Growing Miner’s Lettuce – A Fantastic Native Wild Vegetable
Miner’s lettuce, also known as claytonia, is a fantastic wild vegetable that can be grown in a traditional vegetable garden. Growing miner’s lettuce provides a great food source for your family, while also supporting local wildlife. Ready to get started? Keep reading to learn more about this great wild vegetable.
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Miner’s lettuce is a perennial vegetable native to much of the western United States and Canada. It has become naturalized in Europe because of its use as a vegetable. But if you live in the area where it’s native, this is a fantastic native wild vegetable that you can easily grow on your property.
Packed with vitamin C, this unassuming nutritional powerhouse helped prevent scurvy among miners during the California gold rush.
What I love about miner’s lettuce is that it has a very mild flavor, and it can be used as the main green in a salad. But you can also use it on sandwiches and cook it like spinach. With a slight crunch to it, this wild vegetable will make a great addition to your property!
Miner’s lettuce was brought to Europe back in 1794, and it’s been grown there as a food crop ever since. This says a lot about how easy it is to eat and cook with miner’s lettuce!
Let’s dive into how to grow this fantastic green! But before we do, make sure you grab your free and easy-to-print cheat-sheet all about growing wild native vegetables. This will help you get started with miner’s lettuce, which is covered in the cheat-sheet.
Basics of Growing Miner’s Lettuce
You can grow miner’s lettuce in any vegetable garden without any real issues. It can be grown as an annual in most climates, and as a perennial in USDA zones 6-9. But in hot locations in zones 8 and 9, it will likely die back in the heat of the summer.
But what makes miner’s lettuce an amazing choice for your property is that this fantastic wild native vegetable is very shade tolerant. It naturally grows in the shade of dense forests, but it also does fine in semi-shade.
The entire plant is edible, and the stems, leaves and flowers are normally harvested together. You can pinch the stems to break them—there will be a leaf (actually 2 leaves fused together) and sometimes a flower attached to each stem.
If you put miner’s lettuce out in the full sun of an average vegetable garden it will likely struggle in the summer heat and produce smaller and sometimes bitter leaves.
But in the shade, it will provide an abundant crop year after year with nice, large, delicious leaves.
You likely have some shady areas along your property that would be perfect for this fantastic crop. A food forest is a great place to plant miner’s lettuce!
Miner’s lettuce grows well from seed, but its seeds are very small and black, making them challenging to see. But you can thin them as they come up without too much trouble.
It will likely spread from seed, too, but I find this wild vegetable to be unobtrusive, and it doesn’t tend to push out other plants. Miner’s lettuce just slowly spreads, finding room between other plants.
Info on Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia perfoliata
Getting Started with This Amazing Wild Vegetable
Finding native plants, and particularly edible ones, can be a challenge. But for those of us living in a temperate climate, miner’s lettuce is a great option. It’s native or naturalized to many of these regions.
To get started, you can sow the seed just like you would lettuce or spinach in the spring. You can either plant them in your garden or in a nice shady area, say, under a fruit tree.
Seeds for miner’s lettuce are fairly easy to find in seed catalogs, but here are a few options to get you started:
While you can likely just broadcast the seed and mimic what happens in nature, you will get better results by taking some time to prepare an area of bare ground—just like you would for any vegetable.
Plant early—as much as 4 weeks before your last frost, or even in early fall.
Miner’s lettuce is not fussy, and it will likely do great!
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started with miner’s lettuce!
Do you grow miner's lettuce? Leave a comment to share how it's worked for you!
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