Yep, yet another pit stop at the flower shop, er, market.
This time I really went there to get some fresh Basil to make a mean green spread. I mentioned in the previous post that I had collected Hosta, Loosestrife and Daisy Fleabane leaves, so pesto is definitely on the menu! To the pesto, I'm going to add some Dandy leaves, Mallow leaves, Chickweed, Lamb's Quarter and perhaps some Lemon Verbena and/or Anise Hyssop. I also purchased some GF Miso from the health food store and I find that this simple ingredient can really add a nice touch of flavor to any pesto/spread.
Since I'm planning on making 2 or 3 types of pesto this week (foraging for Milkweed and other lovely edibles is on the schedule), I got 3 Basil plants, 2 of Cinnamon Basil and one of Pesto Basil. And to add flavor (and because the plants I have I've used enough of their leaves) I also picked up a Lemon Verbena and an Anise Hyssop.
Once again, I spent some time chit-chatting with the flower market man. I was telling him about my pesto with Hosta leaves and that I was going to add the Verbena and A-Hyssop to it.
Interesting about the Hostas, he said. What else can you do with them?
I said I added them to juices and smoothies, and they were fine in soups and stews too. They're in the same family as asparagus, you know.
Really, he said.
Then I mentioned the flowers were also edible, not much taste, but fine to add to salads to pretty them on up. I broke off a flower and he tried it and said that yep, it tasted like a flower. As he continued chewing, he said it tasted like salad and he could see how the flowers could be added to a salad. Of course, he's a meat and potatoes kinda guy, so salads are a side dish on occasion ;)
While it had rained earlier today, by now the sun had come out and talking and being in the sun was such a pleasant moment...
I looked over the perennials, asking him if he had any Mums or Blanket Flower ~gifts for my neighbor~ but I finally just got her a Pepper plant as her seeds didn't take and he was out of the others.
I did bring home a few other friends, of course!! The Stevia I had gotten had one of her stems broken by the wind, so I picked up a friend for her and now there are two sister Stevias in the same pot :)
I also picked up 2 Butterfly plants, aka Pleurisy root. I had planted seeds 2x and still nothing showed, so when I saw them at the flower market, I said of course I'll bring them home and plant them in their pot! And I did indeed...now to wait to see them flower and attract the butterflies :)
I did see a monarch butterfly the other day, so rare to see them I find. Indeed, I think I see more flies that come and pollinate the flowers than any other bug ;)
And yes, I did get one more plant: Gentian. I know the root is used as a digestive bitter and to stimulate the liver/gallbladder to produce bile. It's also so bitter that other bitter plants seem not much compared to her.... I don't know, Dandelion, Wild Lettuces and Sow Thistles seem right up there on the bitter principle to me ;P
Now that I come to think of it, I placed her in a small pot, so will have to see if I can't find another place for her...maybe get another large pot. Her root is supposed to be as thick as a man's arm....better make that a tall one then! Maybe I'll pick up 2 tall planters next week as I need to repot one of my Aloes.
I had picked this Aloe up from the health food store, thinking I could use her sap to use in salad dressings. Of course, I never did (softie me about plants being friends and all), and she's gotten quite huge. Her leaves are spread out quite horizontally that she really reminds me of an octopus. She's a bit toppled to one side, so it's going to be time to upgrade to a bigger home.
And speaking of planting, after I got home, I planted all my new lovelies from the flower market (except the Basils, they can stay in their pots for now). I also staked the Tomatoes --- there are 3 plants and there's even another baby one coming in! And I made a trellis for the Cumber plants (there are 2 of them) by tying 2 small bamboo trellises together that I had purchased from the dollar store in a previous year. Not bad, since they are all growing in the bottom of a ferret cage :)
With the hot and humid weather, many of the plants have been surging forward:
Other news: I dug the garden at work!! It didn't take long to take up the weeds (I apologized to them before and did NOT dig up Dock or Dandy roots, heheh) and grass in this small area beside the deck. The earth is sandy and rocky, but that's what the boss OKayed. I spread various veggie herbs, the usual ones like Lettuce, Spinach, Chard, Tomato and Pepper, then all got watered and now it's to been whether anything will grow. I mentioned to my boss about the compost/topsoil, and then, ah, how the ego changes! At first, he was OK with the garden, then a new one came along that seemed put out at the "extra work" of procuring earth and having to water the veggie patch. What chores, I know ;)
I discovered a new friend growing right beside the Rose bush and Rhubarb that my landlord planted downstairs: Malva! The same Malva Rosea that I acquired just this year, but perhaps had given to my neighbor in a previous year (?). Question mark added as I'm not sure whether this was the kind she had last year, thinking more that the seed found its way to the area.
Also checked beside the shed and there are Violets, Plantain and Common Sow Thistle to be foraged ---probably on Wednesday to give time for the water to evaporate. I have to agree that the Common Sow Thistle is very mild tasting when young and the arrowhead leaves make it easy to identify. I'd definitely add (and have added) this as a green to pestos, smoothies and the soup pot (high in calcium, phosphorous and iron). The other types I find too rough and/or bitter and are better suited for green juices.
I remember that one of the Sow Thistles, the Field one (or arvensis) told me she was edible. I took a few of her leaves, cooked her and yet still found her disagreeable. Too rough for my tender intestines! The next year when I saw her and several of her friends growing in the same spot behind the mall, I decided to pick her up and add her to the juicer. Perfect! In small amounts, and paired with other greens and fruits, I'll take those minerals and Vitamin C she offers up to my body, thank-you very much!
Interesting what she didn't tell me was that her root can be used as a coffee substitute. Oh ho now, looks like I'll be digging me up some Sow Thistle and Dandy roots come fall...Oh no...digging for roots is not exactly on my fun, fun list. Doable, and done for the health benefits of course...and exercise, I suppose...
Alrighty, enough blah-blahing for now. Time to get out there foraging, sunshine, so sweet me, treat me, I'll be sharing all the details...soon enough. 'Til next time, sunshine :)
It rained on Wednesday, so my plans to go foraging after running errands were thwarted (as was foraging on Thursday).
Instead, I decided to check out what was what in the garden, aka, what was growing and what wasn't.
And other "instead:" instead of going back yet again to the flower market (so tempting, I know, I know! but I've spent enough money there already), I decided to add whatever seeds I had to the pots. I planted some more Lettuce (indeed, I've collected a few leaves from the ones I planted already), Spinach, Sweet Trefoil, Mignonette, Tansy, Purslane and Coriander on the back balcony. On the front balcony, all is doing well, just planted a few more Marigold and Sorrel seeds. I also added two more seeds to each large planter of Hollyhock. Nothing came up, although one of the planters has some Dill growing :)
Made a wild pesto/spread with Milkweed leaves & immature flower buds and Lamb's Quarter that I foraged close to the mall. Added in Chickweed from my balcony garden, as well as Anise Hyssop and Basil for taste, also from my garden. Just love the taste of fresh herbs!! A bit of almond butter was the healthy fat I decided to use, then pureed it all--- so tasty with veggie crudites, in other words, raw cut up veggies like cuke, zuke and celery. Delish!! although I did find the dip tasted best on the first day it was made. 2nd day was OK, not as fresh, and by 3rd day, it was wearing out its welcoming flavor.
Sipping on a leaky gut/candida tea at the moment: 2 parts nettle, 1 part violet leaf, 1 part pau d'arco and 1/2 part plantain. Added in a bit of Prunella to stimulate the lymphatic system, but not necessary if you don't have it. In TCM, Prunella is used to help with liver/gallbladder issues, and in Western herbalism is seen as being an alterative, meaning working as a general heal-all for all body systems. She's also been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial, vermifuge and stomachic actions. Read more here.
Happy to be sipping on Nettle, she's a SUPERFOOD Queen-of-Herbs for sure. High in calcium, iron, protein, minerals ---nourishes kidneys/adrenals, now who doesn't need help in that area? Lots do! And Nettles are super easy to grow, they take a bit of time to germinate, about 6 weeks I'd say, but once they're growing, Bingo! I planted 2 pots and another larger one by the side of the house and they are all coming in, YAY! Hoping to get another good bunch of Nettles later on in the summer at Bellefield...
Foraging at work was ho-hum, not much Violets or even Dandy around (shocking, I know), probably because there hasn't been that much rain. It rained one day, yes, but the earth is quite dry still. I did get a good bunch of Prunella, maybe about 2-3 mason jars worth. They are tiny little things, you know, and the part you want is the flowering top. I know the Chinese variety is much larger than the ones here, but they all work fine just the same :)
Got some wild and not so-wild edibles to make another mean green pesto/spread: leaves from Daisy Fleabane and Loosestrife (wild) and leaves from Hostas (2 varieties, not wild). Will probably buy some fresh Basil from the health food store, as I've picked enough leaves for now from the plants growing on the balcony ;)
Might dig up the garden tomorrow at work, now where did I leave those seeds? July is almost upon us, so I'm thinking green tomatoes might not be so interesting come fall, but greens and radishes would be great. To be seen...
Hoping to explore Buckthorn woods and get in some Red Clover next week. Milkweeds are coming in now and there are still Roses that I can collect! Haven't been foraging so much Roses this year, still have plenty from last year, but then I was thinking that I could use some Rose floral water, and fresh ones are best to use for that...
All for now, m'dear sunshine! See you next time around, and...keep shinin' around :)
Yep, I did it again!
I passed by the flower market and got a few more additions to the balcony garden.
While I was there, there was a lady who was saying the same thing as I had in the past, that her sowed seeds hadn't shown and her plants were still slowly coming in, nothing much in bloom.
The flower market man said that wind, less so than cold, was the real culprit.
How so, I inquired?
He said that wind burned the leaves and also destroyed the stems of plants; hence the destruction led them unable to recover. He said the Tomato plants, for example, had suffered many burned leaves due to the wind factor.
In permaculture, wind is definitely a factor to consider when thinking about designing a site, whether a garden or landscape. And as many people know, wind gusts can be crazy and topsy turvy in the city, due to the presence of many buildings. Planting close to a fence can be one trick that can help, as can using stakes if you know plants are susceptible to toppling over (e.g. Borage or Peonies). You could also consider planting in a pot and then bringing in the plant during windy days. Another solution, if you have the space, is to use a greenhouse.
So, what did I pick up at the flower market today?
Ha ha, the flower market man, while he was arranging the flowers on the rack, was smelling them as he was checking them. He was also looking for a Spanish Lavender he had purported to have seen, when I asked him if he had any more Lavender plants. He rubbed his nose and said that just smelling the Thyme, Mint and Sage, his sinuses had gotten cleared out!
Wow, I told him, you're quite sensitive to smells. He shrugged his shoulders, didn't seem to know anything about it. In fact, later on during our conversation, when I told him I had studied naturopathy and that I had taken some herb classes, I was telling him that Bergamot made a great tea and that Bugleweed was a tea that helped to clear lung issues. He was surprised, didn't know anything about it...
The woman I was talking to at the flower market was also surprised when I mentioned a few of the herbs being edible. I told her last year I had made a Lavender perfume and she said oh that's nice, how lovely, yet it crossed my mind that just in talking to these 2 individuals that many people are unaware of the value (medicinal, edible or both) of what's growing right below their feet in their own garden!!
It gave me the idea to perhaps contact the horticultural group in my area and ask if they'd be interested in some weed walks, where I could yack on about the benefits of many common plants. To be seen...
All for now, see you next time, sunshine :)
One Backyard: Edible & Medicinal Clovers,Dock, Fleabane, Hawkweed, Plantain, Prunella, Sorrel, Strawberry Leaf & Violets --- Clover Perfume, Massage Oil, Herbal Vinegar & Sorrel Lemonade Recipes
When you see a lawn, do you think, oh that's someone's backyard, just some grass there? Or do you look closer and see a plethora of plants, waiting to share their energy/food and medicine?
So here are some pics I took at work. See the variety of living plants in just a small plot of land :) Here we go:
White Clover, triofolium repens. Gather the blossoms on a dry day when there hasn't been any rain. You can make a standard infusion with them, although she isn't as medicinal as Red Clover (useful to help with menstrual cramps). Instead, where she shines is in her scent:
To Make White Clover Perfume:
---> Place the flowers slightly packed into a small mason jar (250ml/1cup or 500ml/2 cups works just fine). Add oil to cover the flowers (olive oil or grape seed oil is fine), then use a thin bamboo skewer or the handle of a wooden spoon to make sure flowers are coated. Add more oil to the top of the jar, put on lid and screw cap and let sit in the cupboard for six weeks. Strain out oil by placing a coffee filter into a sieve to catch any tiny pieces. If you like and there are still flowers around, you can make this perfume oil have a stronger scent by repeating the process: add fresh flowers to a mason jar + your infused oil. Cap off with additional olive/grape seed oil to the top, then wait another six weeks. Place the oil into small vials with a roll on (a small sieve can help get the oil in the bottle, as can a pipette), then label and use for yourself or give as gifts. Optionally, you can add in a few essential oils of your choice that you think might work nicely with the delicate scent of White Clover (vanilla is one that comes to mind :) ). Enjoy!!
If you're wondering if I have some White Clover oil infusing right now, the answer is...YEP! I've used this same simple technique of infusing one flower into oil with Lavender and Rose petals...I love the delicate scent and so have others :)
Too much work for all that?? I hear ya. Better yet, just pluck the blossoms and add to the top of salads to make 'em pretty. Smell nice, taste is OK too :)
Good ol' Dandelion, taraxacum officianalis. What do you do with the leaves? Yep, I juice 'em! I replace about 1/4 of my other greens with Dandelions, add them to the juicer with some apples or melon and I'm good to go in the morning! They're chock full of minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and they've got that magic I'm-so-hardy appeal that's sure to be shared with you too :)
I add the leaves, fresh or dried, to soups and stews, and I use the dried leaves to make a wild green powder, which you can then add to smoothies and baked goods for extra nutrition. Even better, add the powder with some other greens that you've dried and powdered and make your own wild greens protein powder. Sure, feel free to add in hemp, rice protein, pea protein, etc. to the green powder.
Oh, yeah, to turn the leaves from dried to a powder? Best to use a high speed blender. Works every time. Then store the powder in a glass air tight container. A mason jar works fine too :)
Wood Sorrel, oxalis stricta (note that there are other varieties). The flowers have come up yet in this photo, but they will and they'll be yellow. How to use? Not being a stem kinda gal, I remove the leaves and toss into the soup or stew pot. Note the word oxalis, as she does contain oxalic crystals which can irritate some people. Cooking neutralizes them, however.
Since she tastes kind of on the lemony side of things, think LEMONADE.
To Make Wood Sorrel Lemonade:
--->Get a bunch of Wood Sorrel, with flowers or without and let them dry. Then make a standard 2 cup infusion. Strain and add in 2 cups water, plus the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, as you prefer. Add stevia to taste, if desired. Great served cold on a hot summer's day.
Oh yeah, and if you're ever out and about and feeling parched, munching on a few leaves helps to quench your thirst :) Good ol' common garden Sorrel :)
Wild Strawberry, fragaria vesca. Leaves are great to add to soups and stews, fresh, frozen or dried. Can also add fresh leaves to salads. Use dried leaves and make a standard infusion for diarrhea (drink throughout the day).
Red Clover, trifolium pratense. These are just the leaves, however the flowers are out and about as of the month of June. They'll still be around by July, sometimes even as late as August and early September. Note the characteristic chevron that appears on all 3 leaves. Usually, the rule of thumb is leaves of 3, let it be. But this is clearly an exception to the rule, and the striking pattern makes Red Clover easy to identify.
The leaves can be used fresh, frozen or dried and added to soups and stews. Fine to add to salads, too. She's also a good one to add to a herbal vinegar, as is Strawberry Leaf, Self-Heal, Plantain, Dandelion leaf, Stinging Nettle, Mugwort...pretty much any wild edible green is fine.
To Make a Herbal Vinegar:
---> Chop your choice of wild green edibles with scissors into small pieces, then place into a mason jar. The size of the jar will depend upon how much greens you have (I'd say a 500ml/2 cup jar would be a good size, 1 liter if you have a lot). Pour apple cider vinegar with mother to cover the herbs, stir with the handle of a wooden spoon to ensure all gets covered with the vinegar, then add more vinegar to the top. Place a small piece of cling wrap to cover the lid, then put on the lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard. Strain out the liquid using a fine mesh sieve and store in a glass container of your choice. Great to use over salads or in any dressing/sauce/recipe where vinegar is called for :)
Self-Heal or All-heal, prunella vulgaris. I love drying her and using her for tea (I do mean a standard infusion). Great to flush toxins out of the lymphatic system and for water retention (e.g. during periods). She's a low growing plant, doesn't grow very high. And those labia-looking petals fall out when you go to pluck up the flower, so do be gentle.
Note the fine hairs where the flowers are situated? You won't see them with the naked eye, but a close up camera or magnifying glass are both good tools to have in the field with you. You can add the leaves to soups, stews and salads, although they isn't much to them. Fine to add to a herbal vinegar for extra minerals, vitamins and nutrition.
Plantain, plantago major. Ah, the boo-boo plant. Where there's one, there's more. And more's the better. Any time you got a boo-boo, like an insect bite, sting or scrape, chew the leaves up (yes, in your mouth, called a spit poultice) and place over the wound. Replace when it dries out. Just great to get rid of itching and you'll notice the wound heals much faster had you not used trust ol' Plantain. I'd keep this plant around the garden if I were you and make sure to find her if you're ever out in the field and need some boo-boo remedy.
Of course, you can also make a salve with her leaves and pair her with healing Comfrey (a few salve recipes here). And she also makes a great massage oil, helpful with St John's Wort and even Goldenrod (the flowering tops of both those plants). Massage oil is good for relaxation, but also helps with sprains, strains, sore muscles and even nerve damage.
To Make Relax Me Massage Oil:
---> Simply chop 2 parts St John's Wort (flowering top) with 1 part chopped Goldenrod (flowering top) and 1 part Plantain leaves. Place in a mason jar (a 500ml or 1 liter mason is a good size here) and add olive oil to cover the herbs. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon to ensure oil covers all herb. Add more oil to the top of the jar, put on lid and screw cap, and let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard. Strain out the oil using a sieve (best if you place a coffee filter in the sieve first to catch tiny particles) into clean dark amber jars. Label and use on sore, stiff and achy muscles.
Just an FYI: St John's comes out in the summer while Goldenrod comes out later, late August and September. Feel free to make an infused oil with the Plantain and St John's, then make another infused oil with the Goldenrod and add the 2 oils together. OR, you can just make an oil with Plantain + St John's OR just St John's by herself. Up to you. Aren't you glad there are options and choices?!
Last good tidbit about Plantain: yep, edible, you can add fresh, dried or frozen to soups and stews. Small leaves are good in salads, larger ones can be juiced or even added to smoothies. Dried, she makes an excellent tea to remove boo-boos on the inside, aka, helpful to heal inflamed intestines such as leaky gut. I'd drink the tea daily with other herbs like Violet leaf, Marshmallow root and Slippery elm if you have leaky gut.
Violet, viola (sp.). There are several types of Violets, but they all taste mildly of wintergreen. The ones that I've seen where I live (up in the Northeast) have had either white or purple flowers, except for Johnny-jump-ups, which are tricolor. The leaves are usually heart-shaped, but sometimes they are more rounded. Some varieties have hairy leaves and stems.
Due to their mucilaginous quality, a few fresh leaves (and flowers) can be added to salads. Fresh or dried ones can be added to soups and stews, where that mucilage will be a welcome boon to soothe irritated intestines. If you have leaky gut, I'd add a good bunch of leaves when making soup, or even add some fresh ones to your morning smoothie (their mucilaginous quality doesn't make them so nice for green juices). Dried, the leaves make an excellent healing infusion. To the infusion, you can add Plantain and (chopped or powdered) Marshmallow root, plus mint for some extra cooling power. Drink throughout the day to help heal leaky gut.
Yellow Dock (the tall one in the middle), rumex crispus. I find that Dock leaves remind me of Spinach and both are good sources of iron. I prefer to dry the leaves and then add them to soups and stews come colder weather time, but they are great steamed on their own or added to smoothies and green juices.
Just like Plantain, where there's one there's usually more, and the seeds on 1 plant are plentiful! Last year there were perhaps 2 plants in the backyard and there are now about 1/2 a dozen :)
The root is a bright yellow when you dig her up in the fall, and that taproot can be quite long. A bit of digging required, yep, but the good news is that the root is even higher in iron than the leaves and has been used to help with iron deficiency. I'll talk more about the root later on in the fall (and also about the brown seeds which are edible and can be used like flour) :)
The pics above are of different kinds of rockets, plants that are in the mustard or Brassica family. 4-flowers are usually a sign of a mustard family plant...and the smell? Mmm, like sweet, heavenly perfume! When the flowers are spent, long seed pods with tiny seeds are left (yep, you can open the pods and use them like mustard seeds, even make your own homemade mustard if you can gather enough of them).
Leaves and flowers are edible, fine to add to salads, fresh, frozen or dried leaves to soups and stews. And if you're making yourself a veggie juice or smoothie, you can most certainly add in some leaves to the brew!
From L to R: Daisy Fleabane (erigeron philadelphicus), Forget-me-not (myosotis (sp)) and Orange Hawkweed (pilosella aurantiacum).
Daisy Fleabane. The leaves are edibles, although their hairiness may make them less than thrilling in salads. Better to add the leaves to the soup/stew pot and put them through the juicer.
Forget-me-not flowers make beautiful splashes of blue in the garden and since they grow in mats, they can be great to fill up those bare and empty spaces. The flowers (although bland and small) are edible and can be tossed into the salad bowl or soup/stew pot or used to decorate muffins and cupcakes.
Hawkweed or Mouse-ear. Flowers edible raw in salads, leaves are hairy, best to add to the juicer or to the soup/stew pot. The dried flowers and leaves can be made into an infusion and used as an emmenagogue, cholagogue, diaphoretic, expectorant and diuretic.
And finally, the Buttercup, NOT EDIBLE. Here's a good read about it and why holding a Buttercup under your chin will reflect a lovely shade of yellow (nope, nothing to do with whether you're a Butter lover or not).
See you next time, Sunshine :)
Foraging season is here! It's really, really here!!
OK, so it kinda started before, in the early springtime, but the weather has been up and down and this week has finally been so beautifully warm I've been sitting outside most mornings in my PJs enjoying the sunshine, and my balcony garden too :)
So today I visited Bellefield. Usually, I like to go there around mid-day, but I didn't get there 'til a bit after two. I figured I'd be there for around an hour, and that's about how I long I did stay.
I decided to forgo using the path and instead walked along the grass, looking at Burdock, Dandelion and...Nettle! I came to the Nettle patch growing close to the water and there were quite a few that didn't have seeds. I got out my pruners and thick gloves and snip, snip, snip! The ones that had seeds I cut them off, figuring I'd reap another round later in the summer.
Growing among the Nettles was Wild Parsnip and more Burdock. Dandy was about, of course. I got touched on my arm by Nettle on 3 places and immediately 3 little blisters formed. I had to wonder if it was only Nettle that was responsible, perhaps some Parsnip juice mixed in with the Nettle? Nope, it was all Nettle! Still, since I've been foraging for a bit now, I make sure to bring along a few things with me, one of them being my all-purpose, healing salve with Plantain, Yarrow, Comfrey and Rose. I slathered some on ---and better almost instantly :)
I crossed the bridge (the water was dirty and murky looking, not picturesque this time around) and was met with the field. Hm, it seemed they must've mowed it at some earlier time because many of the plants were small. I immediately started to gather Red Clover, tons of patches here and there, and noticed that many of the blossoms were already starting to dry out. True, as my neighbor pointed out, we haven't had much rain, more cloudy weather for the past week, but we still had some, like that other day when the sun shower turned into pelting rain!
Anyway, it's been 3 days no rain, and I collected a good bunch :) Most were on the pinky instead of purpley-side, but there were still many bees pollinating the flowers (I think I must've spotted about half a dozen). I kinda followed them and noticed that when a bee was on a particular plant, those were the flowers worth picking--- a bee's nose knows!
I didn't noticed many crickets this time around, but I did stop and take a few pics of some of the flowers. Plantain, tons around, and I would've loved to gather her on up, but she was growing right along the grass where people walk. Other Plantain plants looked old, with wrinkled leaves, not so inviting for tea and wildcrafting recipes.
Other plants that I noticed were:
Even though I was wearing a hat, who cares, it was darn hot out. Must've been 25C at least, and being out in the field, pants and closed shoes are mandatory --- especially with bugs and plants that might not always be so friendly--- and they weren't helping any to keep me feelin' fresh and cool! Oh and speaking of not so friendly plants, here's a link of ways to treat poison ivy, from first contact to the rash stage, by Susun Weed.
I then went along the path, just looking at the variety of plants. I stopped when I came to the 2nd patch of Nettles. Oh, they were looking fine! Last fall I had snipped off all the seeds and I could tell that no one had been here to touch any of them. A few had some seeds, but the majority didn't, YAY!
I made quick and started snipping, tossing each long Nettle onto the grass behind me. Again, I snipped off the bits that had seeds for a future harvest, gathered the Nettle into a 2nd large paper bag and moved several feet along to the 3rd patch of Nettle.
When I spotted a lady come walking down the path with her dog, and then 2 guys curiously eyeing what I was doing, saying hello and then glancing back at the my furtive attempts to snip and finish quickly, I knew it was high time to be getting out of there.
I stuffed the Nettle into a 3rd paper, checked the time, yep 3:30. Time to hay on out!
Went back along the path, hopped onto my bike and headed home.
My bounty of about 1 hour's work?
I collected 6 trays worth of Red Clover in my dehydrator. As you can see in the pic below, you need to spread the blossoms so that they don't touch. If they do, they change color and end up oxidizing. Not good medicine, not tasty tea.
Since my dehydrator was full (the other trays consisted of me collecting some Pennyroyal, Mint, Anise Hyssop, Hyssop and Sage), most of my table ended up hosting the chopped Nettle. Yes, for tea, I also use the stems. I chop the leaves, especially when they are large, and the stems with the pruners into small bits, then store what I need in a mason jar and the rest into a large paper bag. No harm using the stem (more work to peel off the leaves then chop I would think), although the real medicine is in the leaves.
And since those dark, rich green leaves are high in iron like Spinach, and even kinda taste like Spinach, I think I'll be making some pesto come Monday. Will get some fresh Basil and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds and make me a fine pesto indeedy! :)
Actually, it was just yesterday that I snipped a bunch of Chickweed growing in several pots, and it was just today that I pureed that Chickweed into a pate with sunflower seeds and some dried Italian seasoning herbs (dried Basil, Rosemary, Marjoram and Oregano). It came out tasting so refreshing, almost reminded me of a Cucumber dip. Didn't eat it with any Cuke, I'm afraid, but some tasty Carrot/Rutabaga/Chia seed bread.
Mmm, reminds me that getting some fresh Dill and Cukes would be lovely to eat this week if the hot weather continues to hold up. Coriander would be nice too.
I have all of these herbs growing in my little balcony garden, but everything is still too small to harvest. I noticed that the Lettuce and Spinach are coming along nicely, as are Borage and Nasturtium, so I will probably be able to harvest a few of the leaves soon.
Still thinking about going to the flower market, maybe this weekend or Monday. I looked into the pots and there are small seedlings, not sure if they are what I planted. I'm still thinking about getting Lavender (to make perfume in the fall as I did last year, made lovely Xmas gifts!) and Lemon Balm and see what else catches my eye. The flower market will be there for another 2 weeks and then we'll be in the peak of the summer season in July. Of course, technically summer starts in about another week, but by end of August and into September, those are more like lovely fall days than hot and humid summer weather (thank goodness too).
Will do a bit of foraging at work and maybe get the garden dug. Hoping to visit Buckthorn Woods next week, and there was also this huge field that I passed by on my bike when running some errands where lots of Red Clover was growing. I remember that it was a spot my herbology teacher had told us about. Really, it's a huge lot that's up for sale, but for now, it's a field worth foragin'! :)
And then there's this other huge field beside the hardware store I had told you about before...and when I was out riding my bike doing those errands, I also passed by this entrance to what seemed like a path in the woods and it gave me an idea to take a look-see one of these days. Oh my, it seems I'm going to be booked all summer...and I forgot to mention that I wanted to explore the plants along the bike path, along the water, and make new "aqua" herbal friends :)
Better get out the sunscreen, bug spray, hat, gloves, pruners and all that, sunshine, cuz it's lookin' like there's lotsa fun work (and adventurin') ahead :) Glad to see you bright and up and out again, keep it on up :)
Ps. You wouldn't think me a Buddhist if I told you that I brought home a lot of bug friends and helped quite a few of them to find their home back in the big ol' outdoors, would ya? Yep, the Red Clover ones had quite a bit, but the Nettles...eh, what bug wants to hang out on some prickly plant except a few spiders that were passing along the way?
It's been 1 week of grey cloudy weather. And chilly, around 7C during the evenings. Yesterday, the door to the solarium was left ajar, perhaps blown open by the wind, and when I awoke it was a cool 20C in the house. I've since gone back to wearing PJs with long sleeves and hanging-out in lounge pants :(
It's also been rainy. Like today. Finally, the sun peeked out, and what started as a sun shower turned into pelting rain. Foraging has been out all week and looks like it won't be 'til Thursday 'til I get a chance to grab anything, unless it's just foraging for food. The other day at work, I did collect a good bundle of Sow Thistle and Dandelion leaves. I have yet to make juice with them as the cool weather has left me bereft of craving for melon and other cleansing fruits. That's right, back to the good ol' soup pot and wild soups! ;)
The update on the garden at work is that there is none at the moment, so I'm thinking I will have to take things into my own hands, aka get out the pitchfork and put in some labor. We'll see how that goes next week, which is when I'm thinking about putting in the time, barring the weather of course. It's looking like it's going to be another short growing season this year, same as last, but getting the seeds into the ground will still mean we'll be able to reap some produce, if only come September.
The good news is I checked up on all the plants growing in the balcony pots and some are coming along really well. Nasturtium and Zinnia, for example, have huge leaves. Cucumber and Tomato plants are small but also coming along. I spotted some Dill, Basil, Marshmallow and Nettle seedlings. And I even did some pruning today, removing large leaves from Pineapple Sage (she smells pineappley lovely!), Lemon Verbena, Anise Hyssop and Zinnia. I also collected some Chickweed ---she's growing in several pots with other plants as well as her own designated pots, thank-you--- and some leaves from Malva. I tried the flowers from both Malva Sylvestris and the Rosea one and compared the difference: the latter one had a pleasant smell while the former was much more mucilaginous. I also found the leaves of M. sylvestris to be more mucilaginous as well, and definitely would recommend using this plant to treat leaky gut.
Both Pennyroyal and Hyssop plants I purchased from the flower market seem rather shaggy and could also use a pruning. Haven't been to the market to look for any new friends, but thinking might encounter some new ones while foraging, once the weather gets back into summer mode, that is.
Sipping on a nice brew of Angelica, Turmeric and Red Clover infusion. It's that moon time of the month and I felt I needed some circulatory herbs to move things along. No cramping, but I had a slight bit of back pain, indicating a weakness of the kidneys. In the past, I've used Rehmannia and Goji berries, sometimes He Shou Wu, to help build the energy, but I've since stopped when my body told me to. I was purchasing my herbs from Chinatown and while in the past my body seemed to be OK with the chemicals on the herbs, it seemed no longer was the case. Dragon Herbs by Ron Teegarden is supposed to be of good quality and I am sure there are other organic suppliers out there. Will be more pricey than what I've been paying, but well worth using clean-sourced herbs and not impinging on the Liver Qi ;)
Interesting how herbs are construed according to the diagnostic tool, aka Western herbalism vs. TCM. In TCM, for example, Angelica root is seen as a superior blood tonic while Western herbalism regards her more as a heroic herb, to be taken on occasion, when needed. I confess that when it comes to the viewpoint of how a herb is supposed to be used ---and seeing that there are different perspectives--- I use my body as a guide to see whether it gives the OK or not :)
Point in case: I tried using some Motherwort tincture to help move things along. Although a circulatory herb and emmenagogue, Motherwort has a cold energy according to TCM. Yet I followed the Western way of taking 15 drops every 15 minutes until my symptoms were supposed to subside. Key word supposed to, because Motherwort wasn't working. So, while my tea was gaining strength (aka infusing), I took a capsule of Turmeric and within 5-10 minutes, all gone.
Interestingly, while Turmeric has recently been touted as an anti-inflammatory superherb that many are advocating to be consumed every day, Ayurvedic medicine has long known about her healing properties. Yet whatever herb is being used, dosage and frequency should be dependent upon symptoms and tailored to the person, rather than following what herb is in the vogue du jour ;)
And on that jour note, my dear sunshine, it's time I get on to burning up the energy with tasks that attend my presence. Nice seeing your light energy come this way, hope to be seein' you again real soon :)
What if I was but a Dandelion seed, Floating on a Fluff Called Dandelion Wings? White Clover Perfume & Virginia Creeper, Look Out
Is this June weather??
Went out today with a hat and coat on, temp is around 12C.
Must be global warming, because this is not normal weather at all. June weather is sunny and bright, with temps around 20C. The humidity is low, there's a gentle breeze (OK, sometimes it's windy) and sitting outside is oh-so pleasant.
I had left an Aloe plant sitting on a table as a centerpiece out in the solarium. The windows were wide open, yet the door connecting the solarium and the rest of the house was closed. Poor Aloe! She had been in that cool weather for the past 3 days, yet seemed to be doing just fine, just needed a touch of water, is all. I told her, if I'm not sitting out in this cold weather in the solarium, then neither are you! She's back in the toasty kitchen, enjoying taking up all the space on the table with her long leaves on the horizontal. I really think she's going to be needing a bigger home soon :)
Dandy wings blowin' in the wind....Little Dandy seeds with a bit of fluff attached were blowing about today, here and there, up and down...What if I was just this one little seed, flying on Dandy wings, so carefree?... It sure looked like a lot of fun and not a care in the world...
But alas, reality entered and I took a look at how things are growing (nope, no foraging with this rain on and off past few days). Got my first harvest of the season with...Starlight Chickweed! The pot that was designated with Tansy was filled with this little beauty (nary a Tansy to be seen), some even about to flower. Chickweed is like lettuce in that she's a cut and come again kinda gal, so I cut up a big bunch and made me a mean green pesto with fresh Basil and Coriander, my wild soup, a bunch of Kale, some Sunflower seeds and a touch of heating herbs like Cumin, Paprika, Mustard, Kelp and a touch of salt. So yum with the Parsnip crackers I made with it :)
Nasturtiums are coming along quite nicely, I must say, and I found a Lamb's Quarter plant that was growing up big and strong and decided to move her on over to the Sweet Trefoil pot, where no Sweet Trefoil seedlings have shown up. Candy Tuft and Marigold seedlings were also spotted, as were Marshmallow and Malva. Both of the Malva plants I bought are in bloom, and both Yarrow plants and Mums are about to flower.
On the back balcony, I spotted some baby Purslane and Chive shoots. There are a few Zinnia plants that are coming along, as well as 2 Cucumber and 2 Tomato plants. I also spotted some Lettuce and 1 or 2 baby Spinach. All the herbs I bought are doing great, especially the Golden Sage. She has this brilliance in her energy every time I see her. The Cinnamon Basils (there are 4) have a strong, robust energy about them, and I noticed that Thyme has this sweet energy about her and seems happy where she is growing.
All of the Mints I bought also have a strong, robust energy about them. Their dark green color is really rich and they remind me of Moroccan mint, but none of them are.
I confess: after infusing Rose petals in grape seed oil to make Rose perfume, it got me thinking that maybe I could make some Lavender perfume in the fall. I had a Lavender plant last year, but she didn't come back, so, I was thinking about making another trip to the flower market ;P My Lemon Balm seeds haven't taken, so that could be another lovely addition to my balcony garden, and then are always some plants that are most probably root bound by now and are just seeking a new home, and I have a few spots available, ya know ;) Yep, it's lookin' like another trip to the flower market is coming up!
But that will probably happen early next week. First, I'll check what goodies are growing at work. There's also a neighbor that has Rose bushes and they might have flowered by now. There are 2 kinds of Roses and when I asked, he professed not to know what kind they were. He was initially worried when he spotted me one day removing petals from the Roses, but when I explained to him how the flowers weren't harmed and what I was using them for, he nodded and upped and took off. I was surprised, I thought he might be interested in the many uses for Roses, but turns out he's a busy man and couldn't care less!!
Hm, perhaps another go at infusing more Rose petals to make perfume? I confess that I prefer to eat the dark burgundy wine ones, as well as the white ones, and use the pink ones for tea and perfume. Although, seeing the White Clover on the neighbor's lawn downstairs today made me recall a conversation I had with White Clover two summer's ago, when she told me that she was quite fragrant and would make a lovely perfume.
Interestingly, although my herb teacher had told us about the merits of Red Clover and downplayed the white one of lesser, medicinal use, White Clover was right in what she told me when I "verified" her info on the web: often used in perfume!! She does remind me of Vanilla, a Vanilla-esque kind of smell, or maybe a cross between Vanilla and Lavender. I've made a few salads using her flowers and even before you take the first bite, you have this waft of perfume come to greet your nose. She doesn't have that much taste, but she isn't bad tasting at all :)
I guess there are some future wildcrafting recipes ahead! I'm still hoping to get to visit Bellefield soon, as well as Buckthorn Woods. Plus, since the other fields where I used to forage have now been turned into houses, it's going to be time to visit some new places. They are farther away than the previous fields, although the one I eyed beside the hardware store looks promising and is quite huge.
Keep you posted, sunshine, you bet your shining light I will :) Hope to see your smilin' face rayoning instead of these gray clouds ;)
Ps. I mentioned that I thought I had seen Virgina Creeper while out foraging behind the mall the other day. Turns out while on a foraging FB group there was a discussion about the leaves causing contact dermatitis in some and the berries being poisonous. Thought I'd share a link so y'all can read, if you have a hankerin' :)
Foraging is On: Daisy Fleabane, Wild Lettuce, Identifying Horsetail & Making Rose Perfume in Different Strengths
Foraging is ON!
June is here and so is summer.
And greens are out and about.
So, when I decided today that I needed to get some greens for my morning juices, I didn't look to the grocery store, but to the small patch of land behind the mall.
Yep, Dandelion greens were sure to be found, and there was also some Wild Lettuce plants, lactuca serriola, or Prickly Lettuce. I confess that although I made some notes on the different types of Sow Thistles and Wild Lettuces, I get confused sometimes which is which! I've been reviewing my notes, and of course, it always helps when the plant is in flower. These Wild Lettuce plants are still growing and pretty much in infant stage, but don't worry, whether Sow Thistle or Wild Lettuce, they all go into the juicer and make some fine juice (just be sure to add fruits to cover the bitter taste, OK)!
I also collected a few Dock leaves, which I'm going to dry and add to the soup pot in future, colder months.
I spotted a few other friends while I was there:
I also collected some Plantain and Violet leaves and got a good bunch of Rose petals. I'm thinking about maybe making a Rose petal facial oil, hm, but perhaps that same oil could be turned into a perfume?? I could infuse the Rose petals in oil, then use the same oil to again infuse more petals to make it a stronger scent. OR, I could simply add a few drops of Rose essential oil...
Making perfumes can be really simple, as seen in this recipe I've posted previously on how to make a Sandalwood perfume oil. You can simply use another essential oil, any one you like. Add a few drops, take a whiff, add more 'til you like the scent. Then let it sit for 2 weeks, smell again and add more if you think you'd like it stronger. Done and ready to use or gift.
What I did once was I made 3 perfumes using different amounts of Lavender essential oil: 2 drops, 6 drops and 10 drops in 10ml of carrier oil (I used olive oil). The 10 drop one I found was medicinal, and I use it on my temples if I ever have a headache (rare) or induce sleep (also rare for me). I like the 2 drops perfume when I want just a hint of scent and use the 6 drops one when I want a bit more. Making the same perfume in different strengths, as you can see, can be quite beneficial!
I think I might even try this technique when making the Rose perfume :) In fact, I've decided that I am going to make myself (and others perhaps??) some Rose perfume, as you can see in the pic below :)
I'm hoping to go foraging later this week, to check out Bellefield and see what friends are growing and what allies I can take back with me. I'd also like to visit Buckthorn Woods, take some pics and get to identifying and making new friends. When it comes to shrubs and trees, my knowledge is quite limited. But then, the plants and WEEDS that I'm used to grow in full to part sun, whereas most of the plants in the forest/woods are different because the conditions are different, like dappled shade to full shade.
OK, all for now, sunshine, about this mini-foraging adventure. Future adventures like in wait!! And I'll be sure to be spillin' the beans and tellin' y'all 'bout it ;)
Stay sunny now, sunshine :)
I've been so busy lately. Not sure with what, but it seems the days are just passing and I haven't been on the computer much, typing up this and that!
So, let me tell you all the little plant bit news that have happened since the last post.
Today: sat in the morning sun and fussed and pruned over Marjoram, Oregano and Tarragon, removing crooked stems and large leaves. Half an hour passed by too quickly...Came to work to discover the boss passing the lawnmower. You'd think I'd be squealing inside because of all the plants, right? Nope, because yesterday I got some goodies, although I did go out and have a look-see. I collected some Hostas, and Dame Rocket and Cress leaves for juice, as well as their flowers (rare that I do this, but they do make nice cut flowers and they are considered an invasive weed--- and the smell is heavenly! I'm thinking, maybe dried as potpourri even??).
Yesterday: Got a few goodies as the lawn hadn't been mowed. Lots of Dandelion leaves, a few Dock leaves, some really big Strawberry leaves, just a tiny bit of Plantain leaves, and a good bunch of Violet leaves. The Violet leaves in the shade are always such a dark green compared to the ones that are in full sun. Interesting, too, to note their shape. They are heart-shaped, some call them kidney shaped, but sometimes they are more like a fat heart and sometimes more with a pointed tip. There was a plant that looked just like Violet, but her leaves had a downy, soft feel to them. No flowers, not sure if it's a different type of Violet, but will take more notes in the future.
There were also other plants that I saw: Hawkweed, Sow Thistle, Red and Hop Clover leaves, Wood Sorrel leaves and I think even Burdock. Very strange, because last year I remember this same type of plant with Burdock-looking leaves, but never grew at all. Just these 2 leaves dangling in the wind, no further growth from the plant. No basal rosette, as Burdock has in the first year either. Now that I think of it, there was 2 leaved plant and one rosette leaved plant, so that latter one does make it a Burdock plant, but I'll take more notice next time around. I also spotted some other plants, like Wild Daisies and two that had maple-looking leaves. Ooh, the investigation begins!
I confess (as noted in a previous post) the foraging bug hasn't quite bitten me yet. Although, on the way to work, I did pass by Bellefield and there are tons of beauties blooming! Making myself a tea with Yarrow reminded me of the enchantment of my plant allies, my friends, and it did indeed spark a flame: time to visit Bellefield (and other places) and see what's happening! Seeing Red Clover leaves also made me think about collecting some and even adding some seeds to the pots.
Day Before Yesterday: I added more seeds to the pots! I noticed a few other seedlings have appeared that are NOT Lamb's Quarter, such as Mustard. So cute, Mustard seedlings, reminds me of bee stung lips :) In fact, I've been paying more attention to seedlings and I had written before that they all seem to look the same. Not true! I've been noticing and seeing differences, some have 2 thin leaves and some have tiny round leaves.... It's a good sign, it means my botany training is getting to work!
I added more of whatever seeds I had left to several pots.What sprouts, sprouts. What doesn't, doesn't. And if the pot remains empty, I'll just find some plant looking for a nice home... Like maybe some Hawkweed or Daisy Fleabane...
The Present Moment: enjoying a liver tea of several herbs: Milk Thistle seeds, Echinacea root, Sarsaparilla root, Yarrow, Violet leaves, and Black Sesame seeds. Again reminds me how I'm either out or running low on several herbs, like Dandy, Dock and Burdock root, Nettle, Plantain and Violet leaves, Red Clover blossoms, Roses and Rose hips...and it's high time to get reacquainted with some old friends once again!!
The Near Future: juicing with the bounty I collected (now that wild friends are out and about, no need to go buying greens from the health food store) and on to the wild adventures (just not tomorrow as it's supposed to be a rainy, rainy day).
Keep you posted of my future delights and food adventures, sunshine. Stay bright and beautiful :)
Foraging and Flower Market!
On my way to collect Garlic Mustard behind the mall, I discovered lots of Violet leaves hiding between the cement cracks beside the shed. In previous years, there were Sow Thistles, but it seems they've been replaced by another opportunistic weed. I also found some baby Plantain leaves and a few Gill-over-ivy, still with flowers.
I hopped onto my bike and headed for a mini-foraging adventure. On the way there, I was looking at the plants, what was gone or going and what's in. Gone are the Violet flowers, going are the Dandy flowers, all white fluff balls now, and in are Roses. Saw a few of them had flowered (and saw 1 Dame Rocket too!), and I discovered a few other interesting ones behind the mall: Sow Thistles, Toad Flax and a plant that I'm pretty sure is in the grape family. When I saw her, that's what came to my mind, especially seeing the curling tendril. There are houses on the other side, so grapes would make sense.
Need to get better acquainted with those plant families from my botany class Fast!
Coltsfoot flowers were gone and Garlic Mustard was a-plenty and in flower, too. I filled my backpack with her and you'd never know I had passed, there were so many plants! My first intention was to strip the plants of their leaves and leave the stalks bare, but I ended up snipping them and doing that job at home. And when I unpacked my bag later on, it reminded me time and again that foraging has 2 parts: the collecting and the unpacking. Perhaps 4 parts, the going and coming back from the site, because you might want to calculate that in terms of time out and about ;)
Anyway, I composted the steps because I'm not big on all those fibrous bits. I removed several of the leaf petioles, because even those I find to be too much roughage. When the stems are young, I was reading, some steam them and eat them like asparagus. Nah, I'd pass on that, just like I'd pass on eating Dandelion stems. Different strokes for different folks, ya know ;)
Passed by the flower market next and spent another $25 on plants.
It's official: Lamb's Quarter has invaded almost all the pots! Even the ones with Chickweed had Lamb's Q in them!! I pulled them out and added them to the soup pot today.
Oh yes, before I get to the flower market, I forgot to mention that I made a 2 crock pot wild soup. I added in all the Hostas I collected from work (about 2/3 of the crock once I pureed them to small pieces), some Chard and Kale, and several dried wild leaves: Motherwort, Strawberry, Plantain, Violet, Dandelion, Garlic Mustard and Creeping Charlie. To cover the taste of all that bitter, I added in Carrots and Rutabaga, and Italian seasoning herbs: Rosemary, Sage, Dill and Basil.
If you're wondering how it smelled, mmm, the house smells like someone's cooking pasta sauce! It's just the herbs, silly, they are what give off that aroma that we associate with pasta. But alas, I will be pureeing the soup tomorrow, although it will not be tasting of Tomato heaven. Depending on what other veggies I've added, sometimes it tastes just fine, other times still too bitter. When that happens, no biggy: I just add in some Squash or Sweet Potato to smooth out the taste. Works every time :)
At the flower market, I picked up several Italian herbs: Marjoram, Savory, Tarragon, Oregano, Cinnamon Basil and regular Basil. I also got a few medicinal ones as well: Anise Hyssop, Hyssop, Pennyroyal and Mum (the one with orange flowers this time, because I got the yellow ones last time, ha ha, now I have 2 varieties!). I also got a sweetie Stevia plant.
11 plants in all, sheesh, it made me think about all the seeds I planted. It made me question their viability, but more, it made me question their source. I've been buying my seeds from Richters, and I've mentioned that I always add in more seeds than 1 or 2, so surprised that so many seeds have not germinated. Last year I had the same issue, but I figured it was the rainy weather. This year, spring has been a long time coming, but the weather is warm and here to stay.
I checked the pots again today and noticed a few seedlings that weren't Lamb's Quarter, that were the sprouts from the seeds I planted: Borage, Marigold, Geraniums, Mustard and Nasturtiums out front; Dill, Zinnia, Lettuce, Pepper, Tomato and Cuke out back. Will have a look-see again tomorrow and might add more seeds yet again.
Spent about an hour just talking to the flower market men. So lovely to just be out in the sun, soaking up the rays and enjoying the moment...Their conversation started with turista and bathroom behavior while on vacation, then turned to the psychological joys of retail and people trying to steal and take back dead plants, to finally end on a long run about rich people coming to buy in bulk and expecting discounts and delivery. I just listened to their talk, letting the moments pass on...
All for now, see you next time sunshine. Keep burnin' bright :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: