Braving the Boxthorn for berries

While I was out photographing for updates to our bushfoods & bush medicines page, I found that most of the Boxthorn bushes (Lycium ferocissimum) where I was wandering were in full fruit. Boxthorn is an edible weed, a prime candidate for delicious berries and it was a bounty that I couldn’t pass by. So I spent half an hour braving the thorns to get enough berries to make a jar of Boxthorn jam. For more info on this prickly customer, check out this page where I go into more detail.

Gardens can be anywhere

Though we may struggle sometimes to get certain favourite plants to grow in our garden, I am always surprised (and sometimes frustrated) at the way some plants thrive in difficult locations outside of our carefully tended gardens. Take a look at the pic above. It’s one of our most useful seasonal plants, Chickweed (Stellaria media) growing happily in a gutter on the roof of the newsagents next to the NAB bank on Murray Street. It’s happily taking in the Sun on this Winters day, oblivious of the fact that none grew in our garden this year until I forcibly transplanted some from the wild. Plants grow best where they’re happiest and this one is obviously happiest just out of my reach!

Nettles…. Mmmmmm

Nettles… Fresh picked from our front yard and washed… Just delicious! These go in the dryer. Tomorrow’s lot are for compost tea. It’s much easier to pick the fresh, young nettles than it is to pick and process older ones. All you need to do is wash the dirt off of the roots and they’re ready to go, whether they are to be used in a tincture, dried, composted, fermented or just used as a tea. Get them fresh from wherever you can and you’ll be rewarded with super nutritious greens, a remedy for many ailments, powerful fertilizer and a beautiful tea.

Creeping Woodsorrel (Oxalis corniculata) 

Oxalis corniculata, or Creeping Woodsorrel is a common plant in pots over here. It seems to prefer making itself at home in potting mix at our place.  A lot of folks don’t like it because ‘it’s a weed! ‘ but it’s not to me, it’s a tasty snack. It’s an Oxalis, so contains Oxalic Acid which gives it a bit of a bite. It’s not as strong a taste as other relatives in the Oxalis genus such as Soursobs but then again, everything about it is smaller and more delicate. My favourite part is the green seed pods which, at 1-2 cms in length, seem quite oversized for such a tiny plant. Pick them off and have a tangy munch. Interestingly, these seed pods are known for something else. They explode when ripe – again, something you may not think of when you see such a delicate plant. Creeping Woodsorrel is full of surprises!

Cut Leaf Mint (Prosanthera incisa) in flower

Cut Leaf Mint (Prosanthera incisa) is one of our favourite Native plants. This plant is commonly called Cut Leaf Mint, Native Thyme (not to be confused with Ocimum tenuiflorum or the closely related P. rotundifolia which also have that same common name) or Native Mint (I know, there’s a couple of those too…). We love to grow it because of its strong odour, even just passing a hand through a bush is enough to get that minty smell around you for an hour or so. Cut Leaf Mint is easy to grow and tolerates the Aussie Sun quite well. Regular harvesting of leaves and stem help to keep its low, bushy shape. Without this, Cut Leaf Mint can get really straggly and unkempt. Herbally, Cut Leaf Mint shares many of the characteristics of others in the same family. Its strong oil can be used as an antiseptic and antibiotic or antifungal, we can use the tea to help settle the

read more Cut Leaf Mint (Prosanthera incisa) in flower

Kei apple bonanza!

Today, I took the time to visit my favourite stand of Kei Apple (Dovyalis caffra) trees. This is a local stand that thousands of people drive past (often several times a day) and, unfortunately, most go to waste, blown off of the trees by passing trucks and squashed on the road. I stopped harvesting when I had a heavy bag-full (probably close to 10 kg). Kei Apples are another South African import, related to Willows. The trees are very heavy producers, making them excellent for local foragers. The fruit is  quite acidic and softens quickly, becoming a little sweeter as it ripens and softens. They make an excellent jam but this year, I’m going to try drying or pickling them. Apparently their acidity means that no vinegar is needed. Kei Apples are guarded by long, sharp thorns, like in the pic above. The pic below shows you the Key Apple forager’s badge of honour!

Mal’s at the Sustainable Living Festival

Well, it looks like I’ll be at the Sustainable Living Festival at Pioneer Park in Gawler at about 10.30. It’ll be an early rise for me on a Sunday, but I promise to eat a healthy brekky and be there on time. What an I doing there? I’ll be rabbiting on about edible weeds and wild food, of course… Maybe I’ll see you there…