Posts Tagged ‘Edible Weeds’

Garden Update ~ Tulips, Trillium, Trout Lilies, and Trees

More blooms from the ever evolving yard! Today’s flowers celebrate the letter “T,” and represent just a small smattering of bee and butterfly delight. Yes, some hungry pollinators have already found our yard. In addition to the wild trillium I saved from a destroyed woods a few years ago, we’ve also got trout lilies from the same woods, along with still massive amounts of dandelions, plantain and wild violet, courtesy of Nature herself. I thought I’d share some of today’s more stunning displays:

IMG_0977

Behind those peachy beauties, you can see the later blooming magenta yarrow, which has become its own tough competitor in the colorful riot to dominate this permaculture haven. Continue reading

How I Did Less and Ate Better, Thanks to Weeds ~ Tama Matsuoka Wong at TEDx Manhattan

This was fun! Thanks to “And Here We Are.” David and I attended a Goshen event that aired this conference, but somehow we missed this one.

“Tama Matsuoka Wong is a professional forager and the principal of MeadowsandMore, which she founded to connect people with wild plants and natural landscapes. She won the New Jersey Forest Stewardship Award in 2007 for her work on stewarding her own property in western New Jersey. She collaborated with New Jersey Audubon on producing a booklet Meadows on the Menu about how to work with nature to turn lawns or fallow fields in to meadows. Tama has advised and worked with schools, conservation groups and private individuals to assess, steward and restore natural landscapes on their properties.

“Tama recently authored the book Foraged Flavor: Finding Fabulous Ingredients in your Backyard or Farmers Market about her several year project with the chef de cuisine at Restaurant Daniel in NYC to turn edible “weeds” from nature in to delicious cuisine. Tama has lectured about food and nature across the country and has led educational programs for schools, conservation groups, foodies and homeowners. Her “weed” work has been profiled in the NYTimes, NPR, CBS Sunday morning, among others.

“In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)”

Yes, We Have a Cash Crop! And Other Blessings in Disguise…

I suppose it was bound to happen. I’ve seen this trend with so many clients, friends and family members; I don’t know why I thought that I’d remain immune. Yesterday morning, I even had a dream that “things are not what they appear,” and not to get caught up in former expectations. At the same time I received that dream message, my sister got a cosmic download for me, too — in the shower of all places! I awoke to her texts:

“Got a pretty strong message for you this am in the shower …. they want you to remain open. God and the angels are with you and helping you and everything WILL be not only fine but wonderful. …But it may not come the way you think. …try to really practice mindful detachment. … Just neutrally observe what comes up and let it go … God and the angels totally have you covered, just be open to letting it happen. and right now it feels like they know some key info that you/we don’t yet. Just keep positive with your intention but let them work out the details of how to get there. …”

We both assumed those messages related to a particularly annoying 3D challenge I’ve been plugging away at for a long time but with which I am finally experiencing rapid, longed for changes. Today, I realized the messages we both received were also about …

Our Yard.

Oh, yes, I have big plans for this yard. It’s going to be an amazing little eco-faery-permaculture-medicinal herb-food garden-wild edibles-bird, bee and butterfly sanctuary nestled in a very unlikely spot. Yes, indeed, and I have been harvesting wild violet salads and dandelion greens for “beanie greenies” and dandelion smoothies like a good little wild forager eco-chick. I’ve even got “new” grubbies from a synchronous sale at Goodwill, so I can be the true Faery Farmer without messing up my “real” clothes:

Dandelion Faery

Yep, that’s me, sporting the very classy/totally dorked out duds on my way out of the mudroom this morning to haul yet more wood mulch around my precious raised beds to keep them pristine and separate from the rest of the wild, wild yard. I’m tired. I have been hauling mulch for weeks, and while the yard looks like it has a plan, and we have four raised beds in various stages of assembly and soil filling, it still looks like a giant meadow out there. Despite the fact that David just mowed the lawn two days ago!

I assessed my progress and realized I needed another three feet of mulch around the front of the raised bed area, so out came the landscape cloth, yard cart, pitchfork (yep, I’ve become hardcore with this wood mulch. No more 5 gallon buckets … we’re talking wheels, here!), and more cardboard. Out came the wind, too, blowing my freshly cut strips of landscape cloth all over the dandelion filled yard. By the time I caught the long panels, they were covered in fine dandelion seeds. Someone, somewhere giggled, but it wasn’t me. Yet. I weighted down the other landscape cloth strips while dumping mulch on the first one. Load after heavy load. Man, my back began to hurt. I looked over at the fluttering landscape cloth only to see even more dandelion seeds blowing into and sticking on the cloth.

I decided to distract myself from this Sisyphean labor by stirring the compost pile. When I looked inside, I realized that the mulched grass clippings David had kindly added to the pile on Thursday were a) not dried and b) filled with little white dandelion seeds. Everywhere I looked this morning, I saw dandelion seeds or dandelion flowers. Thousands and thousands of yellow and white heads blowing in the breeze, scattering themselves on every bare spot, sticking to my hair, making me sneeze, popping up in mulch.

Normally, I love dandelions, and I’ve been known to pay $5.99 a bunch for fresh dandelion greens in the dead of winter, because I’m just that odd. I drink dandelion root tea, and I’ve used dandelion root tinctures to support my liver. In fact, dandelion greens and dandelion tea are two of my favorite things in the entire world of natural food store shopping.

But this morning … arrgh … this morning, I was not enjoying the dandelions. I had just somewhat successfully waged the Garlic Mustard War — a week-long series of battles against garlic mustard, a highly invasive, though also edible weed. After collecting a trash can full last week and lugging that heavy can to the curb, I saw vendors at the Farmer’s Market selling bags of garlic mustard for $4 each. I used to love the stuff myself — it makes a great pesto — but David and I OD’d on it in Madison and haven’t re-acquired the taste yet. In any case, I uprooted and tossed the garlic mustard, because I’ve seen entire forests covered in those biennials, and only uprooting it prevents a monolithic spread once it appears.

The battles of the Garlic Mustard War occur less frequently now and on a smaller scale; however, I really didn’t want to engage in war on another front. Michael Pollan says, “A lawn is Nature under totalitarian rule,” and I spend plenty of time railing against dictatorships and gratuitous wars. The idea of waging war against my beloved dandelions didn’t sit well with me this morning. I started feeling like, well, the government … and that made me want to banish myself in the trash along with the other half can of stinky garlic mustard. I began to gather up the flapping landscape cloth and felt my heart sink as I realized my days as a Faery Farmer had only just begun and already I wanted to retire.

Then something suddenly clicked.

I had been wracking my brain all Fall and Winter for a so-called “cash crop,” but I couldn’t commit to anything that seemed too time intensive or required know-how to grow. Hmmm … I actually buy dandelions and dandelion products — sometimes at quite high retail prices — because I appreciate their flavor, nutritional profile, and medicinal value. In the midst of my aching back and increasing sense of defeat by Nature, I remembered that I had agreed to take on this permaculture project (our yard) because it involved working with Nature. If I had planted a crop with this kind of yield, I would have been thrilled. I looked around and reminded myself that in permaculture (and life) “the problem is the solution.” “Ask and you shall receive.” “Nature’s first law is abundance.” I’d wanted a fool proof, high yield cash crop, and I stood surrounded by massive volumes of a plant whose every single part offers valuable food and medicine.

Perspective.

Funny. Yesterday, after my sister and I both received our little downloads that things would be “better than fine,” so long as I didn’t get hung up on my expectations of the how, a youtube video suddenly jumped out at me. This guy shares how he made $900 with his dandelions. “Pay attention, Laura…we don’t give you and your sister a simultaneous double-whammy message to remain open-minded and then just drop the ball. Seriously, girl … we use it all. ‘Can you hear me now?'”

As I shifted my attitude this morning, I began to collect the pretty yellow flowers.

Lots and lots of flowers:

Dandelion HarvestDandelion Harvest 2

I looked up recipes for Dandelion Wine and Dandelion Jelly and decided to freeze my stash while determining if I want to use the traditional sugar or some other healthier sweetener(s). Do I want to “wild ferment” ala Sandor Katz, or use some other method? Will I use the Perfect Pickler? Do I need to gather pretty little jelly jars? Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, this huge collection of flowers didn’t even make a noticeable dent in the field. I could go out tomorrow and the next day and collect the same amount and still not see any visible reduction. Talk about abundance!

My mind began turning around other recipe possibilities like dandelion chips (as opposed to kale chips), superfood bars with dandelion greens as a base, and the possibility of bagging up the greens for someone to sell for me at the Farmer’s Market. At this point, I don’t know exactly how I will monetize this harvest, but I’ve reached a point of equilibrium and gratitude, realizing that Nature gives back to those who love her.

I decided to share my experience, because it mirrors that of so many people walking by Faith right now. People who’ve felt strongly guided in unusual directions who feel good about their choices but suddenly face a seemingly impossible block. That block usually comes out of nowhere and offers such overwhelming challenges that it temporarily rocks their Faith. (That’s when I usually hear from them: “Did I just totally misinterpret all those signs?!?” “Is the Universe messing with me?!” “Did God just open all those doors so he could slam this one in my face and laugh?!”)

As James Gilliland recently wrote, we’re experiencing a 5D overlay on the old reality. Many of us are already living most of our lives in the new reality, but when we pop back into the not-quite-ended old paradigm, the contrast feels like a smack upside the head. Those of us preparing bridges between the old and new realities will occasionally become overwhelmed by the vast contrast between the beauty, healing and instant manifestation of the new world … and the boots-on-the-ground, bone-crushing fatigue, pushed-beyond-all-limits work preparing the old world for its grand Transmutation.

Most people in this situation, regardless of chosen field, find themselves needing to engage Nature or some kind of Nature-benefiting practice in order to embrace and eventually transcend the challenge. Guess what? Healing our planet is priority number one, so that twist makes perfect sense, however surprising it initially appears. If you find yourself beaten down by “time” or by physical “limitations,” then I suggest you take a breath, step back, and remember the bigger picture. Refocus on where you know you’re headed; recognize how wonderful you and your world are in process of becoming; then remind yourself, “The problem is the solution.”

We’re all being rewired right now. This shift involves as much of a perspective shift as a physical one, because perspective plays such a key role in how we manifest. Mother Earth knows what she’s doing. We need to stick with her and try to trust her. In the process of regaining our intimacy with Nature, we will experience the true joy and freedom that come from remembering how to trust ourselves.

Happy Beltane Eve!

Today I had one of those afternoons that reminds me of being a little girl. I spent time with my favorite 82-year-old friend in Goshen at her lovely lakefront home. Before heading over there, I had a real flashback to childhood May Day celebrations when, for some reason, I always felt compelled to gather violets into old strawberry baskets handwoven and tied with ribbons, delivering these in the predawn hours on neighbors’ porches. This afternoon, I gathered a salad full of wild violet leaves and flowers for David and me, but then picked another bag to gift to my friend. This extra bag of edible flowers and nature’s tender “lettuce” was an even bigger hit than her requested bag of dandelion greens!

Dandelions

Salad with violets

Unbeknownst to me as a little girl, May Day represents a celebration of flowers and ribbons, and Beltane’s fire festival honors the Earth in preparation for an abundant growing season. Looking out on our wild new yard today, I saw a meadow in full bloom with a harvest I didn’t plant. When we lived in Madison, we had a couple wild violet plants that barely flowered yet still allowed for occasional salad touches. We had both longed for more violets than we knew what to do with. Well! Ask and you shall receive. The below photo shows only a tiny portion of the violets currently dancing their purple and white flowers around our yard:

Wild violets in our yard

To my surprise, we also have the tulips I mentally requested in the dead of winter:

tulips

Squirrels or someone with a quirky sense of natural style planted tulips and daffodils in the strangest places around our property. I’ve enjoyed watching them burst into color along with the dandelions, violets and creeping Charlie. Speaking of plants responding to my mental requests, today, my 82-year-old friend gave me three blackberry canes to replant in our yard. That request only just went out! We now have blackberries working double duty as fruit bearers and bramble discouragement to people cutting through our yard. Our landlord is working on the back fence for squash and melons as I type, and tomorrow we will actually put soil into the raised beds.

This yard will take some major work to turn into the wild, permaculture, medicinal, 4-season garden, faery haven in my mind. I have spent weeks hauling mulch from huge piles into foot deep beds and hugelkultur in various spots across the yard. Mulch is freakin’ heavy!!!! This weekend, I had just begun to wonder if I am not completely off my rocker to have taken on such an ambitious project, but the colorful bursts of flowers and huge harvests of free greens have changed my tune. I remembered that I made a pact with the Spirits of the Land to honor this forgotten piece of property and love it into a productive, beautiful, healing relationship with humans. I can feel the faeries smiling. Our yard is wild, but happy right now. And so am I.

Beltane Blessings and Happy May Day!

Salad with flowers

Wild Foraging: What’s Already Happening in Nature?

David put together this great resource for Transition Goshen’s “Open Space” Meeting, and we both thought some of my readers might find the information interesting and helpful as well.

Topic: What’s already happening in nature?

foraging & wild edibles
leaf mulch
minimum effort and resources
less control over nature

Lawn Totalitarian Rule

Discussion notes:

Beneficial plants and “weeds”

Right this very moment we are surrounded by abundant food, healing herbs, and fertilizer – if only we had the eyes to see them not as “weeds” and understand how to use them properly! – that we routinely try to rid from our gardens and yards. It somehow all seems very resource-intensive, unnecessary, and backwards.

This discussion centered around embracing beneficial plants and resources/processes already naturally occurring in our yards, gardens, and neighborhoods that require little or no effort to grow or harvest while providing great potential benefit.

Why do we work so hard to eradicate so many established, resilient edible & beneficial “weeds” from our gardens and yards in order to painstakingly cultivate/propagate a very narrow variety of finicky “acceptable” plants of equal or lesser nutritive value which requires tremendous resources from us (time & effort) and the earth (additional water & higher quality soil – likely sourced off-site)?

And, why do we spend a great deal of time and effort every fall to rid our lawns of leaves that are nutrient dense and can easily be used to enrich our gardens and lawns?

Forget manna from heaven – let’s learn to properly use these bountiful natural resources that already surround us!

Foraging/Wild Edibles

As there are frequently “look-alike” plants that could potentially be harmful, it would be wise and prudent to learn to forage and identify wild edibles from an expert to raise our awareness and confidence levels.

Local Expert Foraging & Wild Edible Resources:
Within our community it was suggested that Paul Steury would be a great resource. We will coordinate with Paul to request that he create a group event.

Elkhart County Parks is offering the following wild edibles tasting and hike:

“Wild Edibles”

Spring brings a bounty of nature’s best succulent wild edibles. Fried dandelions, wild leek, stinging nettle soup, cattail muffins with mint and sassafras tea to name a few. Please join us as we sample some of nature’s best recipes. Your taste buds will thank you! A wild edibles hike will complete our program so dress appropriately.

Date: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Time: 2 – 4 p.m.
Cost: $4/person or $10/family
Preregister by: Thursday, April 25
Call (574) 535-6458
Location: Black Maple Shelter, Ox Bow County Park
(from the Elkhart County Parks Events Calendar at http://www.elkhartcountyparks.org/)

Regional Expert Foraging & Wild Edible Resources:
For regional experts, if there is adequate interest we could explore what would be required (cost, minimum number of registered participants) to have Chicago-based urban foraging expert Nance Klehm lead an urban foraging hike or have Wisconsin-based “Wild Eats” founders Linda Conroy and “Little John” Holzwart prepare a group wild food dining experience.

Nance Klehm information:
(from: http://spontaneousvegetation.net/bio/)
“Nance Klehm is a steward of the earth. She is an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permacultural grower, as well as an in demand consultant, speaker, and teacher. She is respected internationally for her work on land politics and growing for fertility.”

“She is the bioinstigator-in-residence at the Center for Land Interpretation’s off-the-grid site in the desert outside of Wendover, Utah. Since 2007, Nance has worked with post-consumer materials (including solid and liquid human waste, grey water from sinks and showers, food, yard waste, manure, and cardboard) and transformed these materials into biologically rich soil (using decomposition, filtering, and fermentation). The resulting waste-sponge soil systems sustain a habitat of edible and medicinal plants, digestion of soil salinity, and the capturing, storing and use of precipitation.”

“She lives and grows in the middle of Little Village, a densely packed, diverse urban neighborhood in the heart of Chicago. Her house and land are daily practice in permaculture and urban living. She has worked with chickens, quails, rabbits, fish, and dairy animals. Nance is bilingual in Spanish and English, understands basic French, is a canner, a preserver, practices yoga and meditation, has traveled the world, and can be totally hilarious.”

Utne Reader article: http://www.utne.com/environment/nance-klehm-zm0z12ndzlin.aspx

Nance Klehm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nance-Klehm/182381225215544

Nance Klehm videos:

Urbanforaging with Weedeater Nance Klehm: http://youtu.be/DMapV2LXslw

Early Spring Forage w/ Nance Klehm: http://youtu.be/7kmxRYqtBtE

A visit to the Simparch Clean Livin’ project at CLUI w/ Nance Klehm: http://youtu.be/w8QmQZMHJ_o

Linda Conroy information:

(from: http://www.wisewomanuniversity.org/conroy/index.html)
“Linda Conroy is a bioregional, wise woman herbalist, educator, wildcrafter, permaculturist, and an advocate for women’s health.”

“She is the proprietress of Moonwise Herbs and the founder of Wild Eats: a movement to encourage people and communities to incorporate whole and wild food into their daily lives. She is passionate about women’s health and has been working with women for over 20 years in a wide variety of settings.”

“Linda is a student of nonviolent communication and she has a masters degree in Social Work as well as Law and Social Policy. Linda has been offering hands on herbal programs and food education classes for well over a decade. She has completed two herbal apprenticeship programs, one of which was with Susun Weed at the Wise Woman Center and she has a certificate in Permaculture Design. Linda is a curious woman whose primary teachers are the plants; they never cease to instill a sense of awe and amazement.”

Additional Linda Conroy resources:
Linda Conroy and “Little John” Holzwart’s “Wild Eats” dinnners: http://www.moonwiseherbs.com/eat-wild-community-meals/
http://www.moonwiseherbs.com/eat-wild-community-meals/wild-eats-schedule-2012/

Audio interview with Linda (30 minutes): http://www.wisewomanuniversity.org/conroy/index.html

Linda’s Moonwise Herbs page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Moonwise-Herbs/183651188323934

Leaf Mulch & Wild Edibles resources:

Leaf Mulch information:

At the very least, mulch your leaves into your lawn rather than raking them to the curb to have the city dispose of them for you. Better yet, save your shredded leaves to use as mulch in your garden the next season. I own an electric mulching leaf vacuum as well as a mulching mower (which can be used with the bag to catch the mulched leaves to save for next season’s garden or without the bag to put the shredded leaves on your lawn) that I would be happy to lend anyone in the fall.

(the following information is from the article “Using Leaves for Composting”: http://compostguide.com/using-leaves-for-composting/)

“The leaves of one large shade tree can be worth as much as $50 of plant food and humus. Pound for pound, the leaves of most trees contain twice as many minerals as manure. For example, the mineral content of a sugar maple leaf is over five percent, while even common pine needles have 2.5 percent of their weight in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen and phosphorus, plus other trace elements.”

“Since most trees are deep-rooted, they absorb minerals from deep in the soil and a good portion of these minerals go into the leaves. See the accompanying chart for an analysis of the nutrient elements in fallen leaves.”

“Actually, these multi-colored gifts from above are most valuable for the large amounts of fibrous organic matter they supply. Their humus-building qualities mean improved structure for all soil types. They aerate heavy clay soils, prevent sandy soils from drying out too fast, soak up rain and check evaporation.”

“The ability of leaf mold to retain moisture is almost miraculous. Subsoil can hold a mere 20 percent of its weight; good, rich topsoil will hold 60 percent, but leaf mold can retain 300 to 500 percent of its weight in water.”

“Freshly fallen leaves pass through several stages from surface litter to well-decomposed humus partly mixed with mineral soil. Leaf mold from deciduous trees is somewhat richer in such mineral foods as potash and phosphorus than that from conifers. The nitrogen content varies from .2 to 5 percent.”

Additional Foraging and Wild Edibles Resources:

Wild Edibles Videos:

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Dandelion: http://youtu.be/UebH2Pb-18s

Lambsquarter: Christopher Nyerges Class: http://youtu.be/z17zdk7FXz8

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens : Wild Violet: http://youtu.be/SjSTa5kDZYQ

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Miner’s Lettuce: http://youtu.be/coB-qhAHLo8

Sergei Boutenko – Wild Edibles: Daisies: http://youtu.be/H7Xm8VUTlOQ

Sergei Boutenko – Wild Edible Stinging Nettles: http://youtu.be/bhK2jAeCgyk

David Wolfe – How to Eat Stinging Nettles: http://youtu.be/KpxMDeH1x5Y

Sergei Boutenko – How To Eat Wild Grasses: Wheat Grass: http://youtu.be/THAcyXDvn8E

Purslane – a Super Green for Super Nutrition: http://youtu.be/rfFEO9FYEsU

Eat The Weeds: Episode 91: Purslane: http://youtu.be/8tw8DcGAGmo

EatTheWeeds: Episode 12: Chickweed, Stellaria: http://youtu.be/qy3vRYftDqE

Edible Weed Chickweed anti-inflammatory blood purifier: http://youtu.be/ewH5h5VZZJU

EatTheWeeds: Episode 13: Plantagos, Plantains: http://youtu.be/uBeI3tc6Xdo

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Fool’s Onion: http://youtu.be/8_hbHhuzjGY

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: Wild Strawberry: http://youtu.be/EYib6gheBSU

Sergei Boutenko – Purple thistle or prickly lettuce: http://youtu.be/cfeohjOsJKE

Sergei Boutenko – Stalking Wild Greens: The Cattail: http://youtu.be/fjwh4ghZx3A

Edible weeds in my garden: http://youtu.be/mCQaMyncR6I