yard salad

Thanks to our chickens, who managed to escape their large run frequently this spring, many of our greens got off to a slow start. Therefore, when I want a salad, I have to meander about the yard grabbing bits here and there to make up a salad. I take up a bushel or the salad spinner and head out into the yard to see what I can find. The flavor and freshness of yard salad bowl me over, and I love adding whatever edible flowers we have for both decoration and flavor, depending.

We just used a light homemade vinaigrette and made a salad bar, so everyone could choose the salad components they liked — yard salad with herbs and flowers, a spicy mix with cress and sliced radishes, and a not-exactly-from-our-yard mix that includes cucumber, romaine, celery and pea shoots. I wasn’t sure if they mesclun would be too spicy for the kids since some of it had bolted in the warm weather but it turned out to be tame enough for their palates.

The kids picked some small not-quite-ready-yet french breakfast radishes while I cut the mesclun mix and cress (cress, tiny radishes and mesclun in spinner acros the top of the picture). I also gathered (going clockwise for rest of picture) parsley (far left), lambs quarters (pick them young — you can eat the stems if they’re young enough, or just the leaves if they’re woodier), some merveille de quatre saisons lettuce and bronze arrowhead lettuce, two varieties of kale and just a pinch of basil.

These pictures are from a couple of weeks ago, and the rest of the radishes have poked their ruddy shoulders out of the ground and were eaten already. Our lambs quarters are at the point that I’m only picking leaves, and our parsley, which had overwintered, is starting to flower. The lettuces are offering up more than just a couple of small leaves, and the chard is also big enough to harvest so we’re still enjoying yard salad in all it’s seasonal variations. The chive flowers have passed, though i’m wondering if I’d chopped them all off and not allowed it to set seeds, if it would keep producing flowers — anyone have any experience with this? We’ve started adding rose petals and wood sorrel which are out now that earlier “weeds” like chickweed are also past their prime.

What do you scrounge from your yard for your salad?