Friday, July 26, 2013

Foraging in the front 40

As the pasture has turned from a windswept, brown desert to an astroturf-green carpet over the past few weeks, 
I've been witnessing a groundcover sprout everywhere that there isn't another weed, plant or clump of grass.
Apparently a prolonged drought followed by a couple inches of rain in the heat of July 
is the perfect storm for this mutant green thing to take over.

This is what I'm talking about. I have seen a little of it here and there in summers past but nothing of this magnitude.
Lucy and the boys are grazing around it, going for the taller and tastier grass,
but every once in awhile I watch them chomp down a mouthful of what I've been calling
"New Mexico Shamrock" for lack of its true name.
The stuff is spreading by the hour, so I had to identify it and find out if it is harmful to equines.

This is the part where the planets align. I went inside to Google my way to the answer,
but first I got distracted by a new post in my feed reader from Estorbo's mom. 
It was a recipe for Cucumber and Purslane Soup. Looked mighty tasty, but what in the heck is purslane? 
The recipe led me to another of Estorbo's mom's posts, Purslane, the delicious weed
which showed a picture of my New Mexico Shamrock, a.k.a. purslane! Ask and ye shall receive.

Then I had to find out what happens when equines eat purslane. The Google results were mixed. 
Some sources said it is very beneficial to equines for its healthful omega-3 fatty acids, other sources said 
it might cause calcium deficiencies in young horses and diarrhea and gastroenteritis in general.

There's no getting rid of it, so for now I'm taking the wait-and-see-and-obsessively-monitor-them approach.
My gut tells me that there's enough grass and other stuff in the pasture that the herd will be just fine
even if they eat a pile of purslane every now and then. My tastebuds tell me that they'd be crazy not to eat it. 
It's good! Think lemony lettuce. I can't imagine sitting down to eat a bowlful of it, but then again, with a little oil and vinegar...

I even found a Pinterest board with an entire collection of purslane recipes
I wonder how many jars of purslane pesto I could make from a ranch full of purslane? 
Enough to quit my job and retire tomorrow? One can only hope. 
If the bumper purslane crop weren't enough to get my entrepreneurial juices flowing...

I could start a mushroom farm!

Mushrooms in the desert? Who knew?

Between the rain and all the organic fertilizer, I've got mushrooms growing on the front 40!
But I'm afraid to try these. How does one know if one will have a tasty treat or hallucinations?

And it's not just one variety...

Check out this guy.

I need to hire a food taster. Any takers?


  1. Purselane was always one of those weeds I tried hard to eradicate through hours of pulling. Now, I welcome it. It is extremely good for you....very high in antioxidants. When autumn comes and the garden starts winding down, we saute the purselane as our vegetable du jour! As for the mushrooms, beware! They are a little difficult to identify for the novice and may end up taking you on a journey you didn't wish for!!

  2. The purslane factor is going to stay with you. It is a succulent and pretty tough to get rid of. I have something called Goose Foot. I finally got brave enough to eat this weed, and sure enough--it tastes like spinach.

    Mushroom foraging, however, is too scary to even think about. In California, a man in our town died after eating a foraged mushroom. I say: if you didn't spawn it yourself, get an expert to verify. Maybe you have some in your legion of readers!

  3. Your astroturf-green carpet is turning into an edible pantry. The first mushroom looks like a champignon de Paris and yummy. anyway a small dose of hallucinations could not harm you, could they?

  4. and you had no idea you had a ranch that can also be called a purslane farm.. maybe you could hire Winonna as chief taster. isn't it rue pigs eat anything and everything?

  5. By the way I just remember my father used to say that the best fertilizer for mushrooms is the equine one! I would try one of these mushrooms with a purslane salad.

  6. Marie is probably your girl on this one too!

  7. Looks like you're going gourmet, growing purslane and mushrooms. The only things I've tried from my yard are morels and pawpaws. Now I'm on the hunt for some purslane.

  8. Not sure if Smooch has an adventuresome palate, but do watch her around those mushrooms! Last year, I heard of a number of dogs up here who ate what looked like ordinary produce-store-variety mushrooms sprouting in people's lawns and ended up deathly ill or worse. Vets advise removing any mushrooms from the yard as soon as they pop up. (This has been a challenge for me, as the mushroom manure I used seems to have sprouted an unusually high number of mushrooms!).
    Here's a link to Patricia McConnell's blog on dogs and mushrooms:

  9. I am loving the "weed" purs(e)lane! I've been trying to get rid of a lawn for 2+ years and grow a groundcover that's low maintenance .. looks like purs(e)lane is a perfect choice, plus the dogs might enjoy a nibble or two (does anyone know if it's OK for dogs? Mine make a beeline to the wild grapevine leaves, which WILL be coming out, SOON!)

    Linda, as for tasty pesto recipes, I have one for Spinach-Walnut pesto; you could substitute the Purs(e)lane. Yum!

    Maggy in NC

  10. Considering that one of the top mycologists died two years ago from eating the 'wrong' mushroom, I eat very few wild ones. Yours look similar to the white deathcap we have here in NC (they are related to the common button mushroom). If you want mushrooms in your purslane salad, buy them just to be safe.

  11. This grows plentiful in my area and I've know it to grow in ditches that have water running down them. It grows this time of hear. I've always heard it called verdolaga. And, my family has always used it just like greens (wild).

  12. I have purslane in my yard...ABUNDANTLY! My dad recommended that I get rid of it...yet when I step on it I find it very cushioney. So I left it. It's the only pretty thing that grows in my end of the desert and doesn't require much water. I actually thought of transplanting it to another part of my yard...My dogs don't mind it and though the bees (pardon the pun) don't make a bee line for it because it doesn't bloom it's rather pretty.
    As for your mushrooms? I'd get a book on them "wild and domesticated" so you'd know what you have growing there and what's edible and what needs to be chucked out. "when in doubt....THROW it OUT!"

  13. The purslane is everywhere in New Mexico this summer. In Spanish it is called verdolagas and it is a treasured vegetable in many Hispanic households.I woukdn't touch the mushrooms, though. So easily misidentified, even by experts, too easy to die from.

  14. Purslane can go for as much as $10 a pound at a farmers market. The mexican fellows I work with always take it home for dinner when they weed plant beds. They cook it, but it's also used as a salad green. Wouldn't touch those shrooms though!!

  15. Purslane is popular in Italy as a mountain green. I bought some last year at our local farmers market and tried turning it into pesto - I'll never try that again. It get slimey when zapped raw. Might be good for a Halloween trick.

  16. Lucky you. Oodles of purslane as well as field mushrooms - though they could be horse mushrooms, another species of edible Agaricus...Next time take a spore print. Chocolate brown.

    That little one with pink gills turns into the one with the dark brown gills.

    Yours happen to be tasty treats but you're right to err on the side of caution. (Could you acquire two more burros and call one Err and another Caution?)...

    I'll be your food taster.

  17. in mexico we eat purslane with pork ribs in red california chili's or green tomatillo sauce serve with beans on the side and corn tortillas and is really good.