The other day I finished work early and came home to evening twilight. It was still light enough to see and I went clamoring around my neighbor's garden looking for weeds. I've been inviting myself into her garden, you see, and I fully expected to see her coming out to talk to me and see what invaders I'd removed from her lawn and her precious garden! But no, she was off this weekend to the country with her son, a stay-cation well-spent with the family.
I found some Malva growing on her lawn and some large Galinsoga, or Gallant Soliders (also called Quickweed), growing in a shady corner of the garden. I spotted a few large Strawberry leaves, but they didn't call me much to pick them.
Then I moseyed on to the front of her garden, close to the street, where I knew I would find some large Violet leaves hiding below some hedges. Lo and behold, what else did my little eyes spy? Some bright purple flashes of color that on closer inspection..was it? Really? Oh yes, indeed! Prunella!
I've written about Self-Heal before and I just love making an infusion with her. She helps to mop up fat and get the lymphatic system cleaned out, pipes that so few of really consider nowadays. But alas, she is also considered an alterative, so she does help with overall functioning of the body and that means that she is a gentle tonic that nourishes all bodily systems. That also means you can take her every day as a nourishing infusion :)
I ended up crouching down to pick up a good bunch of bright flowers and did indeed find some Violet leaves under the bushes as well as just in front of the bushes. The ones in the sun were light green whereas the ones in the shade were a lovely shade of dark green...It got me thinking suddenly that I need (and want!) to visit Buckthorn woods, where there were several Violet plants that had the largest leaves I've seen yet. They were growing on the edge of the trail, but still quite in the shade under large trees. Prunella also grows there, as well as Plantain. I've been able to find quite a few Plantain plants these year, but as always the leaves are so small! The leaves in the woods, just like with Prunella, are given their full way to reach their potential, and I love the shiny energy that smiles back at me when I pick those leaves!
Oooh, writing about Buckthorn Woods and my plant friends is getting me so excited! I haven't spent much time out in the woods and forests, especially with all this rain! It's just been one day of rain after another, or a day of sun followed by a day of rain. Bah! I need 2-3 days of no rain if I want to collect herbs! They have to be dry, not all soggy and wet!
In any case, I will have to plan a day where I can get to some fields and collect a large bunch of Red Clover. She is a pricey herb in the shops, just like Stinging Nettle. Speaking of which, when I visited Bellefield, they had chopped many of the Nettle plants close to the ground, so I am hoping I will be able to collect a good bunch when they regrow come the fall! Otherwise, I would like to collect the ones in seed now and get them juiced or steam them and throw them into the blender for a delish veggie smoothie! Yep, Stinging Nettle takes like a mean green spinach substitute, very high in iron. You can also make dry her leaves and take an infusion or her daily: 2 cups of Nettle to 4 cups water in a 1-liter mason jar. Put this into infusion into your water bottle, you can dilute if it's too strong. It's like drinking liquid chlorophyll instead of water, and nettle is high in calcium, protein, silicon, magnesium and many of the other trace minerals. A prized herb to be sure to have around with whatever the season!
At the bus depot the other day, I took several pics of wild plants all around. There was:
Liver Cleansing Tea Recipe
I've been making a delish infusion lately of equal amounts Violet, Prunella and White Clover (trifolium repens). I also add in a few TBsp of Dandy root and Burdock root and a good fistful of dried Nettle. This makes a great liver cleansing/tonifying tea :) You can drink it as is or use it as the liquid in smoothie recipes. I've even used the liquid from this infusion to make hot chocolate and to make regular orange pekoe tea! Plus, you can even use the liquid as a fertilizer for your plants! Use about 1/4 the tea and then fill up the rest of the watering can with water :)
Since I'll be visiting Buckthorn Woods soon, I expect I will also be running into Goldenrod, whom I saw blooming in someone's front garden the other day, and Wild Aster. Both have edible leaves and medicinal properties, and I'll tell you about those next time around ---well, after I've visited the woods first ;)
In ending this post, I have decided that instead of sharing ALL the plants that I've planted in my balcony garden (information overload!!), I will discuss 3 of them at a time in a future post.
Pray for sunshine, sunshine, because the late summer season is almost here and shiny plant friends are waiting to be seen and enjoyed. Stay bright! :)
PS. I've posted some pics below!! :]
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: