Intense Heat Vs. My Container Garden
For the past three years, my wife and I have cultivated a garden on our patio in a variety of large and small pots. Despite a lot of work and research, eventually, the intense summer heat and drought like conditions overwhelm the garden and everything shrivels. We’ve tried tomatoes, cucumbers, a blueberry bush, bell peppers, squash, cilantro, parsley, basil, and flowers. Last year we managed to pick some tomatoes and cucumbers, before the unkind heat and conditions decimated the garden. Without the irrigation possibilities of an in-ground garden, we’re unable to keep the potted plants alive. While we’re at work, the direct sunlight and intense heat ravage the garden. Due to the persistent drought conditions that many of us suffer throughout the US, the garden succumbed even quicker than usual this year, dying almost before it had a chance to start. What is one to do for fresh food?
What is Wild Food?
Wild food is a movement based on foraging and picking edible plants from whatever is available seasonally in the immediate environment. You would be surprised how many plants that we take for granted, or consider as weeds, are healthy food you can pick for free. A friend got me interested in the subject, so I bought a few books, but found it can be difficult to properly identify wild edibles. It’s dangerous to eat wild plants if you can’t identify them with one hundred percent certainty, so I had to stick to looking for a couple of simple things that as a beginner, I could easily identify. I found two wild foods growing right in my own backyard near my poor, scorched-to-death container garden, dandelions and wild onions.
Preparing the Food
I dug up a whole bucket of dandelions and wild onions using a garden trowel. In both cases, I took the whole plant. The leaves of the dandelion are edible and make a great salad. The flowers are also edible after they are lightly cooked. The wild onions, sometimes called “onion grass” are entirely edible from tips to bulbs. I washed all the plants thoroughly to remove any soil or residues, then trimmed off and discarded the roots. I separated the leaves and flowers from the dandelions, and discarded the stems. I lightly sautéed the dandelion heads in a frying pan and added them back to the greens as a salad.
The onions were tiny and pearl sized, with long grass like greens. After washing and trimming the roots from the onions, I diced some of the green stalks into a scallion like topping for my salad and entrée. Additionally, I sautéed some of the onions complete with the green stalks. I had planned for the dandelion salad to be a side dish for a pasta entrée, and to use the onions and their greens in the pasta, but after digging and cleaning all the plants I didn’t feel like making an elaborate pasta dish. I ended up boiling some tortellini with peas, and tossing all the ingredients together as a salad, with the pasta taking the place of a meat, cheese, or croûtons. The salad was delicious and very energizing. If your vegetable garden fails, you can look for wild edibles in your own backyard.