PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Miner’s Gold

Barbara Damrosch
From The Ground Up:  Gardens Re-Imagined
February 18, 2010
New York Botanical Garden
Part II
Barbara Damrosch was asked at the end of her talk at NYBG, why she revised her classic book,  
The Garden Primer 
Her answer:  I’ve managed to learn a few things in 20 years.  The new book is 100% organic, includes new varieties, talks about invasive plants, and 
how to extend the season.
 
One of the new varieties Damrosch introduced me to was Miner’s Lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata).  Also known as Winter purslane, Spring Beauty, Cuban Spinach, Cuban Lettuce, Spanish Lettuce and Indian Lettuce.

A native plant from California, many people believe that it is one of few American plants to travel to Europe, where it was introduced in 1749 and widely naturalized.  It can still be found under the name Winter purslane.

Called Indian lettuce by some, the American Indians ate it raw, cooked and made a tea from the plant.

The term “miner’s,” comes from the gold-rush era when this green was served to miner’s:  it was inexpensive and readily available, but also a good source of Vitamin C.   
 
Barbara suggested using it in salads.  It is best picked when budded or blooming before seeds form. 
The temperature is rising, so my spirits are soaring. I intend to reap what I sow:  miner’s lettuce.

Barbara mentioned Johnny’s seeds often as a good source for seeds and tools.  A small disclaimer, her husband, Eliot Coleman sells many of the tools he has invented through Johnny’s seeds.  However,
I think I will switch to Johnny’s for the following reason, it is a worker owned business with good prices.
http://www.johnnyseeds.com
http://www.fourseasonfarm.com is Barbara and Eliot’s farm in Maine.

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