BVC Eats: Top ten edible plants in my garden

mature garlic sets

by Jennifer Stevenson

My garden is a mess, but it’s easy to take care of, and some of it is edible, especially in Spring.  Here are my top ten favorite edible Spring plants:

10 Marjoram. A version of oregano. Flops all over unless I put it in a tomato cage. Blooms purple!  Tastes good in marinara sauce, which I make once a year maybe.

9 Scallions. Twenty years ago I let some scallions go bad in my fridge and, out of guilt, I planted them outside. Their descendents now provide masses of onion greens. Plus, they make crazy curly goofy onion sets and flowers, which look like something out of Dr. Seuss.

8 Watercress. I bought some in the store that came with roots. Ate the greens, put the roots in the ground, and dang, it’s growing! Makes a pretty yellow flower.

Poor Man’s Pepper

7 Poor man’s pepper. I don’t cook with this—it’s just a funny little weed with leaves and seeds that taste like a cross between watercress and black pepper.

6 Lemon balm. I don’t think a person should eat this, but it makes a nice tea, if you like lemon tea, and it grows very bushy alongside my sidewalk, so that when the mail carrier walks up the front walk her legs brush against it and she smells lemon.

5 Nasturtiums. The leaves taste peppery. I haven’t got the heart to eat the flowers, which are supposed to be good, too.

4 Native peppermint.  Has a sharp, powerful flavor that’s good for peppermint tea.

3 Catnip. The real thing—not the stuff they sell in stores, but scavenged from a rural Illinois roadside.  I think it smells like pee, but my cats go nuts for it. Supposedly makes a soothing tea for humans, but ew!

2 Garlic greens.  Zippier than chives. Put ‘em in the blender with a glob of Greek yogurt or sour cream and mix into scrambled eggs for the greenest green eggs ever.

1 Chocolate peppermint!  This makes an awesome mint julep—bourbon, sugar, mint, ice, blender, voila! I don’t care if it’s taking over the lawn.





BVC Eats: Top ten edible plants in my garden — 5 Comments

  1. What state do you live in? And more importantly, what is your soil like? I have never tried to grow onions or scallions, because of the heavy clay soil in my region. Maybe I should try.
    For years I would plant out a sage plant, and it would die — diseases, deer, groundhogs, cats, children. Then several years ago I rolled the double sixes. The thing did NOT die. It comes back every year and is roughly the size of a coffee table; I put sage into everything and have learned to fry the leaves.

  2. Rosemary loves sunshine. When I lived at 5000 feet a single 2″ pot plant grew to the size of an armchair. Now that I’m at 7000 feet I’ve lost a couple of plants and am fighting to keep one more alive.

    Thyme is a lovely plant and wonderful to cook with. It has no problem with elevation. Creeping thyme is great for ground cover or to grow between stepping stones, but the upright is easier to harvest for cooking.

    Jen, toss a nasturtium blossom into your salad. It’s lovely there and it tastes great.

  3. Jen, if you pickle nasturtium buds, they taste a lot like capers!

    Thanks for the garden tour. Our weather is changing so much, I’ll have to experiment to see what will live when I have dirt again. Container gardening and I were fine until I moved in with a roommate who has a cat who would eat my Xmas cactus. The cactus are currently dying outside the man windows.

    Well, they were 20 years old. Time for a new Christmas cactus! I have dirt deprivation!

  4. Catnip is very cool. I moved some to my garden so my cats would accompany when I’m out there slaving away. They fall asleep in it.

  5. Anybody want some native catnip? Dried plant with seed & flowertops, the real kitty ganja! I feel bad just throwing it on the compost heap…send me a stamped, addressed #10 envelope before it snows, and I’ll send you native Midwestern catnip seed!

    Jennifer Stevenson
    PO Box 5372
    Skokie IL 60076