Incredible Edibles in Your Back Yard!

If you’ve changed your travel plans and are spending more time at home and wanting less “Zoom” time, look no farther than your back yard.

Our intentional gardens of veggies and flowers give us great pride in our ability to create visually pleasing and productive, edible gardens. Whereas we tend to wage war with those plants we call weeds!  We often have a grudge against them and work hard to rid our spaces of them with specific tools or worse yet, Roundup!

While there are many incredible edibles in our yards—such as clover, lamb’s quarters, plantain (not the tropical fruit), and chickweed—two of my favorites that are always available and super easy to identify are dandelions and purslane.

Dandelions are the quintessential garden and lawn weed. They have a bad reputation among some who want the perfect lawn.  Every part of this edible beauty is tasty – both raw and cooked from the roots to the blossoms. You can harvest them at any point in the growing season, but the youngest leaves are less bitter and more palatable raw. Dandelions are delicious sautéed, stir-fried, eaten raw or as part of a pesto.  

Purslane often goes unnoticed in gardens as it lies close to the ground, has chubby succulent leaves and related botanically to its showier cousin, Portulaca. Purslane is a humble garden weed, a nutritional powerhouse, and very rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.  It is a great addition to salads, stir-fry, or to thicken soups or stews. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and add a peppery flavor to any dish. 

If you aren’t quite ready to do your own harvesting, keep an eye out at the various Co-op stores for some delicious edibles, sustainably harvested and local.  

Fiddlehead Ferns: Now through June. Check for availability!

Dandelions: Available now, organic and from California. Check them out–they are beautiful!

Rhubarb: Available in June. Locally sourced and a relative to the obnoxious, but edible, Japanese Knotweed along roadsides.

Garlic Scapes: Late June/July. These make an amazing pesto, and are locally sourced from a variety of farms in the Upper Valley.

Disclaimer: Before you start eating the weeds out of your lawn or garden, be sure you have positively identified them as an edible plant.  Unless you know for sure, avoid plants that grow outside your yard, in places where they might be sprayed or treated, or in places frequented by dogs and cats!

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Ken Davis

Ken Davis is the Co-op's senior copywriter. Email him at