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Another Batch of Foraged Duckweed

March 28, 2012

The other day I harvested 4 gallons of very pretty Lemna minor from a country pond I’d discovered a couple of years ago.

This pond is seventy miles from my home so I don’t get out that way very often. Unfortunately, the owner has plans to drain the pond and dig it out deeper so he can stock it with fish. So, I went a little nuts and netted a lot more than I would have otherwise. Even then, it only took ten minutes to bag up four gallons due to the pond being so thickly covered. Normally, we don’t get duckweed blooms like this until maybe June at the earliest. Strangest spring I can recall, but hey, I’m taking full advantage of it.

I examined the plants. Right away, I could tell that despite their lush, green color, they would be low in protein. (Probably around 15%.)  How can I tell? The roots- most were over 3 inches long. This is highly indicative of a plant that is r-e-a-ch-i-n-g out for nutrients in a water system that is close to pure water. Normally,  Lemna minor  has a root that is 1/2 to 1 inch in length. Even though this batch is low in protein, I can beef up the next generation  by growing it in a high nitrogen pond.

I hauled my double-bagged prize home and left it in the shade. Didn’t even open it for two straight days.   I thought, “Uh oh… this is not going to be a pretty sight,” as I untied the bag. However, all was green and smelled great like I’d just harvested it. You can bet I won’t get away with this in mid-summer!

There is something uniquely satisfying about turning a large batch of drained duckweed loose in a pool. At first, it all just sit in clumps, with only a few single plants drifting apart.  Give the clumps  a little swish or two with your hand and suddenly they speedily disperse in all directions at once, free at last. Within a couple of minutes, they spread out evenly across the water’s surface and begin acclimatizing to their new home.

I checked on this particular batch this morning. It looked beautiful with a couple of water bugs making zigzagged designs on the surface.  I’m going to use half of this batch for green mulch around my newly planted tomatoes. Then in a few days, I’ll use another half batch for my cukes. Then in a few more days, I’ll use another half batch for my compost. I can keep going like this all summer! Duckweed- what an amazing plant.

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 15, 2012 11:32 pm

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