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… 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.
I like this time of year, it’s time for my favourite foraging food… Blackberry Nightshade… It’s also the time of year when passers-by tell me ‘don’t eat that! It’s poisonous’! Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) is a delicious relative of the humble Tomato. Like tomatoes, the berries are the best bit. Berries are best picked and eaten when they’re black. If they’re black and readily drop off the plant into your hand they’re ripe. If you have any doubt, leave them be and certainly don’t eat them if they’re green! As one of the Solanum family, they contain toxins in the green parts that aren’t good for us but like the tomato and potato, they have parts that are quite delicious. Young leaves can be eaten in small quantities like any leafy green but the older ones are off limits – they have higher levels of toxins and are tough and yucky! Herbally, leaves have been used for small skin infections
I’m having a little talk at the Australian Plant Society Autumn Plant Sale on Sun 22 April at 1pm. It’ll be at Stirling Angas Hall, Adelaide Showgrounds (enter off Rose Tce). I’ll be doing my usual carry on about foraging for local bushfoods, edible weeds and wild herbs, so come along, buy some plants, listen to some interesting speakers (I’m not the only one speaking). My spot is for up to an hour, so come along with lots of questions to help us fill the time. I’m sure I’ll be able to make something entertaining up on the spot if I can’t answer them.
It’s bloody hot here today! 40 degrees before 11.30, but thanks to a cool change, we’re no longer baking in the full sun. Last year, we discussed the cooling properties of Borage (Borago officinalis) and how it was, what is called in herbalism, an ‘refrigerant;. That means that it can cool us from the inside without making us sweat. It’s one of the many plants that have traditionally used in Summer to keep our cool. Other easy to find plants that can cool us at this time of year include: Chillies Cucumber Lavender Lemon Balm Lemon Verbena Mallow Violet For Borage and Mallow, it’s best to leave the leaves in room temperature water for a couple of hours (or even overnight) to extract all the goodness before chilling and drinking cold. We haven’t covered all those herbs yet on this blog, but they’re so easy to find in our garden or roadside and they all work in different ways,
There’s so many folks I run into lately who are suffering from constant pain. Most of them are on some heavy duty pharmaceuticals and don’t like it. I decided to jump the gun a little today and make up some Wild Lettuce (or Prickly Lettuce) – Lactuca serriola tincture for them. Actually, I’m not allowed to use the word ‘tincture’ so, let me say ‘Prickly Lettuce infused alcohol’. I think that should be OK. By ‘jumped the gun’, I mean that I made it a little earlier than usual. The plant is at its most potent when flowering. The patch we collected from today had a few flower heads forming, so it was close enough. I’ll make more later. Mercy, as always, was full of advice about which bits to use. She’s usually right about most things, so I took her word for it. We made up what will become a litre and a half of potent, pain killing liquid
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…
On Sunday, I took my first local weed walk, I called it ‘Food Underfoot‘. I’ve done a few walks further away from Gawler, but thought that we need to make a name for our town. I decided to host it in Henry Chenoweth Park which now has the dubious honour of having the most edible weed species of any of our local parks. Is that a good thing? It is to me! H. C. Park is a pretty, open area bordering the South Para River and sits between the Gawler Community House and the Elderly Centre. It is only 5 – 10 minutes walk from the heart of Gawler too. It is a shortcut between two parts of town and a favourite of dog walkers and cyclists. I knew it would be a bit of a gamble, with the day being on a long weekend and also the day that the football grand final was being held in Melbourne.