One plant we had lots of in the garden already (you can see it in the close-up photo) was lamb's quarters or chual. We weeded it out from other beds and transplanted it here! It's tasty and good in salads.
The best way to show you our selections is to quote the explanatory sign (which I really am going to put up very soon, maybe tomorrow! I'm a little behind at tasks like that...).
Beyond corn, squash, and beans, what plants did the people of North America eat before European crops were introduced? In this bed we show just a few examples of edibles native to North America. Some are familiar to our gardens today - as ornamentals, herbs, or even weeds.
Chia (Salvia columbariae) is a member of the mint family native to central and southern Mexico. Chia seeds can be roasted for a tasty source of nutrients, ground to make a refreshing drink that makes alkaline desert water palatable, or used as a medicine.
Chual (Chenopodium berlandieri) is grown for the leaves, which can be eaten raw or cooked, as well as for the flowering shoots and seeds. Today it is regarded as a weed (lamb's quarters), but it was once an important domesticated crop.
Beebalm (Monarda didyma) is native to the American Midwest and South. It is used as a medicinal plant and a tea.
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is actually native to Central and South America but migrated north. Its flowers and leaves are a delicious addition to salads.
The genus Amaranthus includes several amaranth species native to the Americas, grown for edible seeds and leaves. It was an important, high-protein grain crop and is still grown today for its health benefits.
Mexican marigold (Tagetes lucida) is native to the south U.S. and Mexico. It has an anise-like flavor and is used as a substitute for tarragon as well as for medicinal purposes (it's said to cure hangovers!).
Culantro (Eryngium foetidum) should not be confused with cilantro, though they taste similar. It is native to Mexico and is used as a food flavoring and medicinal herb.
Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), native to the U.S., can be used in salads and tea, and is also attractive to bees, hummingbirds, and seed-eating birds.
I highly recommend anise hyssop, chia and Mexican marigold as additions to your herb bed or vegetable garden, and culantro if you can give it some shade. And most of us grow beebalm and nasturtiums already. Amaranth is majestic, but watch the self-seeding, and I'd say just harvest the lamb's quarters you already have and eat it. (We're also growing quinoa, which is a close relative - I'm watching it to figure out when to harvest the seeds - and hoping we don't have it inadvertently next year.)