Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Foraging Morning

Today is Sunday, and I took some Amish strawberries down to the barn to see if Fred and I could sell them. They are higher in cost that the berries currently selling in our local grocery stores, but these are organically grown, freshly picked lucious strawberries. They sold, no problem.

Once home, I went down to harvest some of the asparagus that grows wild at the bottom of the hillside. There was a goodly bunch of it, so I picked it to give to a neighbor. I've been harvesting lots of asparagus, so it was time to pass some on.

Then I picked a bunch of lambquarters, growing wild nearby at the top of the hillside. Got enough for dinner tonight. I also picked a lot of wild horsetail, to dry some for tea, and to make a tincture with the , rest. More on horsetail in a bit.

Let's see, then I saw a slew of red clover blossoms and naturally enough, went all over hill and dale getting a bag full of them. As a forager, I ALWAYS carry plastic bags, a Swiss Army knife, and all the rest of my foraging tools are in the car (shovel, hand trowel, root digger thingy, zillions of plastic bags, etc.).

In about an hour, I gathered enough horsetail for tea and medicine; enough red clover blossoms for the same purposes; and enough lambs quarters for a hearty side dish. Of course, processing it all takes a bit more time. Everything gets washed and rinsed, then cut up if that's part of the deal, and processed (i.e., putting out to dry or putting in a jar with vodka poured over to make tincture, chopped to eat, etc.). This all takes another hour or so. But it is work I enjoy, so I can't even really call it work (unless I'm talking to my husband, whereupon I rely heavily on the concept of all this activity being work).

I also gathered a bunch of melilot (melilotus officinalis), which I recognized for the first time today. YEAH. In early spring, the leaves are tasty and quite edible. Being as it is a bit later in spring, I didn't harvest it to eat, but to dry. I'll use the leaves in tea, as well as make a nice toilet water with it and some other herbs. Melilot has a wonderful vanilla scent to it, smells like you'd want to put it in cookies and such. I'll probably powder some dried leaves and do exactly that.

On horsetail, I've written about this herb a while ago. It is a rich source of silicon, a necessary and important trace mineral. One day, I was reading another blog and what books the blog author recommends, and I came across this bit:

Louis Kervran was a biological researcher who discovered decades ago that biological creatures routinely transmute chemical elements. He's still almost completely unknown, and scoffed at by people terrified of the changing their thinking even a tiny bit. One of many implications of his work: to build calcium in your body, you do not eat calcium, but organic silica, which your body changes to calcium. Kervran's book is Biological Transmutations.

I have yet to find and read Kervran's book, but that bit was really interesting. My thanks to Ran Prieur for his fascinating blog! Anyway, if you need more calcium (and who doesn't?), horsetail tea or tincture might be the thing for you. When Fred broke his elbow last fall, I made him lots of horsetail tea and comfrey tea. He healed readily, at least from the break. His arm is as good as it was prior to the break--but with his Rheumatoid Arthritis, I can't say his arm is "as good as new." Wish I could.

Foraging wild plants for foods and medicines is as old as anything. In a couple of pleasant hours, plants for both food and medicines were easily gathered. Honestly, folks, if you're not already foraging, please consider adding it to your repertoire of skills. The exercise is good for you (walking, bending, twisting, stretching), falling on your butt when your foot slipped on the hillside is good for your character, and certainly, eating and drinking the dishes and drinks you made from God's own free produce is good for you. It's win-win all the way.


Gen-IL Homesteader said...

Thanks for the encouragement! I'm certainly a newbie. Last year, I picked rose hips and dried them for tea. This year, I've been drinking dandelion tea (from the flower petals), and hubby and I plan on trying to harvest some cattail when in bloom here. Little by little I'm trying to learn. Thanks for great articles!

Patricia said...

Hey Gen-IL, I've only been at this a few years, and I learn more each season--I learn from what others teach me, from books, from foraging blogs, from herbalists--take it slow and it will come steadily to you, as it is doing to me. Good luck!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

I am so glad I found your blog!
I used to be pretty knowledgeable about Herbs but got away from some years ago.
Now I'm trying to remember what I knew and learn what I didn't know.
Look forward to following your blog!
~ Carol ~

Stephanie in AR said...

Sounds like a lovely way to spend some time. Did you purchase your comfrey roots or does it grow wild? I'd like to start a patch but cannot seem to find any starts. I too am learning a lot from your writing.

Patricia said...

Hi Carol, glad you stopped by. I'll post an entry on the books and websites I use most often,to help readers get started on their own. It *really helps* to find someone who can show you some plants--it pays to look around and see if there is someone who can help you begin again.

Hey Stephanie, the comfrey in the valley was started years ago in the valley's herb garden, but has since gone wild, so I see it in lots of places. I took Lydia, my Amish friend, a big plant last week as barter for some strawberries. It IS a great plant to have around. Thanks!