Very exciting indeed! I got some books of plants that specifically grow in my area! 4 of them to be exact :0 They were a small investment, about $30 each, and I suppose I could have gotten them from the library, but what would fun would that be? I need guide books to take with me while I'm out in the field! I got one book on trees and plants that grow in the woods, another on plants that grow in wetlands, swamps and by the river, and the last 2 are on plants that grow in the city. I just got them yesterday and I've perused the ones in the city and just flipped through the other two. I'm excited about the one in the woods the most, I suppose, because I'd really like to be able to identify trees, what with me living in Canada and all---land of the trees!! Plus trees have good medicine and tasty berries :)
Rain has come again, which meant I was itching to go foraging but was unable to. Yesterday I collected some Sow Thistles and they were still wet. That's OK, though, because if you are foraging to eat plants, it doesn't matter. Like the Sow Thistles. I got them to use as juice. Yep, even those little baby leaves have some bitter kick to them, kinda like dandelion. But I tell ya, juice those big leaves with some fruits, and you got yourself some nice green juices :) Free food = beats buying kale and lettuce at the health food store, even if they are around $1 - $2 a head, what with it being the summer season. Plus, you can freeze those Sow Thistles for later use, throw them in soups when the weather turns cool again. Lovin' the Sow Thistles :)
Now that I have heavy-duty gloves, I might just go and try some Bull Thistles. Have to remove the spines and be careful of the prickles when I chop her up, but I'd like to try her in a juice. And there are some growing in Bellefield...if this rain would just let up already! Check this LINK out about her edibility: flower buds edible roasted, seeds ground are edible, root edible and high in inulin and leaves too are edible (sans spines). COOL!!
Yeesh. I went for the fridge that has a 2 door french-styled model and the fridge section is larger than the freezer one. Oh no, I was thinking at the time, I don't freeze anything! Everything is fresh! Exclamation points for emphasis here, but I'm also being sarcastic. At that point in time, it was true that I wasn't freezing food. But now that I'm into foraging, I'll be lucky if I can barely get anything in there ;)
Went for a walk along a bike path which is right beside a lake. I knew there were plants growing there but I didn't think to go and really take a look-see, silly me. I mean, WOWee, just guess what old friends were growing along there?
OK, before I tell ya, they usually say that plants that grow along the water are different than plants that grow in, say, the woods, or your backyard. Pfff, that rule did NOT seem to apply here, as here are some of the plants growing along the bike path/water:
Lady's Thumb is a new plant that I've found this year. She tastes like a mild green (she's in the buckwheat family) and both her leaves and flowers are edible! I found her growing in one of my containers, then saw several plants growing in an alleyway, and then again by the water. I suppose you could say she's been trying to get my attention! You can add her to your salads, soups and stews. She's very recognizable by her small cluster of flowers at the top (pink, but sometimes they are faded and then there is one kind that has white flowers) and this ink blot on her leaves that some claim looks like a lady's thumb. She also has some medicinal properties, including being a vermifuge (dry and use as tea). I think I'm going to juice her and add her to some smoothies!! Not too much, though, because she has oxalic acid (cooking neutralizes it so no worries there).
It was true that there were several plants that I didn't recognize, and that got me excited because it means I'm going to be going back there to take pics and make new friends! Yes, it's just so nice discovering new plant allies, but also that there is tons of FREE food and medicine around :)
Speaking of being around, since rain is around, it's a good time to do research on plants.
Check out this link on the edibility of Blue Vervain: seeds edible (but slightly bitter), leaves good in salad, soups and stews (probably throw them in a smoothie or green juice, too), root edible, flowers pretty up a salad. Plus she has tons of medicinal properties: being astringent, she is good to help quell diarrhea and heavy periods, and she's also useful as an emmenagogue and for hot flashes.
She's really known as being a nervine and for being fabulous at easing neck tension. You can read all about it in this excellent post from Anima Center HERE.
Nope, I've never seen her growing out in the wild (although she is purported to grow as such), but she is growing in one my large containers! She's a beut[y], what with her pink flowers and all. And she's edible! All parts, too: root, leaf, flower on salads. Can't wait to try her licorice-like root! Supposed to be diuretic, plus she has a few other medicinal properties. You get her seeds from Richters, if you're interested.
I've never mentioned Black Medic before, but she grows prolifically around here. You know you have her growing on your lawn because her small cluster of yellow flowers soon turns to black seeds. She's in the same family as alfalfa, although there have been reservations about eating her, because her seeds and leaves contain L-canavanine.
I've throw black medic leaves in salads. Not much taste, similar to alfalfa. The seeds can be ground and used as flour, according to my new-found book on herbs, and I plan on collecting some seeds once there's been some drier weather. Cooking is supposed to neutralize the l-canavanine in the leaves, so I guess I'll be adding that to my soup cauldron :)
Queen Anne's Lace/Wild Carrot
Yep, just like her name says, her root tastes like carrot. She's a biennial, so you want to get her root in the first year in the fall, or in the springtime. In the first year she's all leaves, but whether in the 1st or 2nd year, you can use her leaves raw, juiced or thrown in soups and stews. I'm not partial to the leaf stem, so I glide my forefinger and thumb along the stem to remove the leaves and just use the leaves.
Flowers are edible, but I'm not much partial to them either and you want to make sure you eat just the flower and not any of the bitter green stem; even cooked, it's not that great-tasting. You can dip the flowers in a tempura batter, fry and eat them that way, OR consider making a jelly out of them by 1st making a tea with the flowers. I've read using fresh flowers but I prefer making infusions instead, so I would dry the flowers first, pack them into a mason jar then add boiling water to the top. Lid and screw cap on, let sit 4-8 hrs, then strain out liquid and now use this liquid as you would in any jelly recipe (you know, add in pectin and a sweetener)! Or you could even try making jello with the tea...Oh, my! I've got to try that :)
Bellefield and Dandyfield, here I come!!
FYI: She looks like Poison Hemlock, which has a smooth, hairless green stem often streaked with red/purple. She smells stinky, too. In contrast, Wild Carrot has a HAIRY stem, smells carroty and since she often grows in bunches, many of them have a black/dark purple "dot" (a small flower) in the center of their white flowers.
Alrighty, I suppose that's enough info on the green allies for now. Don't wanta overload ya with info! Yes, that's right, these beauties are green allies that offer us beautiful gems of friendship, companionship, medicine and even food! No wonder so many folks adore them and pay homage to them in their gardens...
And then there's some of us who have fallen in love and go out "into the wild" to frolic about and discover hidden treasure.
Which we gladly share with others :))
Stay blissful, sunshine :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: