UH-OH. Passed by the flower market today. Wasn't going to, wasn't really in the mood, but boy, how fast did that change!
Me and a flower market shoppe?!
Let's just say I need to make room for a few new friends!
I was planning on getting some mint plants for the side of the house anyway, and I picked up 3 different types: Peppermint (there's really no such thing as Peppermint it's really a hybrid plant), Menthol Mint (it's a very strong, quite medicinal kind of Mint, think digestive issues like gas, bloating and spasms) and Chocolate Mint. They also had Ginger Mint and Pineapple Mint. Ginger Mint had yellow leaves and wasn't looking too good, and for the Pineapple one, I've purchased her in the past and was none too keen on the fuzziness of the leaves. I know there are TONS of varieties of Mints (Richters has a lot!) and once I get started, I'd love to have them all! Well, to be honest, I'd love to grow so many stinkin' weeds and plants, but I only have so much space ;)
I also picked up a Pineapple Sage :) I'm smiling because Sage was the first plant who decided to take the leap and speak to me. That was also the first year that she decided to go to flower in the middle of February, when it was deep winter weather outside!! Will have to find a little nook for her, as I hadn't anticipated her arrival (ahem), nor the arrival of 2 other plants: Yarrow! They are both Yarrow and there are actually many different types of Yarrow, achillea millefollium being the wild, white type that is found on many a-lawn and seen as a pesky weed, but that is actually the most potent medicinally. Then there are others that are grown as ornamentals (however they still have the same medicinal properties as the white one, just less so), will different colored flowers. The ones I got are Moonshine (yellow flowers) and Name Unknown (flowers are red but lost the tag with the name). I have seen wild Yarrow with Pink flowers growing in Bellefield and I have to say that ALL Yarrows attract pollinators and beneficial insects, as well as curb away nasty ones like mosquitoes! Definitely one to add as a companion friend in the garden :)
I've mentioned some of the benefits in Yarrow in posts from last year, but hey, always nice to review info! Some benefits:
In my previous diary post I was talking about seed saving. I didn't mention all the plants of the seeds that I've been saving for years, but it made me remember one that I have been saving: Malva sylvestris. I actually bought the original plant 7 years ago and have been saving seeds ever since. Malva is latin for Mallow and she is in the Mallow family. Although she is a perennial, she'd have to be properly mulched to come back year after year as mine (and my neighbor's) never has.
I've gotten to pulling up the whole plant in the fall, and ALL parts of Mallow are edible/medicinal. I use:
I got 2 other types of Mallows, a "Zebrina" that is striped purple, pink and white and a "Moschata Rosea" that has all pink flowers with leaves more pinnate than is typical of the usual Mallow family (see pics below). I've already planted Mallow seeds into the pots (not sure what variety she is know that I come to think of it, no not Zebrina as the flowers are all purple), so will make room for the Rosea one and give the Zebrina one to my neighbor, who will be more than happy for the pleasant addition to her garden (too bad she's not into eating the leaves and seeds, oh well, different strokes for different folksies ;) I'm a little on the adventurous, wild type, as y'all can prob tell ;)
Will wait to plant them as YES, there were actually a few flurries out and about the other day. Whoo brother is right! My cuke plants are spent and 2 of the Borage plants are hanging on...She's a hardy one, I tell ya! Speaking of which, I find that she fairs much better as an early summer bloomer, because when I've planted some later, she tends to get easily infected by aphids. Of course, I wasn't too crazy about the soil I got last year, even if was organic. I can tell the compost I added this year means the soil is strong, and I might (might not) even add some worm castings. Hoping to pick up some seaweed fertilizer at the Environment Day this weekend that my city holds each year. Um, yeah, there will also be flowers and herbs being sold there, but just how many more can I get?
Now don't get me started, because I did see a lovely lavendula angustifolia plant while I was at the flower market today. Now how come I put her back down? Ah yes, too many plants, only two hands ;) Anyway, the flower market will be there until the end of June, so plenty of time to bring home more friends! Plus, the plants get put on liquidation by June in order that they all get a better home than the small pot they're in. Yes, they do tend to be root bound by then, and you can tell they are so happy when they get out into the garden (or into a bigger pot, in my case).
Plants don't ask much, you know. Food, water, and some shelter like from the wind if they can't handle it, and Love. If you don't talk to them, they are happy to be as they are regardless, but if you do, they appreciate your company and that you decided to go beyond the rationalistic hum-drums of the constant chattering mind.
Just like humans. They don't need much and Love is a key ingredient :)
Looking more closely at Malva Rosea, the leaves are a bit different, but the similarity to other Mallows is still there...oopsy, that reminds me I am behind in my Botany class and better hop to it!
Last note before I go: found a bag of dirty Dandelion greens and roots on my doorstep when I came back from the mall, nice little gift from neighbor indeedy. But, oooh, Mr. Wilson is going to be having a fit come morning when he discovers it's going to be Dandy juice all week long!! Ha ha! Speaking of which, Dr. Axe was interviewed about his book by Paleo Hacks and you can watch that HERE.
Also note that he talks about:
Final note: if you're not into bone broth because of veg-head reasons, no worries, tons of other ways to boost longevity and qi! Chlorella and Spirulina are 2 of them, also used as a source of protein and good to help with liver qi...
OK, enough Chinese medicine talk! See ya next time, sunshine, when hopefully seeds from Richters will be in and I'll be having a high time planting in the rest of the balcony garden :)
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 :))
Orange Hawkweed, Daisy Fleabane & The Triplet Look-Alikes: Black Medic, Lesser Trefoil & Hop Clover + Mugwort Enema Recipe
Wild lunch today from my balcony garden: lemony sorrel leaves, borage leaves, mallow leaves, mustard leaves, fresh dill and some rose petals I had gathered from a previous day. The only thing I didn't add to my salad was stinging nettle! I'll save her for a pesto or soup :) I wanted to get some chickweed too, but alas, work intervened. My boss actually tried a bit of each leaf and professed to really enjoy borage. He didn't mind the hairs on the leaves at all, but enjoyed its cool and sweet taste. Well, she is quite the looker, ya know! ;)
Went on a mini foraging trip the other day --- the day I collected rose petals and mugwort! Tons of mugwort about, supposedly an invasive weed---good, all the better! Yes, besides adding her to soup (rolling eyes), of course! I also use her as an enema. Yes, she is in the same family as wormwood, and wormwood is usually prescribed when there are parasites and candida action happening. To do:
Mugwort Enema Recipe
1 oz dried mugwort in a mason jar. Add boiling water to the top and put on lid/screw lid. Let sit 4 hours to overnight. Strain out mugwort using a nut milk bag OR fine mesh sieve. Gently warm the mugwort tea to finger hot and use in an enema bag. If you like, you can add in 1 liter of additional water and make it a 2-liter enema. Lying on your right side, hold for 15 minutes; then void.
I also got a bit of milkweed buds and just a few flowers. They were all still pretty much in baby stage, and I still have a hankering to pass by a certain field where many are wont to grow.
Mini foraging day yesterday at work. Disappointed in a way, because the grass in areas seemed long, but I think it was cut since I came last, because I had wanted to bring home what I thought was a sow thistle and study it more. Wild lettuce, sow thistle...there are a few plants that I'm still confused about.
But good news: I identified one of the mystery plants that I had brought home from work. Not so hard to find, really, as she had orange flowers and there aren't all that many that do! Her name is Orange Hawkweed or Fox-and-Cubs or Devil's Paintbrush. Pretty plant grown as an ornamental but she also has medicinal uses to help with lung issues :)
There was also another plant that I had taken home from work. I didn't recognize her, her leaves didn't tell me anything, but it was when I saw her flowers that I knew: Fleabane! Looks like a daisy, so dainty and pretty, too :) There are many varieties apparently, but I've only seen the common one and the purple one. She's known in Britain as Robin's-Plantain, which might tell ya that her leaves are edible. I'll look out for this one as well, Daisy Fleabane, whose leaves clasp the stem. My, my, so much fun I am having foraging and learning about plants!
The plants I collected yesterday at work were the same as always: violet leaves, dandelion, wood sorrel, plantain, strawberry leaves and clover leaves. There was lots of purple Prunella or Self-heal that had come out and I collected enough to make a quart-size infusion (or 1 oz). Prunella is excellent to move the lymph and help support weight loss, as I mentioned in a previous post :)
There were also many plants of Black Medic or medicago lupulina. It took me quite a long time a few years ago to identify Black Medic, but I now know her name! I took some bunches of leaves and will add them to my soup. You can eat her leaves and even her black seeds. She looks a lot like Lesser Hop Trefoil and Yellow Hop Clover, but there are subtle differences in the flowers (Black Medic's flowers grow up while Hop Clover droops down), plus the obvious tell-tale sign that Black Medic is so called because her seeds are black while Hop Clover's are brown. Read about more about the differences between Hop Clover & Black Medic here and the botanical differences between Hop Clover and Lesser Trefoil here. Will have to double check those other little yellow flowers I saw and see if they are trefoil or hop clover :0
Finished work early---yippeeeeee! Which meant I got to go and have another mini foraging adventure! I collected a whole brown lunch bag, packed, of rose petals. Some were a deep wine pink and some were light pink. Some of the stems of the roses had no flowers and there branches that were drooping, so when I see the neighbor I'll mention that it would be a good idea to give his rose bushes a much needed pruning! He doesn't much care for the rose petals but he loves the rose hips!!
Then I popped off to the field which was recently mowed to see what was growing. Dandelion, sure enough, and a few baby burdock plants, but the majority of new baby plants that were coming up was milkweed! Some had even put forth their "grape bunches," soon to flower (well, perhaps in a week or two). When I mean baby, these guys didn't even come up my knee! Because of that, I didn't take any milkweed, not even one. You might want to read about the debate and all the toxicity warnings about milkweed here. Personally, I've never changed the water; they don't give me stomaches and yep, they pretty much taste like broccoli or spinach. Can't wait to collect some pods and stuff 'em like pasta conchiglie!
I did, however, collect lots of yarrow, a few in flower (white flowers, yes there are other colors out there) and got stopped to ask what I was doing. I showed the lady a few plants and she seemed generally interested in "all things natural," as she put it, because she had grown up in the country. She lived in a condo apartment and had just a tiny balcony, but I told her to check out permaculture online if she was really interested. I also mentioned that there's a restaurant that serves wild food farther up north, but I didn't remember the name or website.
Ah well, I've been stopped a few times while out collecting and have found that while people are curious as to what I am doing, I have yet to come across a person who has a true desire to know more. But, they'll be many more excursions to come, so I'm sure there might be some other opportunities! Although it made me think (briefly passed on the screen of my mine) that perhaps I could teach others about urban foraging and wild edibles...To be seen as my passion at the moment is writing :))
Getting back home, I donned a flower-power dress and met up with my neighbor who showed me a few things growing in her garden. The area where she had her rock garden, now free of forget-me-nots, had filled with other plants that were growing there, including lavender, chrysanthemum and creeping thyme. I gave her some Lady's Mantle as I had no room for a full-sun-loving plant and she gave me some thyme, basil and chives she had growing in pots. Good news for me as I will be adding them to my soup!
Indeed, after wishing my neighbor good night, I proceeded to give my chickweed plants a much needed haircut. I also noticed that mint was growing rather sloppily and had tiny holes in her. Hm, what did I discover upon further inspection but a snail! She was really shy and kept poking her head back into herself, but when she saw that I had no inclination to squish her, she brightened up and moved a bit on my finger. Since mint also needed some trimming, I moved her to a mustard plant. Ha ha! A spicy meal this time around for her ;)
I had collected so much mugwort from the last time that almost all my dehydrator trays were in use. I settled for using just the solid Teflex sheets to spread the yarrow and rose petals to dry on my table, but muggie is going to be have to be dried in the dehydrator because there just ain't enough room!
Won't be any foraging tomorrow, though, as thunderstorms were about while I was organizing my greens: there's gonna be a nettle pesto; borage, chickweed, sorrel and dill salad OR I might use those big borage leaves as mini wrap leaves; mallow leaves are definitely going to be used for wraps; and there'll be a mean green soup happening with mustard leaves, clover, plantain, violet leaves, dandelion, dock leaves, black medic leaves, some carrots and some fresh Italian herbs like sage, basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano. Oh my! Plus I always add some other Chinese herbs---which maybe I'll get to mentioning in a post some day :)
You know, I haven't tired of soup. Not at all. I eat it every day and there's such good "medicine" in there that I love it and appreciate it so much. Plus it's tasty, too!
Eating my salad today of freshly picked greens, just brimming with energy and life force, I felt like a queen sitting on a throne of vitality (or perhaps just a barefoot fairy princess, as my neighbor fondly calls me, sitting on an office chair at work)---just so blessed to have this food right here in front of me! It was so good, so tasty, so sweet, sour, so---perfect!! I kissed my fingers and sent my green blessings of thanks to my green friends growing at home: thank-you so much for sharing your energy with me!
I feel...revitalized :))
Ending on this fine note of vitality, I'm off to dream of ...
Oh no, botany! I have botany reading to do! And articles to write! And...
Meditation now casts its fairy spell, fairy dust now sprinkled over the mind; all is quiet...
Slipping into the now of time, one resources with source.
And all is well.
Curiosity Got The Cat: