It happens every year.
They come and spray for the spiders.
And this year, just like in previous years, I came home late from work to have to put tarp over the pots lining the side of the house and haul in all the rest of the plants.
That was a good workout! Climbing up and down the stairs!
I then got to looking over my plants and did a bit of pruning. I'll spare you the details of which ones I took off the leaves to dry for future use, such as for teas and soups, and which ones I collected to add to my pesto recipe today ;)
Interestingly, one of them was Lemon Verbena and my neighbor was telling me that the infusion can be used to help soothe colicky babies. Hm, I thought Chamomile was a good choice, but it turns out that Lemon Verbena is a mild sedative, as well as being a Stomachic. Guess I'll personally find out when I toss some into the soup pot come fall :)
FYI: I did try Lemon Verbena fresh in a pesto, but found her way too overpowering! I think soup would be much better, especially during those cold days when a little pop of lemon would be highly appreciated.
A word on Zinnia leaves...
They are bitter and a small handful goes a long way. Make sure you have other nice herbs to cover the taste. Despite adding in Basil and Miso, I had to add in a whole bunch of fresh Coriander to mask that bitter taste! I steam the Zinnia leaves, by the way, before consuming them. Have yet to juice them, but I could see them working great in a green juice. I'd use Zinnia leaves like any other bitter green (e.g. Dandelion), so 1/4th bitter greens and the rest Lettuce, Spinach, Chard, etc. + fruit.
Today, after they sprayed for the spiders, I had to haul my pots back to their original spots. Yup, another workout for me!
And who do you think I discovered, hovering under the lid of my water filter, hiding among the leaves of Pansy, and pretending to be hibernating on the lid of my indoor compost bin?
Spiders! Several of them, and all scaredy-be when I went to haul them back to the great outdoors.
Sheesh, I think they're more afraid of us than us them! Although seeing one of the bigger ones, I faced my fear with a head-on thought: face 1 fear each day. It worked :)
She was actually pretty chill once she realized I was taking her outside, although she was trying to see where she was going while clasped in my hands ;) I, of course, was trying to stay calm. Spiders are helpful to the eco-system, get over yourself my dear!
So I did ;)
I then discovered an army of black aphids on all 4 of my Nasturtium plants. Grrr. Where are those Lady bugs when you need 'em?
I sprayed them with an antibacterial cocktail mix of Mint, Lavender and Lemon. It was a "no poop-pourri spray" I had made for the bathroom, diluted into a spray bottle with water to the top of the bottle. The label read Clean & Fresh, which is exactly what I'm hoping for ;)
Also found orange aphids on the Butterfly weed. Again. I've sprayed her 2 or 3 times now, poor her. She's just trying to grow and these bugs won't let her be!
I planted some more Marigold seeds after noticing that a few pots were rather bare. And since the Lettuce bolted, there is now some Radish seeds waiting to emerge into the world and showcase their pungent beauty :)
I yanked out the Zinnias growing with the Tomatoes and Cukes. They need a lot of space and they were being crowded out. Also found a Mustard plant gone to seed growing in there too. Aah, plants, what friends that do like to roam about! :)
Also found 3 Pepper plants growing in there, hiding behind the foliage of the Tomatoes and Cukes. I'm thinking of transplanting them but not sure where. They need a lot of room and depth and the pots I have remaining are small. Hm, maybe out front...Oh yes, great idea, as I realized why the Hollyhocks never came despite planting seeds twice: when I went to lift one of the tall planters, it had rained and it was like lifting a rain barrel! Tons of water started pouring out when I tilted it a bit on its side...Oops...
The Peppers might do well there, they'll be in full sun most of the time and I'll make sure not to water unless it's really needed...
Saw my neighbor and hopped over to get some free weeds: a touch of Dandelion and Wood Sorrel to add to the next pesto recipe and a good bunch of Mallow leaves. My neighbor is now complaining that there are too many Mallow plants, that they are crowding out her Marigolds that she'd planted!
Ah, the ego, never satisfied ;)
As I said, I helped her to prune them by divesting them of several leaves to make more "space" for the Marigolds, then got back home to dry them out for future tea. I really like adding Mallow to tea for her slimy nature: she's an excellent herb for those with leaky gut and she's great to pair with astringent herbs (like Horsetail, for example) or bitter herbs to help prevent yin deficiency (in other words, dryness).
Weather is looking sunny and bright next few days, so I'm hoping to visit Buckthorn woods. Have yet to go there this summer and passing by in the car, I noticed that the Goldenrod is out! Yes! Those leaves are edible, my dear, I've added them to soups and now I'll try them in a pesto recipe! Flowering tops, I make muscle-relaxing oils with them or dry them to make a diuretic tea. Cleavers as I mentioned in a previous diary entry, has got me going to the loo more often than before. She's an excellent diuretic, Prunella isn't bad, whereas others like Nettle and Goldenrod aren't so noticeable in more frequent bathroom trips. Now, adding Cleavers, Prunella and Nettle (with a touch of Mint for freshness) is a sure pee-pee, I mean, er, bathroom flusher ;)
Have harvested 3 Cukes as of now and I was reading about helping the plants to pollinate HERE. Male and female flowers in Cukes = lots of flowers, not always so much fruit. Pollinating them is easy, but when I went to check on my friends, they seemed to have wasps, flies and other critters around, so I think they are doing alright. Well, I could always ask them to make sure :)
OK, sunshine dearie, stay bright cuz the next adventure is just 'round the corner :)
PS. Whoopsy, looks like foraging won't be 'til later on because I forgot I had a doc's appointment this week....
PPS. After pruning tons of Mint (and Chickweed, for a future pesto), I think I'm going to take some cuttings and plant her in another pot. Wormwood seeds have yet to sprout anything, so there's an empty home to fill and Mint, being the lovely "invasive" that she is, will sprout roots in no time, about 2 weeks I gather :)
PPPS. Mini-mini foraging adventure when I went for a jog this evening and discovered in what used to be a veggie garden that the older folks had done last year ---- a really big and thriving Yellow Dock sweetie and several Lamb's Quarter plants (well, they do tend to like their own company ;)). I couldn't see that well, but I grabbed a few leaves of Dock and some Lamb's Q for... you guessed it, the next pesto recipe! Dock, I'm going to dry and use her leaves for soup because I rather fancy her that way :) Can't wait to go explore during the daytime when the light is better, and so close to home to boot! Hm, maybe there'll be some good greens (or some Day Lilies) not minding to share their energy with me when I go to work tomorrow, we'll see!! :)
Churchground Foraging: Phlox, Bloodroot, Hosta, Day Lily, Bee Balm n More And Bra Adventure with Japanese Lover-boy Beetle
Thursday seemed to be another promising day for foraging, all except for the weather.
I realized that I've actually become a fussy forager: not too hot, not too cold, and certainly not wet at all!
Since I was invited by my neighbor to peruse the church grounds for weeds, and since it was close by, I decided to hop on my bike and pay a short visit.
On the way there, I stopped to smell the Roses.
The Roses were mostly spent, and the ones that were left were lodging Japanese beetle couples! I took a few white and deep burgundy ones, then off to the church I went.
I parked my bike and walked up to the side of the church.
Hm, rambling plants toppling over onto the concrete walkway.
I immediately noticed the trailing vine of Wild Grape and took a few leaves for a future pesto.
There was Sow Thistle and Dandelion, of course, those familiar friends!
I spotted Bee Balm, now with flowers almost spent. Most of the leaves were still viable, so I picked a good fistful for a future tea (or soup, as I've added the leaves to the soup cauldron in the past ;)). The minty smell as I picked the leaves off the stalk was a welcoming burst of olfactory delight :)
Purple Loosestrife, bent over by a strong wind most probably, was another looker that I noticed. I took none of her showy flowers, but did collect several of her leaves for a future pesto.
There were 2 plants that looked exactly the same, with opposite lance-shaped leaves and 5 heart-shaped petals. One had white petals while the other had pink petals. On quick glance I thought them to be Dame Rocket, except that rockets and cresses, being in the Mustard family, have 4 petals not 5, plus they come out in the spring and not in the heart of mid-summer.
And then it came to me that there is a someone who looks like Dame Rocket, but has 5 petals....Phlox!! Ah yes, that sweetie has petals which can be added to salads, the taste being a bit spicy and reportedly best in fruit salads. Growing some Phlox in a flower box myself and having a nibble, the taste is quite nice actually, no need for fruit :)
Then there were the Day Lillies. Orange ones, pink ones, mauve-yellow, red and white ones. There have been reports of allergies to the edible flower, although I suspect that when the opened flowers are eaten, it may also be because of the pollen. The closed buds are quite tasty, and I collected a few from each of the 5 different colors. While great dipped in a tempura batter and then fried, I like steaming mine and then adding them to.... pestos! Just be mindful that they are laxative, so a few go a long way ;)
I couldn't believe it when I spotted the unusual leaves of Bloodroot, but it was true: a patch of that strong medicine was growing right here by the wall of the church! Usually Bloodroot grows in woodlands, and plants that grow in the forest contain strong medicine. Bloodroot, so-called because her dark red root looks like the color of blood, is actually an endangered plant. Being highly toxic yet excellent to help those with tooth/gum disease and chronic lingering lung issues such as bronchitis or pneumonia, the dosage of Bloodroot is just ONE measly tinctured drop per day!
I then walked along to the front entrance of the church. There were a few plants on the terrace (hullo Mallow!) and then a hodgepodge of plants growing along the other side of the church.
Interestingly, before writing up this diary post, I had to ask for a bit of help identifying the cultivated plants! Yes, while most gardeners would recognize a Dahlia or Hydrangea, it would seem that I have only weeds on the brain ;)
On my way back from running a few errands, I collected a few Dock leaves then popped into my balcony gardening to do a bit of harvesting/pruning:
And speaking of lymphatic herbs, I also had the opportunity of collecting a few handfuls of Prunella from my neighbor's lawn. It was a such a lovely evening. I felt so calm and happy at the same time, just being out there in the evening sunshine, simply bending and squatting down to collect tiny little blue flowers that were smiling and winking at me...Such simple moments, living in the now....
I also discovered while hopping around my neighbor's front lawn that the Mallow plant I gave her last year made good on making babies: there must be about a dozen Mallow plants growing under her birch tree! I pruned them, of course, divesting each one of a few large leaves, to be dried and added to future infusions to heal and soothe irritated mucosal linings. And finally, I collected a large handful of Violet leaves. The ones hiding under the bushes were a dark shade of green while the few I plucked growing between blades of grass were such a light green in comparison.
Aaaah, my dehydrator trays all full, I'll be onto the next harvesting/foraging adventure soon enough! Keep smilin' sunshine, cuz you're brightness is just the sweet light that's needed :)
PS. True story: I was feeling something sticking into my back when I went to the mall after mini-foraging on the church grounds. I removed my backpack, trying to dislodge whatever it was that I thought was on the outside of my tshirt. Right there in the middle of the store, I wrenched my tshirt around, looking for the critter. Not finding it and still feeling something poking me mid-back, I reached my hand up under my bra to remove a lil wise-guy, who fell onto the floor of the store. Ah-ha! A Japanese beetle!
Where's your girlfriend, lover boy? I asked him.
I picked him up off the floor with a tissue, encasing him in the tissue and left the store. I couldn't very well leave him in the middle of the aisle, now could I?
His thanks was to poop right on my hand when we got to the big outdoors.
Gee thanks, I said, wiping up the mess with the tissue.
He wanted me to bring him to the Rose bushes.
You can find them yourself, I told him, especially after that last gesture.
He made a few small movements like he was hurt (yeah right, you're fine), then with a harrumph, opened his wings and took flight.
Interestingly, I saw a Japanese beetle the next day hanging onto a Nettle leaf. Same little guy, I wondered? Was his sense of smell that strong to find me out? And what the heck was he doing playing around with Stinging Nettle, of all plants?!
He stopped when I got close to stare at him, then took off with a harrumph ;)
Japanese Beetles, gotta love 'em :)
PPS. I took lots of pics, so Enjoy :)
I apologize in advance if this post doesn't have the same flavor as it did when I first wrote it. I had written this diary entry for half an hour and was about to add some tags to the post when I got logged out of the system. All those words describing my encounters with beautiful plant beings were lost....Alas, while the experiences are still there in my heart, I write now to recount to you as best I can what happened when I returned to Bellefield....
My purpose on going to Bellefield was to collect some Nettles for a future pesto. So, when I arrived at Bellefield, I immediately crossed the bridge and turned left (instead of right, towards the field). I walked down the path, hoping that there would be still be some Nettles, as I noticed that the patch growing close to the water had been mowed.
Ah yes, and it would seem that another patch growing along here had also gotten mowed...
Was it random or had someone pointed out that a crazy lady was coming along picking weeds?
Nah, while unusual, no one really cared about that kind of stuff!
I arrived at the Nettle patch and oh, what delight! I was able to harvest 3 large paper bags full of Nettle, 2 viable for tea and 1 with seeds that was good to add to the pot for a mean green pesto.
I was so appreciative, I kept thanking the plants, so happy that I was able to find good medicine and superfood! Indeed, turning around and walking a bit further along the path, I spotted some Sumac trees growing along a small hill. They invited me to come and take some of their berries.
I licked my finger, then licked a bunch of berries, then re-licked my finger again. Some of the berries were still a bit green, but the taste was pleasantly mildly sour.
They assured me that the berries were fine and I collected several drupes.
It seemed they were telling me which ones to pick, and I laughed, telling them I couldn't possibly collect them all as I wasn't that tall!
Smiling and glowing from their interaction and generosity, I skipped along the trail to visit the field. There, I spent the next little while collecting and talking to Red Clover.
You must be so happy that it has rained, I told them, seeing how many of the blossoms were now back to the usual purpley-pink hue, unlike last time when most were pink-colored and full of slugs.
Don't be silly, they chided me. We accept what Mother Earth has to offer us and she is always kind and knowing in her ways.
I was beaming with all the bounty of the flowers around me and did indeed collect a good bunch (about 4 dehydrator trays worth!).
I then spotted some pink Yarrow, and the color of these flowers were a darker hue than the usual pale ones I'd seen before. I got out my clippers and collected several heads of white, pale pink and dark pink flowers, smelling some as I went along. Aaah, Yarrow, such a looker, but not so sweet tasting (nope, definitely more antiseptic-like, yech!).
I stopped and looked briefly at the Milkweed plants, but they did not call me. I noticed some Mugwort and said hullo, then went to visit the patch of Plantain that had been so generous in the past. Interesting how this time everything had changed, they were silent in their energy, and so I didn't interact with them or take any of their leaves.
I noticed the Grape vines, now trailing over the fence, but they too did not call to me.
Getting out my camera to snap a few pics, who did I suddenly encounter but Tansy! Oh my, this was the first time I had ever seen her growing in the wild, and she seemed so happy to be growing where she was. I was happy to see her too, and gave her an energetic hug.
I snapped a few pics of Yarrow and Bull Thistle, the latter being taller than me (must've been around 5'7 or 8!).
I also noticed some other plants that I hadn't previously. In fact, in my last post I had mentioned that there were about 2 dozen plants growing in this one field, but I underestimated: 3 dozen is more like it!
Indeed, I took pics of Yellow Vetchling (I had mentioned her last post but didn't take a pic), Wild Parsnip, Blue Vervain, White Vervain, Queen Anne's Lace, Dock (now in seed), Green Coneflower, Jewelweed, Mugwort, Burdock and a plant that I have yet to identify. I also took a pic of a bee that came to inspect some pollen on my shorts :)
Returning home, I felt a pull by some plant growing beside the shed. No name came on the wind, but I was suddenly led to discover her name online with some writings by Susun Weed: Groundsel! I collected several plants beside the shed, then went and discovered more hiding behind the Tomato plants growing in my neighbor's yard.
Growing beside the Groundsel, there was also 2 Lady's Thumb plants, which I transplanted to one of my planters before divesting them of a few large leaves for a future pesto.
Groundsel is related to Ragweed, yet a taste of the leaves ensured me that it was fine to add to the pot for a pesto (meaning: steam greens, including those Nettles I collected earlier, first before pureeing in the food processor). Also means: nope, no allergies to Ragweed here!!
With the flowering tops, I made a tincture of Groundsel to use during period time to help with cramps:
---> Chop 1/3 off the flowering top of plants, then further chop into small pieces. Add to mason jar, cover with 100 proof alcohol, cap and let sit 6 weeks before straining into amber bottles. Usage and dosage: 5-10 drops 1x daily for PMS and cramps; 5-10 drops daily for 3 months to tonify the uterus so that you no longer get cramps/PMS. Not suitable for those with allergies to Ragweed.
I also made Sumac-ade, which is easy-peasy to make and tastes just like lemonade!
---> Simply take the berries off the stem and place in a bowl (you can toss in the stems if you like). Add enough tepid or room temperature water to cover the berries. Let sit 15-30 minutes, then place a coffee filter in a sieve and strain out the liquid. Ta-da, Sumac-ade that tastes just like Lemonade! Add stevia (or other sweetener) for a touch of sweetness.
I've posted this recipe in the recipes section with some variations Here :)
Finally, I put the Red Clover and Nettle onto mesh sheets in the dehydrator to air dry, then had a brilliant idea to dry Yarrow as cut flowers in a vase. No water needed, because the flowers will be used for future infusions and/or other wildcrafting recipes.
Keep that light burnin' now, sunshine, cuz there'll be more foraging adventures before ya know it :)
PS. Took a look-see and enjoy the pics :)
Busy day in the balcony garden.
Harvested some Chervil, which is just like Parsley but with an anise taste. Really good for digestion, and you can dry her and use her for tea for that purpose. Otherwise, just like Parsley, Chervil can be juiced, added to smoothies, soups, stews and used as a flavoring. I could see her being turned into a glycerite....Didn't think of that at the time, because ~yeppers!~ she'll be a nice flavoring for my next wild green pesto :)
Oh, and since I was quite fond of her, I sowed some more seeds to enjoy a future bounty! Yep, she is a cut-and-come again kinda plant :)
Also planted the last of Wormwood seeds as 2x when I sowed, nothing showed. Seriously thinking about finding another seed company....C'mon now Wormwood, a little magic in the pot will do!
Harvested Sweet Cicely, she's almost the same like Chervil with an anise taste. Being good for digestion, she's also anti-spasmodic, so I'm drying her leaves for tea. I remember thinking she'd make a good sugar substitute, but I don't see it happening. No, just like Chervil, soups & stews, as a flavoring, and in smoothies & juices. Maybe for pesto too :) The root can be steamed like Parsnip and I'm thinking that Chervil's root might be edible too. Mmm, new goodies to add to the palate, wa-hoo!
Found Lamb's Q and Pellitory growing with Sweet Cicely, dwarfed by her leaves, heheh. Repotted them in another pot to let them grow big and strong for future pestos. Gotta love those wild weeds, I sure do :)
Harvested Savory, Bee Balm leaves (no flowers yet), Sage, Marjoram and Oregano. Those last two were in the process of making flowers. Not just yet, I told them, there's time enough still.
Sprayed Cuke leaves again, those aphids! Added another bamboo trellis so Cukes can climb up. There are a couple starting to grow and I told Cuke I'm fully expecting lots and lots of yummy Cukes, aphids be gone now!
Harvested Cleavers, that sticky plant, she really does remind me of a cross between Chickweed in the look and Stinging Nettle in that she has those little clippers. Going to try her for future tea to flush out the lymphatic system. Hope I'll be able to get in another harvest before the colder weather comes in the fall. Thought about making a tincture with her, but I think she'll be OK with other herbs in an infusion....
Went downstairs and collected about 2 fistfuls of Prunella. Also got a fistful of Violet leaves and Common Sow Thistles for a future pesto. Saw some blue moth butterflies hovering on the Prunella. One stopped to spread her wings just in front of me, then off she went to nestle on a White Clover. Such lovely beauties are all around :) Sure gave me a meditative pause, and a smile :)
Guess what I found growing in my neighbor's yard? Purslane! Oh goodness be! Never seen her there before, must be because some of the seeds from my little balcony garden made it via the wind to her garden. Since she's not into weeds at all, I harvested the omega 3 rich leaves and will most certainly add them to my next pesto recipe. Oh, the bounty of summer goodness! :)
Speaking of which, seems that the Violet I got from work also had Creeping Charlie in there, because when I went to check up on the plants by the side of the house, that creeper was creeping out Violet! Gonna have to harvest her out, poor Violet. Will use Creeper's leaves in a pesto or soup. Maybe soup as this is one wild green that I'm not so found of taste-wise, and all greens pretty much taste the same when boiled down in the cauldron ;)
Looking bright and sunny tomorrow, so you know I'm going to be making it a foraging day! Ah yes, let's throw it open to the wind and see what sweet beauties Mother Nature offers up... for food and medicine, of course.
Now to see if I should visit Buckthorn woods, the new place by the mall, or take a longer trip out west to a huge field out there....
Keep ya posted, sunshine, and stay shining now, ya hear :)
What's in a Pesto? Bugleweed, Chickweed, Zinnia, Hosta, Pellitory, Day Lily Buds---"Green" Skies The Limit!
I came home late last night from work to be greeted by my neighbor who is a gardener.
Hullo, I said.
We got to chit chatting a bit, then he asked me if I wanted some Tomato plants. Turns out, he had tons of plants leftover from a project at the school where he teaches.
Sure, I said.
Oh boy, when he said he had leftovers, try about about more than 2 dozen!! There were 2 sets of 4 plants all growing together, with roots all intertwined. I gave those to my lovely elderly neighbor, as well as 2 Pepper plants. I kept 2 Pepper plants for myself and for my downstairs neighbors, I gave them a Tomato and Pepper plant. The rest of the Tomato plants I'm going to bring to work to plant in the sandy garden.
Ah yes, there looks to be quite the Tomato party happening in my future :)
While I was out and about doing gardening tasks, guess who I spotted growing along the wall, right close to the stairs? Pellitory!! I'm seeing her growing everywhere now! I of course moved her to a more suitable location, less the lawnmower see her ;)
Yep, and I even found 2 of her growing in one of the planters and decided to move Bugleweed in with her. Bugleweed makes an excellent ground cover plant and did you know that she's edible? Yep, I took off a god bunch of her leaves and am going to add them to tomorrow's pesto! :)
Well, I'm also adding Nasturtium, Chickweed, Hosta, Dill, Basil, Anise Hyssop, Mallow, Strawberry leaves, Pellitory, Day Lily Buds, and a touch of Dandelion to the pesto pot. There might be some other wild greens in there, like maybe a touch of Wood Sorrel, Lamb's Quarter or Common Sow Thistle, don't remember what now ;)
Wait...oh yeah! That's right, I did a bit of "foraging" at work, so there's also some Creeping Bellflower and Loosestrife Leaves. Now how could I miss those ones ;)
But really, what's in a pesto? When it comes to wild edible greens, the "green" sky is the limit!
Boo hoo: green aphids were spotted on the wilted Cucumber leaves while orange ones were spotted infesting Butterfly weed. I sprayed them with a mix of water, dish soap and essential oils. I hope it works because the Cukes are starting to come in and I'm so looking forward to some cooling fruit! Or veggie, whichever way you call 'em :)
I snapped up a few pics of blooming in the balcony garden. Zinnia, Heart's Ease/Pansy, Nasturtium, Borage and Yarrow are all in flower. Unfortunately, the weather today has been stormy and hailing and the flowers and leaves were affected. There are huge holes in Mustard leaves, for example, where you'd think a bug had torn into it. Nope, it was hail. The Mallow and Basil leaves were all furled as if a sudden cold front had happened. Nope, storm weather! And while Nasturtium flowers seem kinda floppy, Borage flowers are pale and kinda week looking. Poor sweetie, she's in the Cucumber family, she likes her hot weather!
Anyway, it's supposed to be nice and pleasant the next few days, so I'm hoping to go out foraging. I was thinking about checking this small area beside another mall not far away, a tiny field that's rather fenced in. Then there's Nettle to collect at Bellefield (yep, future pesto!) and those twinkling blue Prunella sweeties calling me forth from the lawn downstairs...
Alrighty sunshine, keep you posted of my future bright adventures!! :)
Ps. Zinnia leaves are rather bitter tasting, so use them as you would Dandelion leaves. Fine for juice, soups, stews and of course, pesto --- but in moderation, unless you're hooked on the bitter (doubt it!).
Enjoy the pics :)
Mystery plant identified!! Just a short one here today, but I wanted to pen (OK, type, same thing) that I've been finding this plant in most of my pots. I'm sure the seeds came from the compost and unlike most people, I welcomed her and was most curious as to find out what her name was.
I had to ask what her name was on the FB group Plant Identification. Their sole purpose is to help you to identify a plant, wherever you are in the world. Highly, highly recommend them :)
Parietaria pensylvanica or Pennsylvania Pellitory is her name!
The reason I couldn't find out her name, despite rifling through my foraging books, is that she is often not mentioned. Indeed, even when told her name, I had a bit of a hard time finding some information on her. Good thing there is the website eattheweeds.com and Green Deane was sure to have some information about her.
By the way, that "her" is really Pellitory of the Wall, or parietaria officinalis. The Pennsylvania variety just happens to be the one in my area and I believe there is also a Florida variety.
In any case, she can cause allergies and itching in some people, especially if you are sensitive to pollen and ragweed. I'm not, and it was interesting that she told me she was edible and I've been cooking her up with my other wild greens, then pureeing and eating her as pesto.
I know, I don't always follow that "head knowledge" 100% identification rule. Why in heck not, you ask? Because there is also a language of the heart. And there is such a thing as communication with plants. Sometimes that communication involves words/language, often times it doesn't. You might call it a heart-to-heart meeting or a being-to-being encounter. Receptivity and openness to experience are key aspects. And, of course, having a deep respect for our plant teachers does wonders too :)
Pellitory is in the same family as Nettle, yahoo! And just like Stinging Nettle, she's another excellent cooling, diuretic plant. In fact, she's been known as an excellent diuretic for thousands of years. That means she's good for edema/water retention and cystitis. Externally, her crushed leaves can be used to help with cellulite, burns and wounds, as she's also a vulnerary. WOW, which I had known about her amazing abilities!! She didn't tell me all that, that cheeky modest one ;)
Now the only sad news is that I've gone and plucked out most of Pellitory plants :( Might be 1 or 2 still hovering around...
Now on to the great hunt to find out where else she is growing!!
I love meeting new friends, sitting with them and delighting in their uniqueness, and discovering their super-cool health/medicinal/culinary benefits too.
Well, onto another adventure, m'dear sunshine, cuz the weather looks just right for foraging and having mystical encounters. Stay bright now, y'hear :)
Ps. Great vid about her by Green Deane here :)
Why, oh why, did I have to spread out the Red Clover all over the table and not on the dehydrator sheets, in the dehydrator, like I usually do?
Because I was lazy, that's why.
The dehydrator was full already and I didn't feel like moving those plants to the table and put the Red Clover on the mesh sheets.
Was I sorry?
Well, let's just say that I spent the next 3 + days picking slugs off my wall.
I woke up the next morning after foraging at Bellefield to find slugs on the wall, slugs on the table, on the kitchen chairs, on the floor, climbing up my curtains next to the window, and even up on the ceiling.
Great, just great.
I went through a box of tissue picking them up.
They look exactly like a Red Clover petal. So tiny, and when I used my 10x magnifying glass, I could barely make out what looked like 2 little antennae propped up on a tiny head.
Now while I wanted to be gallant and "save" them all, there was no way I was going to be making trip after trip out to the yard below. And somehow I didn't think my neighbors would appreciate the new additions to their gardens.
On day 3, still finding slugs (do they have some kind of rotation system going or something?!) popping out of their hiding place Red Clover blossom, I spared none but 2 to the big outdoors.
Not being able to "take it anymore," I moved the blossoms onto 3 trays in the dehydrator. The flowers were dried, but this was the first time I had scrunched them all together in the hopes of driving out the last of the remaining bugs.
I moved the dehydrator to my solarium, turned the dehydrator on low heat, shut the door and left.
The next day, I discovered all the slugs had fled, finding still at least another dozen climbing on the walls, floor and ceiling. I put the Red Clover into a paper bag, and what a difference in the quality from this year's harvest to last. Last year's flowers were large and a lovely, dark purpley-pink hue. This year the blossoms are small, pinkey and many showed signs of oxidation.
Sigh. The weather has been iffy this summer alright. Days of no rain with hot and humid weather, then rain for days on end.
The Red Clover, as I blogged in a previous post, were all burned up by the sun. I thought about visiting a new place just this past Wednesday, even thought about returning to Bellefield for more Red Clover, but with temps soaring to over 33C, and the air being so thick and smoggy, there was no way I was planning on going anywhere. Just sitting in the morning sun and I was dripping with sweat!!
OK, so I decided on a short trip ---to visit my neighbor's lawn! I got some Dandelion and Wood Sorrel, and even a few Lamb' Q and that mystery plant I have yet to identify.
Behind the shed I found some Common Sow Thistles, and decided to pay a quick visit behind the mall.
Not much. Still tiny Lamb's Q and there was some Prickly Lettuce, but I haven't been feeling for green juice lately.
I then passed by a place close to my house which used to be a restaurant, now closed and abandoned. I thought I had spotted some Milkweed growing there when I stopped to stretch during one evening after jogging. It was dark, so I wasn't able to get a good look.
Oh, I was able to now, and ALL the plants were the same: Wild Lettuce.
Too bad, because I've run out of greens and need to find some more edible greens!
Which brings me to today, when the pickings at work were also meager. Lawnmower had passed not long ago, perhaps just yesterday. I was able to find a few Prunella flowers for tea. Then I spotted some Creeping Bellflower and took some of her leaves. I found more of her friends hanging out front, and also collected some Hosta leaves, Strawberry leaves and a few Dock leaves. Aaaah, pesto!!
The garden at work, by the way, was not enriched with compost or any topsoil. I think my boss just let the whole garden thing go, and I think the only water it has received is what Mother Nature has been providing.
I decided to let the whole thing go too. After all, I'm not there every day and it's really up to my boss to take care of the watering.
Funny thing is, there are now tons of little seedlings all over the sandy soil! In fact, I spotted some baby baby Lettuce and Spinach plants.
Ha ha, looks like there's gonna be some harvesting after all :)
Next week, really hoping to get some foraging done. Still looking to collect Red Clover and I have yet to visit Buckthorn Woods. I know there's some Prunella on the neighbor's lawn downstairs that's been calling me and there's a nice patch of Nettle at Bellefield that could make a mean green pesto...
Oh plants, head my call: call me forth to where you are more than happy to share your good food and medicine!
And on that note, sunshine, I'll keep you posted of my future sunny adventures. Stay bright now, ya hear :)
Came across a new plant while out for a jog: galinsoga parviflora , called Gallant Soldiers in Britain. Leaves and flowers are edible, can eat raw in salads, eat steamed, or add to soups and stews. I'm sure this is another green herb that could be dried and added to a wild greens powder.
How fun to discover new plants!!
Interestingly, when I saw her, I asked her name, and it came to me galinsoga. Strange, because when I've done that in the past, plants usually don't respond! But then I remembered I had most probably had a brief interaction with her last summer and it was a name my memory dredged up.
In any case, galinsoga is her latin name and I'm happy to have gotten better acquainted with her this year. Indeed, I'm going to be actively seeking her out and adding her to pestos AND drying her for future soups. YAY!
Also spotted some huge Lamb's Q growing right in the middle of these concrete raised beds in the middle of the road. In previous years, the city had planted flowers, but they had decided not to this year. Instead, good ol' weedy friends are growing there now. I was tempted to take Lamb's Q, but I know foraging plants close to the street is not recommended. I did take a sprig of Penny Cress, now all gone to seed, to plant next year. The seeds, just like Pepper Grass and Shepherd's Purse, can be ground and used as a pepper substitute
In the previous post, I had forgotten the name of 2 pea flowers, but while flipping through a foraging book for my area, came across the names: Yellow Vetchling or Yellow Flowered Pea and Everlasting Sweet Pea or Perennial Pea (pink colored). Toxicity is noted in large doses. I've tried a few while out and about as a trailside nibble. Not bad at all. Will have to look further and see what others have come across in terms of toxicity.
Have 2 unidentified plants to find out who they are: one looks like Flax, very distinct pattern of the leaves, but the flowers are so tiny. Another one I'm sure there were seeds in the compost, because I found her in almost all of my pots. Also distinct pattern of clusters of flowers growing on the central stem.
On further inspection, yes, it's definitely flax! I planted her in a flower box last year and some seeds must've remained in the soil. As for the other, not sure yet....but I did find another weedy friend that had made her home without an invitation: Lady's Thumb! While there are a few different persicarias in my area, Lady's Thumb has that easy-to identify splotch on the leaves. Of course she's edible and being high in oxalic acid, I naturally added her to the pot with other wild greens to make a most tasty pesto.
Yep, I've been making a pesto most days now. Last one I made had tons of Wood Sorrel and Common Sow Thistle. A bit much on the sour and bitter flavors, but that's OK. Tasted fine when eaten with sweet Carrot and Flax crackers, yummers!
Alrighty, darling sunshine dear, all for now...hope for more foraging adventures in the future, cuz the weather is sticky and hot!
Bellefield Finds: Wild Grape, Sow Thistle, Plantain & 22 Other Herbs - Chickweed, Comfrey & St. John's Wort Salve Recipe- Double Tincture Motherwort Recipe
Finally sat down! Whew, have been so busy working (not so interesting) and running around (interesting).
Well, to be fare, I did get in some foraging at work. I collected some leaves from Hosta, Dandelion, Creeping Bellflower and Loosestrife to throw into a pesto. Mm-mmm. I've been eating a different wild green pesto almost every day. So good with Daikon Radish, Zuke and Cuke julienned sticks :)
I also collected 3 trays worth in the dehydrator of Prunella vulgaris, aka Self-Heal. I went out one day, collected a good bunch, then went out the next day and got some more. She's a small one, ya know, not much more than the tip of your pinky finger, but she makes such a sweet tasting tea, oh yes indeedy!
That foraging at work I just mentioned happened just this week, because before that it was rain, rain and more rain. Now we're in a period of no rain, hot and muggy for the past few days.
Of course, I took the opportunity to finally go foraging!
Yesterday: Foraging started right downstairs near the shed, where I collected some Violet and Plantain leaves for future infusions. I also found some Common Sow Thistles hiding behind the shed and collected some leaves to add to the pesto--- yep, in cold weather, it all goes into the soup pot and in warm weather it all goes into a mean green wild pesto ;)
I found a Malva Rosea growing beside the Rhubarb and collected some leaves to add to the pesto; also took some Rhubarb to make a nice protein shake.
It was getting late already, so I went and did some pruning in the balcony garden. Lots of Chickweed about! She's growing prolifically in the pots beside the side of the house, even Mint is confined to her space in each pot, ha ha! I did collect some Mint for future infusions of course :) Got a few Mustard leaves and Borage leaves to also add to tomorrow's pesto, as well as 3 varieties of Basil, some Anise Hyssop and even a touch of Dill.
I collected some Sage and Marjoram for later, as well as....drum roll....Zinnia! In fact, there is now one beauty of a pink flower strutting her stuff. Yes, Zinnia is edible, and I've collected her leaves to use in a future...pesto, you got it ;)
Comfrey has come in and I gathered some leaves and made an oil that I'll turn into a salve later on. As I was low on oil, I decided to use some St. John's Wort oil I had made last year, what you might almost call doing a double oil infusion, meaning that this oil is now double in strength. I also added in Chickweed for her anti-itch property.
Comfrey, Chickweed and St. John's Wort Oil/Salve
Tear or chop both the Comfrey and Chickweed into small pieces. Place in a mason jar (size is determined by how much herb you have). Add the St. John's Wort oil to cover the herbs. Give it a stir with the handle of a wooden spoon or a bamboo skewer to ensure all of the herb bits are coated in the oil. Cap with more oil until the very top. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks before straining out the oil (use a sieve lined with a coffee filter). Store oil into dark amber bottles.
To turn oil into a salve: place 1 cup of the oil with 1 ounce beeswax OR carnuba wax in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot on low heat. Once melted, stir with a wooden spoon, adding it optionally 1-2 tsp of Vitamin E oil (this is a natural preservative, prick open capsules with a knife). Pour into amber glass jars and let cool overnight before putting on lids and labelling.
Uses: minor wounds and burns, insect bites and stings, sprains, strains, sore muscles, bruises, and where nervous support is needed. Also suitable for vaginal itching due to vaginal and urinary infections.
Notes: To test if texture of salve is to your liking: place 1 tsp of the oil/melted beeswax onto a spoon. Place spoon in freezer and wait 5 minutes. Assess if you'd prefer a softer salve (add a bit more oil to the pot) or a harder salve (add a bit more wax to the pot).
Shelf life of salve when stored in a cool place -> 1-3 years.
I decided to take a very mini trip around the mall and see what I could find. Eh, the Roses are mostly gone and the few that are there are all dried up. In fact, because of the weird weather and the late start of the season, I've noticed that many of the plants have remained small and then gone into flower OR are late in producing flowers. Borage, for example, usually is tall and gangly, but this year she's tiny, almost as if I could've planted her in a flower box and she'd have been just fine.
Behind the mall, same deal. Didn't spot that much Dandelion, some Sow Thistles were hanging out, and a small patch of infant Lamb's Quarter caught my eye. I harvested but a tiny bit, as there wasn't even a fistful to be had--- not like the Lamb's Q I harvested later that evening, when I went for a jog and found some seriously good-sized ones growing beside a fence on someone's lawn. I was able to collect a good fistful, in fact, one would probably call it a good bunch! I added the leaves to a pesto, of course :)
Back to the mall: Noticed the Garlic Mustard was quite dried up and spotted a few escaped baby Hosta plants, from which I pilfered a few leaves (yep, for pesto).
Going a little further along, I spotted several Mugworts and said hello.
When I saw some Milkweed, I got off my bike and walked slowly along an adjoining alleyway. I got some Milkweed flowers and immature buds (pesto!), as well as some Dock leaves (soup!). I noticed some nice Burdock plants but didn't feel called to take the stems and steam 'em like celery.
Nope, didn't seem to be too much happening this time around.
Today: I went to Bellefield. My intention was really to collect some Red Clover because I use her during my periods and wanted to have a good bunch to last me 'til next year.
I walked up the path and spotted Nettle, ALL with seeds. Oh no! What happened to my attempts of chopping off the seeds last month? Had they grown so much? Seemed so, but I decided to harvest them for....pesto :)
When I climbed over the bridge and turned right to the field, wow. Unlike last year when I was still collecting Red Clover flowers in early autumn, many of the plants were plumb burned, black, gone, dead. It took me about an hour to collect a bunch, and many were small and pink in color instead of the usual pinky-purple hue. I felt like a bee going to plant to plant, and whenever I spotted a bug on a blossom (including a bee), I knew that was a good one to take.
As I was picking up the blossoms, I was also noticing the many variety of plants in this 1 field (see pics below :) ):
I didn't notice any Jewel weed or Blue Vervain as I had last year, might see them later on.
Interestingly, I don't think they will be making condos on this field. I had noticed on my bike sprees to work that a part of the fence had been ripped out. Now the fence was repaired and the grass outside it scorched, but no longer just bare earth. Good news for the plants and for me! :))
After 2 hours out in the field, I zipped along to the mall to get a few things, then back home to find lots of insect friends had accompanied me home. I left the bags out on the balcony for a few hours so some of them could escape/leave, then made a St John's wort oil and a double tincture of Motherwort.
Kept the larger Motherwort leaves to dry and use in future soups and also spread the Plantain to dry for future infusions (try 3 trays over full!). I spread the Red Clover blossoms onto paper on my table and Oh my! so many bugs! That's OK, because they all disappeared when the cooler evening weather came...announcing a weekend of rain and more rain.
That's the thing with foraging, gotta get the timing with Mother Nature spot on!
I'm happy to say that Milkweed and Nettle got all washed up and are ready to be cooked and blended into a pesto with some Lamb's Quarter, Chickweed, and Basil of course.
Hope you're enjoying the bounties of summer, sunshine, cuz the weather is warm and toasty fine :)
PS. NOOOOOOOOO! The bugs were still there the next morning, tons of slugs, all moving slowly across the kitchen wall, the kitchen floor, the kitchen chairs, onto my bike helmet and bag I had left on the chair...what a mess! There's a now 3rd element to consider when foraging (after the 1- collecting/harvesting and 2- spreading to dry/chopping for wildcrafting recipes): the bugs!! It was just Red Clover, bugs know better than to be hanging around on Nettle, Yarrow or Motherwort ;)
PSS. Here's that double recipe for Motherwort. All you do is chop the top 1/3 of the flowering tops with scissors, place in a mason jar and add your already made Motherwort tincture from a previous year. Make sure all herb is coated, put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks, before straining and storing in amber bottles. Note that using a piece of plastic wrap over the lid will prevent the lid from corroding/rusting. Your formula is now doubly strong, so use wisely the next time around for period cramps, palpitations and anxiety (try halving the usual dose of 30 drops).
Curiosity Got The Cat: