Wild produce? Why of course! If you have a wetland on your property, you can eat delicious water-loving plants as well as bog and stream-side plants. Here are a few ideas of wonderful wetland edibles to add to your garden produce.
Wild Rice is a Wetland Seed
With the burgeoning interest in local food, many people who live outside of grain-growing areas have become fascinated by the possibility of growing local grains. While wild rice (Zizania Aquatica/ Zizania palustris) is not a true grain, it can masquerade as one. Plant it in the middle of a shallow pond with at least thirty centimeters of water. Harvest the seeds. They have a delicious nutty flavor.
Cattails are Furry and Delicious
Cattails (Typha) are a hardy plant known for a fuzzy brown stalk. This seed-bearing stalk looks like a cat’s tail. These wetland plants reproduce underground using rhizomes and will gladly take over your wetland garden. The solution is to dig them and eat them, of course. Harvest cattail roots in late fall. In the spring, eat the new leaves raw or cooked and eat the flower spike by cooking it like a corn cob. Never harvest wild cattails, since they look similar to the wild flag or iris, a poisonous plant.
Watercress Loves Shallow Wetlands
Watercress (Nasturtium officinale) is a European delight and a wonderful addition to a sandwich. It grows well in the shallow water at the edge of a pond. The spicy flavor of the leaves pairs well with cheese.
Cranberries and Blueberries are Excellent Bog Plants
Cranberries and blueberries are the ultimate bog plants. Plant the cranberry (Vaccinium Macrocarpon) in a damp area next to a pond. When the bushes are four years old, they will begin making their tart and delicious fruit. Blueberries are also a Vaccinium. They love to grow in areas that are somewhat less boggy than the cranberry, but they still love acidic soil.
Stinging Nettle as a Food Plant
The brave gardeners amongst you can plant stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) for a spring treat. Yes, it’s a treat. Nettles are an excellent food for the liver and make a cleansing springtime food. Plant them in a wet area out of the way of animals and children. Use gloves to harvest the nettles and steam the nettles for several minutes to get rid of the sting.
Always check before you plant water or wetland plants. Many wetland plants are invasive, which means that they spread into local waterways and push out native species. Check at the garden store or with local wetland groups to make sure you are not planting anything that could turn into a great big edible problem. After that, plant away and enjoy these wetland edibles!