Sometimes simplicity is the best way to live in harmony with nature.
Edible plants are a perfect example of this.
Have you ever felt that in order to live a green & healthy lifestyle, you need to quit your job and retreat to the wilderness, never to be seen again?
The problem is… that’s not quite as simple as it sounds.
Many naturalists & lovers of the outdoors get caught in a bind when they try to bridge the gap between their current lifestyle (work, relationships, sustainability, living conditions)… and their ideal lifestyle of living close to nature.
So what if there was a simple way to start living more of your ideal harmony with nature… without the struggle and overwhelm of trying to change everything all at once?
Edible plants are a great way to start the process and get your daily dose of vitamin N.
- They grow everywhere.
- They get you personally involved with nature through harvesting & tending.
- They train your awareness and stimulate the senses of touch, sight, taste & smell.
- They build your naturalist skills.
- They’re good for the environment.
And everybody’s gotta eat, right!
So in the spirit of weaving nature into your life, here are 7 edible plants that will help you fall in love with nature.
Some quick notes about the plants:
These plants are all edible… and they’re all perennials that require very little effort to maintain.
Even though they aren’t 100% wild, you don’t need to be a pro gardener in order to use them. You can pretty much just plant them and walk away.
They will continue feeding you for years to come with almost no effort. Most of these can even be grown in pots if you live in an apartment.
This is one of the easiest ways to start re-wilding your life immediately!
#1 Salad Burnet
I’m amazed that it took me so long to discover this plant.
I only started growing salad burnet last year, but it’s rapidly become one of my favourites.
This plant is so delicious and requires absolutely no work except for harvesting.
The leaves are like cucumber flavoured salad.
I really don’t understand why it’s not more popular by average vegetable gardeners.
It produces lots of food and it’s one of the first plants I’m able to harvest after the snowy winter.
The only problem is that because it’s so rare, this one might be a bit tricky to find… but it’s definitely worth the extra effort.
This is an old classic.
A lot of people don’t like dandelions, but I think it’s just a very misunderstood plant.
Dandelion has long deep taproots that are capable of opening up compacted soils, and improving the drainage conditions for future growth.
The roots are able to access deeper nutrition than surface level plants, making it a great food and green fertilizer that can be mulched to feed your other edibles with less capable root systems.
I mostly eat the green leaves as a top-notch salad, but you can also eat the flowers and brew the roots.
This is a plant you probably won’t have any trouble growing (for obvious reasons).
It tends to sprout up everywhere there are human beings, so there’s always an endless supply.
I wrote more about dandelion here.
If you like the taste of celery then you’ll love lovage.
This plant is also known as the perennial celery. Just imagine having fresh celery to pick from anytime you want through the entire growing season.
I use this plant to add celery flavor to my daily soup & homegrown salads.
Like dandelion, this plant also has deep taproots that pull up lots of nutritional benefits from deep underground.
It gets pretty big, so you’ll probably want to plant this to the north of any smaller plants that need sunlight.
This edible plant makes the list because of my personal relationship and history with wild strawberries.
For many years, I’ve known there are certain spots where the wild Strawberries grow nearby, but I never saw fruit on them.
It was super disappointing because as far as the wild berries go in my area… strawberries are everywhere! It would be amazing if they actually produced fruit.
Then one day I found a patch of wild strawberries that was completely abundant and stunning with bright red berries that were amazingly delicious compared to grocery store strawberries.
So it got me thinking about what would happen if I tended my local wild strawberries and gave them an ideal spot in the garden.
You can see in the photo above, since I started tending, they’re absolutely laden with flowers now!
This is a huge difference in productivity.
I also pull off any suckers that emerge to give more energy for fruit production, and I’m looking forward to having an abundance of wild strawberries in a few weeks.
#5 Miner’s Lettuce
This plant gets me nostalgic for the west coast.
I first connected with miner’s lettuce when I was at wilderness awareness school.
It grows wild in the forests there and it’s just so delicious.
Unlike a lot of other wild plants that have an abundance of bitter flavours, I find miner’s lettuce just so tender and tasty.
This is the one plant on the list that you might need to check your growing hardiness zone.
Miner’s lettuce is perennial to zone 6.
In colder areas you can still grow it, but you just need to make sure to let it flower and go to seed.
It should naturalize quite well if you allow it to follow the normal plant cycles.
Chives are a faithful staple anytime you need to add onions to a meal.
This herb was planted in my garden almost 20 years ago and it’s still going strong.
It grows super fast, and the flowers attract an abundance of bees & butterflies.
Even just two plants is plenty to harvest from for most of the year. In some areas with mild winters, you should be able to harvest all winter long.
This plant is a bit unusual.
I grow alfalfa for a few different reasons. First, it’s a nitrogen fixer.
Like many of the edible plants on this list, alfalfa has an incredible root-system that goes down many feet into the soil, opening things up and pulling water & nutrients from below.
The added nitrogen from alfalfa will help to improve leafy growth in your other plants and add microscopic life to your soil.
The plant itself is edible.
You can dry the leaves to make a nutritious tea and the seeds can be saved and sprouted (alfalfa sprouts).
Overall this plant has enough amazing benefits, and it’s easy enough to grow that it makes my top 7 list.
Take The Wild Edible Challenge!
So there you have it.
I hope that no matter where you live, you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to create a more natural lifestyle for you and your family.
You can use these 7 edible plants to open your senses, increase health and save grocery bills while getting to know your plant community.
All of this can be done from your own backyard and these plants will help to improve the habitat for local soil organisms & insect life.
Take the edible plants challenge!