Oh happy mother's day!
It's mid-may now and the Dandelions are in bloom, beautiful, bright, yellow bursts of color covering green lawns! While some people make good use of the flowers by making Dandelion wine or steeping them in honey, I prefer to start gathering up the leaves. The energy at this point is concentrated in the flowers, but the leaves are still highly nutritious and I add them to my smoothies, juices and soup recipes. When the leaves are young they aren't that bitter, so a good handful or two can be added to most recipes. When the leaves are older, 2-4 large leaves is all you'll need! You can also add the smaller leaves to salads for a touch of bitter goodness as well :)
Besides Dandy friends, I found several other lovelies peeping up from the lawn at work. The time to collect Violet flowers is NOW, and while I've seen white ones on my neighbor's lawns, the ones at work were all purple. I gathered up some flowers as well leaves, although the leaves are still quite small at this stage. Again, like with Dandelion, you can steep the flowers in honey for the cold and flu season, which will help with sore throats, or dry them and use them as tea or put them with lavender to make smelly sachets for the closet. I use the leaves in soups and smoothies. They have a mucilaginous quality which is soothing for inflamed intestines. They are slightly laxative, but most greens have that cleansing effect, so nothing much to worry about. Add a handful or two of fresh leaves to smoothies. I like to also dry the leaves and then add them to soups come the colder months.
ill-over-ivy, also called Creeping Charlie, was another viable weed I spotted. She makes a good cover crop and the purple flowers are a pretty sight to be seen! She's also medicinal and being in the mint family, she has what I call an "antiseptic" taste. I personally prefer to add her fresh or dried to soups, but many add her to salads. Juicing or adding her to smoothies are two other options.
Red Clover was another one I noticed, however I didn't pick up any of those chevron-stained leaves as they were all too small. I did pick up a tiny bunch of Strawberry leaves, as well as a small bunch of Yellow Dock leaves, both of which I will dry and add to soups in future months. These were both plants that I planted last year in the "garden," a sandy plot of earth which did not do very well. Weeds, however, are finding themselves a nice home, and I'm happy to report that the many Queen Anne's Lace seeds I planted have popped forth. While she might look like parsley, she's a Queen A alright ;)
I found a few baby Plantain leaves, not much more than a nibble, but I do so hope they will have a chance to grow into bigger leaves (what with the lawnmower making its appearance every now and again, what's a forager to do but to make do between cuttings!). I also spotted what I believe is a St. John's Wort plant. I looked briefly, but I would have to verify if there are holes in the leaves. If yellow flowers pop up by June, then that'll make a positive ID for sure!
In the front yard, the Periwinkle plants had purple flowers that were twinkling at me while the one lone Tulip plant had already lost its flowers, now scattered on the ground. You can add a few Periwinkle flowers to pretty up your spring salad :)
Another spring flower that I noticed growing close to the mall and what I thought was Dandelion was really...Coltsfoot! Every year I notice those yellow flowers, which are in bloom for about 2 weeks, and yet every year I never collect any. Last year I decided to collect some "just in case," and wouldn't you know, I still have the small bunch from last year! I suppose I could always collect some and ask my herby friends if they have need of any...Oh, why yes, didn't I mention? My herb teacher will be in town this summer and we'll be going on weed walks once a month! The 1st one is happening in 2 weeks, at the end of May, and I can't wait to reacquaint with old friends and discover new ones!
Speaking of which, since Bellefield and Appley-Blossom field got totaled, I'm going to have to go further out and visit a new place in order to find Red Clover and other edible and medicinal goodies. That means I'm seeing a bit more biking in my future this summer!! Will also be nice to revisit Buckthorn Woods and see what friends are waiting to say hello over there!
To new foraging adventures, surely, sunshine! Stay bright now, ya hear, cuz there's lots more fairy memories to be had :)
SPRING IS HERE!!
The sun is shining, there's zero chance of snow on the horizon. No clouds, just blue sky and folks are out about doing their spring cleaning thang: cleaning out the garage, getting the bikes oiled and tuned up, taking off the winter tires, and getting out the top soil! I smelled someone having a BBQ on my way to the mall, where the local supermarket had several pallets of top soil. Only topsoil, unfortunately, but bags had already left the pallet and were getting some good use somewhere.
No need for hat, scarf or gloves, even a jacket was a bit much. I had myself started with my own spring cleaning by taking out the spring clothes and starting a pile of items to donate, but after seeing someone in shorts, I may have to rethink the wardrobe and take out some summer goodies already!
Aaah, spring! Yesterday the Tulips were peepin' through and today I saw Periwinkle. Yes, a few Periwinkle flowers on a salad is just fine. Toxic in high doses, but then, just how many flowers do you wanna eat? A few make a salad pop and the taste is not much, like a road side nibble, but with a lot of colorful appeal :) They look like Violet flowers, but not quite, and like Coltsfoot, you notice the flowers first before the leaves. A bit like Violet with a slight mucilaginous quality and both are laxative, but as I said, a few and no harm will it you do...
And you knew that Tulips were edible, right? Oh, yes indeed, and they taste different depending upon what color they are. NOW, the petals are edible but the inner bit with the stamens are NOT. I remove the inner bits and then stuff them, you know, like mini squash blossoms. Best eaten the same day, because like other edible flowers, they don't keep long. Sure, you could always take off the petals and then freeze 'em and throw 'em in a soup come winter time ---I'm rather biased when it comes to soups, I confess, because I throw so much in my soup pot cauldron!!
The soup I just made had half of wild greens, like Motherwort leaves, Plantain leaves, Violet leaves, Wild Carrot leaves, Mallow leaves, Red Clover leaves and Goldenrod leaves. 'Course, I added in some root veggies and Italian herbs to smooth out the taste of all that greeny goodness ;) Woulda been nice to add in some sundried tomato, but they were out at the grocery store. Maybe next time I'll add in some Yarrow leaves, forgot about them!
Soups are always good, even in the height of summer you can make cooling soups like Gazpacho or green smoothies. I find the concept of a green smoothie much like pureed soup, only that greens are blended with fruit and it's drunk cold and not warmed up. Greens are always HOT, as you may have noticed, at ANY TIME of the year. Greens are the new black, is what I say. Always trendy, always in!!
And speaking of soups, they'll be lots of yummy plants to look out for during the spring time: baby Violet, Dandelion and Plantain leaves; Garlic Mustard, Mustards like Dame Rocket and Barbara's Cress (think of them like mustard greens, flowers are edible and can be used in salads), Wild Leeks (also called Ramps) and Japanese knotweed. Small Hostas when they are furled (called hostons) are a tasty treat ~yes, add to soup~ and don't worry, they'll grow back in no time. If you're wondering about taste, kinda like asparagus.
Most of the wild edibles like Dock, Wild Lettuces and Sow Thistles will have small green leaves that are just slightly bitter, great for soups, fine to chop and add to salad. As the plants grow, you'll still want to be eyeing those leaves for that bitter element: they make excellent greens to add to green smoothies and green juices. Dandelion, Violet, Plantain, Wood Sorrel, Lamb's Quarter and so many others also make yummy green juices and smoothies which I'll be writing about as the months progress :)
Also be on the look-out for spring flowers such as Linden, Coltsfoot and Violet, which you can dry and use for infusions later for colds and flus. Dandelion flowers should be a-plentiful soon enough. They're edible (sure, the lil green bits on the back of the flower are a tad bitter, so what) and you can infuse them in honey and vinegar, or add them to salads and soups. Some people like to fry them with a batter (tempura batter) and make fritters while others like to chop 'em and add 'em to pancakes and quick breads like muffins and loaves.
Two years ago I infused Dandy flowers in honey. Notes: make SURE they are absolutely dry (wait 2 days after the last day it has rained). They will make the honey runny and yep, slightly bitter. I wasn't too crazy 'bout it, even being the Crazy Cat Lady Who's Mad Keen on Bitters ;)
Last year I added some flowers to pancakes and smothered the tops of them in a rare treat of molasses and brown rice syrup. After eating pancakes my belly was plumb stuffed full! Right, exactly why I only eat such rich treats but once a year ;)
Not sure what fun concoction I'll do this year. I had gotten the idea about drying the flowers and using in part as a flour, but like Goldenrod flowers, timing is crucial as they'll burst into fluffy seeds right there as they're drying if you pick them too late.
Dandy flowers always make me think of timing and the preciousness of time. Suddenly, they are all there, bright fields of yellow flowers abundantly and beating against every hot brick wall and fence of every store and house everywhere. And the window of opportunity to enjoy them is so short: 2 weeks maybe, and then !poof! all gone. Funny how so many people curse that blasted weed Dandelion, but there's nary a flower to be found come summer. Well, there are rare exceptions but yellow flowers in summer are usually Sow Thistle and Wild Lettuce dandy-look alikes. Edible, too, and slightly bitter, almost...dandelion-ish. Here are some Dandy ideas fer ya :)
Hoping to get some compost tomorrow. Going to have to plant more seeds as it seems so many have not popped out into seedlings. I know the soil is poor in nutrients, it's the same potting soil as last year's, but it could also be the seeds, they might be old. I usually plant more than 2 seeds per space to make sure I have enough, but this year I planted exactly 2 seeds and I shoulda been a lot more generous!! That's alright, because once I get the compost I can plant directly into the pot and it'll save me the extra work of having to transplant them....
Aaaah, SPRING is here and summer lovin', hot diggity do and fairy fun are all on the menu! And gardening, foraging and the rest of it too, of course ;)
Enjoy the sunny beat of spring, sunshine :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: