Plants talk to me. They tell me things. Sometimes. They whisper secrets, and tell me how to use them. Sometimes they show me swirling colors of what they really look like when I close my eyes before I go to sleep. They tell me that what my eyes see is not the same as what bugs see, and really what is it that I see?!
This year, I was looking at Dame Rocket, that wild weed. Her flowers have such a magnificent scent! I asked her if I could make a perfume with her, but in my question was this method that I had done before, in other words, I wanted t o make an oil infusion using her flowers. She said that not much scent would be captured that way...and that led me to seeking some ways that I could capture her scent, as well as the scent of other wild ladies, such as lilac!
I stumbled upon a yahoo group for perfumery and began perusing some documents. Yes, I'd heard of Everclear, and I suppose making a perfume using alcohol would be a better solution. Or using effleurage, which is using fat (lard). Both methods talked about soaking the flowers at their peak of scent for 1-2 days, removing the spent flowers and then repeating the process until no more scent could be captured.
I'm sure there are other ways of doing it; I haven't gotten that far in my perfume journey. But it's a start!
Funny thing is when I went to fetch the Dame Rocket flowers at work, they smelled stinky! They were all looking at me like, oh, you just want our flowers huh? Well there! I dunno, I haven't figured it out yet; my intention was to capture their sweet scent, no offense intended!! I'll ask the other Dame Rocket plants I saw and see what they have to say. Perhaps the time has passed, as already some of the flowers were missing on the stems. Perhaps the time to make perfume for them is no longer ripe, the window of opportunity is gone.
Now, Lilacs however, they should be good to go! The tree on the neighbor's lawn got quite a trimming last year, so she's blooming late, in June instead of in springtime May.
The weather has been iffy at times, and like in recent past years, I no longer start any seeds inside. While there was no snow in either April or may, the good weather came in May then petered out to some cold days and nights.
I did collect some Garlic Mustard leaves, although I'm not so fond of the taste. I tried to make Dandelion flower jelly using coconut sugar and while it turned out okay, be prepared for some slight bitterness! On pancakes with fruit I'm sure it would work though :)
I've collected Violet and Plantain leaves at work. At my bf's house, he had tons of good ol' Chickweed growing in his planters on the balcony. And you know what them herbalists say, plants that you be needing are growing right under your feet! Or on your balcony :) He works in construction at the moment, so lots of boo-boos come out. Of course I made the poor lad an infused Chickweed oil to turn into a salve. That'll help with the itching! Guess I should add in the Plantain. Can't add in Marigolds just yet, they come out later in the fall.
I planted many seeds in some flower boxes on my front balcony. Not much has popped out yet, and to be honest, I didn't feel the same pull to garden as I have in past years. Perhaps because I know where to find plants not too far away, like Nettle at a little hideaway close to some condo buildings; Wild Aster, Yellow Dock and Red Clover at a field close to a supermarket; Red Clover and Yarrow along the river's edge...and oh yes, I discovered some Red Clover, Vetch, Dandelion and Sow Thistles behind the mall! Then there are the Rose petals, which I started collecting in early June. I've collected some Red Clover leaves, but the blossoms just came out this week. I've seen them growing in many different places in the city, but I'm not interested in getting them so close to busy streets!
I was saying I haven't seen that many seedlings come up. Nasturtium and Borage so far, yes, and I found Lamb's Quarter, that wild spinach, growing in a few pots (probably seeds in the compost). I planted Comfrey and Nettle and the rest of the plants are herbs: Parsley, Coriander, Mint, Anise Hyssop, Dill, Oregano, Thyme, Tarragon, Rosemary and Sage. I was surprised to find Mint seeds and decided to go ahead and see what comes up. I saw some seedlings in the pot, but it could be Chickweed as that one tends to crop up in many places!
I planted a couple of Cucumber and Bell Pepper plants in the soil directly close to the house, as well as some Radish seeds. It gets the afternoon sun, so we'll see what shall be! As you know, I live on the second floor, so this is a tiny plot of land behind the front balcony. My old landlord sold the house, and the new landlord doesn't mind that I ripped up the grass along the side of the house, put in a little fence and planted a few things. So far one Nettle plant has returned from last year, several Pansy plants and lots of moss! As it's quite shady, especially the area closest to the balcony, I planted 3 varieties of Mint plants (Spearmint, Pineapple and Peppermint) and several Malva plants that I got from my neighbor's yard. Interestingly, the Malva plants last year in that mostly shaded area did just fine, so I decided to plant some new ones this year. There's no shortage of them, as Malva is a quite the sharing, self-seeding kinda type! ;)
I went through my seeds and decided to plant some herbs that my herb teacher had talked about but that I never personally got acquainted with: Joe-pye weed, Elecampane and another herb for the lungs (oopsy, forgot now). Nope, not Mullein, I know what she looks like, I've seen her soft leaves and her weird growing pattern of yellow flowers! No guarantees if anything will turn up, we'll see. Ah yes, it was Echinacea! My neighbor has some that comes back year after year that I've love to dig up for the roots and tincture or use as antiviral cold and flu tea, but alas, she loves seeing her flowers come up every year!
Hmm, that got me thinking that she has tons of Fleabane and Peonies and they might make a nice perfume!! Yep, more research on perfume making is definitely in my future!
Herbs I'll be testing soon:
• Fleabane, flowers to be used as an emmenagogue, aka for period cramps (leaves I throw into the soup pot with other good tasting veggies like carrots and beets). Read HERE for tons of more info about her.
• Hawkweed. Flowers are said to be a diuretic, so I'll see how my body reacts and compare that to when I use Prunella, which is a gentle but effective diuretic
• Ox-eye daisy. While edible, she smells like...Valerian, or what I call the stinky-poo weed. Yeah, that's why flies like to come and take a snooze on the flowers! Leaves can be thrown into the soup pot with other veggies and the flowers make a milder soothing nervine tea like chamomile. Yep, think of Marguerites (another name for her) like a mild version of Chamomile. Haven't tasted the tea yet, we'll see what she tastes like!
• Herbs to use in Sangria recipes. Sangria is basically using wine as a menstrum to steep fruits in to get their flavors, kinda like making cucumber or lemon water where you soak the veggies in water overnight and strain. Nice for weight loss and those hot summer day. So far, I used both Elderberry and Hibiscus flower in THIS sangria recipe, which came out quite lovely. I do find it can get a bit pricey between the wine and using herbs, but if you collect your own (and make your own wine!) you can minimize the cost.
• I might try using Mugwort to make beer. Not a beer person myself, but the bf is, so he might like it. Better than Dandelions, which he sees now with new eyes thanks to this wild foraging lady, but still not so keen on eating it. Ah, don't worry, he'll be eating it in a purred soup and never know it til I tell him later heheh! Well, I did spike the Sangria with Dandelion root tincture. Extra alcohol, dear, and a little help for the liver! :P
Well, that's a good start for this year, sunshine! Lots of that coming this way, cuz days are getting longer and summer will be rollin' 'round the corner in a few weeks. Stay bright, sunshine, stay bright :)
Once again, so many things have been happening in the plant world around me! Although I wasn't able to attend my herb class this weekend, I have been seeing lots of other plants to share with you! Some of these plants I've seen growing close to the subway, on the lawn at work, on my neighbor's lawn, and beside a huge bus depot. In short, wild things are growing all over the place! However, the ones that you want to pick should NOT be close to the road. It's OK if a field or deserted area is close to the road, but you want to gather the plants that are the farthest from the road. You also want to avoid areas where people walk their dogs (for the poop contamination, yep) and beside railroads, the latter because of heavy metals. You can read Green Deane's 2 cents on where to forage HERE.
Living in the city, I use my intuition about where to forage. I might take a few plants close to a parking lot, but it also depends on the purpose. For example, I might use Mugwort as a smudge plant, so I wouldn't be ingesting it. Or perhaps I'm gathering Milkweed flowers to dry for potpourri. Or perhaps I'm not sure about the ID of the plant, so I will transfer her to a pot, let her grow, and use my field guide books to ID her.
My personal favorite places to forage are abandoned areas where few visit; my neighbor's garden; the lawn at work; the abandoned "raised beds" behind the local mall (a place where some cars do pass, but it's not used that much); and abandoned areas that are close to the road, but within a fair distance that foraging is OK.
So, let's get into some new plant friends that I haven't talked about this season yet!
Daisy Fleabane. She looks like a daisy, and yes she in the same family as Daisy, that is, Asteraceae. She has small white rays and in the middle, a shocking color of yellow. Sometimes you can find her with pink rays instead of white. Either way, her leaves are edible and you'll be wanting to cook them. I like adding them to the soup or stew pot. I've used the dried flowers in an infusion to help with menstrual cramps and being astringent, you can also use her for diarrhea. Make sure when you dry her flowering tops that she isn't about to die, as all you'll get is white fluff, and that's not so nice for tea! Her taste isn't bad, although I confess I mix her in with Red Clover and Rose in infusions, which are two herbs I often combine for menstrual cramps.
FYI: being a weed that you can find in lots of fields, feel free to forage away!
Oxeye Daisy. I mentioned Daisy when talking about Daisy Fleabane above, and yes this weed has many parts which are edible! Leaves and root can be thrown into the soup pot; leaves and flowers eaten raw in salads; root pickled. Some say it has a pungent taste, and I confess I'm not found of her "stinky" smell, which reminds me of the "pooey" smell of Valerian. I add both flowers and leaves to the soup pot and have yet to try pickling her root. The pungent smell makes me think of using her flowers and leaves in an herbal vinegar, which is something I have yet to try.
FYI: I've seen her growing on many a-lawn as an "ornamental," as well as wild in fields. Depends on the area, I suppose, because I don't always find her growing in every field I visit.
Vetch. Also called Hairy Vetch, I found this one growing in a Rose bush (she is a climbing plant), hence those leaves you see are of Rose, not Vetch. There is one set of her leaves on the LEFT and in the BACK of the picture, where you see two opposite, lance-like leaves (all similar in size) growing up the central stem (you can also look at this pic here). Being in the Legume family, she is often grown to help fix nitrogen for the soil and for fodder crop. Her flowers make a roadside nibble, and I've added some of her purple flowers (so pretty! just remove them from the stem first) to salads and to THIS FLAX CRACKER RECIPE.
I've also dried her and paired her half-half with dried lavender in sachets to put in your "unmentionables" drawer. This idea was told to me by Vetch herself, and if you understand plant spirit medicine and that plants do indeed communicate, then you can appreciate what a wonderful joy it was to discover such a beautiful use for her! I gave the sachets as gifts and they were well received :) You can find that recipe HERE.
Note that according to the PFAF Database, her leaves are said to be edible, however I've never eaten them or used them in anyway. Seems I will have to be poking my nose around and finding out what a fellow Vetch plant has to say on the matter ;)
Rose. I've mentioned Rose in a previous post, and foraged some petals just today. Notice that there are 3 different varieties in the photos above :) They all smell great, and I love eating the white petals fixed as a single layer on toast (add your fave nut butter, jam or spread, then place the petals in a single layer on top of the spread).
I wanted to mention HOW you should take off the petals. You see the central part in the 2nd picture, the part that looks like small cilia or hairs with a cream center surrounded by a ring of white? That part will turn into a Rose hip, or fruit, so if you yank the whole flower off the stem, it won't be able to do so. What you want to do is remove ONLY the petals, and gently. I cup my hand over a flower to enfold the petals and then gently use my finger to pull them off. The petals should all easily slip off into your hand. If they don't, then it means the flower isn't ready to give up her petals and you should wait for that particular flower---and move on to all the flowers are ready to give up their petals!
While some do collect Rose buds and use that for infusions (being higher in vitality and energy), I've never had an issue using only the petals in infusions or for any herbal recipe (such as for perfume, massage oil, toner or face cream).
Oh, I don't want to talk about too many plants at once, because I know it can create information overload, however there are still so many other plant friends that I have seen and would like to talk about! Suffice it to say that I saw Galinsoga (also called Gallant Soldiers) in leaf state; flowering Evening Primrose (she's a biennial); Sumac leaves, no drupes (or berries) yet; fairly large Yellow Dock plants (I love those spinach-tasting green leaves cooked!); and Lady's Thumb in leaf state.
I will mention one other plant that I have yet to have the pleasure of tasting, and that is:
Bladder Campion (pics below). She's a queer looking plant, which makes her easy to identify as she has this balloon shape which kind of looks like a bladder (I suppose). Her young leaves (BEFORE flowering) can be cooked and eaten like spinach. I'd add them to the soup pot, as some bitterness has been noted. After flowering, her leaves can be stringy and bitter, and blanching first is recommended to help with the bitterness, throwing out that water and then cooking her up a second time. I think her older leaves would be fine in pureed soups or even in green juices or smoothies, but I would have to try first. Interestingly, being high in saponins, her root can be used as a soap substitute.
To be honest, I've only seen her growing in one area (which was along a fence close to an alleyway) and her unique appearance made it easy to ID her in foraging guides.
I'll get back to some of those plants I merely mentioned in a future post. I'm also hoping to be able to share with you some of my plants that are slowly coming up in my balcony garden (Lamb's Quarter seems to be quite the rage in a majority of the pots!) and my experiences with my WILD community garden that was left to go to grass...not fun, removing grass! But there were some interesting weeds growing there, a-ha!
For now, sunshine, stay clean and bright, because the foraging days ahead will be burning on! :)
One Backyard: Edible & Medicinal Clovers,Dock, Fleabane, Hawkweed, Plantain, Prunella, Sorrel, Strawberry Leaf & Violets --- Clover Perfume, Massage Oil, Herbal Vinegar & Sorrel Lemonade Recipes
When you see a lawn, do you think, oh that's someone's backyard, just some grass there? Or do you look closer and see a plethora of plants, waiting to share their energy/food and medicine?
So here are some pics I took at work. See the variety of living plants in just a small plot of land :) Here we go:
White Clover, triofolium repens. Gather the blossoms on a dry day when there hasn't been any rain. You can make a standard infusion with them, although she isn't as medicinal as Red Clover (useful to help with menstrual cramps). Instead, where she shines is in her scent:
To Make White Clover Perfume:
---> Place the flowers slightly packed into a small mason jar (250ml/1cup or 500ml/2 cups works just fine). Add oil to cover the flowers (olive oil or grape seed oil is fine), then use a thin bamboo skewer or the handle of a wooden spoon to make sure flowers are coated. Add more oil to the top of the jar, put on lid and screw cap and let sit in the cupboard for six weeks. Strain out oil by placing a coffee filter into a sieve to catch any tiny pieces. If you like and there are still flowers around, you can make this perfume oil have a stronger scent by repeating the process: add fresh flowers to a mason jar + your infused oil. Cap off with additional olive/grape seed oil to the top, then wait another six weeks. Place the oil into small vials with a roll on (a small sieve can help get the oil in the bottle, as can a pipette), then label and use for yourself or give as gifts. Optionally, you can add in a few essential oils of your choice that you think might work nicely with the delicate scent of White Clover (vanilla is one that comes to mind :) ). Enjoy!!
If you're wondering if I have some White Clover oil infusing right now, the answer is...YEP! I've used this same simple technique of infusing one flower into oil with Lavender and Rose petals...I love the delicate scent and so have others :)
Too much work for all that?? I hear ya. Better yet, just pluck the blossoms and add to the top of salads to make 'em pretty. Smell nice, taste is OK too :)
Good ol' Dandelion, taraxacum officianalis. What do you do with the leaves? Yep, I juice 'em! I replace about 1/4 of my other greens with Dandelions, add them to the juicer with some apples or melon and I'm good to go in the morning! They're chock full of minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and they've got that magic I'm-so-hardy appeal that's sure to be shared with you too :)
I add the leaves, fresh or dried, to soups and stews, and I use the dried leaves to make a wild green powder, which you can then add to smoothies and baked goods for extra nutrition. Even better, add the powder with some other greens that you've dried and powdered and make your own wild greens protein powder. Sure, feel free to add in hemp, rice protein, pea protein, etc. to the green powder.
Oh, yeah, to turn the leaves from dried to a powder? Best to use a high speed blender. Works every time. Then store the powder in a glass air tight container. A mason jar works fine too :)
Wood Sorrel, oxalis stricta (note that there are other varieties). The flowers have come up yet in this photo, but they will and they'll be yellow. How to use? Not being a stem kinda gal, I remove the leaves and toss into the soup or stew pot. Note the word oxalis, as she does contain oxalic crystals which can irritate some people. Cooking neutralizes them, however.
Since she tastes kind of on the lemony side of things, think LEMONADE.
To Make Wood Sorrel Lemonade:
--->Get a bunch of Wood Sorrel, with flowers or without and let them dry. Then make a standard 2 cup infusion. Strain and add in 2 cups water, plus the juice of 1 or 2 lemons, as you prefer. Add stevia to taste, if desired. Great served cold on a hot summer's day.
Oh yeah, and if you're ever out and about and feeling parched, munching on a few leaves helps to quench your thirst :) Good ol' common garden Sorrel :)
Wild Strawberry, fragaria vesca. Leaves are great to add to soups and stews, fresh, frozen or dried. Can also add fresh leaves to salads. Use dried leaves and make a standard infusion for diarrhea (drink throughout the day).
Red Clover, trifolium pratense. These are just the leaves, however the flowers are out and about as of the month of June. They'll still be around by July, sometimes even as late as August and early September. Note the characteristic chevron that appears on all 3 leaves. Usually, the rule of thumb is leaves of 3, let it be. But this is clearly an exception to the rule, and the striking pattern makes Red Clover easy to identify.
The leaves can be used fresh, frozen or dried and added to soups and stews. Fine to add to salads, too. She's also a good one to add to a herbal vinegar, as is Strawberry Leaf, Self-Heal, Plantain, Dandelion leaf, Stinging Nettle, Mugwort...pretty much any wild edible green is fine.
To Make a Herbal Vinegar:
---> Chop your choice of wild green edibles with scissors into small pieces, then place into a mason jar. The size of the jar will depend upon how much greens you have (I'd say a 500ml/2 cup jar would be a good size, 1 liter if you have a lot). Pour apple cider vinegar with mother to cover the herbs, stir with the handle of a wooden spoon to ensure all gets covered with the vinegar, then add more vinegar to the top. Place a small piece of cling wrap to cover the lid, then put on the lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard. Strain out the liquid using a fine mesh sieve and store in a glass container of your choice. Great to use over salads or in any dressing/sauce/recipe where vinegar is called for :)
Self-Heal or All-heal, prunella vulgaris. I love drying her and using her for tea (I do mean a standard infusion). Great to flush toxins out of the lymphatic system and for water retention (e.g. during periods). She's a low growing plant, doesn't grow very high. And those labia-looking petals fall out when you go to pluck up the flower, so do be gentle.
Note the fine hairs where the flowers are situated? You won't see them with the naked eye, but a close up camera or magnifying glass are both good tools to have in the field with you. You can add the leaves to soups, stews and salads, although they isn't much to them. Fine to add to a herbal vinegar for extra minerals, vitamins and nutrition.
Plantain, plantago major. Ah, the boo-boo plant. Where there's one, there's more. And more's the better. Any time you got a boo-boo, like an insect bite, sting or scrape, chew the leaves up (yes, in your mouth, called a spit poultice) and place over the wound. Replace when it dries out. Just great to get rid of itching and you'll notice the wound heals much faster had you not used trust ol' Plantain. I'd keep this plant around the garden if I were you and make sure to find her if you're ever out in the field and need some boo-boo remedy.
Of course, you can also make a salve with her leaves and pair her with healing Comfrey (a few salve recipes here). And she also makes a great massage oil, helpful with St John's Wort and even Goldenrod (the flowering tops of both those plants). Massage oil is good for relaxation, but also helps with sprains, strains, sore muscles and even nerve damage.
To Make Relax Me Massage Oil:
---> Simply chop 2 parts St John's Wort (flowering top) with 1 part chopped Goldenrod (flowering top) and 1 part Plantain leaves. Place in a mason jar (a 500ml or 1 liter mason is a good size here) and add olive oil to cover the herbs. Stir with the handle of a wooden spoon to ensure oil covers all herb. Add more oil to the top of the jar, put on lid and screw cap, and let sit 6 weeks in the cupboard. Strain out the oil using a sieve (best if you place a coffee filter in the sieve first to catch tiny particles) into clean dark amber jars. Label and use on sore, stiff and achy muscles.
Just an FYI: St John's comes out in the summer while Goldenrod comes out later, late August and September. Feel free to make an infused oil with the Plantain and St John's, then make another infused oil with the Goldenrod and add the 2 oils together. OR, you can just make an oil with Plantain + St John's OR just St John's by herself. Up to you. Aren't you glad there are options and choices?!
Last good tidbit about Plantain: yep, edible, you can add fresh, dried or frozen to soups and stews. Small leaves are good in salads, larger ones can be juiced or even added to smoothies. Dried, she makes an excellent tea to remove boo-boos on the inside, aka, helpful to heal inflamed intestines such as leaky gut. I'd drink the tea daily with other herbs like Violet leaf, Marshmallow root and Slippery elm if you have leaky gut.
Violet, viola (sp.). There are several types of Violets, but they all taste mildly of wintergreen. The ones that I've seen where I live (up in the Northeast) have had either white or purple flowers, except for Johnny-jump-ups, which are tricolor. The leaves are usually heart-shaped, but sometimes they are more rounded. Some varieties have hairy leaves and stems.
Due to their mucilaginous quality, a few fresh leaves (and flowers) can be added to salads. Fresh or dried ones can be added to soups and stews, where that mucilage will be a welcome boon to soothe irritated intestines. If you have leaky gut, I'd add a good bunch of leaves when making soup, or even add some fresh ones to your morning smoothie (their mucilaginous quality doesn't make them so nice for green juices). Dried, the leaves make an excellent healing infusion. To the infusion, you can add Plantain and (chopped or powdered) Marshmallow root, plus mint for some extra cooling power. Drink throughout the day to help heal leaky gut.
Yellow Dock (the tall one in the middle), rumex crispus. I find that Dock leaves remind me of Spinach and both are good sources of iron. I prefer to dry the leaves and then add them to soups and stews come colder weather time, but they are great steamed on their own or added to smoothies and green juices.
Just like Plantain, where there's one there's usually more, and the seeds on 1 plant are plentiful! Last year there were perhaps 2 plants in the backyard and there are now about 1/2 a dozen :)
The root is a bright yellow when you dig her up in the fall, and that taproot can be quite long. A bit of digging required, yep, but the good news is that the root is even higher in iron than the leaves and has been used to help with iron deficiency. I'll talk more about the root later on in the fall (and also about the brown seeds which are edible and can be used like flour) :)
The pics above are of different kinds of rockets, plants that are in the mustard or Brassica family. 4-flowers are usually a sign of a mustard family plant...and the smell? Mmm, like sweet, heavenly perfume! When the flowers are spent, long seed pods with tiny seeds are left (yep, you can open the pods and use them like mustard seeds, even make your own homemade mustard if you can gather enough of them).
Leaves and flowers are edible, fine to add to salads, fresh, frozen or dried leaves to soups and stews. And if you're making yourself a veggie juice or smoothie, you can most certainly add in some leaves to the brew!
From L to R: Daisy Fleabane (erigeron philadelphicus), Forget-me-not (myosotis (sp)) and Orange Hawkweed (pilosella aurantiacum).
Daisy Fleabane. The leaves are edibles, although their hairiness may make them less than thrilling in salads. Better to add the leaves to the soup/stew pot and put them through the juicer.
Forget-me-not flowers make beautiful splashes of blue in the garden and since they grow in mats, they can be great to fill up those bare and empty spaces. The flowers (although bland and small) are edible and can be tossed into the salad bowl or soup/stew pot or used to decorate muffins and cupcakes.
Hawkweed or Mouse-ear. Flowers edible raw in salads, leaves are hairy, best to add to the juicer or to the soup/stew pot. The dried flowers and leaves can be made into an infusion and used as an emmenagogue, cholagogue, diaphoretic, expectorant and diuretic.
And finally, the Buttercup, NOT EDIBLE. Here's a good read about it and why holding a Buttercup under your chin will reflect a lovely shade of yellow (nope, nothing to do with whether you're a Butter lover or not).
See you next time, Sunshine :)
Foraging is On: Daisy Fleabane, Wild Lettuce, Identifying Horsetail & Making Rose Perfume in Different Strengths
Foraging is ON!
June is here and so is summer.
And greens are out and about.
So, when I decided today that I needed to get some greens for my morning juices, I didn't look to the grocery store, but to the small patch of land behind the mall.
Yep, Dandelion greens were sure to be found, and there was also some Wild Lettuce plants, lactuca serriola, or Prickly Lettuce. I confess that although I made some notes on the different types of Sow Thistles and Wild Lettuces, I get confused sometimes which is which! I've been reviewing my notes, and of course, it always helps when the plant is in flower. These Wild Lettuce plants are still growing and pretty much in infant stage, but don't worry, whether Sow Thistle or Wild Lettuce, they all go into the juicer and make some fine juice (just be sure to add fruits to cover the bitter taste, OK)!
I also collected a few Dock leaves, which I'm going to dry and add to the soup pot in future, colder months.
I spotted a few other friends while I was there:
I also collected some Plantain and Violet leaves and got a good bunch of Rose petals. I'm thinking about maybe making a Rose petal facial oil, hm, but perhaps that same oil could be turned into a perfume?? I could infuse the Rose petals in oil, then use the same oil to again infuse more petals to make it a stronger scent. OR, I could simply add a few drops of Rose essential oil...
Making perfumes can be really simple, as seen in this recipe I've posted previously on how to make a Sandalwood perfume oil. You can simply use another essential oil, any one you like. Add a few drops, take a whiff, add more 'til you like the scent. Then let it sit for 2 weeks, smell again and add more if you think you'd like it stronger. Done and ready to use or gift.
What I did once was I made 3 perfumes using different amounts of Lavender essential oil: 2 drops, 6 drops and 10 drops in 10ml of carrier oil (I used olive oil). The 10 drop one I found was medicinal, and I use it on my temples if I ever have a headache (rare) or induce sleep (also rare for me). I like the 2 drops perfume when I want just a hint of scent and use the 6 drops one when I want a bit more. Making the same perfume in different strengths, as you can see, can be quite beneficial!
I think I might even try this technique when making the Rose perfume :) In fact, I've decided that I am going to make myself (and others perhaps??) some Rose perfume, as you can see in the pic below :)
I'm hoping to go foraging later this week, to check out Bellefield and see what friends are growing and what allies I can take back with me. I'd also like to visit Buckthorn Woods, take some pics and get to identifying and making new friends. When it comes to shrubs and trees, my knowledge is quite limited. But then, the plants and WEEDS that I'm used to grow in full to part sun, whereas most of the plants in the forest/woods are different because the conditions are different, like dappled shade to full shade.
OK, all for now, sunshine, about this mini-foraging adventure. Future adventures like in wait!! And I'll be sure to be spillin' the beans and tellin' y'all 'bout it ;)
Stay sunny now, sunshine :)
Orange Hawkweed, Daisy Fleabane & The Triplet Look-Alikes: Black Medic, Lesser Trefoil & Hop Clover + Mugwort Enema Recipe
Wild lunch today from my balcony garden: lemony sorrel leaves, borage leaves, mallow leaves, mustard leaves, fresh dill and some rose petals I had gathered from a previous day. The only thing I didn't add to my salad was stinging nettle! I'll save her for a pesto or soup :) I wanted to get some chickweed too, but alas, work intervened. My boss actually tried a bit of each leaf and professed to really enjoy borage. He didn't mind the hairs on the leaves at all, but enjoyed its cool and sweet taste. Well, she is quite the looker, ya know! ;)
Went on a mini foraging trip the other day --- the day I collected rose petals and mugwort! Tons of mugwort about, supposedly an invasive weed---good, all the better! Yes, besides adding her to soup (rolling eyes), of course! I also use her as an enema. Yes, she is in the same family as wormwood, and wormwood is usually prescribed when there are parasites and candida action happening. To do:
Mugwort Enema Recipe
1 oz dried mugwort in a mason jar. Add boiling water to the top and put on lid/screw lid. Let sit 4 hours to overnight. Strain out mugwort using a nut milk bag OR fine mesh sieve. Gently warm the mugwort tea to finger hot and use in an enema bag. If you like, you can add in 1 liter of additional water and make it a 2-liter enema. Lying on your right side, hold for 15 minutes; then void.
I also got a bit of milkweed buds and just a few flowers. They were all still pretty much in baby stage, and I still have a hankering to pass by a certain field where many are wont to grow.
Mini foraging day yesterday at work. Disappointed in a way, because the grass in areas seemed long, but I think it was cut since I came last, because I had wanted to bring home what I thought was a sow thistle and study it more. Wild lettuce, sow thistle...there are a few plants that I'm still confused about.
But good news: I identified one of the mystery plants that I had brought home from work. Not so hard to find, really, as she had orange flowers and there aren't all that many that do! Her name is Orange Hawkweed or Fox-and-Cubs or Devil's Paintbrush. Pretty plant grown as an ornamental but she also has medicinal uses to help with lung issues :)
There was also another plant that I had taken home from work. I didn't recognize her, her leaves didn't tell me anything, but it was when I saw her flowers that I knew: Fleabane! Looks like a daisy, so dainty and pretty, too :) There are many varieties apparently, but I've only seen the common one and the purple one. She's known in Britain as Robin's-Plantain, which might tell ya that her leaves are edible. I'll look out for this one as well, Daisy Fleabane, whose leaves clasp the stem. My, my, so much fun I am having foraging and learning about plants!
The plants I collected yesterday at work were the same as always: violet leaves, dandelion, wood sorrel, plantain, strawberry leaves and clover leaves. There was lots of purple Prunella or Self-heal that had come out and I collected enough to make a quart-size infusion (or 1 oz). Prunella is excellent to move the lymph and help support weight loss, as I mentioned in a previous post :)
There were also many plants of Black Medic or medicago lupulina. It took me quite a long time a few years ago to identify Black Medic, but I now know her name! I took some bunches of leaves and will add them to my soup. You can eat her leaves and even her black seeds. She looks a lot like Lesser Hop Trefoil and Yellow Hop Clover, but there are subtle differences in the flowers (Black Medic's flowers grow up while Hop Clover droops down), plus the obvious tell-tale sign that Black Medic is so called because her seeds are black while Hop Clover's are brown. Read about more about the differences between Hop Clover & Black Medic here and the botanical differences between Hop Clover and Lesser Trefoil here. Will have to double check those other little yellow flowers I saw and see if they are trefoil or hop clover :0
Finished work early---yippeeeeee! Which meant I got to go and have another mini foraging adventure! I collected a whole brown lunch bag, packed, of rose petals. Some were a deep wine pink and some were light pink. Some of the stems of the roses had no flowers and there branches that were drooping, so when I see the neighbor I'll mention that it would be a good idea to give his rose bushes a much needed pruning! He doesn't much care for the rose petals but he loves the rose hips!!
Then I popped off to the field which was recently mowed to see what was growing. Dandelion, sure enough, and a few baby burdock plants, but the majority of new baby plants that were coming up was milkweed! Some had even put forth their "grape bunches," soon to flower (well, perhaps in a week or two). When I mean baby, these guys didn't even come up my knee! Because of that, I didn't take any milkweed, not even one. You might want to read about the debate and all the toxicity warnings about milkweed here. Personally, I've never changed the water; they don't give me stomaches and yep, they pretty much taste like broccoli or spinach. Can't wait to collect some pods and stuff 'em like pasta conchiglie!
I did, however, collect lots of yarrow, a few in flower (white flowers, yes there are other colors out there) and got stopped to ask what I was doing. I showed the lady a few plants and she seemed generally interested in "all things natural," as she put it, because she had grown up in the country. She lived in a condo apartment and had just a tiny balcony, but I told her to check out permaculture online if she was really interested. I also mentioned that there's a restaurant that serves wild food farther up north, but I didn't remember the name or website.
Ah well, I've been stopped a few times while out collecting and have found that while people are curious as to what I am doing, I have yet to come across a person who has a true desire to know more. But, they'll be many more excursions to come, so I'm sure there might be some other opportunities! Although it made me think (briefly passed on the screen of my mine) that perhaps I could teach others about urban foraging and wild edibles...To be seen as my passion at the moment is writing :))
Getting back home, I donned a flower-power dress and met up with my neighbor who showed me a few things growing in her garden. The area where she had her rock garden, now free of forget-me-nots, had filled with other plants that were growing there, including lavender, chrysanthemum and creeping thyme. I gave her some Lady's Mantle as I had no room for a full-sun-loving plant and she gave me some thyme, basil and chives she had growing in pots. Good news for me as I will be adding them to my soup!
Indeed, after wishing my neighbor good night, I proceeded to give my chickweed plants a much needed haircut. I also noticed that mint was growing rather sloppily and had tiny holes in her. Hm, what did I discover upon further inspection but a snail! She was really shy and kept poking her head back into herself, but when she saw that I had no inclination to squish her, she brightened up and moved a bit on my finger. Since mint also needed some trimming, I moved her to a mustard plant. Ha ha! A spicy meal this time around for her ;)
I had collected so much mugwort from the last time that almost all my dehydrator trays were in use. I settled for using just the solid Teflex sheets to spread the yarrow and rose petals to dry on my table, but muggie is going to be have to be dried in the dehydrator because there just ain't enough room!
Won't be any foraging tomorrow, though, as thunderstorms were about while I was organizing my greens: there's gonna be a nettle pesto; borage, chickweed, sorrel and dill salad OR I might use those big borage leaves as mini wrap leaves; mallow leaves are definitely going to be used for wraps; and there'll be a mean green soup happening with mustard leaves, clover, plantain, violet leaves, dandelion, dock leaves, black medic leaves, some carrots and some fresh Italian herbs like sage, basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Oh my! Plus I always add some other Chinese herbs---which maybe I'll get to mentioning in a post some day :)
You know, I haven't tired of soup. Not at all. I eat it every day and there's such good "medicine" in there that I love it and appreciate it so much. Plus it's tasty, too!
Eating my salad today of freshly picked greens, just brimming with energy and life force, I felt like a queen sitting on a throne of vitality (or perhaps just a barefoot fairy princess, as my neighbor fondly calls me, sitting on an office chair at work)---just so blessed to have this food right here in front of me! It was so good, so tasty, so sweet, sour, so---perfect!! I kissed my fingers and sent my green blessings of thanks to my green friends growing at home: thank-you so much for sharing your energy with me!
I feel...revitalized :))
Ending on this fine note of vitality, I'm off to dream of ...
Oh no, botany! I have botany reading to do! And articles to write! And...
Meditation now casts its fairy spell, fairy dust now sprinkled over the mind; all is quiet...
Slipping into the now of time, one resources with source.
And all is well.
Curiosity Got The Cat: