By: Kim Trenholm

Danielle harvesting dandelion greens at Root 5 Farm in Fairlee, Vermont


The coming of spring is filled with the emergence of sun, rains, and the brave wild plant scouts ready to pave the way for their kin. Spring is a wonderful time of regrowth, inspiration, and renewal. Prior to this renewal, there is an awakening period where the Earth is arising from its dormancy. Our bodies mimic this process as we begin to adapt to the changing season. During these early spring months, our livers work to detoxify and clear out some of the substances that have accumulated within us over our less active winter months. The liver knows that our bodies will function better if we make way to receive the freshness and renewal that spring provides us.

We are all connected to the earth and its cycles, and all connections go both ways. The wild plants emerging during this time are packed with bitter plant compounds that signal our bodies to begin this process of awakening and eliminating. This is stimulated through our sense of taste, which detects the presence of these compounds when we encounter bitter flavors. Our bitter plant allies emerging in spring, and our digestive systems needing extra support during this time, is proof of our undeniable connection with plants.

This season, try planting some bitter greens to support your body’s emergence from the dormant winter months. Here at High Mowing Organic Seeds, we have some different varieties that mimic their wild cousins growing at the edges of fields in spring.

Sylvetta Wild Arugula: This variety is a wild arugula relative and has a pungent and bitter taste. It’s a fantastic winter crop, as it’s more cold tolerant than the standard arugula. It is also very heat tolerant, showing tremendous flexibility garnered from its wild relatives.

Esmee Arugula: This variety has a nuttier flavor, and beautiful oak shaped leaves that set it apart from other arugulas. It’s cold tolerant and fast growing, which makes it a great early garden staple.

Green Wave Mustard Greens: This hard-working mustard is beautiful in color and spicy in flavor. It’s slow to bolt, high yielding, and fast growing. At full size, the leaves become more serrated and frillier in appearance, giving it a unique visual presence in the garden.

Hong Vit Radish Greens: Add some color to your bitter garden with this leaf radish variety with smooth pink and red stems, and vibrant green leaves. It’s cold hardy, and fast growing, which is a common theme among bitter plants.

While bitter tasting plants might not be the first seeds we are eager to grow, they are essential to the biodiversity of our planet and helpful to the systems within our bodies. Give your body some extra love and support this spring by adding some bitter plants to your salads or stir fries. You’ll be surprised at how it improves your digestion and emergence from winter