Sunday, June 10, 2007

Garden grazing

In the previous post, I mention the greenhouse surprise of non-stop chickweed. This is what it looked like up close. You can detect broccoli plants adrift in this sea of chickweed. This truly is a stellar crop. Sorry, couldn't resist the pun on stellaria, fancy name for chickweed. When they blossom, hundreds of tiny white stars appear, hence the name. This photo by
Patrick J. Alexander captures stellaria's namesake flower and it's perfect symettry.

At the time of my last post, that is mainly what my little greenhouse was growing-chickweed. A grow- it-themselves frenzy of green. Left to their own devices, Stellaria plants will climb up fences and buildings, and grow where no plant dares to go, like under the cottonwood tree out back that shades out everything.

I made a power drink by pulling up these very chickweed plants and stuffing my blender full. I just added some water and tamari. Yum. Talk about turbo-powered. Funny how world class nutrition thrives in the forgotten places, the unplanted wastelands, the gravel byway where someone threw their used motor oil, around fence posts, garbage bins and telephone poles.

The alleys and fence rows are currently full of lamb's quarters ripe for the picking at about 12-18 inches. They have big arrow shaped leaves that are slightly fuzzy. Their appearance doesn't do justice to the succulent feast contained therein. They are much better eating than cooked spinach, in my book. I steam them in a little bit of water. Later in the season, when they're bitter, I boil them in a lot of water. Lamb's quarters are particularly partial to growing around telephone poles on this side of town.

After I peeled the greenhouse off the garden, those broccoli, lettuce, and onion plants started to take off. To that I added more lettuce seed, peas, both sugar snap and edible pod, a couple tomato plants and pansies.You can see me standing behind broccoli surrounded by lettuce, both Simpson Seedless and Red. With all that rain the past few days, the broccoli really shot up. The white backboard to the former greenhouse will hopefully be covered with scarlet runner beans sometime in the next month or so.

Yep. It looks like the grazing has moved from the alley into the garden.

Not only that...Since I signed up for
weekly delivery of locally grown organic produce, I'm buried in baby greens, lettuce , spinach, green onions and radishes. This has been nipping my alley grazing right in the bud. I probably will have to turn in my alley grazer credentials and just poke around my own garden and collect my weekly bale of greens from Julian. That is until the plums start coming. Then you will see me out there with my baskets and Super 1 bags loaded down. Hope to see you then!

Photo credit for Patrick Alexander's stellaria flower: USDA, NRCS. 2008. The PLANTS Database (, 18 March 2008). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.


Dancer said...

Wow, look at all that gorgeous chickweed! I'll be out searching for lambs quarters later this week. Thanks for the tips and the great pictures. Love this blog.

Debi said...

I just found this blog, was reading happily along, thrilled someone was blogging Euell Gibbons-style, and I was just geared up to ask you about purslane when I saw it.

The date. Awwww. How sad is that.

I hope you are still alley grazing and full of health and vitality.

And maybe one day you'll come back to your blog?

Shaina said...

Well written article.