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 :)
Sometimes you feel like foraging, sometimes you don't. I sorta, kinda did, but not really. I did collect some Mugwort (a whole shopping bag full!) and some Prunella/Self-Heal, but that was about it. I toyed with the idea of going to Dandyfield or the woods, but I'm thinking about going tomorrow or next day instead. The weather looks promising, with an iffy chance of a passing shower, so all looks good.
Instead, I tended to my container/balcony garden. The success, I think, of my so-called "green thumb" is that I fuss over my plants. Not every day perhaps, but as often as I can. What that fussing entails is removing dead or yellowing leaves when they appear, dead-heading flowers, ensuring adequate water and food, and monitoring plants for signs of disease (and treating accordingly).
Actually, I just got around to staking my Borage plants, and they've started to go to seed! So much for that green thumb :P But they are easy plants and I leaned them up against the wall meantime, although this gardening task was long overdue!
I pruned Wormwood, I just love her smell :) Gave water to the ones that needed. I planted some more Marigold seeds because I've been taking the flowers and leaves to make myself an oil. It's a very easy recipe to do, and I use this a facial oil whenever I get acne or for reddened skin, as well as for contact dermatitis (anywhere) or help heal cuts, burns and sores. Marigolds have both antiseptic and vulnerary properties, so try making this easy oil for yourself:
Marigold Healing Face & Body Oil
Chop Marigold's large leaves with scissors into small bits. Small leaves are fine as is. Take out petals from flowers. Put leaves and flowers slightly packed into a mason jar to the top. Pour olive oil to the top of the jar. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain out oil (I like using a cloth nut milk bag) and store in a dark bottle in a cool, dry place.
Variation: You can use ONLY flowers (no leaves) to make this oil as well. as the medicinal properties are most concentrated in the flowers.
The second recipe I made today was an Italian herby oil. I pruned my Marjoram, Savory and Rosemary plants, and got the idea to infuse them in oil.
Herby Italian Oil
Place fresh Italian herbs of choice into a mason jar, slightly packed. Any combo is fine: oregano, marjoram, savory, thyme, rosemary, basil, etc. Pour olive oil over the herbs to the top of the jar. Place on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain out liquid and store in a sanitized bottle (such as an old olive oil bottle or a bottle specifically for use for oil). Use as you would olive oil: pour over salads, use to give a dash of Italian flavoring to your cooking, or store some in the fridge in a small glass dish and use like you would butter.
Variation: Instead of the olive oil, use apple cider vinegar with "mother" in the recipe. This will make for an Italian Herby Vinegar which you can then use as a dressing over salads.
I hope you like these recipes---I've started re-categorizing my blog diary entries to make it easier to search them for a particular plant/herb. Having a website or blog, if you know from your own experience, takes some time to develop and build. It's a work in progress, and I'm happy to say it's slowly coming along. Of course, there's plenty a-work to be done! :)
On that note, going to make it a short one today. Nope, won't be going out foraging as it stormed last night. Grrr. OK, so we needed some rain. Mother Nature knows best :)
Take care of yourself, sunshine...ya hear :)
So happy I was able to return to Bellefield!
I spotted 2 new flowers and when I went to explore them, oopsy! almost fell into the stream as they were growing on a little hill. One of them had but one orange flower left and the other I think mighta been Joe-pye weed, but I have to check again.
Got some more Turtlehead. So funny that you go back to the same place and everything seems to have changed. I never noticed that there was more than 1 Turtlehead plant, but there were a few!
The Blue Vervain has really come out now, and I collected many flowering tops. Meanwhile Red Clover is on her way out. I saw a few plants that were completely spent with others having rusty flowers. I collected a bit of flowers and leaves, but not much, a little more than a tray in the Excalibur.
Got some more Yarrow, including the pink ones. So many of them! And lots still with buds, so there will definitely be more Yarrow in my future.
Wild Carrot flowers. Tons of those, too, and I'm hoping to make that jello recipe I was tellin' y'all in last week's post. Had to check every flower's underside before picking, because there were spiders, ants and red bugs a-plenty.
Got some Muggie, Mugwort. She's in flower now and she grows prolifically! The ones I collected were taller than me, probably 7 feet :0 . Yep, she's a tall one, all right.
Got some Motherwort and made me a tincture with vodka. Not fond of doing tinctures, in fact it was my first. But I decided to give it the go-ahead after reading Susan's Weeds notes on tonifying the uterus to get rid of PMS and dysmenorrhea. Very simple to do:
Cut off the top 1/3 part of motherwort when in flower (the flowering tops). You'll need a few plants to fill if you want to fill a 1-liter ja
Wear gloves, as motherwort has prickly bits. Still wearing gloves, chop motherwort into small bits. Add to mason jar, slightly packed. Pour 80-100 proof vodka to top. Put on lid and screw cap and let sit in the cupboard for 6 weeks. Strain and store liquid in dark amber bottles, preferably with a dropper attached to the lid.
Take 10-30 drops daily for 4 months. This will tonify the uterus so that you won't have that big bloated belly, heavy feeling in your body, or get PMS.
I collected a few too may plants, so ended up making one with 1/2 water and 1/2 alcohol (we'll see how that goes) and another with apple cider vinegar.
Yes, you can easily make herbal, nourishing vinegars with all kinds of leaves. The minerals in the leaves go into the vinegar and the next time you have salad, it's all that mineral goodness happenin' your way!
Easy Herbal Vinegar
Cut leaves with scissors. Leaves you can use (most of these are probably growing on your lawn) include
You can use any combination you wish. Add slightly packed to a mason jar to the top (mason jars come in various sizes, so use the one that fits how much leaves you've collected). Pour apple cider vinegar with "mother" to the top, put on lid and screw cap and let sit 6 weeks. Strain using a nut milk bag or a fieve sieve. Use as you would for dressing over salads. Pair with oil, if desired.
I also collected...wait for it...Bull Thistles. I've read that they are edible and since I have heavy duty gloves, I said, what the hey, and went for it. Still gotta be careful because even with the gloves, I got picked :( I chewed up a plantain leaf and then spit the leaf over my little boo-boo. Yes, plantain is called the boo-boo plant and yes that gross thing that I did is called making a spit poultice. You'll be wanting to do one too if you ever get injured or want some relief from insect and mosquito bites.
I started to take the spines off the thistle, but then I said, why bother when I'm going to juice her? Oh yes, indeedy, folks and once I chopped her into bits that fit into a plastic bag I had brought with me, I then popped those bits (wearing gloves, of course) and into the juicer she went. And presto! green juice. I added some carrots and apple to sweeten. Woulda been good with a touch of dill, maybe even some celery, as it was a hot, humid day today! I was sweating while foraging for sure, because I've gotten into the habit to wear pants and running shoes and even a long sleeve hoodie if need be, to protect my sensitive skin from walking in fields with prickly plants :)
Probably will add this recipe to an ebook I've started writing. I have several on the go, just to make 'em pretty, add some pics and get them on the site already! I was thinkin' about making one of them "How to Eat Bitter Greens Successfully" or some such title; an ebook on recipes of how to eat bitter greens like dandelion, thistles and burdock. Bitter is good for the liver and for the heart in TCM. Greens make everything nice and shiny on the inside---cleanse, purify and be well, oh (green) liver of mine!
Well, that's all the silliness for now. Catcha next time, sunshine!
Curiosity Got The Cat: