If Only It Would Be Edible …

So I once said when I laid down the scythe, looking at the heap of green. Then I realized that most of the plants in the garden are edible! Most are bitter and intense, very much to my liking! In preparation for this hunter-gatherer’s season I am going to create this cheat sheet – not to pick anything toxic.

Field Fennel Flower. One of my former decoration-only plants. The seeds of the cultivated variety are used to spice pita bread – but these wild seeds should be used sparingly because they contain a toxic alkaloid.

Nigella arvensis sl12

Nigella arvensis, Field Fennel Flower, once a decorative plant in Victorian gardens. Image by Stefan.lefnaer, Wikimedia.

The seed capsules look like alien space probes:

Nigella arvensis fruit,. Image by Luis Fernández, Wikimedia.

Daisy Fleabane – my favorite daisies on sticks, to be used for tea and salad. It had been imported to Europe from America in the 17th century as an ornamental plant.

20120626Berufkraut Hockenheim

Erigeron annuus, Daisy Fleabane. The German name translates to Magic Spell Herb. Image by AnRo0002, Wikimedia.

Normal (short) Daisies: the 2nd most common plant in the ‘lawn’ after yarrow. I find they taste similar to spinach.

Daisies in our garden

Bellis Perennis, Daisies. Historical view of our garden without the solar collector, but with tall trees. Daisies liked the forest-like climate even better.

Daisies, solar collector

Or maybe I am romanticizing the past – still lots of daisies today.

As a child I ate loads of green woodsorrel despite the oxalic acid. Our peskiest bravest weed belongs to the same family: Creeping Woodsorrel, beautiful but capable of slowly destroying any structure of stone with its innocuous pink roots:

Oxalis corniculata, Creeping Woodsorrel. One German name translates to Red Jumping Clover – referring to its catapulted seeds. Image by TeunSpaans on Wikimedia.

Dandelions – I usually uprooted them. The leaves taste like rocket salad with a touch of nuts, and the buds can be used like capers. After World War II people had used the roasted roots as a replacement for coffee.

Dandelions at Home

Taraxacum, Dandelion. The German name means Lion’s Tooth – just as the English one, as I learned from Pairodox’ post. (Image stumbled upon when browsing our our photo folders).

I uprooted this one, too: Chickweed, showing up in early spring. It tastes a bit like fresh corn kernels.

Stellaria media 04

Stellaria media, Chickweed. One German common name translates to Chicken’s Colon. Not sure if this is related to chickens’ craze for it or to the white rubber-like, elastic strand inside the stem. Image by Sanja565658, Wikimedia.

Purslane. Another Plant I had promoted it from weed to decoration. It should taste like pepper, and can be eaten fresh or cooked. Its Wikipedia page features the nutritional merits extensively. In contrast to pepper it survives in our colonies of slugs. Generally, wild edible plants go well with our No Pest Killers / No Fertilizer policy.

Portulaca oleracea stems

Portulaca oleracea, Purslane. The wild variety is creeping as this image shows. We will also try to grow another kind that grows upright.

White Stonecrop. Also resembling green pepper, but more sourly.

sedum album

Sedum Album, White Stonecrop with reddish leaves, growing near the supporting construction of our solar collector. (The smaller, greener one is toxic Sedum Acre – Yellow Stonecrop).

White Yarrow – the perfectly scythe-able, drought-resistant replacement for grass. Great for tea, and perhaps salad in small quantities.

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Achillea millefolium, Yarrow. It grows (even) more extensively after the trees had been removed. Image by AnRo0002, Wikimedia.

Fireweed – the plant flooding our office with cotton-like fluffs every year as I let a few of them grow, for their ornamental merits. Dave from Pairodox Farm had once published a stunning image of similar seeds of Milkweed. You could use leaves and stems, and the young sprouts are said to taste like asparagus. My expectations are high!

Wikimedia, kallerna [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

Violets. Young leaves are edible and the fragrant sweet blooms seem to be somewhat famous. I think I will not eat them though!

Violets, Daisies, Stonecrop, Yarrow

Viola, Violets – in our ‘lawn’ of yarrow, daisies and yellow stonecrop.

I add two classical plants in the herb garden because I had just found them as alleged wild flowers in our garden: Oregano. I recognized it as an edible herb when spotting a blooms on a salad served in a restaurant. Until writing this post and comparing close-ups of blooms I was sure it was marjoram.

Origanum vulgare Prague 2011 1

Oregano, Origanum vulgare. Surviving in our winter and in summer without extra watering. Image by  Karelj, Wikimedia.

Lemon Balm. Great for tea, but I like the green leaves especially as a replacement of jam in pancakes Austrian style. I don’t like sweet taste too much – perhaps that’s why I enjoy all these bitter herbs!.

Melissa officinalis2

Melissa officinalis, Lemon Balm – hard to get rid of it if you don’t want it. Image by KENPEI, Wikimedia.

The first harvest:

Edible wild flowers, first test in spring 2015

Dandelion, daisies, white stonecrop, and chickweed.

Edit on May 25, 2015: More than a month after starting extensive and regular harvesting, I notice I missed an extraordinary plant:

Meadow Goat’s Beard. The leaves can be used like spinache – cooked with olive oil and garlic, very tasty – but German articles suggest the roots are the real delicacy, similar to Black Salsify.


Tragopogon pratensis, Meadow Goat’s Beard. Blossoms and also leaves are somewhat similar to dandelions, but leaves are thicker, and they come in different textures and colors – a bit ‘hairy’ versus smooth.

Surprise Potatoes in the Soldiers’ Vegetable Soup!

Having blogged for more than a year I have finally reached the status of renowned, serious blogger. I have carved out my niche, and I have been asked for providing feedback on a book in that particular category.

Of course, it is a book of spam poems.

 Surprise Potatoes in the Soldiers’ Vegetable Soup

… compiled by my LinkedIn connection Alan Mundy – “poorly translated Chinese recipes cannibalised to form the most insightful and thought provoking book of its kind ever written (presumably)”

Checking Alan’s LinkedIn URL again I confirm it starts with uk which does not come as a surprise. A book like this can only originate from the country that produced Shakespeare, Monty Python and Douglas Adams.

I am a blog spam expert, so it is an enormous task to review, understand, and do justice to e-mail spam poetry.


A bunch of spam poets – Alan Mundy, Jess Bryan, Rob Cleaver, Richard Sutton, and Dan Roberts (If any of you wants to have your name sanitized for the sake of online reputation – let me know and I replace it with *****; if I have forgotten somebody let me know, too) – have assembled poems from spam, adhering to the following rules:

  • You can only use lines from the text in your poem – you must not add anything
  • You must not edit the original lines in any way
  • You can use partial lines but must not mix lines together to create new lines

(I promise I will follow these next time, too!)

The book contains 101 spam poems plus the original spam e-mails as bonus material, sort of ‘making of’. The original e-mail spams are rather long-winded which might give the poet a greater selection of phrases to pick from, but in the other hand it might be tiresome to read through all this without turning your brain into the juice of three bark.


The poems are as food-centric as the original spam was. This was a novel experience for the philosophically inclined geek in me who prefers postmodern spam poems lingering on the new age-y.

Having read the book for countless times in the past week I have changed my mind – though recommended to all the hobby chefs among you it the poems will also appeal to the refined ethereal poetry lovers. The poems contain gems of timeless wisdom such as Very often you use also be young and aphorisms on ethics such as Be good if you die.

It is in particular the embroidery with all stuff food-related that provides a consistent down-to-earth theme to put all these grand insights gained from spam into perspective. So the poems are both artistic as comprehensible to readers that did not have that much exposure to advanced experimental poetry. After all didn’t great physicist Richard Feynman say A poet once said, ‘The whole universe is in a glass of wine.’? Cross-checked again: Wine is featured in four poems!

Also the Stephen King fans will enjoy their share of creepy violence – Cut in your liver!  – and science geeks will love terms as Transmission intensity.

There is also a poem titled A sexual poem… (The header lines have been created by the poets BTW). Thanks for your understanding that I cannot quote from this on your geeky family blog though it might boost my Google ranking.

So I give this alleged first(*) book on spam poetry 5 of 5 stars.
(*) As usual, I did not do research on this, and I do not want to be involved in disputes about originality. It’s probably the spammers who own the stuff and who have licenced it under Creative Commons.

Vaina chilena - Mario Gonzalez

Since there is a lot of yolk in these poems and some wine, and since a glass of wine contains the universe according to Richard Feynman, I have picked an image of a cocktail containing both (Trusting Wikipedia / Wikimedia on this).

PS: I have not forgotten about  my scheduled post on networking, professional online profiles and the like. But now you know already how professionals really use LinkedIn!
PPS: Calling people ‘connections’ is LinkedIn’s terminology, not mine.
PPPS: My blog spam queue is exploding!