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).
Got in the last of my seeds sowed! Is it too late to plant strawberries? Aw, shucks! Oh well...
So, here are the last of the herbs I planted:
Pleurisy root. Yep, she's a show stopper. I fondly write "bee love" next to plants that attract pollinators, and she's one of them! Well, she is also called Butterfly Weed :)
Elecampagne. Wow, didn't know she gets up to 6 feet! She's known as a pulmonary, which means she helps you out with lung issues, like asthma, cold, flu, etc. Because she has a demulcent nature, that slipperiness acts as a lubricant for sore throats and dry lungs.
Boneset and her cousin (Sweet) Joe-Pye-Weed, also called Queen-of-the-Meadow and Gravelroot. I talked about these in a previous post, where Boneset is used to break a flu and both are used as diuretics. Joe-P, well, I shoulda mentioned she's a sweet gal. Her leaves give off a vanilla smell when you crush them...Bee love, for sure! She's also supposed to be a helpful herb for cancer.
Pennyroyal. Being in the mint family, she's great for gas (carminative) and to help with digestive issues (stomachic). She's also antispasmodic, so good to help with menstrual cramps (emmenagogue).
I spoke of Valerian last time, although I finally got to planting her.
Anise Hyssop. I just love this licorice-scented plant! Beautiful flowers on a long stalk, such a great addition to salads to help with digestion. I usually add mint and some wild greens --- plus fruit, maybe some seeds and a touch of lemon juice--- to my salads!
That was yesterday! Today I bought a mint plant because I had 3 types of mint and they died! I never thought a mint plant would actually not come back, but winter was pretty harsh this time around. I don't even know what variety she is, but I'll be happy to add her fresh leaves to impart a refreshing taste come mid-summer in my salads; or maybe in a cold tea, too :)
My neighbor noticed that my mallow plant, malva sylvestris, is flourishing quite well. I have several plants growing in a large pot and I was going to give her one (gave her one last year and although supposedly a perennial, she acts as an annual, at least where I am), when I spotted some malva at the farmer's market. She was most delighted to see that an elf had left a gift on her doorstep (a really early Christmas gift, ha ha!). But elves are known for being tricksters, mischievous...
And speaking of mischief, I decided to plant my strawberries seeds after all. They are Alpine Strawberries, sometimes hard to germinate, or so I read, so I used ALL the seeds in the package! They can grow inside, so I figure that come October, I'll be having berries while everyone is hankering after pumpkins ;) Never been so gun-ho on pumpkins, anyway, once a year pumpkin muffins and cookies is just fine for me...But pumpkin seeds? Mmm, quite tasty indeed!
One last tidbit: wrote to Richters about the backordered seeds. Agrimony came in, but it could take weeks before Horehound and Motherwort come in. While I canceled my order for those last two, that means I may have to find a home for one more plant! UH-OH. Think I have a repurposed bowl and a small pot left. Wouldn't know where to put her anyway! But if she comes, yea! I'll find room for her, somehow I always do!
PS. Smiled when I saw Lamb's Quarter growing in the cracks in my neighbor's driveway. She was out pulling these "weeds," and despite me telling her about its spinach-like taste and having her try it, she was not sold! Just like she was not sold on all her Forget-me-nots growing in her garden, which I helped to pull out yesterday. Funny, because they covered all the empty spaces in her garden, and now, having pulled them all, my neighbor has to go shop for plants to fill up said empty spaces! The flowers of Forget-me-nots are edible, BTW. I tried them yesterday, and they don't have much taste, but they would sure pretty up a cake, cookie or even a salad with their delicate appearance! I'm adding the lamb's quarter as well as some dandelion leaves I collected yesterday from my neighbor's garden (growing FREEly, thank-you), to my soup, along with some radish leaves, daikon radish, beets, carrots and fresh basil which I purchased from the health food store today. Mmm-mmm, wild dinner awaits in celebrated bounty...or something of the sort ;)
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!
Curiosity Got The Cat: