Aaaah! SPRING! Yes, there is definitely a change in the weather :)
I've been in a rabbit hole for the past several days researching about filming and lighting and it's been rather cloudy, but today when I stepped out...oh, how lovely :) I noticed the local big box store has put out their garden plants and the flower market is now back again in front of the supermarket. Sweet...
Time to get to planting for sure! That's what's on my to-do list for this weekend, you bet!
And while I was out and about, of course I was noticing what plant allies my eyes did meet :)
Tiny little blue flowers were peeping up at me from my neighbor's lawn: Creeping Charlie! She's in the mint family and has an antiseptic taste. I suppose I could add her to the soup pot (free food, after all), but I've never been attracted to that taste. Still, that taste test was how she tasted raw, thrown into the soup pot and all becomes a bit medicinal puree!!
Dandelion flowers are out! Not quite at their prime just just yet, but I did see a lawn littered with several yellow flowers. Most of the flowers, due to the weather, have very short stems, but I suspect the taller ones will be along soon enough. I caught sight of a few Dandelions from last year, sans flowers, but didn't feel tempted enough to forage them for juice. Nah, they've got to be big and dark and greeny green. And bitter, loads of bitter, because why else would I be juicing them? ;)
Violet seems to be spent already, can you believe? I saw but a few dried up ones...I'll check at work to see how they are faring over there.
Passing behind the mall what did I see but the Compositae flowers of Coltsfoot! I find Coltsfoot is just a great example of a ray flower, and these ones were shining their yellow rays right at me! Some of them were tinged with purple --- how fascinating and marvelous! No leaves were to be seen at all, which is exactly when you want to forage Coltsfoot, before the leaves appear. Anyway, the flowers don't last long at all. Just like Dandelion, you've got maybe a window of 2 weeks to pick 'em. I collected a few handfuls just in case, for someone else, because to be honest, I don't have lung issues, which is what she's used for. Coltsfoot flowers are edible, but I'm not hankering for salads these days.
Garlic Mustard!! I saw this spidery, kidney-shaped leaf and for some reason I was thinking Violet. I don't know why, because there was nary a flower to be seen. Perhaps that's why, because Garlic Mustard is often seen with this 4-petalled flowers, and that's a tell-tale sign she's in the mustard family and edible. Anyway, once I had a whiff and put a leaf in my mouth, I knew... good ol' Garlic Mustard. I'm not one to use heating garlic in my cooking, but on one of the FB foragers group the other day, there was mention about drying it, grinding it and using it as a garlic powder substitute. Garlic Mustard has a mucilaginous quality, good to add to salads for a bit of pop and to soothe tender digestive mucosal linings. There were quite a few plants out, and I collected about 2 trays worth in the dehydrator. Garlic Mustard does get more bitter as she grows, and you can also freeze her for later use in soups and stews. Want to know more about her? She Here and Here :)
Alright, sunshine, leave you with that for now...'til next time, stay bright :)
Sun is back! But they cut the grass at work, so not much plants to forage, unlike you're interested in juicing grass...Hey, good source of chlorophyll, but I'd do if as a last resort, personally.
The roses are flourishing in some areas! White ones and pink ones! Busy today, so not so much time to smell the roses. BUT, did bring my pruners and collected a bunch of mugwort! Yes, also called cronewort. Yes, the plant reputed to help open your third eye. Yes, the same plant used to make moxa in Chinese Medicine, a VERY EFFECTIVE technique to treat menstrual pain and joint pain. Yes, the same plant can be used to treat worms and parasites. Yes, some people use her to make dream pillows. Yes, she is in the same family as Wormwood (artemisia), which is often used in naturopathy to treat candida and parasites. Bitter? Oh you betcha! But she's good for you! I add her fresh or dried to soups...Just a handful, mind you. Then, when you puree everything together, you'd never know she was in there (but she is!).
Quick tour close to the local mall revealed Lamb's Quarter has grown; Dandelion flowers are gone, now puffy white; Coltsfoot flowers are all gone, just the leaves remain (and so they shall remain as they contain PAs); Milkweed is growing up, but the seeds have yet to form (young leaves are OK to eat at this stage, but I wasn't hankering for any today); Dame Rocket & Garlic Mustard are still around; and Vetch has started to come in! I love eating Vetch flowers. I had a few while collecting mugwort.
UH-OH. Some of the mugwort was wet (dunno why it's been two days since it rained). And muggie actually had white flies on her!! I never would've thought!! OK, so it wasn't like it was the best source as it was on the border of a somewhat-used parking lot. I took off all the leaves from the stems and when I spotted the white fly, I wondered if I should keep her or not. Some of them were going to flower soon, some not, still quite young...I supposed I could throw some in the soup, after I wash her first. Sigh, I was so hoping to dry her! But, I guess it wasn't the right time and I'm sure they'll be other opportunities. Oh yes, muggie can be quite the invasive plant! Anyway, I have 2 plants growing, so even I don't find any mugwort growing anywhere (doubtful), at least they'll be a bit for tea (well, to dry and add to soup anyway).
Got seeds from Richters today. Oh pooh, I was a bit disappointed that 3 of them were missing. I was really hoping to grow some Motherwort again. Yes, she's in the mint family and the name "mother" gives it away that she's most helpful for women's reproductive issues. However her latin name, leonarus cardiaca, also speaks of helping to have a strong heart. Being quite bitter, though, she's best taken as a tincture, but I throw her in my soup as well. Yep, if you haven't figured it out by now, I add so many wild edibles and herbs to my soup cauldron! What's that? No, not with some eye of newt! Sweet carrots, yam, squash and other root veggies are needed to balance the taste out!!
Motherwort and Mugwort may sound like the same thing, but they don't look the same at all (although they are both bitter!). Click the links to read more about them.
Horehound and Agrimony were also missing. I'm not sure if they'll still send them if they get them, but it's already getting late to sow seeds. The spring came late and there are still many cool days and nights. A few of my annuals, like Zinnia and Pansy, are slow to come. My other annual, Mimosa, has yet to sprout any sprouts at all. I'm beginning to think she may not make an appearance at all. Well, all's well that ends well, because my seeds will be needing a home, so all in all, Mimosa's pot could be used to grow something else! All right, enough of all this all stuff!
Shall I tell you what I will be planting?
Oh, all right. I'll tell you a few of them, but not all.
Because I'm still researching them!
I calculated that it takes me about 1/2 hour to check at least 3 references for one plant. I sometimes check more, depending on the information I'm able to find. My fave sources are Michaels Tierra's books The Way of Herbs and The Way of Chinese Herbs, Opening Our Wild Hearts to the Healing Herbs by Gail Faith Edwards (no longer in print), Plants for a Future Database, A Modern Herbal and Natural Medicinal Herbs. There are many other sources out there; Green Deane's website Eat the Weeds has some mighty good info and Wikipedia can be used as a general source (like getting the latin name or a seeing a pic).
Boneset and her cousin Purple Boneset or Gravelroot. Boneset is used to help break the flu quite successfully, you know when your nose is now running, now stuffy, you're feverish, and you have muscular aches in your body? Right. While Gravel root has more the reputation for being used for kidney issues, like cystitis, kidney stones and urinary issues. I'm actually not so much interested in their medicine as the way they look!
That's right, I no know such thing as "weed," only friends who go by the name plants, animals, insects, humans, stars, planets, and the beyond...
Never thought I'd be growing plants as "ornamentals;" although even ornamental plants still have medicine (many plants used as such in TCM). Really, I think that every plant has some purpose...but more on this to muse upon in a future post perhaps.
I got strawberry seeds! Fragaria vesca ruegen, Alpine Strawberry. The Topsy Turvy planter was sold out at the many stores I checked, but no bother; you can easily plant her in a coir basket, which is what I'm thinking of doing! Now that I have all these seeds, I have to find a good home for every one of them!
I'll tell you one more plant I'll be growing and then that's it! Gotta leave some goodies for next time ;)
Valerian. Yeah, she's the plant that induces sleep, a nervine for sure. She has what I call a "poo" smell. She looks very similar to a several other friends, including Cow Parsley, Chervil, Angelica, Wild Carrot, Yarrow and Hemlock.
While Valerian leaves are edible, I'd prepare for an afternoon siesta if you're going to add a few leaves to your salad :)
'Til next time, sunshine!
Going around my neighborhood, what finds! Went to mall to get some shopping done and then to sit behind alleyway behind mall. Sat in the sun enjoying my chocolate, birds singing and plants growing! What kinds of plants, you say?
Lamb's Quarter in baby stage. Ooh ooh, I hope she's able to grow big so I can collect her and eat her like spinach! I've seen the city come and rip out plants...Grrr...no such thing as weeds!
Dandelion of course, with tons of yellow flowers. Oozed white milky sap when I plucked off some of the heads---you'd never know someone had gone "foraging!" Sap is great to use on warts, BTW.
Johnny-Jump-Up or Heart's Ease. Just there, one little bunch of flowers, stunning me with her striking violet and yellow colors amongst all the rest of the greenery. I had seen her on a previous time when I had passed by, and she had the same kind of sweet energy, that kind of here-I-am, just-so, just-so-pretty-as-you-please!
So interesting that in previous years she was not growing there, had never seen her, just like the horsetail that was also growing in this alleyway...Interesting how plants come and go (even perennials), but some continue to come back all the time.
Like the coltsfoot. A few flowers still, but the leaves are starting to come in. There were a few flowers without leaves, which is when you want to get coltsfoot in the first place. Yep, the flowers come before the leaves grow in! Then you see these leaves which are supposed to look like coltsfeet, and you know pickin' time is over.
Vetch. I love adding a few of these violet flowers to my summer salad. Trail side nibble from the pea family any time!
Tons of Mugwort, which I'm going to add to some rice, fresh, but maybe steam some with the hostas that I collected from yesterday. Hostas are supposed to taste like asparagus. We'll see about that!
More Dame Rocket. So lovely, what scent! Tried the leaves and they have a sharp taste just like arugula. 4 flowers so you know it's in the Brassica family (any time you see a plant with 4 flowers = cabbage family = edible). I took off all her leaves and left her flowers in a vase on the kitchen table. Planed some others in a pot. What heaaavenly perfume!
Garlic mustard. White flowers, stinky garlic smell oh yeah, I've IDed you all right. No way I can mistake you for a cress. Pee-you. Great in stir fries and soups.
Saw some baby milkweed plants. I was going to uproot one but really why bother when there's so many, even if she does get whacked by the crazy lawn mower every week---I know of a few fields where tons of them grow. Lots of good recipes out there. You can use her flowers and seed pods...but more of that later, when the time is ripe for the pickin'!
Horsetail. I'm not 100% sure of this plant because she grows in wet areas, but she is very distinctive. Brought tons home and am going to grow horsetail to compare. Will continue to monitor the plant that's growing in the wild. Right now she's in vertical stage, but if her leaves (so stiff, like a broom) go horizontal, as they should as she matures, then I'd have a better reference. Only seen her once and she was growing on a mountain in a wet area. It was pretty dry where I saw her growing, right beside dandelion and in another area right beside mugwort. To be seen...
Bladder Campion. Not just an ornamental. Really pretty flowers, very distinctive with that "balloon" just before the flower. Definitely would look real pretty in the garden! And the one I saw was just growing there wild, not one person paying her any mind. She comes back year after in the same spot...never thought to harvest her root, but maybe I should collect some seeds and plant her...
Saw one white rose flower! Wow early for May, more sure to come! Not just white, but pale pink and dark wine ones too! Love those rose bushes, so many uses for rose! Like fresh petals on nut butter on toast! YUM! Can't wait!
Burdock. She's baaaaack! I just love burdock and most of her is either edible or medicinal (actually have a tea going right now with her seeds, which are a great diuretic). I remember a field that is no longer where many burdock plants were growing. Several were about the same height or just a little bit shorter than me and I felt like I just wanted to give them a hug! Love her purplish-pink flowers :) Last year I tried burdock petioles (leaf stalks) or the stems that attach the leaf to the thicker central stem. Just peel off the outer layer, chop and simmer for 15 minutes; then drain (still too bitter) and simmer again another 15 minutes. Done! Just like celery! Small leaves are edible too and of course the root, known as gobo in Japan, is delish! Bought some from the health food store this winter (pricey) but why bother when you can dig her root for free!
Saw some clover leaves, but didn't get any. Later. They'll be plenty. There always is!
Look alike dandelion plant which I'm pretty sure is sow thistle and not wild lettuce. Still a bit confused between the two but I believe the wild lettuce has thorns and this plant as I've observed her for a few years, usually grows right beside dandelion, has thistle like ragged leaves growing in a basal rosette like dandelion but the yellow dandelion-like flowers come out later (and many flowers for one plant compared to the 1 flower on dandelion) in summer. Leaves clasp stem, too, so I'm pretty sure she's an edible thistle, sonchus and not a latuca. Tried her flowers (OK) and leaves last year. Even steamed, the leaves were still tough BUT! I got an idea to juice them this year, so will try later this summer and see how that goes...I saw one plant last year she must've been 6 or 7 feet tall! I remember on a forest jaunt last year I came across a Canadian thistle---taller than me, boy, must've been 7 or 8 feet tall! And edible?! OOH, I contemplated and looked at heavy-duty gloves at the hardware store but for all that trouble...nah, I just enjoyed her company. And her many cousins who were also growing in the same vicinity...But who knows, maybe this year...eek! Those long spikes?! Um...maybe...
Coming back from my foraging jaunt, I happened to see my neighbor and he gave me a quick tour of his garden. Lovely plants, many of which I didn't know. Solomon's seal was one plant I remembered he has growing, as well as blueberries and raspberries, but the rest were names that I've now already forgotten! Oh yes, and a fig tree, lime tree and lemon tree. And there are some black hollyhocks...
Just reminded me that there are so MANY plants out there! How many are known? How many "varieties" of one type of plant, like thistles or clover?! And sometimes even botanists get confused or don't know whether a certain plant is edible or not. Infinite varieties like the infiniteness of animals or insects... or human minds...or the universe...each so distinct and unique in their perfect imperfections...
'Til next time!
Curiosity Got The Cat: