In a survival situation, one of the first things people will try to secure is a ready source of food and water. Staying well-fed and healthy can mean the difference between barely surviving and comfortably thriving. Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals from your food isn’t that difficult if you know where to get them. It’s easy both to grow and forage for greens that can help improve your diet.
Spinach is an easy green to grow in many areas of the country as it enjoys cool weather and can be grown in fall or spring. Seed can be sown in springtime four to six weeks before the last frost, and again in the fall six to eight weeks before the first frost. Many varieties of spinach will be ready to start harvesting within a 30 to 40 days. Harvesting can be done either by harvesting an entire plant or by harvesting individual leaves as they mature.
Arugula is a sharp-tasting green that can liven up a salad, and you’ll pay a pretty penny for it in stores. But if you grow it in your garden you can provide yourself with a constant source of it for years to come. Once established, arugula spreads voraciously throughout gardens, becoming weedlike in its growth patterns. Most varieties of arugula will survive mild winters, but prolonged bouts of cold weather in the single digits can kill it.
Arugula can be planted in fall or spring, and will eventually flower and go to seed. Each plant will produce dozens of seed pods that can be harvested to provide seed for next year’s crop.
When most people think of salad they think of lettuce. While most grocery store lettuce is harvested once the head is fully grown, many lettuces can be harvested leaf by leaf from your garden, allowing you to continue harvesting leaves for weeks as the plant matures. With dozens of different types of lettuce available, you can easily grow your own salad.
Purslane grows prolifically in many areas of the country as a weed, but its leaves are a tasty addition to salads. The plants can sprout at just about any time of year but normally appear between spring and early summer. They will eventually flower and go to seed and, if allowed to shed their seeds, will spread quickly throughout a garden.
Dandelion greens are one of the better known varieties of foraged greens. Dandelions grow like weeds just about everywhere and are easy to spot in lawns and gardens. The green leaves, like many other greens, are best harvested while the plant is young, otherwise the leaves can get tough and bitter.
Mache, also known as corn salad, lamb’s lettuce, or feldsalat, is a green that originated in Europe and can be found in many areas of Europe and the United States growing wild. Once established it will grow as a weed, with plants beginning to sprout in the fall, surviving the winter, and eventually sprouting flowers and going to seed in the spring.
Mache has three times as much vitamin C as lettuce and is a good source of beta carotene (vitamin A), iron, and potassium.