Why Do I Let Lambs Quarters Grow in My Garden?
I’m sure that you are quite shocked that there are weeds, such as lambs quarters, in my garden! Okay, maybe not shocked, but at least a little surprised? No? Oh well. I guess you’ve been looking at my photos of the garden, so you can see for yourself!
It might sound crazy to purposely let some weeds grow in my garden among all my vegetables and herbs. But there is a method to my madness. I like to eat some of these weeds and they tend to grow best in disturbed soil. One of my favorites is lamb’s quarters or wild spinach. It has a very mild flavor (similar to spinach) that goes well as a salad green, plus it’s tender when young. It doesn’t compete well with other weeds in a field. So my garden seems to be the best place to find lamb’s quarters.
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Why Eat Lamb’s Quarters?
Lamb’s quarters are very low in calories, but 1 oz of raw leaves contains 65% of our recommended allowance of Vitamin A, and 37% of our needed Vitamin C. Cooked lamb’s quarters contain the following percentages of our recommend daily nutritional values in 1 cup of greens…15% dietary fiber, 281% Vit A, 111% Vit C, 1112% Vt K, 28% Riboflavin, 16% Vit B6, 46% Calcium, and 15% Potassium.* Who knew weeds could be so good for you?! (If you are taking medications, check with your doctor. High doses of vitamin K are dangerous.)
If you don’t catch them while the leaves are young and tender, you can cook them like spinach and drizzle a little olive oil over them, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and maybe a smidgeon of garlic powder. Yum!
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These nutritious plants grow for free in the garden or other disturbed soil. They are easy to recognize, and it doesn’t take long to pick enough for a salad to go along with dinner. It’s nice to know that there are plants out there that you can identify and eat in emergency situations, or to help keep your grocery bill down. Why not go foraging, then whip up a batch of your favorite salad dressing from scratch, chop up a boiled egg, and chow down a healthy lunch of weeds?
Have you ever eaten lamb’s quarters? What is your favorite wild edible plant?
* Nutritional Information found here.
Just like other greens lamb’s quarter is best harvest before it goes to flower and seed. But you can keep harvesting it even when it does that. I love this green. I use it in my scrambled eggs, fresh on salad and use it in any recipe that would call for spinach. Like other greens it will produce beautifully if water regularly and in rich soil. Here in western Washington I broadcast the seeds in the fall. I find it doesn’t germinate in the spring but rather in early summer. I think it needs warmer soil in order to germinate. So don’t think it’s not going to come back if you look for it in the early spring.
Thanks for sharing, Ruth!
I bought some seeds and germination rate was terrible. Do they require light to germinate?
I did a bit of digging and found that seeds germinate best with light and some nitrogen in their soil. They remain viable in the soil for over 1000 years… so maybe you can stir the soil up a bit, water again, and see if you get better germination. Hopefully, this helps!
Growing up in Texas, we would go gather this growing wild in the fields. Always cooked like spinach, we loved it! I’ve always said it tastes like spinach only much, much better. I’ve tried to find it growing wild where I now live in California, but to no avail. I was delighted to find I can buy the seed, which I have, and am getting ready to go plant it in a couple of days. Can hardly wait to put this on the table.
Hi Donna…wow, I thought lambs quarters grew EVERYWHERE, lol. I’m glad you can grow it in your garden. You shouldn’t have to buy seed ever again. 🙂
I live in NYC and am trying to grow lambs quarters but its been frustrating, seedlings are very small, grow extremely slow and eventually they tilt and dye, please can someone help? it is very frustrating. Thanks!
It sounds like there is a problem with watering or maybe with the soil. Sometimes soil has herbicides in it that could cause this. If you are growing them in the ground, try a pot with potting soil. If you are already using a pot, I would empty it and get new soil, maybe look for some without composted manure. There are a lot of herbicides in animal feed that are now causing problems with plants grown in the compost.
If you are keeping the soild too damp, then this could be damping off disease. Start with fresh soil and make sure that the soil doesn’t stay damp all of the time, it should dry out a little bit between waterings.
I hope this helps! Good luck!
We’ve been eating lambsquarters for the last couple years and this year I bought a Vitamix and am making my daily green smoothie with raw lambsquarters & fruit. Delicious!!
Sounds awesome 🙂
my favourite edible weed is sorrel – so citrusy! I didn’t know about lamb’s quarters though – we should change the old saying from “may all your weeds be wildflowers” to “may all your weeds be nourishing…”
I like nibbling on wood sorrel too 🙂 Although I’ve never used it as the main green in a salad.
We do have a little bit of it in our garden, but we’ve never tried it. Maybe we will.
You can sample just one or two tender little leaves to see what you think. It tastes so much like spinach, you’ll probably like it 🙂
We’ve never really tried it but I discovered some growing in my lettuce bed and left most of it alone. We’ll give it a try in a few weeks here…
The earlier you eat it, the more tender it will be for fresh salad greens. As it gets older you may want to eat it cooked like spinach. Hmmm, I wonder if a nice crop would sell at the farmers’ market? 😉
Lamb’s Quarter is definitely a favorite around here. The family was thrilled when they were at a neighbor’s and it was growing abundantly by their barn. They came home with an armful and it’s on today’s menu. We’ll be going to get the rest this week before they cut it all down. And we’ll be starting a patch here. Love free food.
That’s awesome, Missy! I’m thinking I should till up a new spot just to grow these yummy wild greens. 🙂 Enjoy your harvest!
Oooo! I’ve got TONS of this in my yard with all the construction going on. Didn’t know it was edible! And here I was sad because I can’t have fresh spinach from a garden this year.
So glad to help out! I’m glad you’ve got a nice supply of wild, free edibles in your yard 🙂 Enjoy!