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LH 93: Backyard Foraging

How to safely eat common plants from your backyard

Many of us are food gardeners. We are used to harvesting things like tomatoes, carrots and onions from our backyards.

But what about hostas or dalihas??

Yes, we can eat those too!

In fact, there are many so-called “common” plants that are not only safe to eat, but are delicious as well.

In today’s podcast, you learn how to safely forage for food in your own backyard and some pro-tips for cooking up that harvest.

You will learn:

  • Important safety tips when it comes to foraging
  • Why starting in the backyard is a good idea
  • Which common plants are safe (and delicious) to eat
  • The one plant people are shocked to learn is edible
  • Why eating daylilies makes you a better gardener
  • Which tuber flavor changes dramatically with each species
  • The surprising plant with 4 edible parts
  • Which evergreen trees are safe to eat & how to do it


Ellen Zachos:

Ellen is Harvard graduate, garden author and a well-known expert on foraging – both out in nature and in your own backyard.

Ellen has written several books, including: Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat, Orchid Growing for Wimps, Growing Healthy Houseplants, and she has a new book coming out called The Wildcrafted Cocktail.

(Ellen is coming back to the podcast to share mixology info when that book is published!)

Ellen leads forage walks, gives lectures and conducts foraged mixology workshops all over the country. If you ever see her listed in your area, be sure to go! She is super knowledgable AND entertaining!


Photo credit: Rob Cardillo


Always be absolutely certain of a plant’s identity before consuming.

Many toxic and poisonous plants look similar to the safe varieties. You must be careful and not assume everything is safe until you have it properly identified.

Resources & Links Mentioned:

Backyard Forager – Ellen’s website

Backyard Foraging* – Ellen’s book

The Wildcrafted Cocktail* – Ellen’s book due out May 2017 (you can preorder!)

All About Milkweed – Ellen’s blog post

Eating Daylilies – Ellen’s blog post

Cooking Milkweed Pods – Ellen’s video

Making Spruce Tip Shortbread – Ellen’s video

Destruction of Habitat Largest Danger to Monarchs recommended article


Click here for the full transcript for Episode #93

*denotes an affiliate link

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.