Spring brings a wealth of wild edibles to Brooklyn. Master gardener and native plants expert Sara Stopek let me take some pictures of what’s growing in her Clinton Hill garden this week.
Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium) has delicious, tender greens in Spring. They have a mild flavor and a texture similar to young arugula. The plants pictured here enjoy growing underneath tall shrubs on the sunny side of the garden, but will thrive in deep shade too. Blue aster will bloom well into the fall when most other plants have quit for the season.
Fiddlehead Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) are sometimes compared to asparagus with their ephemeral harvest and unique, pleasant flavor. I like them sautéed with ramps (see below) alongside a hearty omelette. The plants pictured here enjoy the wetter and shadier part of the yard, and have self-propagated from a handful of starter plants to cover a 16 square foot patch in just a couple of years.
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) taste and smell much like leeks. I have found large patches of ramps thriving under the thick deciduous forests in the Catskills, but the plants pictured here seem just as happy to grow in a container beside strawberries.
Juneberries (Amelanchier) have a uniquely delicious flavor I can only describe as subtle cherry crossed with magic. Gorgeous white Spring blossoms (pictured here) are followed by bundles of red berries in early Summer. Juneberry trees come in a range of sizes so you can choose the a variety that best fits your garden.
Blueberries (Vaccinium) bear fruit in mid-late Summer, but I couldn’t resist photographing these beautiful Spring blossoms. There are so many different kinds of blueberries available from native plants nurseries, and it is recommended to grow several varieties of blueberry in your garden for best fruiting. While often grown in full sun, the plants pictured here are thriving in containers on a front stoop with only partial sun.