Why Cat F***ing Loves Plants: Much More Than Wood or Sheep Sorrel, Sweet Borage Flowers or Edible Begonias
I fucking love plants! And foraging!! And Mother Earth!
Now before you get your knickers all in a tizzy or give yourself a wedgie or whatever it is you do when you get that twisted feeling inside, let me just tell you that no, cussing is not really done around here, but when it happens, it's used for effect, so take notice!
As I was saying, I just LOVE plants. Don't even ask how the week was spent (yes, rain, you ninny) because these pages have been blank, no posts written...BUT, yesterday was a nice day AND I wasn't at work.
Although it had poured buckets almost all day the other day, yesterday was perfect. So I went for a look-see, and found some good "finds!"
There was Vetch, whom I spotted first, and I took several gorgeous purplish-blue sprigs from her. I saw Goldenrods growing (they'll be out later in August with their showy yellow flowers). There was dandelion (but not as much as you'd have thought there should've been), 2 kinds of thistles and yep, that family of Lamb's Quarter I had been telling ya'll about, 'cept this time someone had gone and thrown manure over several of the plants. I really can't say I understand it, but I went and collected the leaves and seeds from many of the other lamb's quarter that were around that smelly earth.
Sigh, so yes, I did end up getting a bit of the manure on my feet (I was wearing flip flops), but whatever, I just dusted it off and washed up when I got home. It was worth it because there was so much lamb's quarter! I collected about a medium-sized Ziploc baggie's worth! Yes, technically you should use a paper bag when foraging, but all I had on me were a few plastic baggies. The lamb's quarter I was collecting, FYI, is the white variety, chenopodium album, also called Fat Hen, Dirty Dick, Dirtweed, Baconweed and Mutton Tops. Poor lamb's quarter! Such horrid names! They have it tough, those "weeds." Good thing there's people like you and me who are open to plant exploration, and therefore can reap mega benefits!!
There was Wood Sorrel, oxalis stricta, or common wood sorrel with YELLOW flowers. I've erroneously mentioned her in previous posts as oxalis acetosella, WHITE-flowered wood sorrel, but I meant the yellow-flowered variety. Oopsy. Well, there are many varieties after all.
Like just this morning, I was nibbling on Sheep Sorrel. Now there's one plant you'd like to have around. Her leaves are a pleasant lemony taste, she self-seeds readily, and her root is used in the famous Essiac tea, known for helping with cancer.
Back to yesterday...The wood sorrel had large clover leaves and I just love eating a tiny handful to nibble on. She helps to cut thirst, so if you're ever out foraging without water, you can get rehydrated by munching on a few leaves. She does have oxalic acid, but so does spinach. Whoop-de-do. No one even mentions the oxalic acid content in spinach, unless you have stones and you're recommended to avoid it. More like: spinach? Oh yeah, Popeye! Well, all greens have protein in them, mister, so just you be aware of that!
Wood sorrel has a lemony taste like sheep sorrel, but the latter has a tangier taste. There were a few plants that I didn't know the names of, but I forgot my phone/camera at home. There's an FB group called Plant Identification where you can post a pic of a plant that you want IDed. I still have a few plants growing at home that I've yet to identify, so I'd like to take pics and submit them and know what they are!
Then I spent about an hour and a half at the Flower Market. The two men there have been selling flowers from various growers for the past 4 years right in the front of the local supermarket. They'll be packing it up this weekend as the growing season is well under way (and it hasn't been much of a growing season at that, what will all the rain); hence many of their plants were on liquidation. I, of course, popped by to see what plants I could squeeze somewhere into my balcony garden.
I tell ya, many of the seeds I planted did NOT come through. I thought about writing to Richter's (perhaps I still might) to give them feedback about their seeds. It might just be all the weather to blame...I've been finding that plants that I planted in one pot have been showing up in another! Like Chamomile where there should have been Greater Celandine...
Mugwort and wild carrot were creeping up a little too much in several pots, and while I gave a hug to my huge muggie just the other day, I actually took out several mugwort and wild carrot plants. They were "disturbing" the other plants that were trying to grow there! I used them in mean green pestos, of course---but really, I never thought I'd be "wrenching up the weeds" as so many others do!
Speaking of mean green pestos, I made 2 new ones just today: one with baby Sow Thistle (also called Wild Lettuce), basil and tarragon and one with mugwort, lamb's quarter and parsley. Yummers! I've been adding seeds to give them texture, but I'm thinking about revamping them so they are lower in fat.
I know, I know, I am working on writing and putting my recipes into ebooks (hence COMING SOON written elsewhere on this site a propos de said ebooks). These ones would be classified as mean green pestos, although I don't know if anybody would buy them with that kind of title! That's just my quirky sense of humor: I love greens, have indeed changed my taste buds to like, yes LIKE BITTER-TASTING GREENS. To a certain extent, of course. I don't mind a sprig of wormwood, but a sprig, mind you :) Helps to get the digestion going, gives a hand to the liver. Kills parasites too. Why not indeed :)
Still, there are different shades of bitter, after all :)
I ended up speaking with J and R, the two men at the Flower Market, for about an hour yesterday. They were saying this season they found that many people seemed too impatient to want to plant anything, however the veggie plants and herbs sold so well, they could have easily sold much more. I took it as a positive sign that people are more interested into eating healthy food! Yea!
I made J & R try the few wild edibles I had gathered---they weren't too impressed, not being salad-lovin'-kinda gents, but they said that the wood sorrel had a nice lemony feel. I do, too, as I mentioned, although I can taste the sweetness in the Vetch, which is in the pea family. I have a sensitive nose, so perhaps my taste buds are more attuned to the plant world as well :)
I ended up getting Tarragon, Marjoram (also called wild oregano), Vervain or Verbena and a Begonia plant. J told me begonias are edible and I remember reading about that somewhere. I didn't have my phone to check further, but I got her anyway. She has a lovely reddish-orange color, so even if I can't eat her (it's not really recommended to eat plants from nurseries because of the common use of pesticides and herbicides, and although this was a flower market, I wouldn't be surprised if chemicals were used to initially grow the plants), I can still enjoy her as an ornamental!
Well, I checked and Begonia X Tuberhybrida (tuberous Begonias) are edible indeed. Her name is Non-Stop Orange and apparently she'll continue to produce flowers if given light even during the dark nights of winter. Hmmm. Well, she's just got just the one flower at the moment and she's rather tiny, so I think I'll let her just concentrate on getting herself to grow big and strong. You can read more about how to grow Non-stop Begonias here and BTW, there are other Begonias that are edible besides the tuberous one (like Wax Begonias). You can read more about them here and check out a video about how to make a tartelette with Wax Begonias by Green Deane here.
That reminds me suddenly (off-topic from the previous paragraph entirely!) that R was saying that they didn't sell many perennials this year, that people came and were saying, "Ah, these plants? I already have them." Aka, how boring. That got me telling J & R about maybe offering up some new plants, like Burdock! They weren't sure what Burdock was at first, but then when the velcro plant was identified, they knew!
I told them that last year the Herbology Association had named Burdock "the plant of the year" and that many parts of the burdock plant were either edible or medicinal. The root, for example, is known in Japan as gobo and eaten fresh in soups and stews. Medicinally, the dried root is used to mop up chemicals and toxins from the body, thus helping the liver in its detoxification efforts, as well as being a liver tonic. Expensive, too, I was telling them, sold in health food stores a few sticks for 8 bucks!
Then I got to telling them about dandelion, another good herb for the liver (the root). J laughed and said, "Dandelion? I've got tons of dandelion if anyone wants any!" I said, sure, I'd come and get some! Heck, they sell dandelion leaves in health food stores, not to mention in capsules---which is just dried dandelion leaves turned into a powder. So much dandelion around, anyone can just dry the leaves on newspaper, powder the leaves in a high speed blender or coffee grinder, and then put the powder into capsules (which they sell at health food stores and elsewhere). Dandelion leaf makes an excellent diuretic, FYI.
I must say, I was on High Vibe after collecting plants, chatting about plants and eating plants, plus bringing home new plant friends! On the way home, I stopped to collect a few Milkweed buds and to get a few rose petals. The roses aren't doing so well this year, but there are still several buds that are blooming, so there will be flowers to come.
I know many people use rose buds for rose tea, but I never like taking the buds at that "stage of the game." You take the buds off and that bud never has a chance to make a fruit, or rose hip, and I love rose hips! Packed with Vitamin C, they're great to make rose hip jelly, although I like using her to make a rose hip oil for my face. I gave some to my elderly neighbor one year, and she noticed a pleasant difference to her skin :)
So, yes, you can just take the petals off the roses and make rose PETAL tea instead. It's so easy too, because when you go to take the petals, they all just fall off in your hand and the center bit (which turns into the rose hip) is left untouched. If the petals don't give, then you know they aren't ready to be picked. Simple! Well, I think so :)
And besides all this foraging, and talking about plants and growing plants, is, well, plants.
As they are.
This morning, for example, I sat on my balcony and pruned tarragon and marjoram, my newcomer plant friends. I gave a hair cut to chickweed and took some leaves off lamb's quarter. I took the flower heads off chamomile and took some leaves from marshmallow. And come lunch time, lunch was heavenly! Lemony sheep sorrel leaves melted in my mouth, wild green pesto on flax bread + wild green soup filled my belly and the pièce de résistance? Borage flowers! Such sweet, sweet taste!
I find you can't get fresher than growing your own, whether it's herbs, veggies, fruits, wild edibles, whatever.
There's THE plant, right there in your garden, whatever that garden looks like, from a large, sprawling garden to a few herbs growing in a kitchen window box or even to a balcony garden like mine. And then you eat a few leaves or flowers from this plant... and suddenly, this vibrant energy from this living plant brims over into that freshly picked leaf or flower and rushes lovingly and sharingly this vitality into you.
And you feel....
A symbiotic relationship exists between you and her.
You care for her, nurture her, keep her contented, watered, fed, loved.
And she in turn shares with you all her blessings....and sometimes her secrets, too :)
She is in a symbiotic relationship with the sun, the soil, the insects; in a symbiotic unity with the whole. She reminds you that you are also eclipsed in this universal energy, that there is indeed a mystery in rain water that can not be glimpsed by your mere gardener's hand, but that must be experienced with the heart of the person to whom this hand is attached.
She reminds you that the part can never be more than the whole, which is why when the part rallies against the whole, misery ensues, and one feels alienated and separated from the whole. One conspires all one's energy to be in misery...
And yet being here now -she reminds you that- in this place, in this space, one feels whole.
One never left home.
In a bite of freshly picked leaf or flower, one can relax into one's being and take the jump into silence....
Enjoy the freshly picked bounties of summer! 'Til next time, sunshine!
Curiosity Got The Cat: