Learning from the Wild, Week Ending 8/16/2020

I’ll be completely honest with you. You almost didn’t get a weekly foraging post a second time in a row.

After weeks of blistering temperatures, the heat finally broke and today the weather is gorgeous. I’m so far behind in everything out-of-doors this time, I could’ve spent the whole day outside.

One of the perks of foraging: paying more attention to nature means you pick up on clues you might otherwise have missed. The wild has so much to teach us, if we just stop to pay attention. I have mentioned this before, and this week provides a perfect case study.

Mid-August. Blistering heat and humidity. Time to start a fall garden of cool crops? Absolutely!

If you look very closely, right now you will find…

Wild carrot (Daucus carota)
Wild carrot (Daucus carota)

A wild carrot (Daucus carota) starting to come up (ok, this one’s growth is well underway) at a time when the rest of the Queen Anne’s lace is still in flower.

Further along, we happen up a wild mustard of some variety.

A wild mustard... I'm guessing Barbarea vulgaris
A wild mustard… I’m guessing Barbarea vulgaris

In the mid-Atlantic, this could be field mustard (Brassica rapa), black mustard (Brassica nigra), or yellow rocket (aka wintercress, Barbarea vulgaris, which is my personal guess). Either way, as a member of the Brassicaceae plant family, this is an indicator that despite the heat, garden-variety brassicas – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and turnips (also Brassica rapa, fyi) – can be planted as well.

Last but certainly not least: prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola).

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola)
Prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola)

Time to get those Lactuca sativa seeds in the ground, everyone!

…actually, at this point we’re probably a few weeks late. All the more reason to get started on your fall garden now!

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