I don't know about you, but we are busy stuffing our mouths full of Spring's goodness! Get it while you can, as Spring fades fast here in southeast Tennessee.
We missed a whole week of chickweed as I discovered that it is aptly named. Giving my chickens complete freedom left me with bare patches of dirt where chickweed once flourished! Yesterday I discovered a wonderful patch across the fence and under some cedar trees, so chickweed is back on the menu! I am thankful for its cooling energy helping us adjust to these intensely hot days. The chickweed based salads have always been fabulous, dressed only in fruity olive oil and salt, but they have a whole new life with the addition of mustard and red bud blossoms. Who can resist pink and yellow flowers in your salad?! Seriously! Mustard adds a gently pungency, while red bud offers a hint of sweetness...so perfectly complementary. We call it Faerie Salad.
The mustard is pulling double duty, as I am also harvesting the greens. I simply saute in coconut oil w/garlic and there are never any left over. There is a particular unkempt field near my house that I harvest from nearly daily. Mustard season is short and I will miss it when gone, so we eat as much as we can now. There are a handful of common wild mustards, all edible, so get yourself a field guide and some free food!
Here and there I still find some young yellow dock leaves to cook, but they are growing larger and the plant is preparing to bloom. That means seeds (more on that later), but I will miss their lemony essence in my wild green mixtures. Those mixtures are never complete without...
Nettle! Our native species, Woodland Nettle (Laportea canandensis), is just coming up. With only two or three sets of leaves, it is the perfect time for harvest. I like to observe the "one mooncycle" rule. Basically, do not harvest and eat nettles that have been above ground longer than a month. Some people have kidney trouble or headaches from eating older nettles. When I was pregnant with Stone I at them into early June, just before they flowered. I did not suffer any ill effects, but I really feel the quality of the younger nettle is superb, especially for making medicine.
This harvest, I collected enough to make a couple quarts of vinegar and supply some meals. Vinegar is my favorite way to preserve the nutritive offerings of plants, which is most often what I am after. Next time I will take my alcohol with me to tincture some nettle in the field. No bringing home wilty plants to tincture! I am excited to prepare some woodland nettle because I am not sure what kind of medicine she has to offer in a tincture. Stinging nettle leaf tincture is somewhat adaptogenic (restorative to the adrenals/vital life essence) and I am hoping that woodland nettle is, too.
And there is dandelion, wild lettuce, cleavers and more! Spring is so generous! The selection is changing nearly everyday, and it is hard to keep up! We have been creating our meals around the offerings of the weedy wild things, being truly seasonal. You know you are eating a well balanced diet if you live off of what is being offered right now. There are no decisions to make, no labels to read, no dietary recommendations in the wild! What you will find is an abundance of minerals and other nutrition in more concentrated amounts than cultivated foods. I feel so satisfied with our meals, truly nourished throughout. After ingesting such potent energy, I can tangibly feel the heightened vibrations in my body, almost as intensely as lying on the Earth and feeling her pulse, which I have been doing in times of frustration lately. Talk about getting grounded! I lie, near the yarrow and under the cedar tree, and peak through the branches at the blue sky. You need to go out and lie down on the ground tomorrow! You can feel the glorious energy rise up through your body, and nothing, nothing, can be wrong after that :)