Weeds love gardens. All that open ground is so inviting. Rich moist dirt waits for plants to sprout up.
One of those weeds in my garden is called lamb’s quarters. Except I don’t really consider it a weed. It’s a wild green and good to eat.
I’ve read lamb’s quarters is fantastic stuff. It’s supposed to have lots of vitamins and minerals in it. That’s fine. Lots of wild greens have lots of vitamins and minerals in them and are bitter to eat.
Lamb’s quarters is a lot like spinach in taste. It’s a bit grittier. It can be used in much the same way. I use it in salads, stir fries, on quiche and as a pot herb. Very small plants can be eaten stems and all. Otherwise leaves can be used and stems discarded.
Each year I leave a couple of lamb’s quarters plants to go to seed. They get tall, nearly five feet, and leggy. These wind pollinated plants make thousands of tiny seeds. My garden gets covered with the seeds.
In the spring I mulch heavily to keep most of the weeds at bay. Weeds begin growing long before gardening season begins and the raised bed gets planted in February. Yet weeds are already sprouting covering the dirt in a green carpet.
Lamb’s quarters will not come up through a heavy mulch. So selected places are left open for the weeds. They are delighted at the garden party invitation.
Dead nettle, chickweed, henbit, clover and grass burst out with the encouragement of a little rain and a seventy degree day. This is fine. Bees zoom in for the pollen and nectar. Even early hummingbirds visit the dead nettle.
Lamb’s quarters are late arrivals. This is a warmer weather plant. It waits for two or three warmer days to carpet the ground with seedlings.
A little more rain and lamb’s quarters plants shoot up. They are ready for harvest at four inches tall. Thick stands stay tender to eight inches.
One easy trick to keep these edible weeds tender longer is to break off the tops. More stems will grow up, nice and tender. Older plants can be stripped of leaves to use although flavor is more bitter.
So many of these welcome weeds come up, I can not use them all. No problem. Goats love lamb’s quarters. All the tall tougher plants end up in the hay trough. Nothing is left but thick stems and roots by the next morning.
Pulling weeds may not be my favorite pastime. Pulling lamb’s quarters is gathering an early harvest from the garden.