Sunday, May 17, 2015

Weeding is Harvesting

Yesterday I was cleaning up a section of "garden" and harvested a respectable bucket of Taraxacum officinale radix, better known as dandelion root. Some folks call this activity "weeding." I call it harvesting.

This morning I finished cleaning and preparing the roots for the oven, where they gently roast until they're nice and dry. I'll leave them in the cool oven until I return from the studio this afternoon when I'll double check them for dryness before packing them in jars for storage and enjoyment in the months and seasons ahead.

How do I enjoy them? I give them a rough grind and simmer them in water, strain and sip and enJOY! You might like to add a bit of cane sugar or local honey, or a splash of local milk, but I like mine "straight up!" Not only is this mellow, bitter brew delicious, it supports and sustains my physical being as an ally to general digestion, to liver, gallbladder and then some. Of course the leaves are delightful in salad, cooked as a green and addition to springtime soups. And the petals, those beautiful, bright, sunshiny petals are notorious for brewing liquid sunshine (dandelion wine and mead), and I love adding them to my sourdough pancakes (and other baked goods)

I harvest the root (and its other parts) from spring to autumn. I still have some dry roasted roots from last season, which delights me greatly!

So remember: Weeding can be harvesting and harvests equate to abundance and abundance is... everywhere in Nature. Respect that. Deeply.


Walk in the Woods, LLC

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Springtime Wild Harvest Egg Drop Miso Soup

This is the season for spring soups! For me, so many of our wild friends have so much nutrition and flavor to offer us, it would be shameful not to leverage, honor and appreciate their generous offerings!

Last night I harvested some leaves of Rumex crispus (curly dock), Taraxacum officinalis (dandelion) and more tops from the patch of Urtica dioica (nettles) for an egg drop miso soup. I also snagged some alliums ~ chives and egyptian onions from the cultivated gardens.

To me, this is "fast food." Fast food that is Good for you and virtually free! I chopped and simmered the wild greens for about thirty minutes in water salted with alaea sea salt, added the alliums and simmered another few minutes. I cracked two fresh-laid eggs, whisked them with some water, stirred them in, removed the soup from the heat and stirred in a tablespoon (or so) of mellow miso.

Just one bowl of this soup with a side of spring salad greens was remarkably filling, not to mention delicious and nutrient rich!

What are your favored wild harvested foods in this vernal season? We'd love to hear. Leave us a comment and let us know!


Today's Bud Walk


Wood Sorrel - great lemon taste for my salad


Wood Trillium

Red Clover


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Allaria petiolata - Garlic Mustard

Today I return to Allaria petiolata... garlic mustard, remember? I've been harvesting more roots to macerate in vinegar. To me, this is a wonderful way to attempt to tame this wild (and generous) invasive. The infused vinegar often ends up in some version of fire cider I make in autumn, among other formulations and on its own.

I made a simple pesto with the greens (just finely chopped with a touch of sea salt) and froze it in tablespoon-sized dollops for the freezer. These will be good to add to all manner of cooking.

Already I see the bud stems forming on the second year plants and it won't be long before they explode into full bloom. At that point I often wander and pull up as many as I can (the stem seems to make them easier to grab and unroot) and pile them in the sun to dry well before composting. The plants that miss this culling will have their flowers leveraged and then their seeds. More on that in their season!

With that, I challenge you to venture out in search of Allaria to leverage as the food that she is!

Walk in the Woods, LLC

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Noxious? Invasive? Abundant!

One of the advantages of knowing the virtues of "weeds" comes with preparing spring vegetable garden beds. I don't turn the soil of these beds. At most I use a broad fork to loosen and aerate the layers of topsoil without disturbing them. After all, those layers are vital ecosystems that support my own intentions, and so much more! And at the least, on those beds that haven't been stepped on, I loosen only the top layer with my hand fork, to prepare the bed for seeds.

As I prepare each bed, each in its own time, as I make it ready to receive, I remove rooted friends that I both allowed to grow from last season as well as those that snuck in. Pictured here root-examples of both. Can you name them?

The longer, straighter roots at the bottom of the bowl are Taraxacum officinalis radix, the beautiful dandelion root. I harvest these in every season, but spring is generous and they're so easy to remove from the soil of my main vegetable garden. I clean them, dry them, roast them in the oven until they're brittle-dry and store them in a jar for enjoying as a delicious, bitter and nutritional, roasted-root beverage that supports my digestion, my liver, my gallbladder, and then some... a nutritional tonic beverage that is often referred to as dandelion root coffee. Yet, as one who honors her organic, fair trade, morning coffee, I don't use that term... the flavors between the two are distinctly different.

Dandelion is often (too often) described as a noxious weed. This pickles me like you can't even imagine. This all too ubiquitous phrasing demonstrates our modern perception of Nature... as something inferior, something to be judged harshly, demonized and controlled. As for me, on the contrary, I see this botanical not as noxious weed, but rather as an abundant food (and Medicine). Which... it is. I use the leaves, the flower petals and the roots. And, dare I say it, we all "should."

But before a rant commences, let's take a peek at those other roots ...

The more pale roots on top, the ones with reaching fingers, are the roots of a local invasive called Allaria petiolata radix, the root of the plant commonly known as garlic mustard. This plant pops up all over my little acre and, like the dandelion, I harvest it in every season, and right now I'm focused on gathering the roots to chop and grate to macerate in living apple cider vinegar for several weeks, and I use the young early spring leaves in salads and in cooking. The vinegar will get used in salads and in other ways, and the root is used as one would use our more conventionally known horseradish. And its flavor is similar, though not as fiery. It's quite delicious. And what a great way to leverage the (invasive) abundance of this botanical! Later in the season I add the flowers to salads (to prevent a few seeds from spreading, and later still I'll collect the seeds to use as one would use any mustard seed. But, more on that in its own season.

My point ~ in this moment, anyway ~ is that Nature is generous. Holistically so. It's time that we all remember this, before its completely forgotten.


Walk in the Woods, LLC

Pictures of a bud walk

Rhubarb poking through

Vinca Minor

Pulmonari officinalis or Lungwort

Crocus because they make me smile

Tussilago farfara or Coltsfoot the first bloom

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bud Walk

     It's that time of year when the snow is freshly melted, the lawn is still brown, the buds are coming alive, the spring flowers are in bloom and my gardening crocs take their place by my back door for the season.
     The plants in my yard bring me joy in so many ways. The first spring blooms bring color to my world and joy to my heart.  They beckon me to wander the yard looking for new growth, to tend to their care and anticipate all the possibilities of the coming months.  Many of my plants come from friends and family.  Each has their own story and upon that I layer mine. The plants and I are woven together in proximity, in story and in partnership caring one for the other.
     My favorite flowers are the spring bulbs - tulips, daffodils, crocus and the like.  They are first to break through the snow after a long winter and bring happy brilliance.
From my mother's garden

Daffodils - lemon drop, Tahiti and more from my girlfriend more than 18 years ago

Lenten Rose from my Auntie's garden

     Then the herb garden starts to awaken.  The chives are first.  From a small clump planted when I first moved in 18 summers ago I now have several large clumps and have passed on several.  The garlic chives with their flat stalks are a gift from my herbal teacher and friend.  The mint peaks through and if untamed would take over.  I traded some years ago for a bread machine.  The Baptisia I dug from  a house that was donated to the fire department for training. I was told it didn't like to be transplanted almost two decades later and it still thrives. The sage and parsley I bought and am thrilled are back.  The Autumn Olive is a gift from the birds who frequent the yard.  In the coming weeks violet, nettles, wood sorrel and dandelion will make their appearance. They will be followed by poke and red clover.  So each day I make my bud walk around the yard and in the wood line looking for my friends that slumbered for the winter.

Garlic Chives


Autumn Olive

Baptisia australis

Mullein or  Verbascum thapsus