Bellefield Finds: Wild Grape, Sow Thistle, Plantain & 22 Other Herbs - Chickweed, Comfrey & St. John's Wort Salve Recipe- Double Tincture Motherwort Recipe
Finally sat down! Whew, have been so busy working (not so interesting) and running around (interesting).
Well, to be fare, I did get in some foraging at work. I collected some leaves from Hosta, Dandelion, Creeping Bellflower and Loosestrife to throw into a pesto. Mm-mmm. I've been eating a different wild green pesto almost every day. So good with Daikon Radish, Zuke and Cuke julienned sticks :)
I also collected 3 trays worth in the dehydrator of Prunella vulgaris, aka Self-Heal. I went out one day, collected a good bunch, then went out the next day and got some more. She's a small one, ya know, not much more than the tip of your pinky finger, but she makes such a sweet tasting tea, oh yes indeedy!
That foraging at work I just mentioned happened just this week, because before that it was rain, rain and more rain. Now we're in a period of no rain, hot and muggy for the past few days.
Of course, I took the opportunity to finally go foraging!
Yesterday: Foraging started right downstairs near the shed, where I collected some Violet and Plantain leaves for future infusions. I also found some Common Sow Thistles hiding behind the shed and collected some leaves to add to the pesto--- yep, in cold weather, it all goes into the soup pot and in warm weather it all goes into a mean green wild pesto ;)
I found a Malva Rosea growing beside the Rhubarb and collected some leaves to add to the pesto; also took some Rhubarb to make a nice protein shake.
It was getting late already, so I went and did some pruning in the balcony garden. Lots of Chickweed about! She's growing prolifically in the pots beside the side of the house, even Mint is confined to her space in each pot, ha ha! I did collect some Mint for future infusions of course :) Got a few Mustard leaves and Borage leaves to also add to tomorrow's pesto, as well as 3 varieties of Basil, some Anise Hyssop and even a touch of Dill.
I collected some Sage and Marjoram for later, as well as....drum roll....Zinnia! In fact, there is now one beauty of a pink flower strutting her stuff. Yes, Zinnia is edible, and I've collected her leaves to use in a future...pesto, you got it ;)
Comfrey has come in and I gathered some leaves and made an oil that I'll turn into a salve later on. As I was low on oil, I decided to use some St. John's Wort oil I had made last year, what you might almost call doing a double oil infusion, meaning that this oil is now double in strength. I also added in Chickweed for her anti-itch property.
Comfrey, Chickweed and St. John's Wort Oil/Salve
Tear or chop both the Comfrey and Chickweed into small pieces. Place in a mason jar (size is determined by how much herb you have). Add the St. John's Wort oil to cover the herbs. Give it a stir with the handle of a wooden spoon or a bamboo skewer to ensure all of the herb bits are coated in the oil. Cap with more oil until the very top. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks before straining out the oil (use a sieve lined with a coffee filter). Store oil into dark amber bottles.
To turn oil into a salve: place 1 cup of the oil with 1 ounce beeswax OR carnuba wax in a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot on low heat. Once melted, stir with a wooden spoon, adding it optionally 1-2 tsp of Vitamin E oil (this is a natural preservative, prick open capsules with a knife). Pour into amber glass jars and let cool overnight before putting on lids and labelling.
Uses: minor wounds and burns, insect bites and stings, sprains, strains, sore muscles, bruises, and where nervous support is needed. Also suitable for vaginal itching due to vaginal and urinary infections.
Notes: To test if texture of salve is to your liking: place 1 tsp of the oil/melted beeswax onto a spoon. Place spoon in freezer and wait 5 minutes. Assess if you'd prefer a softer salve (add a bit more oil to the pot) or a harder salve (add a bit more wax to the pot).
Shelf life of salve when stored in a cool place -> 1-3 years.
I decided to take a very mini trip around the mall and see what I could find. Eh, the Roses are mostly gone and the few that are there are all dried up. In fact, because of the weird weather and the late start of the season, I've noticed that many of the plants have remained small and then gone into flower OR are late in producing flowers. Borage, for example, usually is tall and gangly, but this year she's tiny, almost as if I could've planted her in a flower box and she'd have been just fine.
Behind the mall, same deal. Didn't spot that much Dandelion, some Sow Thistles were hanging out, and a small patch of infant Lamb's Quarter caught my eye. I harvested but a tiny bit, as there wasn't even a fistful to be had--- not like the Lamb's Q I harvested later that evening, when I went for a jog and found some seriously good-sized ones growing beside a fence on someone's lawn. I was able to collect a good fistful, in fact, one would probably call it a good bunch! I added the leaves to a pesto, of course :)
Back to the mall: Noticed the Garlic Mustard was quite dried up and spotted a few escaped baby Hosta plants, from which I pilfered a few leaves (yep, for pesto).
Going a little further along, I spotted several Mugworts and said hello.
When I saw some Milkweed, I got off my bike and walked slowly along an adjoining alleyway. I got some Milkweed flowers and immature buds (pesto!), as well as some Dock leaves (soup!). I noticed some nice Burdock plants but didn't feel called to take the stems and steam 'em like celery.
Nope, didn't seem to be too much happening this time around.
Today: I went to Bellefield. My intention was really to collect some Red Clover because I use her during my periods and wanted to have a good bunch to last me 'til next year.
I walked up the path and spotted Nettle, ALL with seeds. Oh no! What happened to my attempts of chopping off the seeds last month? Had they grown so much? Seemed so, but I decided to harvest them for....pesto :)
When I climbed over the bridge and turned right to the field, wow. Unlike last year when I was still collecting Red Clover flowers in early autumn, many of the plants were plumb burned, black, gone, dead. It took me about an hour to collect a bunch, and many were small and pink in color instead of the usual pinky-purple hue. I felt like a bee going to plant to plant, and whenever I spotted a bug on a blossom (including a bee), I knew that was a good one to take.
As I was picking up the blossoms, I was also noticing the many variety of plants in this 1 field (see pics below :) ):
I didn't notice any Jewel weed or Blue Vervain as I had last year, might see them later on.
Interestingly, I don't think they will be making condos on this field. I had noticed on my bike sprees to work that a part of the fence had been ripped out. Now the fence was repaired and the grass outside it scorched, but no longer just bare earth. Good news for the plants and for me! :))
After 2 hours out in the field, I zipped along to the mall to get a few things, then back home to find lots of insect friends had accompanied me home. I left the bags out on the balcony for a few hours so some of them could escape/leave, then made a St John's wort oil and a double tincture of Motherwort.
Kept the larger Motherwort leaves to dry and use in future soups and also spread the Plantain to dry for future infusions (try 3 trays over full!). I spread the Red Clover blossoms onto paper on my table and Oh my! so many bugs! That's OK, because they all disappeared when the cooler evening weather came...announcing a weekend of rain and more rain.
That's the thing with foraging, gotta get the timing with Mother Nature spot on!
I'm happy to say that Milkweed and Nettle got all washed up and are ready to be cooked and blended into a pesto with some Lamb's Quarter, Chickweed, and Basil of course.
Hope you're enjoying the bounties of summer, sunshine, cuz the weather is warm and toasty fine :)
PS. NOOOOOOOOO! The bugs were still there the next morning, tons of slugs, all moving slowly across the kitchen wall, the kitchen floor, the kitchen chairs, onto my bike helmet and bag I had left on the chair...what a mess! There's a now 3rd element to consider when foraging (after the 1- collecting/harvesting and 2- spreading to dry/chopping for wildcrafting recipes): the bugs!! It was just Red Clover, bugs know better than to be hanging around on Nettle, Yarrow or Motherwort ;)
PSS. Here's that double recipe for Motherwort. All you do is chop the top 1/3 of the flowering tops with scissors, place in a mason jar and add your already made Motherwort tincture from a previous year. Make sure all herb is coated, put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks, before straining and storing in amber bottles. Note that using a piece of plastic wrap over the lid will prevent the lid from corroding/rusting. Your formula is now doubly strong, so use wisely the next time around for period cramps, palpitations and anxiety (try halving the usual dose of 30 drops).
Bellefield Finds: Yarrow Bug Repellent, St. John's Wort Muscular Tension Release Oil & Red Clover Moon Tea
Summer has finally arrived with the usual hot and humid weather of 30C/86F. The rain is no longer, and oh yes indeedy, I've been out and about foraging for the past several days; hence, time to update you folks!
To start: I've been on a couple of mini-foraging adventures around the local mall, getting a few looks from people. But no bother, I've been too busy collecting the usual plants of Mugwort, Vetch and some Milkweed buds and flowers. I spotted some Motherwort plants growing amongst a Rose bush and plan on going back to get at least one to grow in a pot.
There were 2 new plants that I wasn't sure of what they were, and while I took some pics at the same, I soon discovered their names when I hit "the mother load" the other day. I'll get back to that in a minute, because I also visited a field which gets mowed every now and then.
On my way to getting my bike fixed (which I discovered today after getting a tune up and replacing a broken derailer at a cost of $70 that I really need to fork out another $35 for a bum wheel), I noticed that the field was half-mowed.
Usually they mow the whole field but not this time around.
I went in and looked about: sure enough, good ol' Yarrow was there. This has actually been the place so far that I've been collecting yarrow. While some people grow her as an ornamental, she has many medicinal properties, one of them being as a bug repellent. Easy to make, too:
Yarrow Bug Repellent
Chop fresh yarrow leaves and flowers to fill a mason jar, any size, to the top (that'd be slightly packed). Pour in 80 or 100 proof vodka to the top and stir with a non-metallic object (like a bamboo skewer) to make sure all bits are immersed in the liquid. Add more vodka as needed, to the top. Put on the lid and screw cap and leave to sit for 6 weeks. Strain out the yarrow (I like using a nut milk bag) and pour into a sterilized spray bottle. Spray yourself before heading out and more as needed. You can also add in essential oils (say 20-30 drops for a small-medium bottle) to heighten the effect, such as catnip, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, fir and lemon. They are all good (catnip is expensive but works exceptionally well). You can use just one or a combo or look for recipes online. Just remember: essential oils are strong medicine!
Besides Yarrow, there were many Milkweed plants. It was strange, but I didn't feel that I wanted to collect any, although I did get a handful of buds and flowers. I also collected some Mugwort, but left the baby thistles alone as I didn't have my clippers or heavy-duty gloves with me.
Half-way through the field, I saw this post with some numbers written in orange. I got the feeling that they might be building a house there...and sure enough, on my way to work today, the foundation for a house has been started and there are big mounds of earth where before there were plants.
I must say, I was a bit put out.
It seems like there are no fields left! And where I live, it is called "suburbia!" So much for suburbia, unless it means staring at people's boring grass lawns!
So yesterday I decided to make a trip to a large field which was right beside a hardware store. Since there are different fields, I should really start giving them names. So let's call this one Fairview Field. It was far away, more than an hour's trip by bike and a good 45 minute bus ride.
It was hot and humid and I wasn't feel my usual 100% as I started doing a juice fast a few days ago and was experiencing some detox symptoms, mainly fatigue and lethargy, although on the 2nd day I had a migraine. Good liver detox symptoms! No issues today :)
My bike was not running well, even though, as I explained previously, I had taken it to get a tune up and fixed a broken derailer.
I was less than 2 minutes on my bike when I decided to explore an area which had grabbed my curiosity on the few times I had passed that way. It was really close-by, too.
I parked my bike on a post, looking at the trees and what seemed like a mini-park next to some condos.
Well, I thought, the worst that could happen would be that I'd get asked to leave and have to give back the plants.
Good thinking, kitty-Cat. That's a neat psychological trick of doing the "worst case scenario."
Worked for me to get up my nerve and get in there!
I noticed several wild plants growing in someone's yard and then passed over a wooden bridge with a small creek underneath. I looked to the right and...
The mother load.
There was a huge field filled with flowers!
I started looking, and yes, yes, YES! There was tons of Red Clover!
I absolutely love Red Clover. One of the reasons why I had thought to make the long trip to visit the field close to the hardware store ---oh right, Fairview Field--- was because I knew Red Clover was growing there. I needed more Red Clover because my "stash" from last year's pickings was running really low, and she is a phenomenal emmenagogue. In fact, one of the reasons why I was experiencing detox symptoms at the start of my juice fast was because I had gotten my period. Yep, in TCM, the liver rules over menstruation, and my liver could use a little bit of help (but more to build blood in my case---story for another time).
FYI: if you want an orange-pekoe-tasting tea, Red Clover is it. I love her sweetened with stevia and some unsweetened almond milk. It makes "that time of the month" so much more enjoyable :)
Red Clover Moon Time Tea
Simply place 1 oz in a 1-liter mason jar, pour boiling water to the top, then lid and screw cap on, and let sit for 4-8 hours. Strain, sweeten and add milk, if desired. I like mine really strong, so I'd say I use 2-3 oz!!
Back to the field (let's call this Belle Field, or even better, Bellefield): Not only was there Red Clover, but BIG plantain leaves bigger than my hand. There was White Clover, Mugwort, Milkweed, Dock and the 2 mystery plants which I've identified now as Wild Parsnip and Cow Parsnip.
There were 2 different kinds of Sow Thistles (sonchus asper & sonchus arvensis), Wild Lettuce and St John's wort. I made an easy to make oil with St John's Wort when I got home. Why? Great to relieve muscular tension, restores nerve damage and it makes a low SPF sunscreen. To do:
St John's Wort Muscular Tension Release and SPF Oil
Chop the top 1/3 of the plant, as the medicine is mostly in the flowers. Chop the plant and slightly fill a mason jar. I take the leaves off the stems and chop the flowers off. Fill with olive oil, stirring with a non-metallic object (such as a bamboo skewer) to ensure all is coated. Add more oil as needed to the top. Put on lid and screw cap and leave to set for 6 weeks. I place the jar in 2 brown paper bags as it often leaks out. Strain out plant bits (using a nut milk bag makes it easy) and pour into a dark, sterilized amber jar (a funnel makes this task easier). Use as a massage oil, whenever you have joint pain, or rub into skin/face as a low SPF (about SPF3) sunscreen.
There was also trifolium campestre, Yellow Hop Clover, and Trick Trefoil, although I can't say at this time what variety it is (I have to look at her leaves again, but she sure is pretty). :)
I was so happy, I was beaming, I tell you. I was chattering away to the plants, telling them how happy I was to have discovered them, how appreciative I was, how I'd love to have such a beautiful wild Zen garden like this. There were tons of bugs hiding among the flowers, crickets I think, jumping all over the place.
One of them was on my hand at one point and was nipping at my skin.
"Hey," I said, "don't bite me!"
He jumped off, because I was also telling the plants that it wasn't my intention to hurt them and that any plant that was interested in offering their medicine should show themselves to me.
It's good to put out that intention to the plants, I find, to show your respect, but also because there are so many plants, and the ones that want to be picked and share their energy with you will grab your attention and let you know!
While I also collected much Yarrow, you shoulda seen those Sow Thistles, the ones with thistles on the underside of their leaves. Yep, just like Stinging Nettle, you can boil her and make a green pesto or do what I'm plannin' on doin': G-R-E-E-N juice!! Gonna have to make sure I add in enough apple to cover that bitter taste ;) I made one already with baby Sow Thistles of the oleraceus variety, and let me tell ya, not for the faint of heart ;)
After I collected the plants for about an hour and a half must've been, I made my way to explore the rest of the area.
It was really quite hot. Sweat was dripping down my tank top.
I had to pee as well, so I knew I wasn't going to be staying that much longer.
It wasn't a big "park." Indeed, while I had gone to the right-hand side and discovered this field of plants which then led to the street, on the left-hand side there was a little trail with a few park benches and then another small bridge at the end to get you over the creek.
There were more Sow Thistles, Plantain and TONS of Yarrow (thank goodness I've now got a new source for Yarrow!), but a few new ones, too: Thistle (not sure of the variety just yet) and Sumac.
All I can say is, I am so happy to have discovered this new field, Bellefield!
It's right close to home and it's a little haven away from the yawning green of my neighbors' lawns.
In fact, what with park benches installed there, I could even go for a picnic lunch or have a go at some writing! Why not! It's so nice to be among plant friends...
I hope you find some time to get in some Mother Nature time, if not some me time, too.
I took some pics this time around, so enjoy :) Hover your mouse over each pic to get the name.
'Til next time, sunshine :))
Curiosity Got The Cat: