After an injury left me unable to go to dance class today, I decided to take it easy and headed off to Bellefield.
It was a bit late when I got there, around 2, yet all was quiet save the scattering noise of squirrels foraging in the trees.
My own foraging seemed to be forestalled when I got to the field and discovered it had been partially demolished. Big lumps of dirt and tree branches had been dumped on the right side of the field while the left side of the field had been partially cleared away.
Someone was coming up the path and I asked what had happened. He didn't know, but said it was done recently, within the past week.
I nodded, then went off to check on the Nettles. Yep, still there!
I got to it quick, noticing that there was one large patch and 2 smaller ones. I donned gloves and got to giving them all a good pruning, laying the cut pieces onto the grass. When all had received a haircut, stuffing them into the bags wasn't an easy job because there was so much! I used 1 paper and 2 plastic bags. The ones in the plastic bag had seeds on them, so I figured I'd add them to the soup pot. Yep, now that the cooler days of fall are here, pesto recipes are getting put on the back burner 'til next summer while warming soups are being welcomed wholeheartedly.
I noticed that the Sumac trees waved to me, and I smiled at them, telling them that I wouldn't take their Vitamin C rich berries, but thanks anyway.
Instead, I headed for the field and to my amazement, I found several Red Clover flowers. Despite being trampled, I found many flowers lingering on. I had to wonder if the flowers knew that I really needed their medicine, knew that I would probably pass by soon to visit them. Nahhhh, just ego stuff!
However, I was certainly most grateful to find quite a few blossoms this late in the season (2 1/2 dehydrator trays full!). They also lent me their silent energy and before long my chattering mind fell away and I stepped into tune with them. I really felt the silence and quietness take over me as I kneeled down on the grass and proceeded to take up several Red Clover leaves. This patch had such nice leaves that called to me to just sit with them, and being in that moment with them was such a blessing.
I noticed a holey and wrinkled Plantain leaf and put out to the field that if there any nice looking ones, I would be most appreciative.
And wouldn't you know, after snapping up a few pics of my plant friends, I was called by a couple of Goldenrod plants to come and visit. Noticing their vibrant yellow flowers, I couldn't believe that these late bloomers wanted to share their energy with me. I was of course more than delighted to snap off the sunny flowers. One plant even offered me her new leaves, despite not yet having flowered. I accepted and was about to go when I noticed some Plantain lying close to a Goldenrod. There were several plants and I collected about a fistful of viable leaves. I was most grateful for their kindness :)
Then, right close to the bridge, I noticed a splash of yellow waving to me from behind some tall plants. I stepped gingerly close to the edge of the water, then snapped off yet another late blooming Goldenrod.
I stopped to take a few pics of the gently flowing creek, then snapped another as I noticed 3 squirrels scurrying about. One of them was hovering on a rock, but ran off as soon as I edged closer.
Speaking of edge, when I paused to put my phone into my backpack, who should I see but 2 Motherwort plants growing alongside the edge of the water. I hadn't noticed them before because the Nettles were in the way, but they had been mowed down (a shame, I know). They weren't in flower and while I considered taking their leaves, I nodded to them and went to do some gardening at home.
Being so busy with my new schedule, I hadn't being paying that much attention to my plant friends growing so close by. I gave a pruning to several of them and divested others of their leaves. I collected Calendula, Mustard and Borage seeds and mentally noted which plants would soon be returning to the earth via the compost.
I'd say there's about a month before the end of the season; still time to collect the rest of the Tomatoes, Radishes and Peppers, still time to let the plants grow before divesting them of their leaves and laying them down for the winter. Although I've mulched some of the plants with leaves, most of them don't return the next year, so I've gotten to just uprooting them and planting new seeds every year. A bit of a pain really, but one day I'll have a garden where perennials will be perennials!
Thinking I'll take in Sage and Rosemary during the wintertime, perhaps Stevia as she tends to do well inside (at least until her life span is up, usually come spring time). I will definitely be taking in Comfrey because she has just been quite the lifesaver in offering up her medicine.
Since I strained my calf muscle, I have been applying an oil I made with Comfrey, Chickweed, Calendula and St John's Wort every 2-3 hours. <- You can find that recipe HERE and either add in St. John's Wort herb OR add in St. John's Wort oil if you have some on hand. I've also been drinking Comfrey infusion (mixed with other herbs) to help repair the injury. All I can say is WOW. From being tender and painful and limping within the first few hours to walking much better and 75% reduction in pain within 12 hours. After about 36 hours, the area had tons of bruises, but I was able to walk around OK. It wasn't 100% (nope, skipping the cardio workout today), but maybe 85-90% better within less than 48 hours. WOW, as I said, the healing power of herbs!
I told my naturopath friend what happened and he couldn't believe it either. Living in Canada, you can't buy Comfrey products (it's banned because it's considered a dangerous plant due to liver damaging alkaloids), yet you can still purchase seeds and grow her yourself. This is what I did, growing several plants in a large pot. Yep, they are crowded, but I'll be transferring them to 2 very tall planters when I bring them in (at the moment I have Marshmallow and Peppers growing in them).
Will see if I'll be able to attend dance class tomorrow. I'm hoping so (get rather restless with too much sitting!!), and if so, I give full allegiance to my grand Poobah, the Comfrey Queen :) :)
Stay bright, sunshine sweetie, and enjoy the pics and fall weather :)
Got in a mini-mini foraging session yesterday when I went to explore my neighbor's yard.
The sunny afternoon end-of-summer weather was still warm enough for short-sleeves and shorts. Or a sleeveless summer dress, as I was wearing.
I noticed the Evening Primrose right away, growing right beside the stairs. Those yellow flowers beckoned me forth, and I popped off one of them for a tiny nibble. Not bitter at all, as some have said, but not having much taste either.
I pulled off several of her leaves to dry for soup later, then went to visit the Mallows, or should I say, Malva sylvestris Zebrina, also known as Striped Mallow.
I divested the plants of several of their leaves, then plopped down on the grass and began plucking up Violet leaves.
I had brought a large bowl and some scissors, good thing, because I then went and gave my Mints a pruning.
Then off I went to peruse the back of my neighbor's garden, where I noticed green Tomatoes and withered and moldy leaves of the Cuke plants. A few fruits, a few flowers, but really they will have to hurry up before the cooler days of fall thwart their growth.
I stopped and clipped off some of the Lavender flowers to add to my already steeped Lavender oil perfume, noted the Roses in bloom by the bird bath (but dared not take any because my neighbor much enjoys seeing their "blooms" as she calls them), then walked over to snip up some Moroccan Mint.
I noticed Pellitory was still around, small of course since I had pruned them recently, but didn't gather any as I still have tons of Nettles leftover to turn into pesto. Or maybe a soup, depending how the weather goes.
Nights are starting to get cool, around 15C, so bringing along a long-sleeve sweater has now started to become the new habit. Hopefully, as with last year, the "summer" weather (or should I say Indian Summer?) will hover into October so that I can close the garden on a warm note.
Interestingly, last year it was still quite mild into the early days of December and got me thinking to plant some hardy greens on the balcony, which I might do this year as an experiment. I'd have to get some tarps, though, and haven't given it much more thought than that, but Nikki Jabbour wrote a book about gardening all year long, so I'll give that a read to get some inspirational ideas. Will have to get some Chard and Kale seeds too; should be super dirt cheap by now because I don't know anyone else who gardens in winter 'round here ;)
At work today I checked on the status of the garden. Eh, not doing well at all because it hasn't been watered enough, plus the soil is so sandy that it really needs compost and some good fertilizer. A few of the Tomatoes plants have ONE fruit, so at least they are trying their best :)
Noticed some Dandelion and Yellow Dock leaves, soon will be digging them up, going to wait a bit 'til it gets cooler so the energy gets more concentrated in their roots.
Good news: the Queen Anne's Lace seeds I spread over the ground have germinated, and it looks like tons of baby Carrot leaves. Well, Queen A's other name is Wild Carrot after all :) Won't be any Carrots this year as she's a biennial, but might take a look-see next year and see what's what.
Which reminds me that I should bring some other seeds to help amend that sandy soil, perhaps Comfrey, Nettle and some Red Clover and/or Restharrow seeds.
Hm, and in so speaking of amending the soil, it makes me wonder if perhaps I could get the go a-head and lay down some tarp to kill the grass and have a bigger garden next year, one under the trees where the soil is much richer. Will have to see what the boss says about that :0
Alrighty, sunshine m'dear, short one this time around, but that's OK. Keep your blazing light shining, ya hear, and update y'all real soon :)
YES! I finally went foraging!
I returned to Buckthorn Woods at last.
I had planned on going foraging and all went as planned.
As soon as I got there, I went along the main "central" path and stopped when I got to the clearing with Red Clover. I found a couple of blossoms, but also hunched down to pick up some of the leaves.
While crouching over, something purple flashed between 2 green leaves of Clover.
What's this? I wondered. Was it really....
Oh, but it was, it was! It was Prunella!
There she was, hiding and still in full flower in the middle of September. Technically still summer, but with fall just around the corner ;)
I was able to gather about 2 handfuls -would you believe- of this gorgeous beauty. Indeed, I found another small patch when I went to the clearing I had been to on the last occasion with all of the Goldenrods.
In fact, it was really this clearing with those sunny, silent beauties that was my destination. Just before I got to the clearing, I noticed that many of the Goldenrods on the path were bowed over, perhaps because of their own weight. No, because the other day there had been quite a storm and the strong rains seemed to have wreaked some torrent in this quiet field.
I sighed when I realized that most of the Goldenrods already had tinges of red, already going to seed, and kicked myself for not coming sooner.
Stopping to harvest a patch of yellow flowers, I got poked by a prickly friend.
Ah, yes, good ol' Black Raspberry. I remember I had gathered some leaves and stems ~leaves good for menstrual cramps, stems for diarrhea~ from another plant in the past, and she had done just the same action ;)
If you're wondering about the differences between Blackberry and Black Raspberry, you'll want to check out the identification differences HERE. For myself, when I see a white back of the leaf and white stem, I know I've found my old friend :)
I didn't actually stop to gather any of her leaves, unfortunately, because I only had so much time before I had to dash off to class. And the fact that I used DEET (GULP! and double/triple GULP!!!) meant that I had to shower first less I offend any of my classmates :0
Good thing I had brought that nasty chemical, because the mosquitoes were fierce. Despite spraying my clothes, they were trying to bite my face, ears and even my neck! My blood must be really that good tasting ;)
Being in the field with the Goldenrods, they lovingly shared their silent energy with me. Chattering mind fell away and I entered into the same step, the same rhythm as them.
The Goldenrods twinkled their magic at me, come this way, they said.
I found such wondrous friends who lent me their yellow flowers. Those were the ones whose smell still remained, unlike the other red-tinged ones, and I wondered if perhaps their scent could translate into a perfume.
Interestingly, despite being anti-parasitic and anti-Candida, I found some plants covered in mold. Strange how mold affects only a few plants and only in certain areas, whereas others are left unaffected....
In this brilliant field with the afternoon sunshine streaming through the trees, unlike last time, a large tree was now right in the middle of the field, hit by lighting no doubt during the storm. I paused to sit on the large tree trunk and snap a pic :)
Despite time reminding me it was time to go, my curiosity and this deep silence begged me to stay.
Stay a little longer I did, and explored a bit behind the field to find some Wild Violets growing on either side of the path. Their leaves were about the size of my palm, and I was so surprised and delighted at the same time to find them growing here.
Still curious, I walked a bit further on, until I saw a house in the distance at the end of the path.
Ah, I realized, and turned back the way I had come.
I went back into the field, and my friends wanted to continue to share with me their energy, showing me their bright yellow blossoms, come, take, share in our blissfullness....
I felt so blessed, so joyful, just to be there with them in this moment....
I stopped to find a few more flowers to add to my already filled huge paper bag, and paused again to snap some photos of Wild Aster. The camera refused to take in their purple-hue, or was it that Wild Aster was playing chameleon-peek-a boo, now more pink, now more purple?
I took some pics of gall balls, noticed another Black Raspberry plant, was tempted to go along yet another path I had yet to explore, but instead nodded goodbye to my friends and went back the way I had came.
Hm, somewhere I took a wrong path and it didn't seem like this was the way at all.
Is this the way? I asked my plant friends.
When I came to a fork in the trail and saw a spider barring my way, I apologized and cut my way through. A voice was ringing in my head, go back, Go back, go BACK! And when I came to yet another spider in her web yet again barring the way, the energy was loud and clear: STOP!!!
I spun around, retraced my steps, listened to the sounds of the cars on the street getting closer, and made my way back.
As I walked along, I paused briefly to pluck up some Plantain here and there along the trail.
Here, little Plantain, I called. I'm looking for you....
Wouldn't you know that as I gulped down some water in the field right close to the road that some Plantain just so happened to be winking up at me.
Aah, my plants allies, gotta love 'em. And cherish 'em.
I noticed a lone Crabapple had fallen on one of the trails, yet when I looked up, I didn't notice any apples. Buckthorn berries yes, which is why it's called Buckthorn Woods, but apples, no.
Should be some apples hovering on trees all around, just waiting to drop already. Such a shame Appley Blossom Field is gone, so many Crabapples I harvested last year...Might be able to get a few apples from the church grounds though, to be seen...
As foraging season is coming to a close (yep nights are finally getting cooler and I noticed the Mums are about to bloom), I have a few more goodies to gather before the official close.
On my list is to revisit Bellefield and harvest the other Nettle patch that I didn't last time. If Evening Primrose still has viable leaves, I'll gather some up. Otherwise, I'd like to collect some of her seeds, as well some Plantain seeds.
Haven't been behind the mall in ages, but if Dandy root is aground, she'll soon be uprooted. I'd love to gather Chicory, but hauling a shovel by bike to Buckthorn Woods doesn't seem a viable option...As I didn't collect any Thistle seeds when I visited there last time, or really go searching for apples, those are also on my list.
As for Rose hips, I noticed that the bushes close by got a trimming, although I think there are still some hips left. I might just make a Rose cream with the ones I have from last year, to be seen....
And soon the closing of the garden...Oh no, not already! But yes, the herbs are slowly dying, and several plants have gone to seed, including Yarrow and Nasturtium. Radishes are doing well, and I've been harvesting their leaves to add to pestos.
Speaking of which, my last pesto was just Nettle, Lentils and some Miso, and boy, what a dark green taste! Like a really dark Spinach....Not bitter, just really green tasting! Will have to add some more Lentils or add in some herbs to make it more palatable :)
And lastly, there is always the harvest of the garden. At work, going to dig up the Dandy and Dock roots. Might be some Tomatoes there, but my neighbor will probably share with me some of her bounty, including Cukes and Carrots.
Yep, pestos will now be on the backburner 'til next year, as soups take center stage. Gotta love soup, well, except in hot and humid weather.
And on that fair note, my dear sunshine, keep bringing on that incandescent love energy, cuz there's so much more energy to be shared all 'round :)
PS. Enjoy the pics :)
Finally! I have been crazy busy ever since I started taking dance classes, my goodness! I had a diary post that I had written last week and only, um, got to hitting the post button today! Oopsy...
Ah well, last week at work I got in a bit of foraging, mainly gathering 2 tiny plastic sandwich baggies full of Strawberry leaves, with a bit of Dock, Dandelion and Wood Sorrel thrown in.
After the long weekend at work, Tuesday had me hankering to go foraging, but time wouldn't allow it. Finally, finally, I made some time to go for a quick foraging jaunt close-by at Bellefield.
And when I mean made time, I mean I had all of about an hour or so, not more.
When I had linked up to the plants the other day, they said that lawn mower had passed by. Sure enough, parking my bike, I noticed cut grass.
Walking along the path, I went to see if Nettle was still there. Oh mama, two lovely Nettle patches growing by the side of the water! And since they had been mowed a few months prior (no, not this time around thank goodness), only a few of the plants had gone into baby-seed making stage. Those I saved for the next pesto recipe ;)
No worries, however, because after about 20 minutes of giving both patches a good haircut, I had to stuff two large paper bags full! Yep, they'll be lots of Nettle infusions (and some Nettle added to the soup pot) in my future :)
Growing right close to Nettle along the water, I noticed tons of Jewelweed in bloom. Although I reached out and touched a flower, I didn't dare to tarry too long after spotting 3 mosquitoes on my arm. Yep, guess my blood is still as tasty as ever ;)
I crossed the bridge and went to check up on Red Clover.
Now that September is here, I didn't expect to find tons of flowers, but I was still hoping to get in a small harvest.
And that was exactly what I found.
In fact, since some of the plants on the left side of the field had been mowed in previous months, those plants were now thriving with lush green leaves, flowers yet to arrive. I therefore harvested a good bunch of leaves (which I dry and add to the soup pot) and collected about 2 dehydrator trays full of flowers.
And collecting those flowers, it was HOT. So hot, it was one of those days when the sweat was dripping down my face, and all I was doing was hunching over, collecting flowers.
I didn't notice too many bugs this time around, but a huge spider caught my eye on one of the more viable Red Clover blossoms. I made sure to leave that one alone ;)
I also noticed a Grass Hopper, so interesting these jumping insects, same coloring as the grass, so well they blend in. He was hovering there on the green stem of a Red Clover and when he sensed I was about to reach over and pinch the blossom off, off he popped and jumped away!
Nope, no time to take a pic, and to be honest, the only pics I took were of a tall 5 foot plus Evening Primrose plant. There were a few other Evening Primrose plants about, but this one was tall and wide. FYI: good vid on plant identification and facts HERE.
Leaves are bitter but edible, good for the soup pot or to add to smoothies. Flowers are also edible. Of course, what are really valued are the seeds, high in omega 3 rich fatty acids. The seed pods dry in the fall, so you can collect the seeds, then crush them and add to soups, smoothies, juices, cereal, etc. Gives me an idea to try adding some in a no-bake cookie recipe. I'll have to wait a bit more for that, next month in October they should be ready. Didn't think to take any leaves or flowers, but then, I was pressed for time.
Speaking of seeds, when I reached down and collected a few Plantain leaves, I noticed that some of the dark brown seeds fell to the ground. Yes, Plantain seeds are edible, just like Chia and Flax seeds. Wish I had time to collect some, hopefully next time around.
I did collect a few Bull Thistle seeds, to be used just like Milk Thistle seeds. Let's just say when you are collecting them, you want to bring your awareness to the task at hand, because Thistles are way prickly. The seeds are attached to the fluffy white bit in the middle, much like Dandelion seeds in the spring --- where all you see are white fluffy puff balls flying around.
When I pulled up on some of the fluff, there were no seeds, but others had plenty. The fun part I'm not looking forward to is separating fluff ball from seed ;()
Hopefully I'll be able to visit Buckthorn Woods next week and find more Thistle seeds. Also, looking to collect Goldenrod, as all the Goldenrod at Bellefield had already turned brown. Yep, here where I live, late August is usually the best time to go collecting Goldenrod, but I'm thinking there might still be some late bloomers around :)
Would be nice to go back to Bellefield soon, as before I dashed back home to prepare for dance class, I walked along the path to check up on the other Nettle patches that had been mowed down last time I came. Sure enough, good ol' Nettle, nice young plants ready for sharing the love energy! Well, the first patch anyway, the other patch seemed not to have as many plants...
Also hoping to collect some Rose hips to make a facial oil. Now is a good time, maybe even some for a Rose jelly!
Ah, plans for this and that, and the end of season harvest! I didn't even mention gathering up any roots, but I suppose I'll add that to be foragin' list :)
Weather has been hot and humid, and all plants in balcony garden doing well. In fact, mums now have buds (despite the weather, they know, they KNOW), so fall must be on the way...
Which means, many more foraging adventures ahead, now to clock my time better, sunshine, and soak up all that brightness :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: