As your spring vegetable garden begins to fill in, you soon reach the stage where you’ll need to thin the plants. Recommended distances for sowing always include extra seed for those years when germination just isn’t perfect, but when most do come up, you have to space your plants correctly by removing the superfluous seedlings. This is called thinning.
Great! But did you know you can eat your thinnings?
Just about every vegetable has leaves that are perfectly edible, especially when young… and thinnings are very young. Most are just delicious, although some, like pepper, cucumber and eggplant seedlings, are on the ordinary side, the sort you might want to lightly cook and mix in with something else. Herb thinnings are edible too.
The following are just examples of vegetables with edible seedlings.
- Bok choy
- Lima bean
- Snap bean
- Swiss chard
There are just two vegetables I can think of whose thinnings aren’t edible: ground cherries and rhubarb. Both are, in fact, a bit poisonous. And of course, potato sprouts too are poisonous, but they aren’t really seedlings, are they, nor do we thin them. (For beginners, know that gardeners don’t usually grow potatoes from actual seeds, but rather seed potatoes, which are tiny tubers, so the stems that rise above the ground are not seedlings.)
So, this gardening season, make a habit of eating your thinnings. Munch them in the garden, add them to soups, sandwiches and salads, cook up a side-dish of “mixed greens”, but just don’t throw good food away.
Imagine, your first crop ready to nibble on after only a few weeks!
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Or just sneak them into the rest of the landscape when no one is looking.