Why You Should Grow Miner’s Lettuce
In this episode, we’re going to look at why you should grow miner’s lettuce. This fantastic native vegetable loves growing in the shade and it tastes great. Let’s look at this great plant and why you should grow it.
I love going for hikes in the forests here in western Washington. And sometimes I find areas filled with red alders and maples.
These patches of deciduous trees are beautiful—especially in the fall and are a nice break from our conifer-dominated forests.
And one reason I love these areas is because of what grows below them. Often the forest floor in these areas is covered with miner’s lettuce.
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Miner’s lettuce seems to love growing in these forests that are shady in the summer but where spring sunlight still reaches the ground.
Since miner’s lettuce doesn’t like summer heat these alder and maple forests are ideal for it.
And in spring I love looking out through these forests and seeing all the little white and pink flowers of the miner’s lettuce spreading across the forest floor.
It really is beautiful.
But miner’s lettuce is also edible and it tastes great. It’s one of my family’s favorite native vegetables and we often use it in our salads.
Though this isn’t the only reason why you should grow miner's lettuce. It also makes a great groundcover and is great for pollinators.
So let’s dive into this fantastic native vegetable.
But before we do I want to take a moment to read a recent review from Rew65 on Apple Podcasts.
I am so excited to learn more about edible perennials!! Daron’s valuable information and experience is just what we need to get started down this path. We also want to do all we can to work with Nature. Can’t wait to hear more!
Thank you so much, Rew and I hope you enjoy this episode. Miner’s lettuce is a great edible perennial as long as you don’t live in a hot area. In hot areas like southern California, it will self-seed but it may just grow as an annual. Though here in western Washington it easily grows as a perennial. And we will be diving into more perennial edible in the future. Thanks again!
And if you like what you hear today, then please leave a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you listen. Your review will help more people find us.
People like you, who want to bring these skills home, to enjoy wildlife, grow more food, and help heal our living world.
Okay, let’s get started.
Further Reading: Growing with Nature episodes and blog posts with more information about the topics covered in this episode.
- Growing Miner’s Lettuce – A Fantastic Native Wild Vegetable
- Getting Started with Native Vegetables
- Plant Once with Perennial Veggies
- 11 Perennial Greens You Will Love to Grow
Books and Other Resources
Grow Miner’s Lettuce for Food – Great Winter Green
The most obvious reason to grow miner’s lettuce is for food. Miner’s lettuce has a really great mild flavor making it a good replacement for lettuce or baby spinach.
Since it grows throughout the fall and winter here in western Washington it often makes up the core of our winter salads.
In colder climates, it may not grow through the winter but it would be fairly easy to grow under row covers in cold climates.
Miner’s lettuce is much hardier than lettuce so if you can grow lettuce undercover you could easily grow miner’s lettuce too.
But here in zone 8 it easily grows without protection through our winters.
You can also use miner’s lettuce in wraps and you could cook with it though you would only want to lightly cook it like spinach.
Unlike spinach miner’s lettuce is low in oxalic acid.
And miner’s lettuce is a great source of vitamin A and C.
It really is a great green to grow through the fall and winter.
To harvest miner’s lettuce I like to use scissors to quickly harvest a big bunch of the leaves. The leaves tend to be round or heart-shaped with a single stem.
The stem is edible and tastes good too so don’t worry about it.
After harvesting the plant will regrow if you give it time.
Info on Miner's Lettuce - Claytonia perfoliata
Grow Miner’s Lettuce as a Groundcover
Beyond growing miner’s lettuce for food, it also makes a great groundcover. Miner’s lettuce self-seeds really easily.
Often our winter harvests come from volunteers that pop up in areas where we don’t want them. If you’re not careful miner’s lettuce can take over a garden bed.
At least until the heat of summer comes.
But this trait makes it a great groundcover in semi-shady and shady areas. Especially in areas that are sunny in spring and then get shadier in the summer just like those alder and maple forests I mentioned earlier.
If you’ve got fruit trees then miner’s lettuce can be a great groundcover beneath them. In the fall, winter, and spring miner’s lettuce will happily grow in the filtered sunlight under your fruit trees.
And then by the time the summer heat comes your fruit trees and other plants will be leafed out providing miner’s lettuce shade and protection.
If you’ve got a shady area on your property I would give miner’s lettuce a try there. While it seems to prefer deciduous forests I often find it growing under conifers too. It generally stays a bit smaller in conifer forests but it still grows and can still make a nice edible groundcover.
Grow Miner’s Lettuce for Pollinators and Beauty
The last reason why you should grow miner’s lettuce is to support pollinators and for simple beauty.
In the spring it gets covered with little pink and white flowers. I’ve found bumblebees and other native pollinators just love these flowers.
And since it loves shady areas growing miners lettuce is a great way to add beautiful flowers to shady areas that might be challenging to grow other common flowers.
If you live in the western United States and Canada then miner’s lettuce is a great native vegetable that I highly recommend trying.
From supporting pollinators, keeping the ground covered, and providing abundant harvests this really is a great native vegetable.
And even if you don’t live where it’s native you can still give it a try.
Since miner’s lettuce grows easily from seed it’s easy to get started with. And the seeds are commonly sold online. Miner’s lettuce is one of the only native vegetables that has been fairly wildly adopted.
Make sure you check out the resources section of the show notes which has links with more information about the topics covered in this episode.
And stay tuned for our next episode where we will look at lupines. These great nitrogen fixers bring a lot to any landscape.
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