Spring Foraging — What I Found in My Backyard

April 21, 2017
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Today, we’re kicking off our series on Spring Foraging !   In today’s post, I’ll be sharing what I found in my backyard this week.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing recipes and ideas on how I’m using many of these wild plants.    I hope you’ll join me for the entire series!   Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out!  I’ll also be sharing some extra bonus recipes with my subscribers!



Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life


Have you ever wondered about the plants growing in your yard?   Are they more than just weeds?  Is there something useful you can do with them?    Are you missing out on some nutritious and edible food that’s growing for free?    I’ve wondered that too!

One of my goals this year is to take advantage of the wild plants and herbs that are growing for free in my own backyard.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed many wild plants growing in my yard.   Being oh so cautious, I watched several of them throughout their entire growing cycle just to verify that I had the correct plant.  It is always safer to err on the side of caution when it comes to wild edibles!  I would never consume anything that I wasn’t 100% sure of.

Keep in mind too, it’s best to avoid harvesting plants along the roadside or any other area that may be sprayed with pesticides or have potential for contamination.


Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life


 It’s mid April here in upstate New York and our spring got off to a bit of a late start.  The trees are just starting to bud and the grass has finally turned green! It is such a beautiful time of year as all the plants emerge and the world turns green!

We live on 3 acres of both fields and woods so I had a lot of ground to cover when I began my foraging adventures.

The woods are particularly interesting this time of year.  It was easy to get distracted by all the beautiful things I found!


Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life





Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life



Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life


Stinging Nettle

Growing among all this beauty, right beside the creek is where I found the stinging nettle. There is plenty of it growing here so I’ll transplant a few plants closer to the house for easier harvesting.

I have big plans for the nettle!   I’ve been adding the dried herb to my smoothies and tea blends but I’m anxious to start using the fresh herb!  It’s still too small to harvest anything yet (ideally, it should be around 6-12 inches tall before you cut it back. )  It will be a few weeks before I get to play with the fresh herb.

Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life


Wild Ginger

Another plant I found growing near the nettle was wild ginger.  Although it is not related to the culinary ginger we see in the grocery store, wild ginger was used by the Native Americans and early American settlers to season their food.  Native Americans also had many medicinal uses for wild ginger.

Wild ginger was a new find for me this spring so I’ll be doing lots more research before I decide what to do with it.


Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life



Another interesting plant I found was cleavers.  You might have seen it or have it attach to your clothes as you were walking past.

For me, it was the plant that always got caught in the rake when I was doing yard work.  It really would “cleave” to just about anything.

I’ll be talking more about cleavers during our foraging series.  It is an herb that I’ll be using as both food and for home remedies.  It’s generally considered safe for everyone and is a wonderful spring tonic herb to get the lymph moving.

Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life



Plantain is an herb I have growing all over my yard.  It’s a good thing it’s so useful!

In a pinch, it’s a wonderful herb to chew into a paste and place on a bee sting to stop the swelling and sting.  It’s also the main ingredient in my All Purpose Salve which is great for wounds, rashes, bites and stings.

I’ll be sharing some new ideas on using plantain during our foraging series.


Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life



Another herb that is plentiful in my yard (and probably yours too) is dandelion.  There are so many useful things you can do with dandelion!

All parts of the plant are edible (root, leaves and flowers) but early spring is one of the best times to eat the leaves.   It is when they are the most tender and less bitter.   While you may not want to make a salad of just dandelion leaves (they are a bitter herb,) they do make a nice addition to a tossed salad with a variety of mild greens.

I’ll be using dandelion throughout the growing season as both food and in home remedies and of course, I’ll be sharing it with you!


Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life



While this picture is taken later in the season,  I have two burdock plants just barely peeking out of the ground right now.

Burdock is probably most well known as a detoxifying herb and is often combined with dandelion root in many detoxifying preparations but it is also a very nourishing plant as well.   Burdock is one of the main ingredients in the Essiac formula that was created for cancer patients.

The roots, leaves and seeds are usually harvested in late summer and fall and can be used in teas and tinctures and also prepared as food.  The leaves can be used externally as a poultice and are often used for burns.

I’ll be sharing some of the ways I used fresh burdock this fall.


Spring Foraging for Wild Edibles -- What I Found in My Backyard | My Healthy Homemade Life


I have lots more wild edibles that haven’t even emerged yet so I’ll be sharing more of these plants into the summer and fall.

Meanwhile, next week, as we move into week 2 of our Spring Foraging series,  I’ll be sharing all about cleavers, the lymph moving, spring herb.   I hope you’re excited to learn more about the many ways you can use cleavers!

Let Me Know:  What wild edibles do you have growing in your yard?  How have you used them?




Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH

Rosalee de la Forȇt.  http://www.herbalremediesadvice.org/


Additional information

I found the documentary, “Common Weeds And Wild Edibles Of The World” by Sergei Boutenko a good resource.  Here’s the introduction.  It is also available for viewing on FMTV if you subscribe.




Here’s another video by Sergei Boutenko on identifying wild edibles. This is part 1 of 4.







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  • Reply Danielle April 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm How did you learn what each was? What was your procesd? I have plenty of dandelions you can come pick!
    • Reply Jen April 22, 2017 at 12:57 pm Great question, Danielle! Many of these plants I've known about for years and I felt very confident in identifying them--I just never realized the many ways you can use them! As I've been studying Herbalism over the past couple of years, I've learned about many other plants that grow in my area. I have several field guides and carefully study the plants. I'm also a member of a plant identification group and it's a great place to get verification on plants I'm not 100% sure of. It's a fascinating study for sure! BTW, I'd happily take your dandelions! ;)
  • Reply Rae April 23, 2017 at 7:52 am Neat! Who knew all this stuff could be found in a backyard?! I'll have to find some foraging books and test this out myself :) Rae | Mindful Rambles
    • Reply Jen April 24, 2017 at 6:16 am I know, Rae! It's pretty amazing! I hope you have fun doing some foraging yourself!
  • Reply Yolanda April 23, 2017 at 11:09 am That's amazing how many you have in just your backyard! I can't wait to see what you do with them. I would have passed right by all of these. Except the dandelion, I know about that one. LOL!
    • Reply Jen April 24, 2017 at 6:15 am Thanks, Yolanda! I know, the dandelion is hard to miss! :)
  • Reply The Sun Mama April 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm You are so blessed to have such an amazing yard to explore :) I'm curious to see what you use the Wild ginger for !! :)
    • Reply Jen April 24, 2017 at 6:14 am I do feel blessed in that way, Sun Mama! Thanks!
  • Reply Elena April 26, 2017 at 5:14 pm I have learned something new today. We have dandelion everywhere, I never thought that I can use it as a food or a remedy. Good to know.
    • Reply Jen April 26, 2017 at 6:00 pm I'm so glad to hear that, Elena! Stay tuned, we'll be talking specifically how to use dandelion in the next couple of weeks!
  • Reply Stephanie | Taste of the Tumbleweed April 26, 2017 at 6:17 pm That's so neat! I wouldn't have a clue what most things are in my yard, other than grass! Lol. This has me excited to explore my back yard now!
    • Reply Jen April 26, 2017 at 6:26 pm I'm so glad to hear that, Stephanie! :)
  • Reply Corey | The Nostalgia Diaries April 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm This was really interesting! I don't have a yard, so I really can't do much foraging. I'm curious: what do nettles taste like?
    • Reply Jen April 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm I'm anxiously waiting to try the fresh nettle, Corey! The dried herb is so hard to describe! It does have a strong flavor so I like to use it in small amounts or mix it with other herbs. It is soooo nutritious that I try to consume it a lot.
  • Reply Stephanie | Adventures in Aussieland April 26, 2017 at 10:14 pm I don't think I would have been able to figure out what was usable! Good on ya! There's so many amazing herbs in your back yard.
    • Reply Jen April 27, 2017 at 1:27 pm That's so true, Stephanie. That's why having a good field guide and/or a knowledgeable person to teach you about the plants is so valuable.
  • Reply Leah April 27, 2017 at 6:43 am When I saw this post a couple of days ago I remember saying to my husband "I wish we had a yard that we could go foraging in".. Sadly I don't think we will find too much in our yard that is usable. And I am too scared to search the park for anything as I am not sure what to look for. I should do some research and see what could possibly be growing locally that I could forage for. So I will be keen to see what you have in store for us with your foraging series! :)
    • Reply Jen April 27, 2017 at 1:28 pm Thank you, Leah! You could also look into a local foraging tour in your area. That's a great way to learn more about what you have growing in your area.
  • Reply Spring Foraging: 5 Ways To Use Cleavers - My Healthy Homemade Life April 28, 2017 at 7:55 am […] Welcome to week 2 of our Spring Foraging series!    Last week I introduced you to some wild edibles I found in my own backyard. […]
  • Reply Spring Foraging: 5 Ways to Use Dandelion - My Healthy Homemade Life May 5, 2017 at 8:16 am […] Spring Foraging Week 1:  What I Found in My Backyard […]

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