Foraging season is here! It's really, really here!!
OK, so it kinda started before, in the early springtime, but the weather has been up and down and this week has finally been so beautifully warm I've been sitting outside most mornings in my PJs enjoying the sunshine, and my balcony garden too :)
So today I visited Bellefield. Usually, I like to go there around mid-day, but I didn't get there 'til a bit after two. I figured I'd be there for around an hour, and that's about how I long I did stay.
I decided to forgo using the path and instead walked along the grass, looking at Burdock, Dandelion and...Nettle! I came to the Nettle patch growing close to the water and there were quite a few that didn't have seeds. I got out my pruners and thick gloves and snip, snip, snip! The ones that had seeds I cut them off, figuring I'd reap another round later in the summer.
Growing among the Nettles was Wild Parsnip and more Burdock. Dandy was about, of course. I got touched on my arm by Nettle on 3 places and immediately 3 little blisters formed. I had to wonder if it was only Nettle that was responsible, perhaps some Parsnip juice mixed in with the Nettle? Nope, it was all Nettle! Still, since I've been foraging for a bit now, I make sure to bring along a few things with me, one of them being my all-purpose, healing salve with Plantain, Yarrow, Comfrey and Rose. I slathered some on ---and better almost instantly :)
I crossed the bridge (the water was dirty and murky looking, not picturesque this time around) and was met with the field. Hm, it seemed they must've mowed it at some earlier time because many of the plants were small. I immediately started to gather Red Clover, tons of patches here and there, and noticed that many of the blossoms were already starting to dry out. True, as my neighbor pointed out, we haven't had much rain, more cloudy weather for the past week, but we still had some, like that other day when the sun shower turned into pelting rain!
Anyway, it's been 3 days no rain, and I collected a good bunch :) Most were on the pinky instead of purpley-side, but there were still many bees pollinating the flowers (I think I must've spotted about half a dozen). I kinda followed them and noticed that when a bee was on a particular plant, those were the flowers worth picking--- a bee's nose knows!
I didn't noticed many crickets this time around, but I did stop and take a few pics of some of the flowers. Plantain, tons around, and I would've loved to gather her on up, but she was growing right along the grass where people walk. Other Plantain plants looked old, with wrinkled leaves, not so inviting for tea and wildcrafting recipes.
Other plants that I noticed were:
Even though I was wearing a hat, who cares, it was darn hot out. Must've been 25C at least, and being out in the field, pants and closed shoes are mandatory --- especially with bugs and plants that might not always be so friendly--- and they weren't helping any to keep me feelin' fresh and cool! Oh and speaking of not so friendly plants, here's a link of ways to treat poison ivy, from first contact to the rash stage, by Susun Weed.
I then went along the path, just looking at the variety of plants. I stopped when I came to the 2nd patch of Nettles. Oh, they were looking fine! Last fall I had snipped off all the seeds and I could tell that no one had been here to touch any of them. A few had some seeds, but the majority didn't, YAY!
I made quick and started snipping, tossing each long Nettle onto the grass behind me. Again, I snipped off the bits that had seeds for a future harvest, gathered the Nettle into a 2nd large paper bag and moved several feet along to the 3rd patch of Nettle.
When I spotted a lady come walking down the path with her dog, and then 2 guys curiously eyeing what I was doing, saying hello and then glancing back at the my furtive attempts to snip and finish quickly, I knew it was high time to be getting out of there.
I stuffed the Nettle into a 3rd paper, checked the time, yep 3:30. Time to hay on out!
Went back along the path, hopped onto my bike and headed home.
My bounty of about 1 hour's work?
I collected 6 trays worth of Red Clover in my dehydrator. As you can see in the pic below, you need to spread the blossoms so that they don't touch. If they do, they change color and end up oxidizing. Not good medicine, not tasty tea.
Since my dehydrator was full (the other trays consisted of me collecting some Pennyroyal, Mint, Anise Hyssop, Hyssop and Sage), most of my table ended up hosting the chopped Nettle. Yes, for tea, I also use the stems. I chop the leaves, especially when they are large, and the stems with the pruners into small bits, then store what I need in a mason jar and the rest into a large paper bag. No harm using the stem (more work to peel off the leaves then chop I would think), although the real medicine is in the leaves.
And since those dark, rich green leaves are high in iron like Spinach, and even kinda taste like Spinach, I think I'll be making some pesto come Monday. Will get some fresh Basil and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds and make me a fine pesto indeedy! :)
Actually, it was just yesterday that I snipped a bunch of Chickweed growing in several pots, and it was just today that I pureed that Chickweed into a pate with sunflower seeds and some dried Italian seasoning herbs (dried Basil, Rosemary, Marjoram and Oregano). It came out tasting so refreshing, almost reminded me of a Cucumber dip. Didn't eat it with any Cuke, I'm afraid, but some tasty Carrot/Rutabaga/Chia seed bread.
Mmm, reminds me that getting some fresh Dill and Cukes would be lovely to eat this week if the hot weather continues to hold up. Coriander would be nice too.
I have all of these herbs growing in my little balcony garden, but everything is still too small to harvest. I noticed that the Lettuce and Spinach are coming along nicely, as are Borage and Nasturtium, so I will probably be able to harvest a few of the leaves soon.
Still thinking about going to the flower market, maybe this weekend or Monday. I looked into the pots and there are small seedlings, not sure if they are what I planted. I'm still thinking about getting Lavender (to make perfume in the fall as I did last year, made lovely Xmas gifts!) and Lemon Balm and see what else catches my eye. The flower market will be there for another 2 weeks and then we'll be in the peak of the summer season in July. Of course, technically summer starts in about another week, but by end of August and into September, those are more like lovely fall days than hot and humid summer weather (thank goodness too).
Will do a bit of foraging at work and maybe get the garden dug. Hoping to visit Buckthorn Woods next week, and there was also this huge field that I passed by on my bike when running some errands where lots of Red Clover was growing. I remember that it was a spot my herbology teacher had told us about. Really, it's a huge lot that's up for sale, but for now, it's a field worth foragin'! :)
And then there's this other huge field beside the hardware store I had told you about before...and when I was out riding my bike doing those errands, I also passed by this entrance to what seemed like a path in the woods and it gave me an idea to take a look-see one of these days. Oh my, it seems I'm going to be booked all summer...and I forgot to mention that I wanted to explore the plants along the bike path, along the water, and make new "aqua" herbal friends :)
Better get out the sunscreen, bug spray, hat, gloves, pruners and all that, sunshine, cuz it's lookin' like there's lotsa fun work (and adventurin') ahead :) Glad to see you bright and up and out again, keep it on up :)
Ps. You wouldn't think me a Buddhist if I told you that I brought home a lot of bug friends and helped quite a few of them to find their home back in the big ol' outdoors, would ya? Yep, the Red Clover ones had quite a bit, but the Nettles...eh, what bug wants to hang out on some prickly plant except a few spiders that were passing along the way?
Curiosity Got The Cat: