One family of plants with an amazing diversity of nutritious and beautiful species is the goosefoot, or Chenopodiaceae, family. Among the goosefoots is quinoa, cultivated for more than 3,000 years in the Andes for its protein-rich seeds; epazote, a pungent herb used for culinary and medicinal purposes in Mexico; and the more familiar garden veggies: beets, Swiss chard, and spinach. In Central Texas, we’re also lucky to have an edible wild variety called lamb’s quarter (Chenopodium album) which frequently pops up as a weed (or a volunteer, depending on your perspective), and boasts tasty, spade-shaped leaves richer in vitamins A and C than spinach.
Our favorite goosefoot for Central Texas gardens is Swiss chard. Chard is chock full of vitamins A, C and K, plus calcium, magnesium, potassium and fiber. It’s well suited for our climate; it likes cool weather and survives light freezes but also tolerates warmer weather, outlasting leafy greens in the Brassica family (like kale and cabbage) in the spring.
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