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How I Fell in Love With Claytonia

I (hi! I’m Petra!) first met Claytonia on a solo backpack around Point Reyes in California nearly 20 years ago, where they were growing knee-high as well as everywhere. Though I didn’t know them by name, my instincts urged me to take just one bite…

…and another…

…and another.

One week later, emerging from the wilderness (oh, the days before cell phones!) having eaten pounds of the loveliest greens I could imagine, I went straight to the library to figure out this plant I was obsessed with, relieved that indeed they have been revered as delectable for millennia.

Like bright, succulent spinach, deliciously crisp and even more cold-hardy, we sow claytonia seeds bright, shining ebony orbs in late September, both in the field and in our high tunnels, since she strongly prefers to germinate in cool soils. Sown earlier in September, they may not germinate: literally, we germination test our claytonia seeds in the fridge.

Here in the Northeast, Claytonia only grows 4-6″ tall, surrounding us with abundance in fall and even in winter, re-growing with impressive vigor, like an emerald carpet, in spring before flowering white and going to seed once the temps rise in May. Growing when tree roots are not, Claytonia is a beloved member of our orchard, as well.

If there were three seeds that would feed us all winter long, they would be claytonia, spinach, mache…

…and chervil…

…and cilantro…

…that’s three, right?!!

Though it seems a little late, you’re sincerely right on time if you’re here in Zone 5 and plenty of time if you’re in Zone 6.

If you have a favorite overwintering green in your garden, shout them out in the comments, we’d love to know!

And if you’re looking for organic Claytonia seeds, we love to share ours here.

Sow Seeds & Sing Songs,

& the whole Fruition Crew

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