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa ssp. sylvestris)
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)
Water cress (Nasturtium officinale)
Spignel (Meum athamanticum)
Oyster-leaf (Mertensia maritima) seeds
Hoary Stock (Matthiola incana)
Wood avens (Geum urbanum)
Wild Wall-Rocket (Diplotaxis muralis)
Wild Carrot (Daucus carota ssp. carota)
Sea kale (Crambe maritima)
Scurvy grass (Cochlearia officinalis)
Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)
Root Chervil (Chaerophyllum bulbosum)
Red valerian (Centranthus ruber)
Winter Cress / Yellow Rocket (Barbarea vulgaris)
Green asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

It can be particularly successful to grow wild vegetables in the garden, because these plants often develop unexpectedly well under culture conditions. From an ethnobotanical perspective, wild vegetables are very interesting, as many of those species have been previously been cultivated and then forgotten and reintroduced into the wild.

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Edibles for Emergencies: Seeds, Wild Greens & Eating the Weeds

In light of COVID19, we are witnessing an unprecedented interest in local supply chains, food security, health & wellness, and immunity. People want to take action, but where to begin?! In this article, we will explore how to transform our surroundings into a resilient edible ecosystem bursting with superfoods. To feed ourselves, and our family when we need it most. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait long to start harvesting: we can start seeds, eat the weeds, and harvest wild greens. This will mark the first in series about edible landscaping and emergency situations.

Yesterday marked the Vernal Equinox, the welcoming Spring, along with equal hours of daytime and night. This is the cusp of spring and winter, with equal darkness and light. In many ways, this parallels our current global situation: while there is great fear present, there is as much to give us faith! Important conversations are happening everywhere, and we are all being given an opportunity to pause and reflect on what really matters. While humans take a break from “business as usual”, nature is springing to life and filling this empty space. Dolphins and swans have returned to the canals of Venice. Smoke has cleared, and once polluted skies are now again blue. Families are spending time together in the sun. Passion projects are given energy and life. This is a once in a lifetime event on a global scale. Life will never be the same again, and maybe, just maybe, this is the beginning of the end of a long dark “winter” for humanity. Is this the first glimpses of “spring”? What is emerging from within this emergency? This is a choice point. We have the power to choose and respond how we move forward from here. The growing light is beckoning us to tend the earth, plant seeds, and work together with the forces of nature!

“Life does not accommodate you; it shatters you. Every seed destroys its container, or else there would be no fruition.” – Florida Scott-Maxwell

We are being called to transformation. As we move from the darkness into the light, winter into spring, we must protect and care for what is growing. We must care for our little seeds! We usually experience wild weather swings throughout the month, one day being balmy and warm, the next threatening snow. These are tumultuous times, for the plants as well! It’s important to protect seedlings and tender plants all throughout March, because you never really know what the weather will bring. In any case, with a little care, you could be harvesting very soon! If you get started with sprouting, you could be harvesting in a matter of days. In times of emergency, this means everything.

Sprouting – Grow Your Own Food (Fast)

Growing your own food can be quick and easy, and you don’t even need a garden! Sprouting is the easiest way to start seeds, and you can skip planting, and go straight to harvest. Sprouting seeds are a great non-perishable food item for emergencies, are lightweight for transportation, can easily be stockpiled (in a cool, dry place away protected from pests), and are bursting with high-density nutrients that feed the body and boost the immune system.

Link: 10 Best Benefits of Sprouts:

Link: How to Start Seeds in a Jar:

Link: Buy Organic, Non-GMO Sprouting Seeds:

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Starting Seeds – Step-by-Step

Starting seeds successfully is one of the most rewarding and uplifting tasks in the garden. Unsuccessfully starting seeds is easily one of the most frustrating experiences, and to avoid this disappointment, it is important to follow best practices. Below you will find some principles and practices to get you started.

Step 1: Take inventory. What seeds do you have? What seeds do your neighbours, friends and family have? Purchase or trade locally if possible, or order online. Take inventory & choose what you can/want to grow. If you don’t have seeds, here are some links to a few of our favourite recommendations:

Seeds of Change – Quick Growers Collection (for short growing seasons and quick harvests)

Salt Spring Seeds – Heritage & Heirloom Organic Seeds:

Richters Herbs – Medicinal, Culinary & Aromatic Seeds & Plants

West Coast Seeds:

Step 2: Make a plan. Create a personal planting calendar. If you’re not sure what to start and when, check out the links below:

West Coast Seeds Planting Chart (Canada):

Step 3: Choose how much to grow. How much space do you have? What are the dimensions of your plot? Grow a bit extra to offset losses, you can always give some away if you have too much. Seedlings make a great gift/trade. Use the crop planning chart below to help estimate how many seeds you’ll need:

Step 4: Use clean pots/trays with good drainage to prevent disease.

Step 5: Fill pots/trays with a high quality organic potting mix, and/or prepare a seeding bed outdoors with good, fluffy soil tilth. Those little seedlings are strong for their size, but clumps of soil or clay will make their lives more difficult than necessary.

Step 6: Label your seedling as you are planting them! Forgetting is far too easy, so label them as you go, with name/date.

Step 7: Double check you are planting your seeds at the right time. Timing is everything! Don’t start too late or too early. You want to make sure there is a smooth transition into transplanting. Consult your planting calender and read on the seed packages to confirm. Follow the other directions on the package!

Step 8: Fill containers with potting mix, and when planting seeds, cover the seeds with soil 3x the width of the seed.

Step 9: Gently and evenly water the soil. Using a spray bottle can help.

Step 10: Encourage germination by keeping the seedlings warm with a plastic cover. You can also use a heating pad to encourage sprouting.

Step 11: When the seed has sprouted, ease off on the watering, let the soil dry out before watering again, and remove plastic covers to prevent moisture related diseases. Delicately stir the soil around the seedling with a toothpick or fork to increase aeration and maintain soil health. Most trouble with starting seeds is because of dampness and stagnancy, in the soil or in the air.

Step 12: If you have been heating the seedlings, remove the heat at this time.

Step 13: Keep the air moving! If in a cold frame, keep the lid open, and vent greenhouses.. Use a gentle fan for indoor plants. Once again, dampness and stagnancy kills seedlings!

Step 14: Harden your starts off slowly, exposing them to gradually to the outdoors over four or five days. On a sunny warm day, place the starts in full shade, and bring them in at night. For the next few days, leave the starts in dappled shade, gradually increasing exposure to the sun, leading up to several hours in direct sun on the third day. On the fourth day, plant the starts in their final location, ensuring plenty of watering. Some starts may benefit from a light shade cloth while they recover, so keep a close eye on those little plant babies!