Salad Burnet is a perennial plant native to Europe (I actually found it while walking in a meadow near my home town in northern Switzerland). It is marginally hardy but some previous plantings in other parts of my garden have mostly survived for several years. I purchased the seeds at Seedy Sunday a few years ago from Brother Nature, www.brothernature.ca. This spring I seeded another batch indoors in early April. I decided to plant the new seedlings close to my honeyberry shrubs as that bed is in part shade and fairly moist. In mid-July, the plants were fully grown and already started making seed heads. The leaves have a slight cucumber flavor and I also think they taste slightly nutty. They are best harvested when the leaves are young and soft. Although we have been enjoying them in salads in July, the leaves will soon be a bit tough. Salad Burnet stays in a nice clump but re-seeds slowly.
Strawberry Spinach is a native plant of Alberta and it was used by the First Nations for food and the red fruit was also used as a dye. The plant is in the Goosefoot family, so it’s related to Lamb’s Quarters. The leaves and fruit are edible, though they contain oxalic acid and should not be consumed in substantial quantities. The seeds I purchased are from McKenzie Seeds purchased at a local garden centre. I started the seeds indoors in mid-April and transplanted them out into the garden some time in June. Since our return from holidays in mid-July, we have been adding the “berries” to salads. The fruits do not have a lot of flavor – I would describe them as slightly juicy and nutty. When added to a spinach salad, they look like a bit like strawberries and also release tiny black seeds similar to poppy seeds. It’s certainly a conversation piece!
A word of caution – although the seed packages states that this annual plant re-seeds, some online research has brought up the following comments “May re-seed vigorously”. Yikes. I will be harvesting a few more berries and the rest will go in the garbage, to be composted by the City. I know I have dropped quite a few fruits already and do not want my veggie plot taken over by this plant next year. It might be safer in a large pot on a patio where stray seeds can be swept up. The lesson? Know your plants before bringing them into your yard!