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Greens for Everyone

April 25, 2012

Spring tonic for all!  The few beds we have planted in the greenhouse are supplying us with about two pounds of greens a day.  The first spring greens are so different from robust winter greens, and definitely different from dog days greenery.  When you grow your own, you aren’t locked into the standard grocery store fare, you can branch out with textures, colors and flavors that favor each growing season.

The cows too, are getting their spring salad bar.


At first glance, the pasture appears to be a monoculture of grass.  What follows is a quick photo tour of the most obvious grasses and forbs in our pastures in early spring.


Orchard Grass  (Dactylis glomerata)


Quack grass (Agropyron repens)   A great forage, but I dread it in my garden!  Quackgrass is a symptom of compacted soil :(


Vetch, (Vicia sativa)


Red Clover, (Trifolium pratense)


Narrowleaf Plantain, (Plantago lanceolata)


Dandelion and white clover, (Taraxacum offinale and Trifolium repens)


False Dandelion, (Hypochaeris radicata)


These plant communities are what our pastures are like as a general rule, and is excellent forage for cows.  We do have some problem areas though, which are easily identified by the plants that grow there.  Next post – problem areas in the pasture.

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19 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2012 6:36 am

    How do you know the difference between red and white clover before the flowers bloom on it? This grass identification is really interesting to me :)

    • April 25, 2012 7:58 am

      Novicelife, partly by sight, and partly by location. The white clover likes (or is able to grow) in more compacted soil, think high traffic areas like paths, driveways or barnyards. And the red clover likes a looser soil (different root structure), so I rarely see it in high traffic areas. The leaves of the red are slightly a different shape and color, and also larger and taller. The white also is more tolerant of continuous grazing whereas the red dies out unless the plants are able to express themselves.

  2. April 25, 2012 6:46 am

    Amazing how the seasons change…and everything bursts open with life…again! You are a mystical part of that entire cycle and should be very proud. You work hard…but, in everything you do, you honour the earth. Have a beautiful spring!

  3. April 25, 2012 6:53 am

    That is definitely the best thing about growing your own–the variety. I enjoyed the pasture tour as well.

  4. April 25, 2012 7:08 am

    I’m with you on the quack grass, or couch grass. It might like compacted soil, but it seems quite happy to spread out into uncompacted soil. Those roots go through everything. They grow through potatoes, gladiola bulbs, rhubarb roots. Get them in a clump of perennials and the only way to get them out is to dig the clump up and rip it apart. I have fun seeing how long a piece of root I can ease out before it breaks. Between that and the buttercups (yes, I know they also indicate symptoms in the soil)….The buttercups also like to move into the well fertilized garden and grow big and lush. Part of living on the wet west coast I guess.

    • April 25, 2012 7:52 am

      Wyndsonfarm, yeah, we have contests in the summer to see who can get the longest root. Easily amused ;)

  5. April 25, 2012 12:04 pm

    I am fascinated by looking beneath the surface as you have done, to reveal how what appears simple or boring is actually a very complex world. I don’t have such a pasture nearby in which to do this, so it is lovely to see into yours. Thank you!

    Your wealth of greens is downright exciting — do you put them in a sink or bucket of water to wash them? Washing and sorting the leaves is never as much fun for me as growing them.

    • April 25, 2012 2:53 pm

      GJ, well thank you, I’m a plant nerd anyway, so I’m pretty enamored by the whole process :)

      I usually soak the greens in a solution of H20 and a splash of food grade hydrogen peroxide – for the house anyway, hubby has gastro issues :(

  6. Tammy permalink
    April 25, 2012 12:49 pm

    We have lot’s of quack grass and buttercups on our property here in Southern Vermont. I have very clay-y soil, so I guess that explains the quack grass. But I love this post and how you photographed and identified the different components of your pasture. Really beautifully done! Thank you for the good work & sharing!

  7. April 25, 2012 1:24 pm

    I can’t tell the difference between orchard grass and quack grass. I fail, haha.
    Oh well.
    Thanks for all the pictures and information, Matron. Much appreciated! :o)

    • April 25, 2012 2:51 pm

      LindaG, well it wasn’t a test ;) If you have dogs, they usually go for the quack to settle their tummies :)

  8. Sid permalink
    April 25, 2012 2:05 pm

    Your grass is a good size. How come it grows so quickly while the snow has only just been gone and you have had relatively cold weather since?

    • April 25, 2012 2:50 pm

      Sid, our soil never really freezes, so the snow actually acts as an insulator, and we get lotsssss of rain :D Some winters though, if we do get a cold spell with no snow, the ground does freeze and it’s a little harder on the grass at those times.

  9. April 25, 2012 2:38 pm

    I love your new drop caps…

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