Blue Ridge Country - March/April 2018 - 62
In the garden
Eat leeks in March and wild garlic in
May, and all the year after physicians
- Old Welsh Rhyme
Where the Wild Things Grow
Text and art by Ginny Neil
If you've been reading this column for any
length of time, you've discovered that
my favorite kind of garden tends itself.
That's why I love early spring so much.
Mother Nature is hosting her annual
free food party. The first course is dandelion greens, gathered fresh and tender
and served with a warm dressing of vinegar
and eggs. My mother-in-law, Geneva, called dandelion
greens her spring tonic. The first time she put them on
the table I was pretty skeptical. In the city I was taught
Then she told me that poke is
poisonous and should be boiled
a couple of times to remove the
toxins before the final prep.
that anything that grew in
your yard was toxic. I guess
maybe with all the chemicals used on a lawn that's
true, but apparently in the
country almost anything
green is fair game.
One of my neighbors
had a different spring tonic. She often asked us in early spring for permission to
walk the edges of our cornfields to look for poke greens
which grow in disturbed ground. She said that you
should wear gloves when gathering and never gather
leaves that are longer than six inches. Then she told me
that poke is poisonous and should be boiled a couple of
times to remove the toxins before the final prep. I have
to say that I never got past the word "poisonous," so
couldn't tell you whether the greens are good or not.
Eat at your own risk.
Ramps appear next. They are a cross between a wild
onion and wild garlic and are visible as bright green
patches on otherwise duff brown mountain slopes.