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On beyond dandelion

2014 July 9
by Rachel Turiel


Apropos of nothing in this post, Col has been fashioning spears for spear fishing. It’s been one of those things that as a parent I’m like, “Oh cute, my son’s talking and planning a lot for this spear fishing thing.” And then I actually tune in and realize he’s fashioned four different types of spears from Dan’s broken arrows and is damn serious about nailing a trout.

I was walking out the door when Dan called after me, “hey, thanks for the weeds.” A tangle of toothy greens draped in balsamic vinegrette occupied a corner of his lunch plate. I searched his face for sarcasm and found only sincerity. This is where we’re at. No apologies.


It’s almost funny, how much time I spend coaxing reluctant food from soil, while the weeds grow (and grow and grow…). I’ve constructed hemp-cloth shades for the lettuce, tried to psyche the spinach out of its Julyish propensity to flower, and watched a new row of bok choi get mowed down by some nocturnal insect overnight. Meanwhile, the purslane weaves itself through the carrot patch like there’s no place it’d rather grow than the arid Southwest. The forest-green amaranth grows like a trick-plant: pick ten leaves and they’ve remade themselves the next day. The lamb’s quarters exhale a meadow of greenness into our salads.

dandy3Purslane: Eat me for your daily Omega 3 intake!

Eating weeds is about going with rather than against the flow, about working less and reaping more, about becoming more intimate with your garden, about preparing for a changing climate, and wringing the most nutrition from your food.

It may be true that every Brooklyn hipster and his gluten-free dog purchases a $5 bundled bouquet of dandelion greens at the weekly farmers market. Even notable doctor, Jonny Bowden, listed dandelion greens as a starred vegetable in his book, 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. But, lets talk about the lesser known weeds, common mallow, alfalfa, amaranth, lamb’s quarters, purslane, red clover, and more. The ones which defy your curses, efforts and neglect, growing into gorgeous caricatures of their own trickster healthfulness.

I’m offering classes this summer, on fermentation, canning, writing, but first: edible weeds!

List of all my summer/fall 2014 homesteading and writing classes HERE. (Thanks to everyone who’s been sharing the info on these classes. Means a lot to me!)

Identify (and eat!) Edible Weeds

Sunday, July 20th, 10am – 11am; Location: TBA upon sign up. Cost = $15, or 2 spots for $20. Kids free with a parent.

Common garden weeds are packed with nutrients, adapted to native soil conditions and natural rainfall. Come to my home garden and learn to identify common, edible weeds, the best time to pick them, which parts are edible and how to prepare them. Come home with handouts, recipes, and nutritional info. Sample some delicious, easy to prepare treats. Limited to 10 people. Must sign up by Friday, July 18th. To sign up, e-mail me at sanjuandrive(at)frontier(dot)net.


This is not to say we’re not all about some garden kale, too.

10 Responses leave one →
  1. July 9, 2014

    Too bad bindweed isn’t edible! Or, is it?

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      July 9, 2014

      Steph, wouldn’t that be handy? There was a funny letter to the editor in the Herald today suggesting that bindweed become the state flower.

  2. Andrea permalink
    July 9, 2014

    phew, good to see the kale, since that is all i am growing right now.

    that is, besides the dandelion.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      July 9, 2014

      Hey, if you got kale, you got breakfast (lunch, and dinner…)

  3. Rachel W. permalink
    July 9, 2014

    Oh how I wish I lived closer, this will be a wonderful class!. I am pretty sure I have purslane in my herb bed…off to google

  4. July 10, 2014

    Very cool. If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em. The other day one of my kids came home from daycare talking about the “excellent salad bar” they had for lunch. I was like, “what? they replaced the orange cheese balls with a salad bar?” And then he listed the ingredients: dandelion greens, sorrel, wild raspberry, wild strawberry, and “bug-eyed fruit” (I have yet to figure out what this last one is…but the boys assure me that they ate it all last summer and no one died). Three cheers for wild plants and wild daycare salad bars.

  5. July 10, 2014

    Having just come back from a poorly timed five days away (is there ever a good time to leave your garden), I could sure use some help figuring out which weeds I can eat because there are plenty of them. I’d sign up for all the classes on your list (except the canning one—I have that down and I have your awesome thick salsa recipe) if I lived closer.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      July 10, 2014

      Maybe we can do a virtual class. You send me photos for ID-ing, and I e-mail you all my handouts, recipes, etc…?

  6. Bethany permalink
    July 11, 2014

    Oh, Rachel, yes! I’m so excited, I’ve been wishing you’d do some classes I could attend! Looks like the fermentation one in sept will work!

    Also, when I met you at the park that sunny day in May two years ago and asked if Durango was a good place to raise kids, you humbly shook your head and said, yes it is, then offered my daughter an energy nugget. Oooh how you could’ve elaborated and totally convinced me to never. ever. leave. But I’m so grateful you brought over a piece of paper with the name of your blog written on it and I’ve learned through this website how awesome and beautiful it is there. Cheers to you, you lovely, funny writer. :)

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