Plants talk to me. They tell me things. Sometimes. They whisper secrets, and tell me how to use them. Sometimes they show me swirling colors of what they really look like when I close my eyes before I go to sleep. They tell me that what my eyes see is not the same as what bugs see, and really what is it that I see?!
This year, I was looking at Dame Rocket, that wild weed. Her flowers have such a magnificent scent! I asked her if I could make a perfume with her, but in my question was this method that I had done before, in other words, I wanted t o make an oil infusion using her flowers. She said that not much scent would be captured that way...and that led me to seeking some ways that I could capture her scent, as well as the scent of other wild ladies, such as lilac!
I stumbled upon a yahoo group for perfumery and began perusing some documents. Yes, I'd heard of Everclear, and I suppose making a perfume using alcohol would be a better solution. Or using effleurage, which is using fat (lard). Both methods talked about soaking the flowers at their peak of scent for 1-2 days, removing the spent flowers and then repeating the process until no more scent could be captured.
I'm sure there are other ways of doing it; I haven't gotten that far in my perfume journey. But it's a start!
Funny thing is when I went to fetch the Dame Rocket flowers at work, they smelled stinky! They were all looking at me like, oh, you just want our flowers huh? Well there! I dunno, I haven't figured it out yet; my intention was to capture their sweet scent, no offense intended!! I'll ask the other Dame Rocket plants I saw and see what they have to say. Perhaps the time has passed, as already some of the flowers were missing on the stems. Perhaps the time to make perfume for them is no longer ripe, the window of opportunity is gone.
Now, Lilacs however, they should be good to go! The tree on the neighbor's lawn got quite a trimming last year, so she's blooming late, in June instead of in springtime May.
The weather has been iffy at times, and like in recent past years, I no longer start any seeds inside. While there was no snow in either April or may, the good weather came in May then petered out to some cold days and nights.
I did collect some Garlic Mustard leaves, although I'm not so fond of the taste. I tried to make Dandelion flower jelly using coconut sugar and while it turned out okay, be prepared for some slight bitterness! On pancakes with fruit I'm sure it would work though :)
I've collected Violet and Plantain leaves at work. At my bf's house, he had tons of good ol' Chickweed growing in his planters on the balcony. And you know what them herbalists say, plants that you be needing are growing right under your feet! Or on your balcony :) He works in construction at the moment, so lots of boo-boos come out. Of course I made the poor lad an infused Chickweed oil to turn into a salve. That'll help with the itching! Guess I should add in the Plantain. Can't add in Marigolds just yet, they come out later in the fall.
I planted many seeds in some flower boxes on my front balcony. Not much has popped out yet, and to be honest, I didn't feel the same pull to garden as I have in past years. Perhaps because I know where to find plants not too far away, like Nettle at a little hideaway close to some condo buildings; Wild Aster, Yellow Dock and Red Clover at a field close to a supermarket; Red Clover and Yarrow along the river's edge...and oh yes, I discovered some Red Clover, Vetch, Dandelion and Sow Thistles behind the mall! Then there are the Rose petals, which I started collecting in early June. I've collected some Red Clover leaves, but the blossoms just came out this week. I've seen them growing in many different places in the city, but I'm not interested in getting them so close to busy streets!
I was saying I haven't seen that many seedlings come up. Nasturtium and Borage so far, yes, and I found Lamb's Quarter, that wild spinach, growing in a few pots (probably seeds in the compost). I planted Comfrey and Nettle and the rest of the plants are herbs: Parsley, Coriander, Mint, Anise Hyssop, Dill, Oregano, Thyme, Tarragon, Rosemary and Sage. I was surprised to find Mint seeds and decided to go ahead and see what comes up. I saw some seedlings in the pot, but it could be Chickweed as that one tends to crop up in many places!
I planted a couple of Cucumber and Bell Pepper plants in the soil directly close to the house, as well as some Radish seeds. It gets the afternoon sun, so we'll see what shall be! As you know, I live on the second floor, so this is a tiny plot of land behind the front balcony. My old landlord sold the house, and the new landlord doesn't mind that I ripped up the grass along the side of the house, put in a little fence and planted a few things. So far one Nettle plant has returned from last year, several Pansy plants and lots of moss! As it's quite shady, especially the area closest to the balcony, I planted 3 varieties of Mint plants (Spearmint, Pineapple and Peppermint) and several Malva plants that I got from my neighbor's yard. Interestingly, the Malva plants last year in that mostly shaded area did just fine, so I decided to plant some new ones this year. There's no shortage of them, as Malva is a quite the sharing, self-seeding kinda type! ;)
I went through my seeds and decided to plant some herbs that my herb teacher had talked about but that I never personally got acquainted with: Joe-pye weed, Elecampane and another herb for the lungs (oopsy, forgot now). Nope, not Mullein, I know what she looks like, I've seen her soft leaves and her weird growing pattern of yellow flowers! No guarantees if anything will turn up, we'll see. Ah yes, it was Echinacea! My neighbor has some that comes back year after year that I've love to dig up for the roots and tincture or use as antiviral cold and flu tea, but alas, she loves seeing her flowers come up every year!
Hmm, that got me thinking that she has tons of Fleabane and Peonies and they might make a nice perfume!! Yep, more research on perfume making is definitely in my future!
Herbs I'll be testing soon:
• Fleabane, flowers to be used as an emmenagogue, aka for period cramps (leaves I throw into the soup pot with other good tasting veggies like carrots and beets). Read HERE for tons of more info about her.
• Hawkweed. Flowers are said to be a diuretic, so I'll see how my body reacts and compare that to when I use Prunella, which is a gentle but effective diuretic
• Ox-eye daisy. While edible, she smells like...Valerian, or what I call the stinky-poo weed. Yeah, that's why flies like to come and take a snooze on the flowers! Leaves can be thrown into the soup pot with other veggies and the flowers make a milder soothing nervine tea like chamomile. Yep, think of Marguerites (another name for her) like a mild version of Chamomile. Haven't tasted the tea yet, we'll see what she tastes like!
• Herbs to use in Sangria recipes. Sangria is basically using wine as a menstrum to steep fruits in to get their flavors, kinda like making cucumber or lemon water where you soak the veggies in water overnight and strain. Nice for weight loss and those hot summer day. So far, I used both Elderberry and Hibiscus flower in THIS sangria recipe, which came out quite lovely. I do find it can get a bit pricey between the wine and using herbs, but if you collect your own (and make your own wine!) you can minimize the cost.
• I might try using Mugwort to make beer. Not a beer person myself, but the bf is, so he might like it. Better than Dandelions, which he sees now with new eyes thanks to this wild foraging lady, but still not so keen on eating it. Ah, don't worry, he'll be eating it in a purred soup and never know it til I tell him later heheh! Well, I did spike the Sangria with Dandelion root tincture. Extra alcohol, dear, and a little help for the liver! :P
Well, that's a good start for this year, sunshine! Lots of that coming this way, cuz days are getting longer and summer will be rollin' 'round the corner in a few weeks. Stay bright, sunshine, stay bright :)
This is the last post of the year and the growing season is long past. Indeed, I didn't write as much as I wanted to this year about foraging and herbs. While I did go foraging on several occasions, I didn't do as much as I did last year.
This year, I didn't visit Buckthorn Woods. Bellefield was totaled over, yet there was still a path of weeds that remained along the water. When I passed by there (finally!) all of the Stinging Nettle was in seed. I had even hoped to go back after chopping them down, but no such luck!
The Queen Anne's Lace seeds I planted last year took at work, although I didn't uproot them. There were a few Yellow dock plants that I also left and didn't uproot.
My own garden didn't do so well this year for two reasons: 1- it was a cold and rainy June, the time when the growing season starts and 2- I didn't add compost to my containers. I think the second reason was a bigger factor, as the soil microbiome is not the same as in the ground. Speaking of which...
New things this year were:
1. I planted directly in the soil on a small plot of land right behind the upstairs balcony. The balcony leads to the front entrance and it casts a large shadow over the earth. Still, Mallow, Mint, Violets and Chervil managed to do okay. Mallow did really well even in the shade in comparison to Mint! I'll plant more Mallow there next year and perhaps some Mint. I tried to grow Sorrel and Nettle: both of them didn't take ---2 tiny, scrawny plants.
2. I found Red Clover, Tansy, Yarrow and Plantain growing alongside the bike path. The city doesn't spray and it's sort of an odd place for dogs to go do their business as the plants are growing right along the rocky edge of the lake, so I felt the area was pretty safe. I visited there 3 times and this was a new and pleasant way to collect herbs on a local level ---> and by local, I mean really close to home! :)
3. I visited a new field close to a shopping center rather close by. The area was fenced off and one side of the field was close to the sidewalk. There were many plants growing there such as Red Clover, Dock, Wild Aster and Wild Parsnip. I collected Dock seeds (to make a coffee substitute) and Wild Aster flowers (to make a tea) in the early fall when I passed by. There was another field right close by, but I never ventured in to take a peek.
4. I visited a park close to a subway and discovered a Hawthorn tree and a Juniper tree. I missed out on getting a good bounty of Hawthorns as I waited too long before revisiting the area. As for the Juniper berries, I collected as much as could fit into my pockets. Both make excellent teas: Hawthorn for healing the heart (cardio-tonic) and Juniper for flushing out toxins (aka, excellent diuretic).
5. I discovered Horse Chestnuts! Tons of these trees are planted by the city and the large nuts can be turned into an oil (crush nuts first and infuse) for skins conditions and varicose veins AND can be used as laundry soap! I'll be posting that in the Herbal Recipes section, so you can read more about Horse Chestnuts and how to make your own.
6. I never did return to rip out the grass in the community plot I purchased from the city. Not only was I busy during the summer, but I didn't have the heart to be weeding out grass before planting the seeds. The earth would've probably needed to have compost added, and as the garden was a bit far from home, I decided to let it be. My hopes to have my own garden one day are still on the horizon!! :)
7. I visited a large community garden and found a Hickory Nut tree! Indeed, there were many medicinal plants and interesting trees to be discovered. I need to do some further research on Hickory Nuts, although from the tiny bit of knowledge that I've gleaned, I know they are edible and some *tough* nuts to crack!
Winter is on its way, and I have a few plants growing inside. Yes, I never did share all the plants that were growing in my balcony garden this year, but that's okay. Some fared better than others, but in truth, it really wasn't the best growing season.
The plants I have taken inside are Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint and Sage. I tried Basil but she isn't too happy with the cold weather. I also brought in 2 pots of Nettle and Comfrey. New leaves of Comfrey are growing in, so she seems to be doing well. The other herbs are okay, although I do find they get "leggy" despite being in front of the patio door where they get in the morning sun.
I also have 2 pots of baby Aloe plants. My Huge Aloe plant had babies! It was rather exciting, as at first there was just one and then suddenly there was two! When she started to topple over to one side to make room for them, I took the babies and gave them each their own space. They both seem to be faring well :)
That's it for the end of this season. I hope next year I'll continue to discover new friends and reacquaint with old "faces!" For now, snowy days mean Mother Nature is resting...at least in this part of the world ;)
Sun is still shining, so keep burnin' bright...whenever and whatever you are doing :)
The other day I finished work early and came home to evening twilight. It was still light enough to see and I went clamoring around my neighbor's garden looking for weeds. I've been inviting myself into her garden, you see, and I fully expected to see her coming out to talk to me and see what invaders I'd removed from her lawn and her precious garden! But no, she was off this weekend to the country with her son, a stay-cation well-spent with the family.
I found some Malva growing on her lawn and some large Galinsoga, or Gallant Soliders (also called Quickweed), growing in a shady corner of the garden. I spotted a few large Strawberry leaves, but they didn't call me much to pick them.
Then I moseyed on to the front of her garden, close to the street, where I knew I would find some large Violet leaves hiding below some hedges. Lo and behold, what else did my little eyes spy? Some bright purple flashes of color that on closer inspection..was it? Really? Oh yes, indeed! Prunella!
I've written about Self-Heal before and I just love making an infusion with her. She helps to mop up fat and get the lymphatic system cleaned out, pipes that so few of really consider nowadays. But alas, she is also considered an alterative, so she does help with overall functioning of the body and that means that she is a gentle tonic that nourishes all bodily systems. That also means you can take her every day as a nourishing infusion :)
I ended up crouching down to pick up a good bunch of bright flowers and did indeed find some Violet leaves under the bushes as well as just in front of the bushes. The ones in the sun were light green whereas the ones in the shade were a lovely shade of dark green...It got me thinking suddenly that I need (and want!) to visit Buckthorn woods, where there were several Violet plants that had the largest leaves I've seen yet. They were growing on the edge of the trail, but still quite in the shade under large trees. Prunella also grows there, as well as Plantain. I've been able to find quite a few Plantain plants these year, but as always the leaves are so small! The leaves in the woods, just like with Prunella, are given their full way to reach their potential, and I love the shiny energy that smiles back at me when I pick those leaves!
Oooh, writing about Buckthorn Woods and my plant friends is getting me so excited! I haven't spent much time out in the woods and forests, especially with all this rain! It's just been one day of rain after another, or a day of sun followed by a day of rain. Bah! I need 2-3 days of no rain if I want to collect herbs! They have to be dry, not all soggy and wet!
In any case, I will have to plan a day where I can get to some fields and collect a large bunch of Red Clover. She is a pricey herb in the shops, just like Stinging Nettle. Speaking of which, when I visited Bellefield, they had chopped many of the Nettle plants close to the ground, so I am hoping I will be able to collect a good bunch when they regrow come the fall! Otherwise, I would like to collect the ones in seed now and get them juiced or steam them and throw them into the blender for a delish veggie smoothie! Yep, Stinging Nettle takes like a mean green spinach substitute, very high in iron. You can also make dry her leaves and take an infusion or her daily: 2 cups of Nettle to 4 cups water in a 1-liter mason jar. Put this into infusion into your water bottle, you can dilute if it's too strong. It's like drinking liquid chlorophyll instead of water, and nettle is high in calcium, protein, silicon, magnesium and many of the other trace minerals. A prized herb to be sure to have around with whatever the season!
At the bus depot the other day, I took several pics of wild plants all around. There was:
Liver Cleansing Tea Recipe
I've been making a delish infusion lately of equal amounts Violet, Prunella and White Clover (trifolium repens). I also add in a few TBsp of Dandy root and Burdock root and a good fistful of dried Nettle. This makes a great liver cleansing/tonifying tea :) You can drink it as is or use it as the liquid in smoothie recipes. I've even used the liquid from this infusion to make hot chocolate and to make regular orange pekoe tea! Plus, you can even use the liquid as a fertilizer for your plants! Use about 1/4 the tea and then fill up the rest of the watering can with water :)
Since I'll be visiting Buckthorn Woods soon, I expect I will also be running into Goldenrod, whom I saw blooming in someone's front garden the other day, and Wild Aster. Both have edible leaves and medicinal properties, and I'll tell you about those next time around ---well, after I've visited the woods first ;)
In ending this post, I have decided that instead of sharing ALL the plants that I've planted in my balcony garden (information overload!!), I will discuss 3 of them at a time in a future post.
Pray for sunshine, sunshine, because the late summer season is almost here and shiny plant friends are waiting to be seen and enjoyed. Stay bright! :)
PS. I've posted some pics below!! :]
As promised, I am sharing some information about some other plants which are growing right now, in mid-summer---edible plants, too!
Creeping Bellflower. She's considered an invasive weed, but you can find this one growing on many lawns, depending on the area. The flowers look like bells and make a pretty sight in the garden. The other good news is that her leaves and flowers are edible! I like to use her leaves in soups, stews and in green juices. You can also use some of the smaller or younger leaves in salads. The flowers don't taste much, but do pretty up a salad real quick. Her root is also edible <- I think roots from younger plants might taste better as some of the ones I tried were rather fibrous and tough.
Day Lily. This flower, like Creeping Bellflower, can often be seen growing in many a-garden. Flowers come in many different colors and only the true Day Lily (Hemerocallis fulva) is said to be edible (the orange colored one). I have tried different varieties and they do taste differently according to their coloring. Because they have a laxative effect, you should limit your intake to 1-2 flowers.
I like to add the closed buds and opened flowers to stir-fries, soups and stews. You can also stuff them as you would squash blossoms or bell peppers (with rice, quinoa, etc.), steam them with other veggies, or dip them in your fave tempura batter and then fry them up. The flowers are a good source of iron and Vitamin A, among other things :)
Note that the leaves are only edible when young (under 5 inches) and can have a sedative/hallucinogenic effect when eaten in large quantities. The young white tubers in the fall are also edible. You can read more about that and other info from Green Deane, foraging expert, Here.
One last thing about Day Lilies: as her name "day" implies, each of her flowers are open for only ONE day, so harvest them when you can :)
Hollyhocks. Hollys are another ornamental flower that you can see in many gardens. The flowers come in many colors, from pinks to purples to white and even black. Being in the same family as Mallow and Marshmallow, you can use all parts of Hollyhocks exactly as you would for Mallow/Marshmallow. That is:
Hollyhocks are perennials so they will come back year after year. They are tall flowers, so best to plant in the garden and not in a pot (unless it's a VERY tall pot to accommodate her long taproot). You can purchase seeds from Richters. You can read more her medicinal, edible and other uses Here and at PFAF.
Hope you have been enjoying me posting about different plants! These flowers can be seen as "edible ornamentals," so think twice about what's growing in your garden--you never know what Other Benefits your beauties may be able to bestow on you!!
Keep smilin', sunshine, because the days are long and hot and the weeds are flourishing everywhere :)
This post is WAY long overdue! I started writing a post about 2 weeks ago and have been busy ever since. Can you tell it's summer? Oh yes, summer is in full swing and there are many plants that you can choose from!
Lady's Thumb. She is an easy one to identify as she has this distinctive mark on her lance-shaped leaves that kind of looks like a thumb print. Her flowers grow in little clusters and are also rather unusual. The flowers can be pink or white. Usually you'll find her growing rather small, however the other day I found one growing on a busy street and she was about waist high at 3-4 feet!
Is she edible? Of course! I've never used her seeds, but her leaves have a pungent taste when eaten raw, so you chop them up and add them to salads. She makes a great spinach substitute (or use as you would any green) and you can steam the leaves or add them to soups and stews. She can be juiced and added to veggie smoothies as well :)
Gallant Soldiers. I confess: this plant must've been in my potting soil, because I found her growing in EVERY single one of my pots! The good news about her is that she is an edible weed! Her white petaled & yellow-centered flowers are quite distinctive: the yellow centers have small "pockets" that are reminiscent of honey comb while the 5 white indented petals are widely spaced and look like a mini tulip or a bear's paw shape (two ways you might find useful to conceptualize/help with ID). I use her leaves in soups, stews and stir-fries, and you can certainly toss them into salads and use them in smoothies and green juices. You can read more about Quickweed (another name for her) HERE.
Horseweed. This was a new plant I discovered just this year at work. She looks very much like Solidago, or Goldenrod before she flowers <-scroll down and you'll see a pic of the plant with just leaves, before she flowers) but there are hairs on her central stem. She also has many small flowers that start in June while Goldenrod has bushy yellow flowers that come out in late August. When you crush her leaves they give off a carrot-like smell.
She also starts off in a basal rosette and then grows to kinda look like a bottle brush, sort of looking like Horsetail or as her other name, Mare's Tail. The taste of her leaves is bitter, so she can understand why she makes a good vermifuge. You can read more about her medicinal uses here.
Is she edible? Young or old, I'd throw the leaves into the soup or stew pot. I'd also juice her, but not put too much in the juice, just like with Dandelion leaves. Since her flavor is similar to tarragon, you can dry and grind her leaves and use her that way. I've yet to do this, but I would dry her leaves whole and add in a small bunch to the soup pot come wintertime.
Note that one of her common names is Canada Fleabane (latin name is conyza canadensis/erigeron canadensis). She in the same family as Fleabane (erigeron philadelphicus) but they do not look the same.
I've kept this post to just talking about 3 plants, because I know it can get hairy when there are too many plants to identify! I'll continue to mention a few different plants with each new post.
Being in early -and starting almost to enter into- mid-summer, many plants are thriving, so there are many plants I can talk about! Indeed, I found a nice patch/ field that I am hoping to visit soon where I located---Comfrey! This is the 1st time I've ever seen her growing in the wild, and I want to go and get some in order to dry her for infusions and make oil (more about that in the next post!). It has been quite a rainy summer, in all truth, which has meant that foraging for herbs hasn't been ideal. However, I am hoping to take a day trip to a field a bit far away in order to collect Red Clover. I visited Bellefield the other day, or should I say what is now a big building of condos. Along the water, there are some Stinging Nettle plants in seed, which I would like to collect and use to make a mean green pesto! I also noticed some Motherwort and Jewelweed growing, as well as some Blue Vervain. I am mentioning these plants now, and I might talk about them in a future post, but it isn't my intention to collect these plants.
Of interesting note: on the way to the dance studio the other day, I came across a Lamb's Quarter plant as tall as myself (over 5 feet tall)! I always find it amazing when I see a plant growing in a "mini-form" (usually like on a lawn or the crack in a sidewalk, and the plant is small because it has been mowed down and then regrows) and then seeing the same plant growing in its full potential (like in a field or abandoned lot).
Anyway, sunshine, I am happy to report that the herbs are bountiful and green blessings are everywhere! Stay bright, because there are many more lush days ahead :)
Once again, so many things have been happening in the plant world around me! Although I wasn't able to attend my herb class this weekend, I have been seeing lots of other plants to share with you! Some of these plants I've seen growing close to the subway, on the lawn at work, on my neighbor's lawn, and beside a huge bus depot. In short, wild things are growing all over the place! However, the ones that you want to pick should NOT be close to the road. It's OK if a field or deserted area is close to the road, but you want to gather the plants that are the farthest from the road. You also want to avoid areas where people walk their dogs (for the poop contamination, yep) and beside railroads, the latter because of heavy metals. You can read Green Deane's 2 cents on where to forage HERE.
Living in the city, I use my intuition about where to forage. I might take a few plants close to a parking lot, but it also depends on the purpose. For example, I might use Mugwort as a smudge plant, so I wouldn't be ingesting it. Or perhaps I'm gathering Milkweed flowers to dry for potpourri. Or perhaps I'm not sure about the ID of the plant, so I will transfer her to a pot, let her grow, and use my field guide books to ID her.
My personal favorite places to forage are abandoned areas where few visit; my neighbor's garden; the lawn at work; the abandoned "raised beds" behind the local mall (a place where some cars do pass, but it's not used that much); and abandoned areas that are close to the road, but within a fair distance that foraging is OK.
So, let's get into some new plant friends that I haven't talked about this season yet!
Daisy Fleabane. She looks like a daisy, and yes she in the same family as Daisy, that is, Asteraceae. She has small white rays and in the middle, a shocking color of yellow. Sometimes you can find her with pink rays instead of white. Either way, her leaves are edible and you'll be wanting to cook them. I like adding them to the soup or stew pot. I've used the dried flowers in an infusion to help with menstrual cramps and being astringent, you can also use her for diarrhea. Make sure when you dry her flowering tops that she isn't about to die, as all you'll get is white fluff, and that's not so nice for tea! Her taste isn't bad, although I confess I mix her in with Red Clover and Rose in infusions, which are two herbs I often combine for menstrual cramps.
FYI: being a weed that you can find in lots of fields, feel free to forage away!
Oxeye Daisy. I mentioned Daisy when talking about Daisy Fleabane above, and yes this weed has many parts which are edible! Leaves and root can be thrown into the soup pot; leaves and flowers eaten raw in salads; root pickled. Some say it has a pungent taste, and I confess I'm not found of her "stinky" smell, which reminds me of the "pooey" smell of Valerian. I add both flowers and leaves to the soup pot and have yet to try pickling her root. The pungent smell makes me think of using her flowers and leaves in an herbal vinegar, which is something I have yet to try.
FYI: I've seen her growing on many a-lawn as an "ornamental," as well as wild in fields. Depends on the area, I suppose, because I don't always find her growing in every field I visit.
Vetch. Also called Hairy Vetch, I found this one growing in a Rose bush (she is a climbing plant), hence those leaves you see are of Rose, not Vetch. There is one set of her leaves on the LEFT and in the BACK of the picture, where you see two opposite, lance-like leaves (all similar in size) growing up the central stem (you can also look at this pic here). Being in the Legume family, she is often grown to help fix nitrogen for the soil and for fodder crop. Her flowers make a roadside nibble, and I've added some of her purple flowers (so pretty! just remove them from the stem first) to salads and to THIS FLAX CRACKER RECIPE.
I've also dried her and paired her half-half with dried lavender in sachets to put in your "unmentionables" drawer. This idea was told to me by Vetch herself, and if you understand plant spirit medicine and that plants do indeed communicate, then you can appreciate what a wonderful joy it was to discover such a beautiful use for her! I gave the sachets as gifts and they were well received :) You can find that recipe HERE.
Note that according to the PFAF Database, her leaves are said to be edible, however I've never eaten them or used them in anyway. Seems I will have to be poking my nose around and finding out what a fellow Vetch plant has to say on the matter ;)
Rose. I've mentioned Rose in a previous post, and foraged some petals just today. Notice that there are 3 different varieties in the photos above :) They all smell great, and I love eating the white petals fixed as a single layer on toast (add your fave nut butter, jam or spread, then place the petals in a single layer on top of the spread).
I wanted to mention HOW you should take off the petals. You see the central part in the 2nd picture, the part that looks like small cilia or hairs with a cream center surrounded by a ring of white? That part will turn into a Rose hip, or fruit, so if you yank the whole flower off the stem, it won't be able to do so. What you want to do is remove ONLY the petals, and gently. I cup my hand over a flower to enfold the petals and then gently use my finger to pull them off. The petals should all easily slip off into your hand. If they don't, then it means the flower isn't ready to give up her petals and you should wait for that particular flower---and move on to all the flowers are ready to give up their petals!
While some do collect Rose buds and use that for infusions (being higher in vitality and energy), I've never had an issue using only the petals in infusions or for any herbal recipe (such as for perfume, massage oil, toner or face cream).
Oh, I don't want to talk about too many plants at once, because I know it can create information overload, however there are still so many other plant friends that I have seen and would like to talk about! Suffice it to say that I saw Galinsoga (also called Gallant Soldiers) in leaf state; flowering Evening Primrose (she's a biennial); Sumac leaves, no drupes (or berries) yet; fairly large Yellow Dock plants (I love those spinach-tasting green leaves cooked!); and Lady's Thumb in leaf state.
I will mention one other plant that I have yet to have the pleasure of tasting, and that is:
Bladder Campion (pics below). She's a queer looking plant, which makes her easy to identify as she has this balloon shape which kind of looks like a bladder (I suppose). Her young leaves (BEFORE flowering) can be cooked and eaten like spinach. I'd add them to the soup pot, as some bitterness has been noted. After flowering, her leaves can be stringy and bitter, and blanching first is recommended to help with the bitterness, throwing out that water and then cooking her up a second time. I think her older leaves would be fine in pureed soups or even in green juices or smoothies, but I would have to try first. Interestingly, being high in saponins, her root can be used as a soap substitute.
To be honest, I've only seen her growing in one area (which was along a fence close to an alleyway) and her unique appearance made it easy to ID her in foraging guides.
I'll get back to some of those plants I merely mentioned in a future post. I'm also hoping to be able to share with you some of my plants that are slowly coming up in my balcony garden (Lamb's Quarter seems to be quite the rage in a majority of the pots!) and my experiences with my WILD community garden that was left to go to grass...not fun, removing grass! But there were some interesting weeds growing there, a-ha!
For now, sunshine, stay clean and bright, because the foraging days ahead will be burning on! :)
Summer is here! After a good spell of rain, the sunny weather has returned. And with it, many plant friends are making their appearance or growing bigger and stronger!
Wood Sorrel. This little one is easy to identify as she has 3 heart-shaped leaves and looks like clover. Her flower is white or yellow. She is high in oxalic acid, which means she's better to cook before consuming. HOWEVER spinach is also high in oxalic acid and we do add that to the salad bowl, hm? So yes, you can add some Wood Sorrel leaves and flowers to salads! Her taste is pleasantly lemony tart. In fact, if you happen to be gardening or are out and about and you're feeling thirsty, you can munch on a few leaves to quench your thirst.
I've made Wood Sorrel Lemonade in the past and I will probably make it again this summer. I'll share that recipe when I've gathered up a good bunch of leaves and have dried them 1st---so look for that recipe later on! :) For now, you can read more about her HERE. <--- FYI, this is an EXCELLENT site about wild weeds, with pics and their edible and medicinal value :)
Yellow Dock. I've spoken about Yellow (or Curly) Dock in a post before. Here is a good-sized plant. Note the dark green, curly leaves that are an identifying feature. Often there are red spots on the leaves, as she too is high in oxalic acid. Like spinach, she is a good source of iron and you definitely want to be picking her leaves and drying them for infusions, or using them fresh or dried and adding them to the soup or stew pot. I've juiced her leaves for green juices and added her leaves to the blender for green smoothies (you can strip off the leaves of the stems as you would for kale if you find the stems too fibrous OR steam the leaves first and then add to the blender). In the fall, those green seeds turn to brown and you can use them as a coffee substitute (delish!) or grind them down and use as flour in quick bread recipes (also delish!). More on that when we get to the fall season---for now, let us enjoy the summer!!! :)
Purple Loosestrife. She's considered an "invasive weed," being a plant that was introduced from Europe and went wild. The link I'm sharing where you can look at pics of her is from a site in Ontario, Canada. There are other pics of "invasive weeds"---which have edible and medicinal value on the site (NOT HOGWEED HOWEVER). Note that "weeds" = free edible food and medicine!! And the the word "invasive" means there is LOTS of that "weed," so you don't have to feel bad about collecting your fair share for food or medicine.
Loosestrife is considered an invasive weed in other areas, not just Ontario, FYI.
The leaves are edible and I juice them, add them to the blender for green smoothies and throw them into the soup pot. You can also make an infusion from the flowering tops for diarrhea, dysentery and heavy menstrual bleeding. Read more HERE.
Self-Heal. Also called called All-Heal, I've just gotten used to calling her by her latin name, Prunella. This is a TINY plant, so scooch down and look for purple flowers among the grass on lawns (although I have seen her growing in a clearing in the woods, tallest I've seen so far!). While the leaves are edible and can be added to salads or thrown into the soup pot, I always pick the flowers and 2 leaves right beside the flower and dry them for infusions. Prunella is called All-Heal as she is considered an alterative, which means she treats several conditions and is a general tonic for all body systems.
In TCM, she is considered a cold plant excellent for inflammatory conditions. She works primarily on the liver and gallbladder. You can even buy prunella mixed with honey (often sugar as well) in Asian markets. I like to use Prunella infusions to help flush the lymphatic system ---> great for detox, moving the lymph and helping with weight loss. I often add Prunella as a herb to assist others herbs in a formula.
There are a few other plants that I didn't take a pic of but that I noticed growing at work: Dame Rocket and Queen Anne's Lace. Dame Rocket is also called Sweet Rocket which has pink flowers and there's also Yellow Rocket with yellow flowers. They have a bitter taste and while both leaves and flowers can be added to salads, I use the leaves in soups and stews (dried or fresh) and add the fresh leaves to veggie green smoothies (like greens, cukes, tomatoes, etc. kinda like a V-8). Both rockets are in the cabbage family and you should know that her flowers have FOUR petals and LOOK like Phlox, BUT Phlox has FIVE flowers. Phlox flowers are edible (phlox paniculata), FYI, and you can add them to fruit salads. <---You can see pics of the flowers when you click on the links :)
I'll talk about Queen Anne's Lace in a future post as she in the carrot family and there are some look alikes that can be poisonous.
For now, I'll leave you to good weather and happy sun-shiney days...and Roses, lots of Roses! I got about 2 trays full in the dehydrator and the smell of Roses filling the air with her sweet scent was more than enough to put a smile on my face!!
I'm sure yours is happily smiling too, sunshine, so keep up that bright sunny energy, ya hear! :)
In my last post, I said I would share with you what I sowed in my balcony garden. But I think that will wait, as I went on another mini-foraging adventure!
I was off to dance class, when I suddenly felt pulled by some plants growing in a small disturbed area close to the street. I veered off the sidewalk and followed the pull of the plant. I didn't realize her name at first, but I recognized her. I nodded and suddenly was swept away in the world of plant friends.
There, growing beside some cement blocks, was of course Dandelion. I spotted some Vetch, but no purple edible flowers had bloomed. Those flowers, by the way, make a roadside nibble and I've dried them and paired them with Lavender in sachets. I'll take some pics of her later on when she's in flower :)
I continued to look about and noticed a large Burdock plant, a tiny Plantain plant, and some Red Clover leaves.
When it comes to Burdock, a lot of people can identify the large leaves because they look like Rhubarb. But it's really those sticky, velcro seeds that are the tell-tale sign that she is a Burdock plant. And guess what? Sure enough, I had a few balls sticking to my pant leg after hunching down to pick up several handfuls of large Violet leaves!
Who else was growing in this tiny abandoned area?
I spotted some Thistles and Sow Thistles. I've juiced both of them before, and then added that green juice to the blender with fruits to make a wild, delish green smoothie! The Thistle isn't that bitter, but Sow Thistles are, as bitter as Dandelion. They look like Dandelion too. I'll post more pics during the summer. If you do juice them, just a few large leaves will do ;)
There was also a large vine growing there, a Grape Vine in fact. The leaves are edible and if you've ever had Greek food, then you may have eaten Dolmades, which are stuffed vine leaves. In other words, you can parboil the leaves for 2-5 minutes to soften them, then use them as wrap "bread." Feel free to add whatever you want on those leaves before rolling them into a wrap: tuna salad, hummus, lentil pate, curried rice or whatever catches your fancy!
I've eaten the Grapes, rather sour, as a trail side nibble and also made jello with them. I'll talk more about that later in the fall, when the Grapes are ready to eat :)
Ah, did you notice that I didn't tell you the name of the plant that called me to this area? Why, when I went back the way I came and passed her again, it was then her name came to me: Goldenrod!! In one of the areas where I go foraging, which I've called Buckthorn Woods because there are so many Buckthorn trees, there are tons and tons of Goldenrod plants that flower in late August. The yellow flowers are a gorgeous late summer sight signifying that autumn is on its way. There are many uses for Goldenrod, by the way, and for now suffice it to say that the leaves are edible. I cook them and add them to soups, stews and in pates. While you can freeze the leaves for future use, I've never done so (having only so much room in the freezer), but I have dried them and then added them to the soup pot with delish results :)
Note that Goldenrod has been blamed for causing seasonal allergies, which is NOT true. You can read more about that and her edible/medicinal uses Here.
By the way, the species that grows in Canada is known as Solidago Canadensis.
Walking up to the street to the dance studio, I spotted two other friends: baby Lamb's Quarter growing close to the sidewalk (which I was tempted to take as she tastes like spinach, but growing so close to traffic, it's NOT recommended) and the tallest Toadflax/Butter 'n' Eggs that I've seen to date, growing right beside a hedge.
I have read about using Toadflax as a diuretic herb, yet when I tried making an infusion with her, my body was NOT interested at all. I have read to use the leaves before she flowers and it was true that I used the leaves WHILE she was in flower, so that might have been an issue. Truthfully, I am not called to her (or rather, she has not called to me), but perhaps others have a better relationship with her than I have. I didn't take a picture of that particular plant, but I did take a pic of some smaller Toadflax growing behind the local mall.
Finally, I spotted a Peppergrass plant. The picture isn't the best, so check out these pics and read more about her Here. The young seedpods are heart-shaped and can be dried and used as a pepper substitute. The leaves are edible and can be tossed into the soup pot or into salads.
Lastly, I'm sharing with you a touch of virtual scent: a few flowers of Rose! I spotted a few buds and even a few opened flowers among several Rose bushes. It was a delightful sight that warmed my heart :)
I love Rose for so many reasons:
Well, that's all for now, sunshine! Now that June is here and summer is around the corner, keep it light, keep it bright :)
Since my last post, so many things ---as usual!--- have happened. So let's get right into it!
Foraging by the Mall. I had the opportunity to pass behind the mall and see what was growing. I found some Violets, Sow Thistles, Dandelion and Coltsfoot leaves, the same plants as I've found in previous years. Last year there was a nice patch of Garlic Mustard, but not this year. Indeed, I find every year there tends to be a few plants that are prolific. Last year it was Garlic Mustard. The previous year it was Lamb's Quarter. This year...I'm not quite sure yet. To be discovered!
I also passed by the area close to the mall parking lot and saw lots of Mugwort growing. She's one that comes back year after year! Speaking of which, when I went to burlesque class, whom did I happen to see growing on a little patch of lawn? Mugwort! And several friends :) Side note: um yes, burlesque. Subject not related to plants however ;)
Mugwort. At this stage, she's quite small, as I've found Mugwort growing up to 5- 6 feet. Being a vermifuge like well-known Wormwood and being really bitter like Dandelion, you want to tincture the flowering tops one to use as medicine. You can then use the tincture to help dispel worms or take 30 drops 20-30 minutes before meals to help with digestion (bitters = increase in hydrochloric acid in the stomach and help with bile from the liver). I confess that I use the leaves (easier to collect before she flowers although I've used leaves once she's in flower) and dry them to add a small handful to soups and stews. You can also add a few chopped up leaves to a salad, much as you would with bitter Rue or Dandelion leaf.
Mugwort is the chosen herb in TCM for moxa, a fat incense stick that is used to dispel damp conditions by bringing it close to certain points on the body. Being antimicrobial, she can also be used to clean the air of bacteria when used as a smudge. Indeed, Mugwort (whom I fondly call Muggie) can be a great boon to those who practice energy medicine or massage, when you want to dispel bad vibes and energy from a room.
Being an invasive perennial, you'll be sure to find her growing somewhere near you (OK, well at least where I live up in the Northeast of the country!). I'll post more pictures of her later one, when her tiny flowers are in bloom :)
Plantain. Dandelion was of course hanging out on this same patch of lawn, as was Plantain. The Plantain leaves looked rather tough, as you can see by their wrinkled appearance in the photo. When it comes to tough leaves, I dry them to make infusions and I have dried them to use in future soups, especially during the winter months (funny how when you puree everything in a soup, you have no idea what's in there but it sure tastes yummy! all the more reason to add in some greens to the pot!!). I've juiced tougher leaves as well and you could certainly use them in a herbal vinegar. For salads and smoothies, you want smaller, more tender leaves. And while it is true that the best time to find tender leaves is in the spring or early summer, I've found tender leaves all throughout the season, especially on mowed lawns, as the leaves get cut back and have to produce new ones.
Plantain is called the boo-boo plant for good reason: if you have a cut or scrape or insect bite, take a leaf or two (you'll be eyeing for those bigger, tougher ones but any size will do) and chew it up in your mouth. Then spread this mush (yes, it's called a spit poultice and it's your own saliva so it's OK) onto the affected area. Being a cooling and vulnerary plant, Plantain will help to take out the redness, stinging and swelling. You can continue to repeat this process several more times, as the water will evaporate and the mushed up leaves will fall off. I've done with great success on insect bites: one insect bite had Plantain, the other didn't. The one that got treated started healing right away and healed faster as well. Plantain made me a believer!!
I should mention that if your boo-boo happens to take place at home, you can take a leaf and place it in boiling water, just enough to soften it and then place it (cool the leaf enough to handle first, like on a rack) onto the affected area. I should also mention that her vulnerary and cooling properties are used in an infusion for all kinds of internal inflammation, especially benefiting those with IBD, IBS, Crohn's, Colitis and other conditions. Best paired with soothing Marshmallow root and/or Slippery Elm bark.
Burdock. Doing this kind of healing with a plant, you'd almost think of it as a sort of bandage, wouldn't you? And Burdock leaves, even a young Burdock plant like this one, can be used to help with bandaging large wounds if you're out in the field and get hurt. Now, I've never used her leaves as toilet paper (Mullein leaves are softer for that), but I've seen it mentioned before!
Burdock is biennial plant, which means in the 1st year she stays small and low to the ground. In the 2nd year she shoots up a big central stem and has pretty purple flowers. Many know about her because of her tacky, velcro-like seeds which stick to clothing, pets, bags and anything else they come in contact with!
There are actually 2 types of Burdock, lesser and major, and that just means that there is a small version and a bigger version of the plant!
Burdock is quite nifty, I must add, because her:
Cleavers. Sometimes you'll see it written as Clivers, but it's still the same plant. This was actually the first time I've seen Cleavers growing "in the wild" ---> meaning that this patch of lawn was close to a busy street on one side and close to a small wild forest area on the other.
I love the rough texture of Cleavers strangely and have never been bothered by it. She's a great one for weight loss, as a diuretic and to detox the lymphatic system. You can dry her at any time, before or after she flowers, for infusions. She's easily juiced, and you can even cook her like spinach and then her use as you would spinach: in an egg frittata, to soups and stews, casseroles and pates, with pasta...or what have you.
Lamb's Quarter. Speaking of spinach, Lamb's Q is another spinach substitute. She's had a bad rap by some being high in oxalates, but there are many foods which contain oxalates, spinach and chocolate being two of them! I don't worry much about it and steam Lamb's Q or throw her into the soup pot. I've also juiced her and added her to smoothies. You can also dry the leaves and seeds and then grind them to a powder (like a "greens powder") and add to baked goods or smoothies for extra nutrition. Yummers! Free food!
FYI: This is a good tip which you might find be useful to help you identify plants. Get some seeds (such as from Richters) of different wild plants and plant them in your garden OR in a pot. You'll then be able to see how they grow at different stages. When you go out in the field and think a plant might be, like in this case, Cleavers, you can then bring a sample of the unknown plant and compare it with the one you have growing. I have been doing this with several plants, and am now able to positively identify, for example, Queen Anne's Lace, Lamb's Quarter, Cleavers, Chickweed, Purslane and many others. Just be sure you offer the proper care for your wild plants and be aware of how invasive they can be (container gardening might be best) ---> I've been growing Comfrey, which has a long tap root, in an old, tall garbage pail!
Seeing as how this post has gotten long, I'll tell you all about my encounters with old and new friends at my herb and tell you have seeds I've sown in my balcony garden next time around. 'Til then, sunshine, keep burnin' bright :)
Mid-may is technically late spring, although the cool weather has retarded the growth of plants at the moment. Still, old friends are slowly making their way to the surface, to rise and shine and offer up their bounty again!
There have been a few days with brilliant sun, and one day I took the opportunity to "forage" ---aka "weed"--- my neighbor's garden!
What manner of goodies, or shall I say plant friends, did I find?
Violets. I mentioned in my last post that you can infuse the flowers in honey, although I am not one who does that. Instead, I love to add the mucilaginous leaves to salads, soups, smoothies and stews. Because of that slippery feel to the leaves, I DON'T use them in green juices. I like to add the leaves either fresh or dried to soups and stews and use fresh leaves in smoothies. I also dry the leaves and flowers and then add a tiny bit to herbal infusions, especially infusions that are bitter or astringent (e.g. horsetail infusion). Adding a touch of mucilaginous herbs is HIGHLY recommended in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as it helps to protect tender mucous membranes and helps to alleviate the body from getting too dried out (in TCM speak, it helps to protect the yin).
Gardening-wise, Violets are VERY easy to grow and they make one of the BEST plants to grow in the shade!! I have found leaves as huge as my palm when I've found Violets hiding among some other plants and also along a forest trail. Definitely consider planting some Violets, Pansies or Heart's-ease if you have a shady patch in your garden :)
Creeping Charlie. Gardening-wise, if you have a patch of empty earth, consider planting this creeper. That's right, Charlie is a real creeper and will creep all over that bare earth in no time! Being in the mint family, as I mentioned in the last post, you can add the flowers and leaves to soups, stews, salads and even smoothies. I also mentioned that she has a particular taste (<-don't mind me, I call all plants "her" in reference to the divine Mother Earth as opposed to calling a plant an object "it") which is rather astringent. Thrown into a smoothie with fruits or into a soup or stew, trust me when I say you won't even taste her. For soups and stews, may I recommend that you puree them and add in some sweet veggies like carrots, beets and potatoes. It's my go-to trick for adding bitter herbs to a big pot, cooking everything up and then pureeing. Once you do that, no one will have a clue what goodness is in that puree!!
Dandelion. Speaking of which, Dandelion is a good one to add to soups and stews and pureeing makes all the difference! I add the greens fresh or dried to soups and stews. I like to juice the greens with some other less bitter greens like kale or chard, then take this green juice and blend it up in the blender with some sweet fruit like mangoes or some veggies such as carrots and tomatoes. Again, the taste of that sweet fruit or veggie masks any bitter taste from the greens!! Oh and if you were wondering why on earth we should be eating dandy greens: because they are exceptionally good for your liver and are high in Vitamin C and many minerals. Dandy greens are FREE FOOD...and your neighbors will be more than happy to let you weed their garden for free!! Free food for you and a happy liver---win, win!! Remember that you can dry the leaves, store them in a paper bag and then use them during the colder months :)
Plantain. Really, perhaps we should just call her Plantago, because when we say plantain people think of that fruit that looks like a banana. Plantago has small leaves which are cooling and likes compacted soil. Where there's one, there's more! Leaves are quite small at this point, but they are perfect to add to salads because they are tender---they toughen as they age. Fresh or dried, add them to soups and stews, and add the fresh leaves to smoothies and green juices. I also add them to infusions for their healing and cooling properties. They are a green which is recommended to help those dealing with digestive inflammation, such as Crohn's, colitis, IBS, etc. You can even take the dried leaves, grind them to a powder and then pack them into empty capsules (you can buy the capsules online or sometimes at health food stores).
Forget-me-not. These blue flowers are such a pretty addition to the garden, but they do spread and can be rather invasive. The flowers don't have much taste, but they do pretty up a salad and make an OK garden nibble. I had a flower or two while I was perusing the garden :)
Malva or Mallow. This wild one is in the malvaceae family and all plants have a soothing, mucilaginous property that is sought after by those with inflamed intestines. She's another one that you can dry ALL parts of her and use her to help offset the drying effect of bitter and astringent herbs. You can find her growing in the wild and she's often sold at flower markets. Some of them have pretty striped flowers while others are solid colors, like solid pink or purple.
I like adding the leaves fresh or dried to soups and stews, and adding the fresh leaves to smoothies or chopped up in salads. Some of the leaves can be as huge as your palm and make for excellent leafy green wraps!! That'll be later in the season, though, because at this point they are still small and need to grow.
I transplanted 2 of them into a shady area of a little plot of land close to my house and I will see how they fare in the shade.
Tulips. Tulip petals are edible, yes! They make for tasty additions to salads and I like to stuff them with pate. The inner part is NOT edible and you do NOT want to eat flowers (any flower) from the flower shop. No pesticides or herbicides, please! Tulips do come in different colors and that means each color has a different taste I rather fancy the red and yellow ones, which are reminiscent of bell peppers. The white ones aren't bad tasting and the pink one I tried wasn't to my liking. I spotted an orange on on the way to work today but I'd have if I could have a nibble to see what that one tastes like! See which ones tickle your taste buds!!
Garlic Mustard. I spotted a plant the other day and have yet to have a peek-see behind the mall, where I found a big patch last year. Some people say the leaves are less bitter BEFORE they go into flower and I do tend to agree. HOWEVER, if you are adding them fresh or dried to soups and stews, you won't notice the difference in taste. Some do add the leaves to salads and some add them to herbal vinegars. You can also dry the leaves and then grind them to a powder and use as a garlic powder substitute. This plant does have a window of time where you can pick her, FYI. Generally, by June she's all dried up with the heat, so befriend her now while she's around :)
Hostas. Yes, these plants which many plant for their ornamental and hardy nature, are edible! They are in the same family as asparagus and are quite tasty! When young and furled like in the photo, they are called hostons. At this stage and when the leaves are growing in, they are the best tasting. I add them fresh to soups and stews. I've also juiced them with veggies, but prefer them cooked. When they are older, the leaves toughen up and they get holey with snail bites. I've still juiced them and have even added some of the bigger leaves (cooked) to pate recipes and have found them to be a bit more on the bitter side, but still tasty. There are different varieties but they are all edible! Knowing this, you can plant them in your garden and have FREE FOOD all season long! The flowers are also edible, although not much in the way of taste, and I've added them to salads to pretty them up.
Strawberry Leaves. The white flowers are out! And yes, the leaves are edible! I add them at any stage to salads, soups and smoothies. I also dry them, store them in paper bags and then add them to soup recipes as "greens" during the colder months. They do have an astringent property about them and you can dry the leaves, make an infusion and drink to help with diarrhea. Blackberry leaves in an infusion, FYI, make a much better medicine for diarrhea.
As I write this post today, I know there are other plant friends that I am sure I will talk about in future posts. Friends like Creeping Bellflower, Lamb's Quarter and Sow Thistles --- all of which have leaves to add to the soup pot, juicer or blender! And then there's Red and White Clover...and perhaps some Yarrow...ah, but such encounters will have to be seen!
Enjoy the good weather while it's here, sunshine, and keep burning that light steady on :)
Oh happy mother's day!
It's mid-may now and the Dandelions are in bloom, beautiful, bright, yellow bursts of color covering green lawns! While some people make good use of the flowers by making Dandelion wine or steeping them in honey, I prefer to start gathering up the leaves. The energy at this point is concentrated in the flowers, but the leaves are still highly nutritious and I add them to my smoothies, juices and soup recipes. When the leaves are young they aren't that bitter, so a good handful or two can be added to most recipes. When the leaves are older, 2-4 large leaves is all you'll need! You can also add the smaller leaves to salads for a touch of bitter goodness as well :)
Besides Dandy friends, I found several other lovelies peeping up from the lawn at work. The time to collect Violet flowers is NOW, and while I've seen white ones on my neighbor's lawns, the ones at work were all purple. I gathered up some flowers as well leaves, although the leaves are still quite small at this stage. Again, like with Dandelion, you can steep the flowers in honey for the cold and flu season, which will help with sore throats, or dry them and use them as tea or put them with lavender to make smelly sachets for the closet. I use the leaves in soups and smoothies. They have a mucilaginous quality which is soothing for inflamed intestines. They are slightly laxative, but most greens have that cleansing effect, so nothing much to worry about. Add a handful or two of fresh leaves to smoothies. I like to also dry the leaves and then add them to soups come the colder months.
ill-over-ivy, also called Creeping Charlie, was another viable weed I spotted. She makes a good cover crop and the purple flowers are a pretty sight to be seen! She's also medicinal and being in the mint family, she has what I call an "antiseptic" taste. I personally prefer to add her fresh or dried to soups, but many add her to salads. Juicing or adding her to smoothies are two other options.
Red Clover was another one I noticed, however I didn't pick up any of those chevron-stained leaves as they were all too small. I did pick up a tiny bunch of Strawberry leaves, as well as a small bunch of Yellow Dock leaves, both of which I will dry and add to soups in future months. These were both plants that I planted last year in the "garden," a sandy plot of earth which did not do very well. Weeds, however, are finding themselves a nice home, and I'm happy to report that the many Queen Anne's Lace seeds I planted have popped forth. While she might look like parsley, she's a Queen A alright ;)
I found a few baby Plantain leaves, not much more than a nibble, but I do so hope they will have a chance to grow into bigger leaves (what with the lawnmower making its appearance every now and again, what's a forager to do but to make do between cuttings!). I also spotted what I believe is a St. John's Wort plant. I looked briefly, but I would have to verify if there are holes in the leaves. If yellow flowers pop up by June, then that'll make a positive ID for sure!
In the front yard, the Periwinkle plants had purple flowers that were twinkling at me while the one lone Tulip plant had already lost its flowers, now scattered on the ground. You can add a few Periwinkle flowers to pretty up your spring salad :)
Another spring flower that I noticed growing close to the mall and what I thought was Dandelion was really...Coltsfoot! Every year I notice those yellow flowers, which are in bloom for about 2 weeks, and yet every year I never collect any. Last year I decided to collect some "just in case," and wouldn't you know, I still have the small bunch from last year! I suppose I could always collect some and ask my herby friends if they have need of any...Oh, why yes, didn't I mention? My herb teacher will be in town this summer and we'll be going on weed walks once a month! The 1st one is happening in 2 weeks, at the end of May, and I can't wait to reacquaint with old friends and discover new ones!
Speaking of which, since Bellefield and Appley-Blossom field got totaled, I'm going to have to go further out and visit a new place in order to find Red Clover and other edible and medicinal goodies. That means I'm seeing a bit more biking in my future this summer!! Will also be nice to revisit Buckthorn Woods and see what friends are waiting to say hello over there!
To new foraging adventures, surely, sunshine! Stay bright now, ya hear, cuz there's lots more fairy memories to be had :)
A new season begins again!
After the way the season ended last year, it would appear that the energy has "migrated" quite a bit! By that I mean that I was quite busy into the fall months due to my newfound passion of ballroom dancing and hadn't enough time to be posting. Fall did come as expected, and by November all the plants had been hauled inside or hacked down for the season.
I ended up taking in 2 Sage, 2 Rosemary and 2 Comfrey. When I started noticing little red bugs flying around, I figured it was some kind of fruit fly that was leaving larvae in the earth. Despite using Diatomaceous Earth, I started finding these critters wherever there was oil or something sugary lying around. I cleaned up in the cupboards and made sure to keep all kitchen counters and kitchen island spotless and with time their numbers have now dwindled considerably.
Rosemary stopped faring so well, so I will have to either buy another Rosemary plant or get some seeds. Sage and Comfrey I put on the balcony what with the bug situation and while Sage is doing well, I may have to replant some Comfrey seeds.
Speaking of which ---yes, Comfrey jolted me about the GOOD NEWS I want to share with you--- the city called me this year (since I had placed my name on a waiting list) and this season I will be having a tiny little garden plot of my own! Excited about that because it means I can plant some flowers and herbs that have LONG roots, such as Comfrey! I can also grow Cucumbers because I have found that even with dwarf varieties, they don't tend to do too well growing in a pot.
I haven't exactly planned what I will be growing this year to be honest, but I have many seeds from last year when I made a precursory look-over the other day. I will get some herb seeds but that is about it, I think. I will plant the same seeds that I did last year such as Borage, Marigold, Malva, Mallow, Yarrow, Sorrel, Purslane, Chickweed and St. John's Wort.
Of course, the flower market man will be back this year, and I am sure that I will be buying up quite a bit of goodies from his shop!! I'll keep you posted on all the different plants that will be putting on a show on my 2 balcony gardens this year :)
Now to get to FORAGING NEWS: Yes, the buds are here and the first flowers of spring are starting to make an appearance! Most are still in the "green stage" with leaves coming up, but are some early bloomers. A few of the ones I've noticed so far: Narcissus and Hyacinths (the latter one could have been planted, not sown during the fall), good ol' Dandelion, Tulips (a few with flowers, most still in leaf stage), Violets (a few flowers, not quite in full abundance just yet), some Rose leaves, some Strawberry leaves from last year's planting and a small patch of Gill-over-Ivy also known as Creeping Charlie.
The first few Dandelion that you'll see (also with Gill-over-ivy) tend to be close to a cement or wooden fence where more heat is generated, as you can see in the pics below. That reminds me of the first colors I've noticed so far of this early spring season: YELLOW (Dandy, Narcissus) and PURPLE (Violet, Periwinkle & Gill-over-ivy).
Yes indeed, foraging has officially started, albeit very slowly: I picked up a few Violet leaves today on the way to catch the bus. The patch had a few white flowers with purple centers, but as it had rained, I only took the leaves. Good to add to the next pesto (or perhaps green smoothie?) recipe! With spring on the way, cooler foods will be appearing more and more on my plate :)
Stay tuned for many more foraging adventures---foreward and onward!
PS. Bellefield has been totaled to make condos...I'll take a look-see one day and see if I can't get some Stinging Nettle. Keep you posted.
PPS. Signed up to go on 4 weed walks this season with my herb teacher. Looking forward to gathering old friends and discovering new ones! Will take pics and share my adventures :) Who says you can't find stinky weeds in the city :P The power of herbs are everywhere!
You can tell foraging season is winding down as I haven't written much lately. Indeed, after the last visit to Bellefield (and my new passion for dancing), I haven't really thought of foraging lately.
The days have turned crisp, nights cooler still, and blustery winds have returned. Leaves have changed colors to red, orange and gold and the smell of leaves fermenting lingers in the air.
The Mums are now in bloom! One has bright yellow flowers while the other has orange blooms with red centers. Borage is going seed, as is Basil and Nasturtium.
I've already started putting down the garden slowly, removing dead plants and uprooting the Radishes. The seeds didn't actually germinate that well, with the Radishes being little more than a thimble in size! Ah well, I still added the leaves to today's pesto recipe.
There are a few Tomatoes to harvest and some Perilla leaves on the back balcony, as well as the herbs Marjoram and Oregano. Sage and Rosemary I'll probably take in during the wintertime and maybe Stevia too.
On the front balcony, I'm going to be drying those Mum flowers to make a tasty tea that is a boon to the liver (especially useful for eye issues, similar to the herb Eye Bright). Leaves of Marshmallow, Mallow, Motherwort, Nettle and Yarrow I'll add to the soup pot. I'm going to add the different varieties of Mint to one big pot and transplant Comfrey into tall planters, all of which will have a cozy place inside during the colder winter months.
Come to think of it, most of the work I have to do is bag the earth in the pots into large bags and store pots and earth in the shed for the next season. It's a messy job and hopefully there will be a nice warm day when I can get that done (not much fun hauling damp earth on a cold fall day!).
Harvested the Peppers the other day. Uh-oh, these aren't Bell Peppers but HOT Peppers! Yikes, just touching them and my fingers were stinging a bit! Since I'm not into "heating" foods, I gave them to my boss who claimed that they were just hot enough for his Indian blood ;)
Only foraging on my list ~now that we are mid-October~ is to dig up some roots in the garden at work, specifically Dandelion and Yellow Dock. Might have a look see behind the mall for Dandelion roots, haven't checked out that place in a while. Could also take a look-see in my neighbor's garden for what goodies are still to be discovered. Perhaps a quick trip to Buckthorn Woods to explore some new trails and maybe get some more Plantain. To be seen....
Riding back from dance class on my bike one evening, I passed by Bellefield and noticed it was totaled. The trees had been ripped up and the land was now a waste field. Guess no more Red Clover, Evening Primrose, Yarrow and all my other friends, sniff sniff....
Well, short one today, sunshine, but I know your light continues to shine bright! Keep up that sparklin' darlin' :)
After an injury left me unable to go to dance class today, I decided to take it easy and headed off to Bellefield.
It was a bit late when I got there, around 2, yet all was quiet save the scattering noise of squirrels foraging in the trees.
My own foraging seemed to be forestalled when I got to the field and discovered it had been partially demolished. Big lumps of dirt and tree branches had been dumped on the right side of the field while the left side of the field had been partially cleared away.
Someone was coming up the path and I asked what had happened. He didn't know, but said it was done recently, within the past week.
I nodded, then went off to check on the Nettles. Yep, still there!
I got to it quick, noticing that there was one large patch and 2 smaller ones. I donned gloves and got to giving them all a good pruning, laying the cut pieces onto the grass. When all had received a haircut, stuffing them into the bags wasn't an easy job because there was so much! I used 1 paper and 2 plastic bags. The ones in the plastic bag had seeds on them, so I figured I'd add them to the soup pot. Yep, now that the cooler days of fall are here, pesto recipes are getting put on the back burner 'til next summer while warming soups are being welcomed wholeheartedly.
I noticed that the Sumac trees waved to me, and I smiled at them, telling them that I wouldn't take their Vitamin C rich berries, but thanks anyway.
Instead, I headed for the field and to my amazement, I found several Red Clover flowers. Despite being trampled, I found many flowers lingering on. I had to wonder if the flowers knew that I really needed their medicine, knew that I would probably pass by soon to visit them. Nahhhh, just ego stuff!
However, I was certainly most grateful to find quite a few blossoms this late in the season (2 1/2 dehydrator trays full!). They also lent me their silent energy and before long my chattering mind fell away and I stepped into tune with them. I really felt the silence and quietness take over me as I kneeled down on the grass and proceeded to take up several Red Clover leaves. This patch had such nice leaves that called to me to just sit with them, and being in that moment with them was such a blessing.
I noticed a holey and wrinkled Plantain leaf and put out to the field that if there any nice looking ones, I would be most appreciative.
And wouldn't you know, after snapping up a few pics of my plant friends, I was called by a couple of Goldenrod plants to come and visit. Noticing their vibrant yellow flowers, I couldn't believe that these late bloomers wanted to share their energy with me. I was of course more than delighted to snap off the sunny flowers. One plant even offered me her new leaves, despite not yet having flowered. I accepted and was about to go when I noticed some Plantain lying close to a Goldenrod. There were several plants and I collected about a fistful of viable leaves. I was most grateful for their kindness :)
Then, right close to the bridge, I noticed a splash of yellow waving to me from behind some tall plants. I stepped gingerly close to the edge of the water, then snapped off yet another late blooming Goldenrod.
I stopped to take a few pics of the gently flowing creek, then snapped another as I noticed 3 squirrels scurrying about. One of them was hovering on a rock, but ran off as soon as I edged closer.
Speaking of edge, when I paused to put my phone into my backpack, who should I see but 2 Motherwort plants growing alongside the edge of the water. I hadn't noticed them before because the Nettles were in the way, but they had been mowed down (a shame, I know). They weren't in flower and while I considered taking their leaves, I nodded to them and went to do some gardening at home.
Being so busy with my new schedule, I hadn't being paying that much attention to my plant friends growing so close by. I gave a pruning to several of them and divested others of their leaves. I collected Calendula, Mustard and Borage seeds and mentally noted which plants would soon be returning to the earth via the compost.
I'd say there's about a month before the end of the season; still time to collect the rest of the Tomatoes, Radishes and Peppers, still time to let the plants grow before divesting them of their leaves and laying them down for the winter. Although I've mulched some of the plants with leaves, most of them don't return the next year, so I've gotten to just uprooting them and planting new seeds every year. A bit of a pain really, but one day I'll have a garden where perennials will be perennials!
Thinking I'll take in Sage and Rosemary during the wintertime, perhaps Stevia as she tends to do well inside (at least until her life span is up, usually come spring time). I will definitely be taking in Comfrey because she has just been quite the lifesaver in offering up her medicine.
Since I strained my calf muscle, I have been applying an oil I made with Comfrey, Chickweed, Calendula and St John's Wort every 2-3 hours. <- You can find that recipe HERE and either add in St. John's Wort herb OR add in St. John's Wort oil if you have some on hand. I've also been drinking Comfrey infusion (mixed with other herbs) to help repair the injury. All I can say is WOW. From being tender and painful and limping within the first few hours to walking much better and 75% reduction in pain within 12 hours. After about 36 hours, the area had tons of bruises, but I was able to walk around OK. It wasn't 100% (nope, skipping the cardio workout today), but maybe 85-90% better within less than 48 hours. WOW, as I said, the healing power of herbs!
I told my naturopath friend what happened and he couldn't believe it either. Living in Canada, you can't buy Comfrey products (it's banned because it's considered a dangerous plant due to liver damaging alkaloids), yet you can still purchase seeds and grow her yourself. This is what I did, growing several plants in a large pot. Yep, they are crowded, but I'll be transferring them to 2 very tall planters when I bring them in (at the moment I have Marshmallow and Peppers growing in them).
Will see if I'll be able to attend dance class tomorrow. I'm hoping so (get rather restless with too much sitting!!), and if so, I give full allegiance to my grand Poobah, the Comfrey Queen :) :)
Stay bright, sunshine sweetie, and enjoy the pics and fall weather :)
Got in a mini-mini foraging session yesterday when I went to explore my neighbor's yard.
The sunny afternoon end-of-summer weather was still warm enough for short-sleeves and shorts. Or a sleeveless summer dress, as I was wearing.
I noticed the Evening Primrose right away, growing right beside the stairs. Those yellow flowers beckoned me forth, and I popped off one of them for a tiny nibble. Not bitter at all, as some have said, but not having much taste either.
I pulled off several of her leaves to dry for soup later, then went to visit the Mallows, or should I say, Malva sylvestris Zebrina, also known as Striped Mallow.
I divested the plants of several of their leaves, then plopped down on the grass and began plucking up Violet leaves.
I had brought a large bowl and some scissors, good thing, because I then went and gave my Mints a pruning.
Then off I went to peruse the back of my neighbor's garden, where I noticed green Tomatoes and withered and moldy leaves of the Cuke plants. A few fruits, a few flowers, but really they will have to hurry up before the cooler days of fall thwart their growth.
I stopped and clipped off some of the Lavender flowers to add to my already steeped Lavender oil perfume, noted the Roses in bloom by the bird bath (but dared not take any because my neighbor much enjoys seeing their "blooms" as she calls them), then walked over to snip up some Moroccan Mint.
I noticed Pellitory was still around, small of course since I had pruned them recently, but didn't gather any as I still have tons of Nettles leftover to turn into pesto. Or maybe a soup, depending how the weather goes.
Nights are starting to get cool, around 15C, so bringing along a long-sleeve sweater has now started to become the new habit. Hopefully, as with last year, the "summer" weather (or should I say Indian Summer?) will hover into October so that I can close the garden on a warm note.
Interestingly, last year it was still quite mild into the early days of December and got me thinking to plant some hardy greens on the balcony, which I might do this year as an experiment. I'd have to get some tarps, though, and haven't given it much more thought than that, but Nikki Jabbour wrote a book about gardening all year long, so I'll give that a read to get some inspirational ideas. Will have to get some Chard and Kale seeds too; should be super dirt cheap by now because I don't know anyone else who gardens in winter 'round here ;)
At work today I checked on the status of the garden. Eh, not doing well at all because it hasn't been watered enough, plus the soil is so sandy that it really needs compost and some good fertilizer. A few of the Tomatoes plants have ONE fruit, so at least they are trying their best :)
Noticed some Dandelion and Yellow Dock leaves, soon will be digging them up, going to wait a bit 'til it gets cooler so the energy gets more concentrated in their roots.
Good news: the Queen Anne's Lace seeds I spread over the ground have germinated, and it looks like tons of baby Carrot leaves. Well, Queen A's other name is Wild Carrot after all :) Won't be any Carrots this year as she's a biennial, but might take a look-see next year and see what's what.
Which reminds me that I should bring some other seeds to help amend that sandy soil, perhaps Comfrey, Nettle and some Red Clover and/or Restharrow seeds.
Hm, and in so speaking of amending the soil, it makes me wonder if perhaps I could get the go a-head and lay down some tarp to kill the grass and have a bigger garden next year, one under the trees where the soil is much richer. Will have to see what the boss says about that :0
Alrighty, sunshine m'dear, short one this time around, but that's OK. Keep your blazing light shining, ya hear, and update y'all real soon :)
YES! I finally went foraging!
I returned to Buckthorn Woods at last.
I had planned on going foraging and all went as planned.
As soon as I got there, I went along the main "central" path and stopped when I got to the clearing with Red Clover. I found a couple of blossoms, but also hunched down to pick up some of the leaves.
While crouching over, something purple flashed between 2 green leaves of Clover.
What's this? I wondered. Was it really....
Oh, but it was, it was! It was Prunella!
There she was, hiding and still in full flower in the middle of September. Technically still summer, but with fall just around the corner ;)
I was able to gather about 2 handfuls -would you believe- of this gorgeous beauty. Indeed, I found another small patch when I went to the clearing I had been to on the last occasion with all of the Goldenrods.
In fact, it was really this clearing with those sunny, silent beauties that was my destination. Just before I got to the clearing, I noticed that many of the Goldenrods on the path were bowed over, perhaps because of their own weight. No, because the other day there had been quite a storm and the strong rains seemed to have wreaked some torrent in this quiet field.
I sighed when I realized that most of the Goldenrods already had tinges of red, already going to seed, and kicked myself for not coming sooner.
Stopping to harvest a patch of yellow flowers, I got poked by a prickly friend.
Ah, yes, good ol' Black Raspberry. I remember I had gathered some leaves and stems ~leaves good for menstrual cramps, stems for diarrhea~ from another plant in the past, and she had done just the same action ;)
If you're wondering about the differences between Blackberry and Black Raspberry, you'll want to check out the identification differences HERE. For myself, when I see a white back of the leaf and white stem, I know I've found my old friend :)
I didn't actually stop to gather any of her leaves, unfortunately, because I only had so much time before I had to dash off to class. And the fact that I used DEET (GULP! and double/triple GULP!!!) meant that I had to shower first less I offend any of my classmates :0
Good thing I had brought that nasty chemical, because the mosquitoes were fierce. Despite spraying my clothes, they were trying to bite my face, ears and even my neck! My blood must be really that good tasting ;)
Being in the field with the Goldenrods, they lovingly shared their silent energy with me. Chattering mind fell away and I entered into the same step, the same rhythm as them.
The Goldenrods twinkled their magic at me, come this way, they said.
I found such wondrous friends who lent me their yellow flowers. Those were the ones whose smell still remained, unlike the other red-tinged ones, and I wondered if perhaps their scent could translate into a perfume.
Interestingly, despite being anti-parasitic and anti-Candida, I found some plants covered in mold. Strange how mold affects only a few plants and only in certain areas, whereas others are left unaffected....
In this brilliant field with the afternoon sunshine streaming through the trees, unlike last time, a large tree was now right in the middle of the field, hit by lighting no doubt during the storm. I paused to sit on the large tree trunk and snap a pic :)
Despite time reminding me it was time to go, my curiosity and this deep silence begged me to stay.
Stay a little longer I did, and explored a bit behind the field to find some Wild Violets growing on either side of the path. Their leaves were about the size of my palm, and I was so surprised and delighted at the same time to find them growing here.
Still curious, I walked a bit further on, until I saw a house in the distance at the end of the path.
Ah, I realized, and turned back the way I had come.
I went back into the field, and my friends wanted to continue to share with me their energy, showing me their bright yellow blossoms, come, take, share in our blissfullness....
I felt so blessed, so joyful, just to be there with them in this moment....
I stopped to find a few more flowers to add to my already filled huge paper bag, and paused again to snap some photos of Wild Aster. The camera refused to take in their purple-hue, or was it that Wild Aster was playing chameleon-peek-a boo, now more pink, now more purple?
I took some pics of gall balls, noticed another Black Raspberry plant, was tempted to go along yet another path I had yet to explore, but instead nodded goodbye to my friends and went back the way I had came.
Hm, somewhere I took a wrong path and it didn't seem like this was the way at all.
Is this the way? I asked my plant friends.
When I came to a fork in the trail and saw a spider barring my way, I apologized and cut my way through. A voice was ringing in my head, go back, Go back, go BACK! And when I came to yet another spider in her web yet again barring the way, the energy was loud and clear: STOP!!!
I spun around, retraced my steps, listened to the sounds of the cars on the street getting closer, and made my way back.
As I walked along, I paused briefly to pluck up some Plantain here and there along the trail.
Here, little Plantain, I called. I'm looking for you....
Wouldn't you know that as I gulped down some water in the field right close to the road that some Plantain just so happened to be winking up at me.
Aah, my plants allies, gotta love 'em. And cherish 'em.
I noticed a lone Crabapple had fallen on one of the trails, yet when I looked up, I didn't notice any apples. Buckthorn berries yes, which is why it's called Buckthorn Woods, but apples, no.
Should be some apples hovering on trees all around, just waiting to drop already. Such a shame Appley Blossom Field is gone, so many Crabapples I harvested last year...Might be able to get a few apples from the church grounds though, to be seen...
As foraging season is coming to a close (yep nights are finally getting cooler and I noticed the Mums are about to bloom), I have a few more goodies to gather before the official close.
On my list is to revisit Bellefield and harvest the other Nettle patch that I didn't last time. If Evening Primrose still has viable leaves, I'll gather some up. Otherwise, I'd like to collect some of her seeds, as well some Plantain seeds.
Haven't been behind the mall in ages, but if Dandy root is aground, she'll soon be uprooted. I'd love to gather Chicory, but hauling a shovel by bike to Buckthorn Woods doesn't seem a viable option...As I didn't collect any Thistle seeds when I visited there last time, or really go searching for apples, those are also on my list.
As for Rose hips, I noticed that the bushes close by got a trimming, although I think there are still some hips left. I might just make a Rose cream with the ones I have from last year, to be seen....
And soon the closing of the garden...Oh no, not already! But yes, the herbs are slowly dying, and several plants have gone to seed, including Yarrow and Nasturtium. Radishes are doing well, and I've been harvesting their leaves to add to pestos.
Speaking of which, my last pesto was just Nettle, Lentils and some Miso, and boy, what a dark green taste! Like a really dark Spinach....Not bitter, just really green tasting! Will have to add some more Lentils or add in some herbs to make it more palatable :)
And lastly, there is always the harvest of the garden. At work, going to dig up the Dandy and Dock roots. Might be some Tomatoes there, but my neighbor will probably share with me some of her bounty, including Cukes and Carrots.
Yep, pestos will now be on the backburner 'til next year, as soups take center stage. Gotta love soup, well, except in hot and humid weather.
And on that fair note, my dear sunshine, keep bringing on that incandescent love energy, cuz there's so much more energy to be shared all 'round :)
PS. Enjoy the pics :)
Finally! I have been crazy busy ever since I started taking dance classes, my goodness! I had a diary post that I had written last week and only, um, got to hitting the post button today! Oopsy...
Ah well, last week at work I got in a bit of foraging, mainly gathering 2 tiny plastic sandwich baggies full of Strawberry leaves, with a bit of Dock, Dandelion and Wood Sorrel thrown in.
After the long weekend at work, Tuesday had me hankering to go foraging, but time wouldn't allow it. Finally, finally, I made some time to go for a quick foraging jaunt close-by at Bellefield.
And when I mean made time, I mean I had all of about an hour or so, not more.
When I had linked up to the plants the other day, they said that lawn mower had passed by. Sure enough, parking my bike, I noticed cut grass.
Walking along the path, I went to see if Nettle was still there. Oh mama, two lovely Nettle patches growing by the side of the water! And since they had been mowed a few months prior (no, not this time around thank goodness), only a few of the plants had gone into baby-seed making stage. Those I saved for the next pesto recipe ;)
No worries, however, because after about 20 minutes of giving both patches a good haircut, I had to stuff two large paper bags full! Yep, they'll be lots of Nettle infusions (and some Nettle added to the soup pot) in my future :)
Growing right close to Nettle along the water, I noticed tons of Jewelweed in bloom. Although I reached out and touched a flower, I didn't dare to tarry too long after spotting 3 mosquitoes on my arm. Yep, guess my blood is still as tasty as ever ;)
I crossed the bridge and went to check up on Red Clover.
Now that September is here, I didn't expect to find tons of flowers, but I was still hoping to get in a small harvest.
And that was exactly what I found.
In fact, since some of the plants on the left side of the field had been mowed in previous months, those plants were now thriving with lush green leaves, flowers yet to arrive. I therefore harvested a good bunch of leaves (which I dry and add to the soup pot) and collected about 2 dehydrator trays full of flowers.
And collecting those flowers, it was HOT. So hot, it was one of those days when the sweat was dripping down my face, and all I was doing was hunching over, collecting flowers.
I didn't notice too many bugs this time around, but a huge spider caught my eye on one of the more viable Red Clover blossoms. I made sure to leave that one alone ;)
I also noticed a Grass Hopper, so interesting these jumping insects, same coloring as the grass, so well they blend in. He was hovering there on the green stem of a Red Clover and when he sensed I was about to reach over and pinch the blossom off, off he popped and jumped away!
Nope, no time to take a pic, and to be honest, the only pics I took were of a tall 5 foot plus Evening Primrose plant. There were a few other Evening Primrose plants about, but this one was tall and wide. FYI: good vid on plant identification and facts HERE.
Leaves are bitter but edible, good for the soup pot or to add to smoothies. Flowers are also edible. Of course, what are really valued are the seeds, high in omega 3 rich fatty acids. The seed pods dry in the fall, so you can collect the seeds, then crush them and add to soups, smoothies, juices, cereal, etc. Gives me an idea to try adding some in a no-bake cookie recipe. I'll have to wait a bit more for that, next month in October they should be ready. Didn't think to take any leaves or flowers, but then, I was pressed for time.
Speaking of seeds, when I reached down and collected a few Plantain leaves, I noticed that some of the dark brown seeds fell to the ground. Yes, Plantain seeds are edible, just like Chia and Flax seeds. Wish I had time to collect some, hopefully next time around.
I did collect a few Bull Thistle seeds, to be used just like Milk Thistle seeds. Let's just say when you are collecting them, you want to bring your awareness to the task at hand, because Thistles are way prickly. The seeds are attached to the fluffy white bit in the middle, much like Dandelion seeds in the spring --- where all you see are white fluffy puff balls flying around.
When I pulled up on some of the fluff, there were no seeds, but others had plenty. The fun part I'm not looking forward to is separating fluff ball from seed ;()
Hopefully I'll be able to visit Buckthorn Woods next week and find more Thistle seeds. Also, looking to collect Goldenrod, as all the Goldenrod at Bellefield had already turned brown. Yep, here where I live, late August is usually the best time to go collecting Goldenrod, but I'm thinking there might still be some late bloomers around :)
Would be nice to go back to Bellefield soon, as before I dashed back home to prepare for dance class, I walked along the path to check up on the other Nettle patches that had been mowed down last time I came. Sure enough, good ol' Nettle, nice young plants ready for sharing the love energy! Well, the first patch anyway, the other patch seemed not to have as many plants...
Also hoping to collect some Rose hips to make a facial oil. Now is a good time, maybe even some for a Rose jelly!
Ah, plans for this and that, and the end of season harvest! I didn't even mention gathering up any roots, but I suppose I'll add that to be foragin' list :)
Weather has been hot and humid, and all plants in balcony garden doing well. In fact, mums now have buds (despite the weather, they know, they KNOW), so fall must be on the way...
Which means, many more foraging adventures ahead, now to clock my time better, sunshine, and soak up all that brightness :)
Since I started dancing classes, have been SUPER busy! However, I did go out for a foraging jaunt in my neighbor's yard. Aaah yes, and I found several good ol' friends, including Wood Sorrel, Pellitory, Violet and Mallow.
Mallow can now be found growing among the grass in the yard, as well as on the fringes of where my neighbor planted her garden. Under the Birch tree, there are several Mallow plants. And then, she told me, she moved some Mallows among her flower plants. Yes, I spotted 2 Mallow plants growing close to the Lilac tree, several Mallow plants in front of the hedges, and then another couple of Mallows tucked into a corner close to the Ferns.
Mallow, oh my! What a treat!
She was thinking to take up some of the plants and add them to the compost pile, but before she could do that, I divested them of several leaves first. Pruning, you know. That way, I get to enjoy those scrumptious leaves in a pesto, but often I dry them and add them to infusions for their mucilaginous quality.
Pellitory was the real show stopper, growing most prolifically among some tall grass. In fact, where there used to be a good Mint patch, now Mint has gotten ousted to the side, just a few plants growing close to the gate ---- and seemingly trying to escape from that grass! Or maybe from the Pellitory.
I told Pellitory, what, you brought your cousins and distant cousins with you? Yep, and not just the uncles and aunts, but aunts and uncles twice removed!
So much Pellitory, all goodie for me, because they all went into the pesto pot ;)
Apart from that, not much harvesting in my own balcony garden, waiting for plants to grow again since they all had a haircut not too long ago.
Squirrel has been by, unfortunately. Several plants got disturbed in some pots, alas....
While I had foraging on my mind this week, rain came today and spoiled my plans. Busy tomorrow, so looking like foraging will happen only next week, or maybe just a short mini-session at work.
FYI: passed by one of the fields I had thought about visiting for Red Clover. Good thing I never did "plan" to go foraging there because there is tons of dirt and construction happening right close by. That means if I do go for a long foraging jaunt, it'll be to the field close by the hardware store.
But anyway, zooming by on my bike, I said hello to several plants bordering Buckthorn Woods. I smelled that earthy aroma after it has just rained, kind of the smell of wet sand.
Aaaah, so soothing.
I asked if I could come by and pay a visit, not today of course I said because it's rained, but soon.
No answer, but I was happy to see the bright faces of Goldenrod and Chicory.
The real herbal "work" came the other day, and it didn't involve foraging. Nope, it involved me straining out oils and tinctures from wildcrafting recipes.
Oil is really rather messy and wouldn't you know that I spilled some onto the kitchen island! Ack, no worries, oil gets all over the place. I use a funnel lined with a coffee filter to filter out the solids from the liquids and it works quite well depending on the size of your bottle and funnel.
The oils I strained were St. John's Wort, a combo of Comfrey, St. John's and Chickweed, White Clover, and a Rose oil. I also strained a double tincture of Motherwort, a tincture of Groundsel and a Rose Petal toner. I'd made the toner in the past using dried petals ---a recipe modified from Rosemary Gladstar--- but this time I used a combo of fresh and dried and the smell was amazing!
Speaking of which, that Rose oil was for a Rose perfume, and while I thought I would have to add in a few drops of Rose Geranium essential oil, none was needed at all. The scent was heavenly, and just perfect all on its own :)
If you're wondering how I made it, it was simple: I just placed fresh Rose petals into a mason jar, slightly packed, then added in oil to the top. I placed on the lid and screw cap and let it sit for 6-8 weeks, then strained out the liquid into a clean bottle. I didn't have a roll-on bottle, so I just used what I had: a small dark amber bottle with a dropper (and the rest stored in a larger amber bottle). Works for me :)
The White Clover oil was an experiment, I'll tell you right now. I had the idea of making a perfume from her when a patch of White Clover flowers told me that their heavenly vanilla-esque scent was most suitable for perfume.
Oh really? I had said at the time, being choosy and collecting up the Red Clover blossoms instead. Of course, I was vying for the red ones as they contain more medicine than the white, very helpful for menstrual cramps and for liver issues.
So this year I decided to give it a go, thinking I might even be able to do a double infusion with the flowers, but alas no.
The result? The oil didn't have much scent at all, not even of grapeseed oil, which is the oil I used to infuse the flowers.
Hm, now what to do.
Well, I was going to add in Vanilla to the finished oil anyway, but looking through my essential oils, Sandalwood caught my eye.
First, I added in the Vanilla, then the Sandalwood....
Whoa...at first, the scent was of the Sandalwood, then it faded to a delicate scent of Vanilla...at least on me it did. Everyone reacts differently to plants, ya know!
And good thing, too, that we're not all alike, cuz that would be pretty boring, right? :)
So, I've posted the full recipe HERE.
Hm, maybe I'll have a go at that one tomorrow :)
Have 2 goodies still "stewing" in their jars, one being Stevia and the other being a Lavender oil that I started. I collected a few of the flower heads from my neighbor's garden, although the rest of her flowers went to seed. The seeds smelled even more potent that the flowers actually, and it gave me an idea to use them in the oil as well. I didn't though, as my neighbors likes to have her Lavender self-seed and come back the next year (although Lavender is a perennial, unless the winter is harsh then no, she won't come back).
I have some Lavender growing in a large milk crate and thought to take up some of her leaves...but perhaps she will pop into making babies, I mean, flowers soon?
When I saw her about it, she told me to wait. So as I said, I used the small bit of Lavender flowers from my neighbor's garden and used a Lavender oil I made the previous year --- yes, a double infusion!
The oil I made last year contained mainly leaves and not so much flowers, which is why when I strained it, it didn't smell that much and I ended up adding in essential oil to bring back that Lavender scent.
Ah, Lavender, we shall see, now won't we....
Will have to go and collect the haws soon, hopefully next week. I've got 2 bottles of oil waiting....Although today I decided to use my Rose hip Walnut infused oil, and the scent of the Walnut oil was really nice! My face was feeling a bit dried out from the sun, and also because I've been taking some bitter herbs, and bitter herbs are drying. Might be looking to get some more Walnut oil then, because I think the ones I have are both olive oil.
Might be nice to make another perfume, maybe a fun and airy one, like Sweet Orange or Tangerine. Simple to make too: just add essential oils to a carrier oil (yep, olive is fine, but usually jojoba, grapeseed or sweet almond are used) to a bottle and use! The oils "meld" after about 2 weeks, so you can more EO if you like.
Knowing that EOs are powerful medicine, I like to add just a few drops. But that gives me the idea to look for an alternative way to make an orangey perfume, perhaps using orange or tangerine rind....
Ooh, the wildcrafting adventures await! And speaking of which, I had started last year to tinker with making my own makeup and it's been waiting in the queue, so to speak, up on the shelf waiting for me to come back to it. I tend to get really creative around Xmas time, making my own personalized gifts to add that special touch....but I needn't wait that long!
Alrighty, m'dear sunshine, autumn days are almost here and where's there cooler weather, there's ripe berries, apples, roots, seeds and all kinds of goodies to be found--- like Goldenrod flowers, Bull Thistle/Plantain/Dock seeds and Dandy/Burdock/Chicory roots. And lots of nice-ies from the garden of course (Tomatoes and Cukes are on their way!).
Stay brilliant and radiant, but then, you always were :)
It's been a short and sweet week for foraging. I've been extremely busy this week as I started doing--- ballroom dancing! It's been exciting to say the least, and although I've only gone to 2 dance lessons, I'm already hooked!!
While the weather was nice on Tuesday and Wednesday, I had no time for foraging. As luck would have it, come Thursday when I thought to re-visit Buckthorn Woods, it rained.
I decided to collect a few wild edibles from my neighbor's lawn and it was NOT a good idea. Foraging during the rain or just after it's rained is a really bad idea, unless you and mosquitoes are bosom pals. While I've been getting better acquainted with those in the insect world, mosquitoes and I have yet to come to a mutual understanding ;)
Of course, the really obvious thing about rain and foraging is that the plants are wet. That means your hands get wet, with wet bits sticking to them so that you have to brush them off on on your pants. Your feet get wet and/or dirty, in my case both as I went out wearing sandals. Plus, they had mowed the other day, so I was leaving grass footprints wherever I went.
On the plus side, I did manage to gather up a small amount of Pellitory, Wood Sorrel and Malva for the next pesto. I ended up adding in 3 stalks of Broccoli, 2 cups of Green Beans and 1 cup of fresh Basil leaves. I had a bit of pesto remaining from 2 days ago, where I had added too much Lentils and it was quite thick, so I pureed the lot together and it was just the right consistency and greeny taste I was looking for. Pestos, gotta love 'em! :)
And speaking of which, my next mini-foraging jaunt was at work today, where I found many Strawberry and Violet leaves peeping up at me from between tall blades of grass. I collected a few Dock leaves and just a few small leaves of Dandelion and Common Sow Thistle --- too much and the whole pesto will have you making that scrunched up bitter face!
Ah yes, that's right, I almost forgot to mention that my other neighbors invited to take a peek-see in their garden. They are the only house on the block that has a rambling front garden, key note rambling, as it's a bit unkept!
I went over the other day and was invited to take some of their Hibiscus flowers for tea.
And oh, I did, I did!
Great big white showy flowers with pink centers, some hot pink fuschia ones and a few red ones. Hibiscus flowers are edible and make for a stunning centerpiece atop a salad, I kid you not!
I don't eat the stamens, and if you are allergic to pollen, you might want to be choosy about which flowers you take. I chose to eat the hot pink ones, the taste was just marvelous with that pesto I mentioned previously. They did have some pollen in them, unlike the white ones which I dried for future infusions.
Being a cooling plant, the flowers make a tangy tasting tea, great for those hot summer days to quench your thirst. And being in the Malvaceae family, Hibiscus root can be used similarly to Marshmallow root, great to help heal those with leaky guts.
While the neighbors had many other goodies growing, including Habanero peppers, Zukes and Tomatoes, I partook of a good bunch of fresh Basil, Parsley, Chive and Mint. Except for the Mint, they were all pureed into a pesto that was really one of the better tasting ones I've made :)
Alas, fall is almost upon us with the end of August and the beginning of September, yet the weather continues to remain hot and steamy. While a bit too hot for my tastes, no complaints, because before long the cooler days of fall will be here, not before long melding into the snowy days of winter.
Next week looks most promising for foraging, and I still have a hankering to gather up some more Red Clover blossoms. Also on the list is:
On to the next great foraging adventure, so keep up that radiant light, sunshine :)
PS. No pics this time around, but maybe on the next go, m'dear :)
After the dry spell of no rain, of course it's been raining for the past few days, so all attempts at foraging were curtailed.
Wednesday and Thursday proved to be nice, and I got in a bit of gardening. Indeed, I'm happy to report that the seeds I sowed the previous week are already sprouting up. Radish seeds are most prolific, I must say, and in many pots bee-stung lip leaves smile up at ya ;)
I've started harvesting the Cherry Tomatoes, mmm, so delish and sweet! The Peppers are growing well and I used 2 Tomato cages to hold up 2 of the plants, might do so with the others when they grow bigger.
Found some Cleavers growing in the same pot as 'Mum and gave a pruning to Mallow. Also discovered that there were way too many Marshmallow plants growing all together in one pot and rectified that situation by displacing them in 2 other pots.
Snipped off a dried up flower head of Yarrow, seeds to save and sow for next year, and discovered on the same plant a new bundle of green flowers that soon will bloom. So exciting to see that despite the upcoming fall, plants are thriving on :)
Pruned Nasturtium leaves and one plant yielded 2 more seeds, Yay! Calendula flowers are now in, some with bright orange blooms and some with a ring of red and bright orange centers.
Collected many Sage leaves, as well as some Savory. Discovered some Thyme growing in the same pot and also several Anise-Hyssop plants. Transplanted the latter ones to other pots and placed them on a sunny spot on the front balcony.
Found a baby Strawberry growing and that tiny morsel was delish, only too sad there wasn't any more. Discovered a few wild ones growing at work today, tasted of water, no taste at all, yech :P
And speaking of wild ones, foraging did take place on Thursday and today, on a very local level.
Indeed, as I'm making one pesto and eating that one on up, I'm already thinking about what greens to add to the next pesto. And while I toyed with the idea of buying new greens when I went grocery shopping on Monday (seriously? having to BUY greens?!), the reason I DON'T buy greens during the warmer months was highlighted so well when I visited my neighbor's garden on Thursday.
In short, FREE FOOD!
I found tons of Wood Sorrel, Pellitory and Violet leaves. I collected some rather large leaves from a Goldenrod growing right beside the balcony and collected a few Sow Thistle leaves (but not too many, as the last pesto had a slight twinge of too much on the bitter ;)). I pruned her Mallow plants, divesting them of several leaves that I then put out to dry for future infusions (or maybe to add to the soup pot).
Inspecting my own tiny balcony garden, I collected a good bunch of Chickweed to add to that next pesto. Those Nasturtium leaves I mentioned earlier, as well as a few Pelargonium leaves, are also joining the rest of the pesto greens :)
Then, at work today, I collected a good bunch of Violet leaves to dry for future infusions. And of course I found a few goodies to add to the pesto pot: Dock leaves, a couple of Dandelion leaves, some Strawberry leaves, and some Hosta, Creeping Bellflower and Loosestrife leaves.
See, no need to shop for greens when you can collect them locally, freshly, in-season and...freely :)
Still hoping to get in some foraging next week as this week was pretty quiet, all depends on the weather of course.
And with that, my dear sunshine, bring that blazing golden light shining this way cuz there's lots more fun and frolicin' to be had :)
I had to.
I wrenched up the Cuke plants.
Despite my 2 little lady bug friends, there were way too many bugs for them to eat :( And more than that, the Cukes themselves were drying up.
There were 3 plants and the roots were not as deep as I thought they would be.
I was sad to have to take them up, but even as I was taking them out, I noticed ~as I had on previous occasions~ some type of wasp flying around.
After taking out the Cukes (and the Mustard plant, also covered in those measly bugs!), I saw some wasp bug come flying around. She (?) seemed to be looking for her babies, but perhaps it was only a worker bug (don't know much about the bug world, as you can see).
Wasp flew around, seeming to search for said brood of bugs that were now safely tucked away in the compost bin ;) In its place were 3 Bell Pepper plants (and some Radish seeds tucked into the ground), none of which seemed to interest wasp. She flew also to where Mustard used to be, now gone, and then went to peruse the Strawberry plants.
Oh no, I thought, don't you start laying some eggs and making a new brood in there! Of course, I've never heard of such a thing on a Strawberry plant, but you never know.
Ah well, when I perused my neighbor's yard and saw the same seeds sown into the soil now strong and viable with 2 large Cuke plants, I was satisfied that the seeds weren't the issue, that the bugs in my little corner of the world had been a ripe opportunity for them to thrive, boo hoo for me! But that's OK, because I'm sure my neighbor will share her bounty, she's quite generous that way :)
I uprooted any plant that wasn't thriving or doing well and planted a mix of Coriander, Parsley, Radish and Dill seeds. I'm figuring there's still some time (about 2 1/2 months) for them to grow, Radishes are short in their growing season at 1 month, so might even be able get in a second harvest :)
The Mint cuttings that I left in water took to root in about a week--- that Mint plant, she's a keeper for sure! I put all the cuttings into the pot and they all seem to be doing their Mint thing ;)
I pruned the Nasturtiums, bad me, I've been popping off the starting-to-go leaves, but leaving the stems behind. The plants started looking quite spent because of those dried stringy bits, but after removing them, they were their old selves again, just smaller versions :)
One of the plants already started making seeds, so I've begun seed collecting already. I've collected a couple from Borage and many from Mallow as well. Not sure if it's been the hot and dry weather that is the cause, but even herbs like Oregano, Marjoram, Savory, Basil and Anise Hyssop have gone into flower. They all look very pretty with their flowers, so tiny and delicate, but they also add a bit of bitterness to the leaves. I pinched off the flowers and told them it was too early in the season, not even September or fall yet! There's time, I told them, so keep growing and making leaves :)
And speaking of leaves, oh that last pesto I made (and enjoyed today) was so delish with just a few ingredients. I used all of the leaves from the 3 Lamb's Quarter plants I foraged from last time, plus a good bunch of Basil, some Sunflower seeds and... Geranium leaves! Yes, the scented Pelargonium leaves (there are different scents) can be used to flavor dishes and are edible! I added about 1/2 cup of fresh leaves to my pesto, but you can also dry the leaves and use them for tea.
Didn't do any foraging past 2 days, scorchers, both of them :P I was quite busy on the first day and thought I'd go on the Thursday, had the idea to just go locally around the bike path which borders along a lake, but nope, felt tired and just wanted to relax. I linked up to Buckthorn Woods and that beautiful field with the Goldenrod flowers. I really wanted to come and pay them a visit, and while they weren't against it, they said... there's time still.
Of course they were right, because this week is looking to be another sunny and hot week. Yahoo! Just right then to get in some foraging and exploring too :)
Actually, it made me think the other day, now why haven't I yet visited those 2 fields (the ones close to the hospital and hardware store)? Answer: because the same plants grow everywhere, dummy!
Hm, so true, but sometimes you get to meet a new friend that isn't found everywhere.
Like in the old Appley Love Field where Mountain Ash berries could be found.
I have seen a few trees in my area on people's front lawns, but have yet to see another Mountain Ash growing wild.
Whizzing by on my bike to work today, I passed by that "disturbed area" where they will soon be making condos. As it was pouring rain (yep I got soaked --- when I left home it was but a light tinkering), I peered through a rain streaked face to spot some Lamb's Q and Mugwort plants. I wanted to stop and get those Lamb's Qs! Pesto, yes, yes, although there might be some Lamb's Q growing in those 2 yet-to-explore fields. Might be some Red Clover growing there, who knows unless you go visit!
Alrighty, m'dear sunshine, time to mosey on over to those fields when next I get a chance then! Keep sparklin' on, ya hear :)
Though I awoke early enough to go for a good foraging jaunt, I also awoke to... my period. Since the first day of my period is always the heaviest, requiring a tampon change every 2 hours, foraging would have to be curtailed to a place close to home or postponed until tomorrow.
After taking 3 sips of a Blue Vervain + Red Clover infusion, the bitter taste made me feel instantly irritated (a liver sign) and then I felt extremely tired, so much that I fell asleep during my meditation! Blue Vervain is a nervine, after all, I told myself. Later that evening, however, after taking a few sips, this time my lips felt swollen and hot. Uh oh, another reaction to Blue Vervain, this time worse! I've never had any type of reaction with Red Clover, so I knew it was the Vervain. And that means, she's definitely NOT the herb of choice for me!
That's OK, because one forms an alliance with certain plants. Vervain is therefore most certainly a plant for whom I can enjoy her beauty, but not her taste :)
And speaking of Vervain, and where I found her growing, I decided to pay a short visit to Bellefield once again.
After parking my bike, I started up the path and saw a squirrel darting about close to the trees. Something told me to stop and wait.
So I did :)
I then walked over and immediately spotted Motherwort, indeed the same Motherwort plant who had graciously donated her seeds last year when I had been looking for some. She had literally pulled me over with her energy last year, while this year her energy was a lot subtler.
I could see why, because unlike last year, she was pretty much spent. Her tips had a few fluffy white-pink flowers, but the rest of her was deep with brownish seeds.
Aaaah, she had called me over to invite me to partake of her seeds once again! At first, I didn't understand, and had taken a few of her leaves, which I dry and add to the soup pot during the colder months. Her leaves have the save medicine (aka health benefits) as the rest of her, but in a milder form. That means you can add a handful of leaves to the soup pot, but no more or you'll feel her circulatory/emmenagogue effects.
I then proceeded to prune off those prickly bits embedded with seeds, snapped a few pics of my dear, sweet friend, said a hearty thank-you and went off to visit the field.
Unlike last week when I was in search of Goldenrod, I barely even glanced at them this time around. Instead, I was scanning the area for Dock seeds, as I've really enjoyed making a coffee substitute with them on the past 2 occasions.
I found a number of Dock plants with brown seeds, which is when you want to harvest them. Often, the leaves are brown and there are MANY critters hiding among the seeds, spiders being the most common and "plentiful" in my experience. This time, there were a couple of earwigs and only a few spiders.
There's basically 2 ways to remove the seeds from the stalk: 1- run your hand UP the stalk and remove as many seeds as you can and put the seeds into a paper bag OR 2- cut off the stalk and hold it IN the paper bag and then run your hand to remove the seeds, which will fall into the paper bag. You can also cut off the stalks, store them in a paper bag and then remove them when you get home. Up to you!
Since the plant is spent, don't feel bad if the stalk seems to snap off near the ground or if it seems you've uprooted the plant. You haven't! Dock plants have long yellow tap roots, and being a perennial, they'll all be sure to be coming up the following year :)
At first, I started using the second method of cutting the stalks off, holding each stalk in the paper bag and then running my hand up the stalk so that the seeds would fall into the bag. I found this way too time consuming and wasn't at all worried about getting every last seed. In fact, I wouldn't mind at all if there more Dock plants next year! So I switched to the first method and started running my hand up the stalks and removing the seeds that way. Of course, some of the seeds would fall to the ground, and that was just fine by me! Actually, I found the seeds to be a bit "old" somehow and wasn't sure that I would use this batch for flour.
Oh yes, didn't you know that ground Dock seeds make an excellent gluten-free flour? They do!! They have a bitter taste, sort of like Teff, and I find the two pair really well together. I've seen a few recipes for Dock crackers using 1 cup Dock seed flour and 1 cup any other flour. Add enough water to make a dough, then flatten dough onto cookie sheet thinly. Bake and eat. Here's a link with the full info :)
Myself, I had thought to make cookies and muffins and other quick breads with the seeds, except that body has not been into grains lately. I tried grinding Dock seeds just by themselves, then added a stevia blend and taste tested. Terrible!! Which is why half regular flour and half Dock seed flour is a much better ratio. Hm, perhaps coconut or almond flour might meld well with the Dock seed flour? Not sure, would have to try. Seems like it'll be experimentation time in the kitchen :)
As a coffee substitute, I used about 1/4 cup ground seeds to 4 cups water, then simmered it for 10 minutes before straining. Yep, I don't own a coffee machine or French press, but I was actually thinking about getting one after trying Dock coffee! I sweetened with a stevia blend and some almond milk and it was delish :) The only caveat that I noticed was the seeds seemed to be like oats in that they sucked up a lot of the water. I was able to make myself one cup of "coffee," and when I went back for another half cup, there was only about 1/4 cup left.
I haven't dried roasting them first and then grinding and making coffee, but that is something I could try. So easy to do, too: just use place seeds in a dry frying pan, put heat on medium-high, and keep moving seeds until roasted, about 1 minute. You can also put the heat on medium if you're worried you might burn the seeds, it'll just take a bit longer for the pan to heat up and toast them.
There's actually a lot of other wild foods that can be used to make coffee substitutes, sometimes the root and sometimes the seeds are used. Dandelion root and Chicory root (both bitter and usually roasted first) are common ones. Another one that I like to use is Rehmannia. She's a Chinese medicine herb excellent for yin deficiency and to strengthen kidney functioning and she is a MAJOR herb in TCM.
There's actually 2 types of Rehmannia, one cooked in wine 9 times (that's the one I mentioned above) and one that is unprocessed (builds blood). She's often paired with other herbs in a formula, such as with Dong Quai/Angelica and gelatin to build blood OR with Peony root and Goji berries to build yin.
I have tried Rehmannia all on her own (well, with Licorice root), as a decoction, and she tastes amazing! I then added almond milk and maybe a touch of stevia for extra sweetness, and really yummy! Rehmannia has a sweet taste, but "dark" like coffee. I really like adding in White Peony root (there is a red one), Goji berries, Bupleurum root and whole Licorice root decocted with the Rehmannia. It comes out very sweet, not the same as just plain Rehmannia, but really delish and nourishing :)
Back to the field: interestingly, the area where they had mowed the plants close the water was now "sporting" some small Nettle plants. Aah, Nettle! She has big roots and she's in the Mint family, can't be getting of rid of her with a mowing anytime soon!
Of course I brought my gloves and stopped to pick a good amount. I wasn't sure whether I was going to use her for my next pesto recipe, as I am out of fresh greens, or for future infusions. None of them had seeds, so they were viable for tea.
I decided to walk down the path and check on the other Nettle patches to see how I would use Nettle.
Uh oh, mowed down!
Not sure when they did that, crossed my mind if it might have been due to some strange lady picking flowers (um, me), except last week I didn't pass by the Nettle patch.
There was 1 trampled plant that had been left and while I contemplated taking her leaves, I thought better not. There were a few plants that hadn't been touched and I took my pruner to cut them short of their seeds. I didn't bother to take the leaves as they seemed old.
Hm, not much Nettle here and walking a bit further down, the other patch had been completely destroyed. Well, they'll be back! And perhaps back in time to get another harvest before the winter comes :)
I spotted Sumac and said hello, but didn't feel inclined to take any berries. While being high in Vitamin C, the astringent nature of them are akin to Lemon and Lime, and my sensitive teeth have not been enjoying those either lately.
I popped back to the field, collected some more Dock seeds, as well as a few Red Clover flowers, then stopped to see Tansy. I decided to take both her flowers and leaves, as she had offered them to me last time, and there are still tons of bugs on the Cuke plants.
And that reminds me that I also, um, displaced a lady bug! While it wasn't my intention, I did collect a few more Red Clover blossoms (not that much, about a dehydrator tray and a half, because they had pummeled the left side of the field where the burned Red Clover was growing). And while I was doing that, I spotted a lady bug and popped leaf and bug into paper bag! When I arrived home, I showed lady bug a really good eating place, placing her right on a buggy leaf. She seemed to be right at home and started eating away :)
I tried this with another lady bug but she flew away ;) I added a lady bug to my garden because this morning I noticed one sleeping on a Cuke leaf. I thought, of course, what I need are lady bugs! The Cukes, to be honest, seem to be drying up, but I'll wait and see a bit longer. Perhaps those lady bugs can remedy the situation as they are voracious eaters!
I added some Radish, Coriander, Dill and Parsley seeds to a few pots in the hopes of having a fall harvest. If the Cuke plants don't make it, then I will sow more Radish seeds. There were tons left on the store shelves, tsk tsk! Not sure why people don't eat more Radishes, but they are excellent to detoxify the liver and gallbladder, as well as helping to mop up fat and aid with weight loss....
Back to the field: I went and explored an area of the field that I haven't ever before. It was an area that was pretty much bare because they had previously dredged up all the plants. Weeds beings weeds, there were some prime weeds that had started to repopulate the space, Red Clover being one of them. While no flowers yet, the leaves were fine looking, some with chevrons and some without. I collected a fair amount, to dry and add to the soup pot come the fall and winter months :)
I then walked to an area close to where the field was enclosed by a fence.
Ah yes, that is whom I thought might be growing there.
In fact, when I had walked along on the other side of the fence the last time I had visited Bellefield, I had noticed Lamb's Q growing there but was unable to harvest her because of that fence.
But now, there I was and there she was, this tall plant that came up to my waist and that had thick green stems streaked with purple.
Yep, purple = oxalic acid, so you know I'm going to be cooking her before pureeing her into a pesto!
YAY! I was happy to have found some fresh greens for my pesto, in fact, there were 2 other Lamb's Q plants growing nearby, one as large as the first one and the second a bit smaller.
I confess that I stripped them all naked, but being an invasive weed--- where on the other side of the street there was a disturbed area with what looked like tons of Lamb's Q--- I didn't feel too bad.
I did thank the plants for their food and energy, and on walking back the way I came, I noticed some other infant Lamb's Qs had also started to take up residence and started repopulating the bare earth alongisde the Clover.
See, enough magic for everyone to go around :)
I wasn't much up to taking pics, not sure if it was the plants or me (probably me), but I did take a few. In fact, I noticed a few Evening Primrose plants (one was really big, about the size of Burdock minor), and some Jewelweed growing right close to the water.
After leaving the field, I decided to have a look-see behind the mall.
Yep, the city usually does that during the summer and all the plants were gone.
I hadn't really been foraging there much, there were mainly Sow Thistles growing there and I haven't felt like juicing.
I then slowly rode along an alleyway close by, noticed a few Dock plants, but nothing that sparked me to stop.
I passed by the Rose bushes before heading home. It will soon be Rose Hip harvest time! Time to collect the hips to make some vitamin-C rich cream for my face :) Might make some jelly or jello, will see.
I cooked the Chokecherries I collected from work, then mashed them with my hands before straining the liquid using a nut milk bag. Tomorrow it will be Chokecherry jello time, where I'll add in some sweet juice to the gelatin to counteract the sourness from the Chokecherries.
Alrighty m'dear sunshine, you have been right-side sunny up these past several days and I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of your burning brightness on the next foraging adventure :)
I checked the Cukes this morning. Oh my, the bugs have invaded most of the leaves! I didn't have time to give them another spray, but I'll have to add more essential oils to the water/dish soap when I get to it on Monday.
On removing some of the leaves, I discovered a small Cuke growing in. YAY! It made me smile to see that despite the bugs, the Cuke plant is growing along :) I spotted 4 or 5 tiny Cukes; they seem to be about the same size as when I checked a few days ago. Tomorrow or the next day, I'll make sure to give the plants a good look-see over. I'm actually wondering if the bug proliferation (besides the humid weather, and no rain is in sight for the next several days) might be do to overfeeding. I used a fish oil emulsion, and the one I was using seemed to have burned the leaves on some of the plants, whereas others had a white "baking soda" look. I've since changed brands, but as I mentioned (and as I've read), too much isn't necessarily a good thing.
I have added some of my old infusions diluted with water on a few occasions as a fertilizer. I don't think that would be a contributing factor, because the tea contained mineral-rich herbs such as Comfrey and Nettle. Indeed, as I'm writing this, I'm thinking about Tansy and how she was looking at me as if I should take her flowers and use her medicine. Thing is, Tansy is often grown just for that reason, as an insecticide plant. And I'm thinking I could dry her flowers, make an infusion, and then add that infusion diluted with water and spray over the leaves. Might work. I'd have to return to Bellefield and do a test and see :)
Mini mini-foraging adventure at work: 2 "minis," because the grass and even the weeds are dry. I was thinking, as I was actively seeking out the weeds on the lawn at work, that people wonder how to get rid of weeds. Really?! I want to grow weeds by the side of the house and they won't grow! Ha ha, but why not? No sun! Weeds need light and water, so depriving them of sun and water = no weeds.
And searching for weeds on the lawn seemed almost laughable today, as there were so few Violet leaves to be found, maybe 1 Dandelion plant, and a few tiny leaves of Wild Strawberry. The lawn hasn't been mowed in at least a week and hasn't been watered either. Dry, dry, and the plants won't be proliferating until they receive some magic from Mother Nature via rain.
On the plus side, the berries are here, and I found a chair that would allow me to collect a good bunch of Chokecherries. Picking them off reminded me of how I had made several recipes last year and have yet to put those pics and recipes together into an ebook!
Picking the berries under the tree, I felt so nurtured and comforted, like being in the womb. The berries dazzled at me, showing me which ones to come and take. There was no way I could reach them all, I would most certainly need a ladder (and there's none at work). That was OK, because critters like to eat the berries too. In fact, as I was standing under the branches, I could hear a few of them above, dropping berries onto the ground.
Don't throw any berries onto my head, I silently scolded them.
Or maybe it was the birds, because I heard squawking too. Or perhaps both of them.
In any case, there's food for all of us, and I plan on turning my Chokecherries this year into a fruity jello :)
Last night, by the way, I tried the Queen Anne's sun tea again. Yech! Doesn't taste good to me at all, and although I could freeze her and use her as stock, as I mentioned in the last diary entry, I'm going to add her to the watering can to give back some minerals to the plants....
Speaking of which, all plants are doing well and will have to do a bit of gardening come Monday. Marshmallow leaves need a pruning, Nasturtium leaves are starting to lose energy as the flowers have come in, some have even already started to go to seed. Meanwhile, Phlox and Pansy are now finally in flower and it will be time to harvest some flowers and leaves. No blossoms on Candy Tuft, too bad, and Hyssop seems to be dying out, perhaps could use more sun. Yarrow flowers are fading, but I'd like them to go to seed and collect them for next year. Mallow plants have made many seeds but also still have flowers. Butterfly weed, I'm happy to say I checked on her just today, is slowly growing along and has NO orange aphids on her. The Pepper plants I planted out front where Hollyhocks should've been (but didn't come in), seem to have taken root and I hope to be able to get a good harvest from them.
Two of the Pepper plants I planted on the back balcony already have tiny green Peppers forming, how wonderful! I was marveling at them just this morning before I had to pop off to work. I will have to ask my neighbor if they are a hybrid variety, if so, the seeds can't be used for the next year. I did that once, I kept the seeds from a Pepper plant and the next year when I planted them --- surprise! they came in, but the Peppers were a mini-mini version of their former parents. That's the thing with hybrid plants, you don't know how they'll turn out the next year --- which is why open-pollinated and heirloom seeds are really the way to go :)
Lavender has yet to bloom, she's growing with Purslane, who seems so happy to be where she is. In previous years, I've planted her in flower pots, way too small for her. The leaves are large (well, large for Purslane, as she is more of low growing plant), with a shininess and glow to their leaves. She's really a great one to add to salads, I tell you, her taste is mild, just like Chickweed or Iceberg lettuce. I've added her to pestos --- I cook the greens that need it, then puree in ones that don't need to be cooked, like Purslane, Chickweed, Dill and other herbs.
Speaking of which, my last pesto recipe I used Green Beans and Red Lentils as the base, then added in 3 cups of mixed cooked Wild Greens, plus 2 cups of greens that didn't need cooking, including a good handful of Dill. Mmm, it came out so smooth and thick, like a tasty Wild Dilly Dahl! I might write down that recipe actually, as I've been writing down several of my wild pesto recipes. This was one of the first ones where I didn't add in any fat. Usually, I've added in a nut butter or some soaked seeds, but I tell you that pesto (I call it pesto, you could call it a dip or spread, same thing) doesn't need it! The top changes color, but no biggy, it's completely edible and as delish as the unchanged colored part underneath.
Since the weather is looking sunny and bright next week, I'm thinking a trip to a new field might be in order. I know of 2 where I could go: one is not too far away from a hospital (where I go to do my blood tests) and the other is right close to a hardware store. Why do I mention such details? For pee-pee reasons, of course! Yes, that's one thing about foraging in the city, you can't just go anywhere you please ;)
And on that ha-ha note, my dear sunshine, keep shining your radiant light, cuz there's many more adventures yet to come :)
PS. Sorry, but no pics this time around ;)
Wow, the weather has been absolutely lovely, sunny almost all the time. The caveat, of course, is that no rain means plants are dry and need to be watered daily, especially the Tomatoes and Cukes!
Actually, I might have to wrench up the Cuke plants. I sprayed the leaves the other day with water, dish soap and Tansy tincture. The bugs are furious, all over the leaves, creeping into the flowers too :( I checked today and it was hard to tell whether they were dead bugs on the leaves or whether even more bugs had flourished, especially as the temperature was hot and humid at 32C, not counting the humidity factor, might've been higher than that.
I noticed 3 small Cukes growing, so I'll wait and see if they grow. Hoping to spray the leaves again tomorrow. If the Cukes don't come in, I'm thinking about planting some Radishes. They have a short growth time, about 30 days, so I'd be able to get in 2 harvests if the weather permits. To be seen...
SO, blah-blahing aside about the garden woes, today was another foraging day. YAY!
I went to Bellefield with the purpose of collecting Goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace and Red Clover --- unlike yesterday, which was more of a let's-see-what-fun-friends-there-are-to-discover adventure.
I arrived at the field mid-afternoon and noticed a new friend I hadn't seen since last summer: Chicory! Usually Chicory is a tall plant, but since they mow the lawn here periodically, she was a tiny thing almost hugging the earth floor.
On arriving at the field, I immediately started collecting some Queen A's flower heads.
Then I spotted a tall bunch of Goldenrod growing together and moseyed on over there.
Just like yesterday, Thistles were growing right in front of the Goldenrod, blocking my way!!
And unlike yesterday, I wasn't wearing pants and closed shoes, but shorts and sandals.
I had to maneuver carefully to get close to them.
Pollinator attractors, you say? My God, yes! Bees, wasps, beetles and tons of tiny black bugs were circulating over the flower heads.
Although it was still a bit early, with many flowers that had yet to fully bloom, I collected several flowering tops nevertheless. When I got home later, I made sure to open the paper bag and let the bugs find their way out ;) I checked my backpack, as several critters were roaming around in there....
I went back to collecting more Queen A flowers, and then started to bend down to collect the Red Clover blossoms.
It was HOT.
So hot that sweat was rolling down my face as I hunched over to pick the flowers.
I realized I had still been wearing my backpack, which was generating more heat than my body needed.
Taking it off, I was a bit cooler, although when I had the opportunity to be in some shade, I welcomed it wholeheartedly!
The right side of the field had healthier Red Clover plants compared to the left side. How come? The left sided ones were in full sun, with no shade plants to offer shade, whereas the right sided ones had tall plants that offered some shade protection. Big difference when you saw the left sided plants all burned up by the sun :( Not too much, not too little, just right :)
Still, after collecting a good deal on the right side of the field, I went over to the left and managed to find a good number of blossoms worth picking. Indeed, although most of the flowers were small, the harvest was most bountiful: try 6 dehydrator trays full!
It being so hot, I snapped a few pics and was about to go when I decided to take some flowering tops of Blue Vervain. Really, the root is what's most prized with her, but the tops can also be used as a suitable tea. What for, you ask?
Well, she has many different uses, and I'm planning on using her as an anti-spasmodic during my period for any cramps. She's also useful as a nervine, helpful with insomnia, headaches and migraines. I didn't know that her leaves were edible (cook first) or that her flowers are also edible!! I'll try them tomorrow :)
So fun and interesting to discover and learn new things every day :)
And speaking of which, when it comes to Goldenrod, she has quite the health benefits profile. Excellent for bladder/kidney issues such as Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), cystitis, kidney stones and nephritis--- and she's a diuretic :)
She's high in saponins and rutin (good for circulation/capillary health), is antioxidant, and she's a good one to use against....Candida!
Yep, she's both anti-fungal and anthelmintic, as well as astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory and styptic. You can see why she's often added to infused oils to help with skin issues, but drinking an infusion or having her as a tincture are other ways to get in her health benefits too :)
Tired and hot, I walked along the path towards the street. I stopped to hover and pick some Red Clover leaves and I noticed how these leaves called to me whereas the others hadn't. What made them so different?
These plants received more shade than the others and their leaves, while not having the same vibrancy as the ones at Buckthorn Woods, were nevertheless looking vibrantly green. While some add the leaves to tea with the flowers, I like to dry them and add them to the soup pot during the colder months.
I stopped to notice Tansy, now drooping and falling over, now with flowers starting to be spent. I then walked along the street, close to the field that was fenced in, and nodded to Motherwort as I passed by. I stopped to take a pic of the water gushing gently close to the field, then was about to pop onto my bike, when I suddenly spotted Lamb's Q. I grabbed some leaves, took a pic of a new plant right close to where I parked my bike, and had a look-see around.
Oh ho, lookee here, a Mallow plant! This one looked like an escaped Zebrina variety, one that could be found at the flower market. Her leaves were too small even for a nibble, as I mentioned, the lawn gets mowed every so often.
At home, I made a Queen Anne's Lace sun tea:
---> stuff flowers into a 1-liter mason jar. Pour boiling water to cover, then let steep 15-30 minutes. Strain. Sweeten with stevia.
This was the first time I tried Queen A as a sun tea. In the past, I dried her flowers and tried her that way. Key word being tried, as both dried or fresh, I'm not too keen on the carroty taste. I could see the liquid being used as stock for a soup or stew, however :)
After making sure all bugs had left the flowers, I divested a few leaves from Goldenrod, then stuffed the bouquets into vases to dry.
All in all, a good harvest day, with much good company and plenty of sunshine. And on that note, sunshine, I'll catch ya on the next adventure. Stay bright, ya here :)
PS. Enjoy the pics :)
I felt up for an adventure today.
But where to go?
During my meditation, I linked myself with different areas that I could visit and asked the plants if I could drop by.
Buckthorn Woods was a place I had yet to visit this year, and I got the OK from the plants to swing on by.
So I did :)
Before I arrived there, I stopped briefly at the pancake of parched earth where Appley Love Field used to be. I had stopped however, because despite wrenching up the trees and weeds that once stood there, some friendly weeds remained.
But of course!!
And that made me smile and gave me a chuckle inside :) Queen Anne's Lace, Goldenrod, Bladder Campion, Milkweed and a lone Wild Aster were some of the friendly faces I met.
When I arrived at the woods, I immediately put on the long sleeve sweater I had tied around my waist and then ~confession time!~ I sprayed my clothing with....DEET.
Yes, that nasty chemical DEET.
While I am not interested in chemicals, my other natural bug sprays had failed every time in the past, so I decided to give this one a go and see what happened.
Wow, for the first time, I wasn't assailed by any swarm of mosquitoes or insects flying around my ears. Except for the flies.
I walked into the forest and noticed some Queen Anne's Lace flowers and took a few heads to make a sun tea later on. I noticed a bit of Yarrow and nodded hello.
Then into the deep woods onto the first trail I went.
I walked gingerly at first, looking here and there, up and down, moving branches with my arm so I could pass. So much to see, but where was the Prunella hiding on the forest floor? I suddenly spotted the road ahead and realized this wasn't the same trail with the Prunella. Or was it? I looked for the Baneberry bush that used to be there close to the end of the path, but no Baneberry...Well plants do come and go, but I think I was on the wrong trail!
I backtracked and then prodded along another trail, stopping to take pictures along the way and eating a few berries--- rather seedy!
I came to the clearing where Burdocks were growing. Yes, plural, as there was quite the family with their sticky burrs growing there! I explored the clearing and noticed the familiar faces of plants as I had in previous years: Thistle, Coltsfoot leaves, tons of Goldenrod, Horsetail and St. John's Wort. One of the Goldenrods was taller than me and I asked her how that could be! I laughed, seeing another tall Goldenrod bent over and being supported by her Goldenrod buddies. It made me think of when I had photographed the family of Goldenrods at Appley Blossom Field last year. One of the Goldenrods must've been over 6 feet!
Continuing along another trail, I picked up many Plantain leaves and noticed some Strawberry leaves. Ah yes, I remembered this trail and how I had to continually use my arms to move branches aside....
I went along another trail this time, one I hadn't before. It led me further away from the road, almost so that the noise of the cars passing seemed far away.
I spotted some Staghorn Sumac growing and wanted to say hello. I couldn't advance to see them, however, as there were several Thistles barring the way :0 I walked along a bit, noticing White Vervain, an empty gall ball from a Goldenrod...and then, just a bit further now...
Wow, I could tell that most people didn't come here.
I was standing on a sandy little hill and there before me was a sunny field of Goldenrod. Farther in the distance was a group of Sumacs, but to get to them would mean following a curvy trail of uneven ground.
I stopped to breathe in the serenity of this sunny oasis, to appreciate just being here now.
I looked around me and there was Goldenrod everywhere, including a few standing right before me!
It seemed the end of the trail somehow, yet there was a path leading away on my right and of course that other curvy one to the Sumac trees.
I decided it was time to head back, and I was amazed at how swiftly I was able to walk back along the trails without being bothered by any mosquitoes! Yep, read the message, boys 'n' gals: poison yourself, poison the bugs or have them stay away ;)
To be honest, they came buzzing around once and I sprayed my clothing once again. Nevertheless, I did get a bite on my arm and another small on on my face :( I didn't want to put any of that stuff onto my skin directly, and the buggers wouldn't leave me alone when I stopped to bend and hunch down to collect....Prunella!
Ah yes, I remembered this trail leading to a clearing right close to the entrance of Buckthorn Woods. Bright purple blotches of color could be seen dotting the forest floor...yes, there was Prunella!
Most of them were growing close to the ground, but a few had grown tall up on their stalk. It was so delightful to bend down and pluck off their flowers!
Growing right close-by were several patches of Red Clover. Flowers were absent, as in previous years, but the leaves had such a green glow about them, hard to describe. Almost like a vividness to them, with the chevron stamped so clearly, as if they were....well-nourished.
I collected a dehydrator's tray worth of these beautiful leaves, to dry and impart their secret energy in my soup pot cauldron come fall and winter :)
I was about to leave when a Buckthorn tree snagged my sweater.
Hmmm, what's that?
I stopped and retraced my steps.
I discovered a few more Prunella hiding behind some plants.
Are we playing hide-and-seek?
I went a bit off trail, keeping my eyes peeled on the forest floor for purple splotches of color and moving aside branches so I could pass.
On exiting the woods, I spotted a few more Prunella growing along a ditch under some trees, and gathered them up quickly before whizzing away back home.
I had gathered 2 dehydrator trays full of Goldenrod leaves, which I'll dry and add to the soup pot later on. Actually, I put on the dehydrator full of the goodies I collected since I'm hoping to have an excursion tomorrow at Bellefield! Just a mini-foraging adventure, where I'd like to gather some Red Clover blossoms, Queen Anne's Lace flowers to make a sun tea (I didn't collect that much from Buckthorn Woods), and Goldenrod leaves and flowers, if there are any.
Yes, that reminded me seeing the many Goldenrods at Buckthorn Woods, that where a plant is growing will depend on its growth and appearance. That is, while the Goldenrods behind the mall are in full flower, the ones at Buckthorn Woods were not quite ready yet.
But soon! Have to get some before they get all buggified too :)
August, we're reapin' the harvest! And there's so much more to come :)
Keep smiling, sunshine, cuz the inspiration is right there at your door, if you know how to be...here now :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: